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Following tropes or not in fantasy

Something I've been pondering: when reading fantasy, how far do you like authors to veer from established traditions for a supernatural creature? If we're dealing with vampires, say, then they can't NOT drink blood. They aren't vampires unless they do. But can the author change other traditions and still make it work for you? It seems to have been voted a bad idea to decide they sparkle in sunlight instead of burning up, so apparently readers do have limits. :D

I'm not actually pondering vampires, though. For my own current idea-in-progress I'm thinking about faery lore. For example, how attached are people to the notion that iron repels fae? Is that a tradition readers like to see, or one they're tired of seeing? When it comes to faeries, what features are you tired of reading about, and what features must be included or else it isn't properly fae for you?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 26th, 2017 07:48 am (UTC)
That's a hard question to answer! I think it depends on how much the author changes, and how well they do it. The Twilight vampires didn't do it for me, even leaving out the bad writing. I think she veered a little too much. Her vampires didn't seem like vampires at all. I hated the sparkling and I hated the description of their skin being as hard as stone. I have no idea why Bella found that arousing, lol. Maybe if she had compromised and left some of it out. Why did they need extra powers, when they are already vampires? I could have done without the mind-reading, etc.

I think the key is to keep a little and throw out what you want. I don't mind getting rid reading about a faery that isn't bothered by iron. I could see how that could become a legend if, for instance, one of the fae was killed by iron or hated it and it just kind of became a myth in the human world. I'd be fine reading something like that. :)

I like seeing the tradition of two different faery courts, and I'm sick of seeing the Unseelie court as being the more evil of the two. Or you could leave out the courts altogether and I'd be okay with it. I think the only thing to be avoided is having the fae portrayed as kind or benevolent at all times. That just doesn't really work for me, I think it throws out too much tradition.
Aug. 27th, 2017 06:00 pm (UTC)
Good thoughts! All sounds good to me. Indeed, I have never grasped why skin that feels like cold granite is sexy. :D But then, those books are so popular, maybe we're missing something...?? (I'm okay with missing it.)

My working notion of the fae world in The Goblins of Bellwater, which I'm thinking of more or less keeping for other fae-related books, is that there's a spectrum of types of fae, from malicious/lethal to helpful/benevolent. That seems like what older lore generally says about the fae, and I much prefer that to the cutesy Disney type of fairy. I so far haven't committed to Seelie/Unseelie courts, but I may end up having to give them some structure like that--will ponder!
Aug. 27th, 2017 03:19 am (UTC)
I like changes, at least to a certain degree. I mean, I'm tired of 90% of fae books being all Seelie/Unseelie and the Courts, and blah blah blah. Make stuff up, authors! As long as your world has internal consistency, I'll roll with it, or at the very least give you a chance to convince me--while giving you bonus points for creativity.

As for iron specifically, I've seen that handled different ways. Sometimes it's very literal. Sometimes it's more... symbolic of industry, humanity vs. nature, etc.
Aug. 27th, 2017 06:04 pm (UTC)
Works for me! I usually want to make stuff up to a fairly large degree anyway. :) I like the idea of figuring out what the fundamental differences between humans and fae are for my world, and therefore what the friction between them is, and going from there. So far I haven't set up anything like a Seelie/Unseelie court, but I figure they'll have some sort of structure. I also am going with the assumption that there's a large range of types of fae, and attitudes toward humans will vary among them dramatically, which might lead to factions *like* Seelie vs Unseelie, but doesn't have to be that specifically.
Aug. 30th, 2017 05:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, every group has some sort of structure. I think what bothers me with fae stories is that with almost any other supernatural type (vampires, werewolves, etc.), writers will take liberties. Sometimes it works, sometimes not; it's subjective, obviously. But there's some originality there. But with fae stories, it's like hardly anyone wants to try anything new. There's so much potential there! Especially for fae born in different areas, on different continents, in different environments....

Aug. 31st, 2017 02:17 pm (UTC)
And anyway, to judge from the variety of stories in the old lore (and as reflected by Froud and company), there are quite a lot of types of fae with differing behaviors, so not only could writers use some of that lore, but there should be plenty of room for new styles!

Edited at 2017-08-31 02:18 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )