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Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Fizzling Out of Fantasy's Familiar Tunes . . .Or Not

I'm part of the this online writer's community called Absolute Write. I go there from time to time to see what other writer's are saying, see if anyone has solutions to writing problems I have, and because I am always mildly entertained by people who get on cyberspace soapboxes. Myself inlcuded.

A couple weeks ago, I came across a discussion board arguing how terrible fantasy fiction is. The initial post went on a tirade about how fantasy is dead because everything has been done before. The several posts that followed vehemently argued either side of the discussion. Some agreed that we have seen far too many stories where a lowly farm boy goes on an adventure to save the world, where a mythical object can destroy or save the world, or where an ordinary child gets sent to a magical school.

Others argued that several writers have been able to revive certain ideas in fantasy with new twists. Case and point: Stephenie Meyer. Whether or not you are a Twihard, she revived vampire fiction, made it cool again, and opened up the market to be saturated so we could all get sick of pale-faced, bloodsucking creatures of the night all over again. People making these arguments also suggested that those opposed to fantasy could simply read something else. This was the best and most rational comment I have ever read on the Water Cooler.

As a writer of fantasy, I was a little concerned about this issue. Am I heading into an industry that is just beating a dead horse? The more I think about it though, the more convinced I become that fantasy is still alive and kicking. Here is my thesis:

I read somewhere that there is nothing new in fiction except talent. We've all seen it before. Most authors follow traditional plot formulas and add new tricks like sparkly vampires or a new take on what happened to Elvis. For me, the experience of reading was never about finding something brand spanking new, it was about being entertained and escaping reality for a few hours.

As a kid, I knocked on the back of wardrobes and suffered severe disappointment on my eleventh birthday when no one invited me to Hogwarts (or the Candian equivalent). These things happened not because I waqs so enamoured with CS Lewis and JK Rowling (especially Rowling), but because both had created a world I wanted to explore, I kept reading. I will never grow tired of fantasy because there will always be new talent out there writing a different world, and whether or not they put in a love triangle, turn their protagonist into a twit or kill off my favourite character, I am always going to be finding things I love in those repeated fantasy cliches.

So let me pose a question: is fantasy dead? More importantly, why do you read fiction? What does it hold for you? Why do you repeatedly pick up stories when you can guess how it will end?

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3 comments:

Money and Moni said...

I am so with you on the "reading to get away from life" for awhile philosophy Elena. Who cares - EVERY story in the world is the same. They introduce characters and setting, a hint to the villain and conflict, the conflict is almost resolved, but then a clincher suspense moment, climax. conflict resolved. Everybody is happy again.

And yet I continue to read and love it. Especially now that school is over and I have the time. YAY!

Sanchari said...

I just love fantasy! And I couldn't care less if people say otherwise. :P
You write fantasy fiction? Do you post it online somewhere?? I'd love to read it! :)

Katey said...

Good fantasy takes those familiar themes, and still finds a way to draw you in and surprise you. That is true writing talent.