There’s a conflict I often feel between writing something new and staying loyal to the tropes of a genre. There are readers who will roll their eyes at tropes, while others eagerly await them.
If the characters are well developed and relatable, a story can transcend genre. I feel a special kind of satisfaction when someone is not a huge fantasy reader, but appreciates a fantasy piece I’ve written. I like the idea of making a fantasy novel accessible to those who are not hardcore fans. But there’s a balance I want to strike. There are readers who love fantasy for the quintessentially fantasy elements– the evil force waiting for vengeance, the powerful magic relic, the medieval setting, the secret heir, the chosen one, a friend showing up just in time to save the hero. Nevertheless, it’s important to make these things feel new, or else readers who enjoy these elements may also tire of them.
Sometimes this means including a trope by allowing it to unfold, but then changing the outcome. The trope will trigger an expectation from the reader, which means, as the writer, you can surprise them.
Another option is acknowledging that an element in the story is a trope. Something might be so cliché it can break the reader’s suspension of disbelief, so you have to acknowledge it in some way.
And finally, a trope can’t be included for trope’s sake. It can’t stand alone as a plot point. It has to serve the story. A dragon shouldn’t be there just because it’s fantasy. If any given trope is well incorporated into your specific story, it should have a unique and new element to it.
This is what I’ve aimed to accomplish. I want to write the best story possible, to entertain and also spark reflection. But ultimately I know I can’t please everyone. If I write a story that speaks to just one person, that warms my soul.
For those of you who read fantasy, what are you looking to read next? Is there anything you’re tired of reading?
I’m excited to announce that my short story, Pygmalion, is now published as an ebook to kindle direct publishing and is available on Amazon!
If anyone wants to buy it I would appreciate the support! If you have already read it I would also love if you left a review.
Pygmalion was first published in the 2019 summer edition of Mad Scientist Journal, but after one year the rights returned to me, and I decided to make it more accessible and self publish it with kindle direct. It was my first time self publishing and the process was irritating at times but overall very manageable! I found the cover art for free on Pexels, and edited the title into it with Snapseed.
Description: Jon, an enamored medicine resident, thinks he found the one, an exemplary internist named Sara. But when she mysteriously disappears following the death of a high ranking official at their hospital, it calls everything into question. As the death is ruled a homicide, Jon finds himself searching not only for his lost love, but for answers. He soon uncovers a chilling truth about an experimental technology system at their hospital, one he believes is to blame for the patient’s murder. Desperate to absolve Sara, he searches for proof to convince others, but ends up uncovering his own startling role in the experiment.
Writing this short story taught me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I had been reluctant to write a short story for years because I felt they were too hard to write, and that I didn’t know how. But I kept hearing that I should try it, that it was a good step to take before writing a novel. I had jumped right into novel writing but now realize that working on a short story helped develop skills in plotting, precision, and efficiency with scene creation. When I came up with the idea for this story I wasn’t sure I could pull off the story’s premise. It was something I had never written about before. And I originally wanted it to be a novel. After sitting on it for over a year, I decided to try it as a short story. I did my research and read other short stories. I still didn’t feel comfortable or like I possessed the right skills, but I started writing, then rewriting, and pushed myself to explore something I wasn’t totally comfortable with. And it worked. I wanted to share this lesson and encourage others to try something new, because being uncomfortable with a new subject or type of writing could ultimately be beneficial!
The three kingdoms in the river valley, a fantastical realm inspired by ancient Mesopotamia, are on the verge of collapse with unending drought and rising violence. Emory, the princess of the most powerful kingdom, receives an unexpected guest who claims a curse has gripped the land, causing dark spirits to rise. Feeding off hate, they possess the minds of men, causing senseless murders, and of beasts, causing them to emerge from seclusion and feed on human flesh at the outskirts of the cities.
Emory travels with her new acquaintance, who claims to be from the immortal realm, to an enemy kingdom, where the one who cast the curse was last seen. But before they can defeat him, her friend is killed.
Abandoned in enemy lands, where her mere identity imperils her and one misstep would mean death, Emory is captured by the enemy king and enslaved, beaten and starved to the brink of death. Then, the one who cast the curse appears before her, offering his aid in exchange for a favor. She agrees, but he then possesses her. Emory must rely on her knowledge of the curse, and newfound strength, to free herself of possession, and save the place she has always called home.
*Earlier versions of this, prior to feedback from NYC Pitch Conference:
In a time of drought and bloodshed, a diver returns from sea with a tale of dark shapes lurking in its depths. His claims are mocked by all except Emory, the princess of Tryn, who is driven to find an explanation. When an unexpected guest arrives in Tryn claiming a curse has gripped the land, only Emory believes him, and joins him on a mission to enemy lands. But when he is mysteriously killed, she alone must face the curse and stop impending war. Abandoned in desperate lands, where her mere identity imperils her and one misstep would mean death, she concocts a drastic plan for peace. But before she can complete it, she is ensnared by a darkness greater than she ever imagined, and is forced to partake in a menacing plot to destroy her world. Her knowledge of the curse, and bonds with new friends, may be the only thing to save her, and the place she has always called home.
**I included another earlier version below. I wanted the query to sound more urgent, with heightened stakes, and I changed the language to be more active than passive.
Emory, a princess living in the lavish palace of Tryn, yearns to see the world beyond her home. Her father warns her of growing tensions between neighboring kingdoms, so she resorts to old books to quench her curiosity. There, she reads of an ancient mystery about her kingdom. She worries she may never find answers to the questions it presents, until an unexpected guest arrives in Tryn. He offers her the explanations she seeks, and claims a curse is to blame for impending wars between kingdoms. His claims are widely dismissed, but Emory believes him; in hopes of ending the curse, she runs away from her home to follow him. But when he is mysteriously killed, Emory finds herself alone in desperate lands, more dangerous than she ever imagined. Before she can decide her next step, she encounters a sinister power and is ensnared in a menacing plot to destroy her world. She must rely on her faith in new-found friends and her knowledge of the ancient mystery to prevent war and make it home alive.
*I signed a contract for publication of this novel with authors 4 authors publishing. It is set to release in the summer of 2020.
Here’s a list of resources I’ve used and found helpful.
queryshark.blogspot.com MUST read before you query!!
http://www.superheronation.com Take the quiz! This is useful for not only superhero novels.
https://www.youtube.com/user/WriteAboutDragons Video footage of the writing class instructed by author Brandon Sanderson
The Elements of Style, by E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr. (A must read!)
On Writing, by Stephen King
Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell
My Video Blog:
Moth and Rust begins within the confines of a gated city, where Eve fights for a future as a physician in one of America’s last universities. Beyond the gates an unsafe country wanes with poverty and desperation. Abroad, an incessant war over scarce resources has begun, threatening to reach American soil. Amidst the turmoil, weakened nations fall victim to a clandestine organization whose leader intends to eliminate the excess population and select those fit to carry humankind into the future. When the organization takes hold of Eve’s city, guards collect its inhabitants. Eve is thrown into a vicious competition for survival in which her compassion has no place, and she is forced to re-examine the distinction between good and evil, human and animal, until an unexpected encounter with one of the guards changes the prospect of her future. Faced with the choice to escape, she embarks on a dangerous journey to reclaim freedom, finding love in the face of loss, and hope in the face of despair.