Friday, September 05, 2014

Why Fantasy?


Why Fantasy?

By Brina Cary

 

Someone recently asked me why I decided to write Fantasy. At the time I wasn’t sure how to respond. You see, you don’t choose to write Fantasy. It chooses you.

I began by reading as many stories as I could and by watching as many movies as I could possibly stand. When reading stories I generally pick a story that grabs me and absolutely refuses to let me go. I need something that’s going to make me think about the characters long after I’ve finished reading their story. Each story is a chance for the characters to become who they were meant to be. It’s their chance to find out just how strong they need to be and just how strong they can be. Think “coming of age tales”, but with a lot more trials thrown in. Think of superheroes, think of average individuals that won’t survive by being just average, and live the story under the premise that nothing is as it seems.

In Fantasy the odds of failure are even greater. The ones that survive have to be made of some truly tough stuff. Just think diamonds. They’re coveted, beautiful, and strong enough to cut glass. However, in order to become diamonds, as a simple hunk of coal they have to survive being subjected to enormous amounts of pressure. This is their journey. Their battle. Their life.

Life in general is hard. There are moments when our own battles seem unable to be won. The odds are just too great. Then to see these characters that we’ve absolutely fallen in love with win their battles, with even greater obstacles… It can give us the strength to win the war that is waging inside of us.

In writing Fantasy there’s a choice, a conscious choice, to let your imagination wonder. You have to be willing to see alternate universes, talking animals, purple skies, etc. Fantasy has certain set rules; however, rules are made to be broken. If you plan on breaking the rules, then keep in mind that you will only be successful if you break the rules in a way that is plausible. As long as you can build your world in a way that will let readers immerse themselves within the world you’ve created, then you can give life to your characters. As long as your characters and the situations they endure are conceivable in the world you’ve created then your characters have the potential to be loved by those that read their story. Even if the story is breaking all the conventional rules to get them through the battles that must be won.

Ultimately when writing, whether it’s Fantasy or any other genre, a writer’s goal is to give birth to their story in such a way that the characters become so well loved that the readers connect with them. That the readers want to see them succeed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with children that have suddenly found out they have superpowers, witches that desire to save the world, or even mages that wish to bring the downfall of the current society. I’m partial to mages trying to topple governments, or even werewolves running amuck. You’d be amazed at the story lines that can evolve once you just let your imagination take over.

I personally think that one of the best Fantasy stories I’ve ever read is Lord of the Rings. There are so many different personalities that could be incorporated from the characters alone. The characters all come from different backgrounds and have different goals. The settings alone are magnificent; however, the concept of the Shire just gets to me. The idea that these hobbits leave such a peaceful place to save the world, it gets me set up to think that this is really something that has to be done. Something that they have no idea about. You see, they were ill prepared for the battles that they would face; however, they still stood up to adversary and won.

The Epic Fantasies have the most leeway. They can pass along moral tales, switch from person to person effectively, and showcase whole worlds. The battle scenes alone in Epic Fantasies are worth reading for. Yes, I do realize that I use the word battle a lot. It’s apparently my favorite word of the day.

The concept of standing up, despite all the people preparing for your failure, to those that would do harm to innocents is a powerful thing. In the end it’s the most powerful storyline. We, as humans, are constantly berated by horrid tales of abuses. People abuse the power granted to them either through politics or their strength, they abuse the trust others have placed in them, and they abuse the needs of their loved ones. In Epic Fantasies the most innocent, unarmed, ill prepared individuals can stand up against the most dangerous antagonists and win. It gives us the belief that we too can accomplish the same. That we can win against the same odds.

 Epic Fantasies tend to have their main character fighting in teams. It is necessary for success for the story to have someone to help the protagonist through that dark moment when all might fail. Frodo had Sam, Batman had Robin, Tony Stark had Pepper, etc. Personally, I don’t know who I would want fighting with me, but I would hope that they had a sense of humor. For me, a sense of humor can light the way even in the darkest of times. Therefore, I leave you with this parting thought… If you were against all odds, who would you want fighting with you?

 

 

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For the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon being held November 1 in Birmingham, AL. NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker. Come back and visit every day. Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire HD will be picked from everyone who comment during the month and be announced September 30.


To register for the luncheon, go to
http://southernmagic.org/luncheon.html. Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and opportunities to win baskets full of goodies.

For this particular post all commenters will be entered for a drawing for a $20 Visa gift card.
 
Make sure you track me down on Facebook or Twitter!
 
 
 

35 comments:

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Brina!
Great post! I love fantasy, too! If I had to have someone beside me while I fought an epic battle, it would be every member of the Fellowship of the Ring--even Boromir, because he, too, served a purpose. Is that cheating? :-)

Kate Sheeran Swed said...

I loved this post, Brina! I grew up on LOTR and, Wheel of Time, A Wrinkle in Time...always loved fantasy.

Brina Cary said...

Naima, that definitely isn't cheating. :) I would definitely need Legolas, Aragorn, and Gemli by my side. Otherwise, with my luck I'd fall down a hole and never be heard from again. Haha!

Brina Cary said...

Kate, thank you! Lol, I grew up on them too! My very first Fantasy reading was A Wrinkle in Time. I think that was the moment that I decided that an imagination was a very important thing to have! After all, it doesn't matter what we're going through in life as long as we have an escape. Fantasy is my escape. It's like I said. You don't choose to write Fantasy. It chooses you. Honestly, writing has given me a way to put my problems down on paper, using other characters, and find a way to solve them. For example, in one of my stories I have a Healer that has never been around family before. When she's thrust into an Epic Battle to save the light of the world she is forced to see just how far family will go for family. Unfortunately, there's evil plotting to destroy her and those she fights for at every step of the way. She has to step outside of her comfort zone (which is actually a statue form) in order to help those that need her help. There's a lot of symbolism in the story, but it helped me get through a tough loss in my life. :)

Jillian said...

Awesome post, my friend. I love fantasy!! And I see your comment about A Wrinkle in Time- what an awesome book that was. Love, love.

Carol Bibb said...

I look forward to seeing you at the luncheon again. I have never read fantasy. You would be the first!
Good luck to you in the future.

Brina Cary said...

Jillian, thank you! Lol, that book was definitely wonderful! So ahead of its time too! Personally I also enjoyed Ender's Game, so much that I "forgot" to turn it back into the library. I need to go buy it again, but I want the old version, not the motion picture version. :)

Brina Cary said...

Carol, I'm looking forward to seeing you too! Lol, don't forget to find Naima before she gets ahold of the microphone though. :) I write a few things other than fantasy, but it seems to be my niche. There's just so much that you can do with it; however, it's all about the world building. You'd be amazed at some of the worlds. Granted there's some that are more along the lines of just a few changes, or some sort of apocalyptic event that humans are struggling to survive, but then there's the other things... You have Steampunk, which is very very inventive, and fae creatures. There's trolls, werewolves, dragons, vampires, etc. Whole lineages of people built into these worlds that otherwise wouldn't have existed. The problem subsets are different too. Granted there's still the romance issues, evildoer, and general subplot. However, the lines change. They're instead drawn in a mythical way. This can elevate the plot structure in magnificent ways. :)

Rita Bay said...

Hi., Brina Great post. I was more into scifi/fantasy. Read everything Anne McCaffrey wrote, but especially loved the Pern stories.

A.B. Michaels said...

Thanks for the insightful overview of the fantasy genre, Brina. I'm a romance author, so fantasy isn't my preferred milieu, but after reading your post, I can see the similarities better between the genres, including the need for characters the audience can root for, and the morality tales that often run thematically throughout the stories. I'm also intrigued by the challenge of opening one's mind, as a writer, to a completely alternative universe. To create a world that is unique, yet logical within its own construct would be a heady accomplishment for sure!

Brina Cary said...

Rita, Anne is a wonderful writer! I've read some great sic/fi stories lately. They've actually been taking it to new heights. There's some incredible talent between sci/fi and fantasy right now. Unfortunately, it seems to take a while to get things published. Do you know any good indie authors that publish it?

Brina Cary said...

A.B. Michaels, there are definitely quite a few similarities. There's also some general romance authors that create a sort of alternate universe, so to speak, when they spin their tales. If you focus on the true context of what an alternative universe, where standard facts regarding a setting are changed, then you can see that some authors regularly change these. Nora Roberts does this a lot. Typical settings involve modern day people; however, she has several futuristic stories, witch tales, and even a few ghost tales. She's known as just a traditional romance author though. For some reason they've never broken out her stories in these categories. For example, her J.D. Robb stories could technically be argued to fall under Sci/fi; however, I've never seen them labeled as such. Do you know why this might be? I've always been curious. Part of me wonders if it's just a general consensus that all romances are just romances? I don't seen it as such, but I wonder if some publishers do... What are your thoughts?

Brina Cary said...

Just so you guys know I'll do the drawing tomorrow morning. Good luck! :)

Larynn Ford said...

Hey Brina!

I say, why not fantasy? Your imagination can go anywhere, your characters can do anything, so go for it!

Brina Cary said...

Very true, Larynn! Your imagination can follow you anywhere and anything can either be dangerous or helpful. It's a world of unknowns, just waiting to be investigated. :)

Brittny Ortis said...

Awesome post Brina! My sidekick would definitely have to be my husband. He's the one who I trust, he's strong, handy, and would never let me fail, nor give up. It would also be a constant reminder of WHY I would need to succeed in every quest. I would never want to leave him alone in a world without me. :)

Carol Bibb said...

I love steampunk items, especially the gears. I will definitely consider this genre.

Brina Cary said...

Brittny, that's sweet! It's always necessary to have an awesome sidekick, but that sidekick does have to serve a purpose. Even if it's just to remind you of why you undertook the journey in the first place. :)

Brina Cary said...

Carol, Aidee Ladiner can refer you to some good Steampunk. :)

bn100 said...

haven't really read any fantasy books

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Tina B said...

I haven't read any lately, but I love fantasy!
I love the idea of getting lost in a different world! Love the post and the way that you put it. :-D
I would want people who are loyal, almost to a fault, strong yet compassionate, trustworthy and passionate in their cause.

Trb0917 at gmail dot com

Callie James said...

LOVE reading fantasy. I can't imagine writing it. Talk about epic!

Love the post!

A.B. Michaels said...

Romance has many sub genres (historical, paranormal, contemporary, suspense, etc.) which are probably better known to genre readers than those who usually don't read romance. For example, I haven't read Nora Roberts in a long time because she'll often delve into magic, which (up to now!) hasn't been my thing. And I've read a couple of her J.D. Robb's, which I'd call more mystery (Or, as you say, Sci/fi, but I don't know the parameters of that genre well enough to say definitively) than romance. Yes, she does alter the universe a bit, but usually only parts of it - like, "Oh yes, I'm a normal young woman ...except that I happen to be a witch." That's a far cry from creating an entirely different world, as in Donna Cook's "Gift of the Phoenix," for example. I think when readers hear "romance" they immediately attach expectations (bad or good) to it, and really, we could use more "hybrids" like romantic mysteries (Joanne Pence writes those well). I think all good stories, regardless of genre, should have at least some romantic element to them - at least to keep my attention! :-)

Steph F. said...

Love this post. I grew up reading fantasy, the fact that anything can go is what hooked me.
In an epic battle having someone like Legolais would be helpful.

Cari Hislop said...

Like Brittny I'd choose my husband. One; he can tell direction by the sun...I can't and never know which direction i'm going in (so he'd make sure we were heading for our epic destination). Two; he makes me laugh even when he's not trying to make me laugh (especially when he's irritated by something outside his control). Three; all animals adore him so if we came across scary creatures...he'd be able to tame them (I'd probably get eaten, but he'd survive - I don't know if that's a good thing). If it took us weeks or months for our epic trek across some fantasy landscape i might be in such dire need of a bath that death would be welcome!!!! Frodo's molten lava might look way too good to resist.

I've always loved the fantasy genre, though I like to think that all fiction is fantasy...that anything might happen. I think that's why I've always loved fairy tales...anything is possible. I understand though that some people need a division between reality fiction and fantasy (though deep down I find it really weird. One of my sisters has to read on the cover that she's about to read a fantasy otherwise fantastical happenings throw her off). In my Regency romances I tend to keep an open mind. Anything might happen even if it doesn't. I haven't had a fairy fly into a large coat pocket of one of my heroes/rakes...but it could happen!!!! ;)

Brina Cary said...

Bn100, there's lots of really good ones out there. There's also some really easy ones to check out. They blend our reality with only one change, so it's easier for the reader to place themselves in the story. It's really interesting what they pick. :)

Brina Cary said...

Tina B, thank you! You're spot on with your qualifications! Those are needed of all sidekicks to keep the protagonist on the right track. For example, Frodo would have failed miserably if Sam hadn't of been there. However, Aragorn would never have taken the sword as King if Frodo hadn't looked at him the way that he had after the steward's favorite son tried to steal the ring. Aragorn realized that he had to let Frodo go, let Frodo finish the trek on his own in order for the journey to succeed. Part of that shows an extreme amount of loyalty to the cause; however, it also shows a deep-seated fear that he would cause Frodo's quest to fail if he was as weak as the other humans and tried to steal the ring himself. He finally realized that he was different when he accepted the sword. That act of acceptance, in my opinion, is what changed the entire journey. If he hadn't accepted it and changed the dark gate then Frodo and Sam never would have made it. Even Smegel was helpful, though he had his own dark cause. In the end Frodo lost a finger because he finally fell prey to the dangers of the ring. However, his sidekicks never truly did. They may have felt shadowy moments of doubt, but they never gave up hope. In the end our sidekicks are who can keep us going long enough to be successful in our quests. Even if in the end they don't live to see our success, they still had a heavy hand in it. :)

Brina Cary said...

Callie, thank you! Reading fantasy is the first step. It's what gives you the courage to see the world in a different light. That different light has given birth to many writers that see the world as to how it could be instead of how it is. That's one of the reasons that I love the genre. It also bleeds over. Most writers write stories that they love. It's how they view the world. The overlap between Historical, contemporary, and even erotic romance is strikingly similar to a fantasy romance. There's not as many fantasy romances as their could be though. Most typically downplay the romance in them. I wonder if that's through a belief that it won't sell as well otherwise?

Brina Cary said...

A.B. Michaels, I think you hit the nail on the head. There needs to be more hybrid stories. I think a lot of publishers/editors/agents go into a story looking for a set of rules that the story must meet in order to be successful. There's some genre's that have specific rules. I mean a crime thriller has to have a crime. A spy novel has to have a spy. A romance has to have romance. There's ways to intermix the genre's though. We can create these sub-genres of mystery romance, fantasy romance, sic/fi romance, or even an inter-galatic space mystery. It's up to us as both readers and writers to demand these things. Kelsey Browning and Nancy Niagle have a Granny's Series out that's wonderful. They're mainly mysteries, but they have a touch of romance in there. It's that "touch" that makes it toe the line between the two genres. However, it's also a comedy in my opinion, which is easily added to any story. These ladies have opened up a whole new view on how a story series can evolve into different genres. It's actually quite refreshing to see the mix.

Brina Cary said...

Steph F, thanks! I actually really liked Legolas because he had so many different traits. However, he wasn't a typical elf. He had the archery strengths, but he also had an eye for battle. Some believe that the concept of Elves and archery came from the Welshmen that were excellent archers. To be a good archer you have to have an eye for weakness. That would make Legolas a perfect choice for a companion in battle; however, it would make him a grave enemy. So if you ever end up traveling with Legolas make sure you know your weaknesses. :)

Brina Cary said...

Cari, you'd be surprised at some of the things that can happen in fantasy stories. It's all about the world building though. :) I used to be like your sister. I wanted a clear definition of what the story would be before I would read it. I sort of felt cheated if it didn't meet certain expectations. If it said it was a mystery then it better have a mystery in it, for example. Then I read Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians/Then There Were None. It changed up my expectations of what a story could be. These ten ppl had all committed crimes and were being punished in various ways. For one of the individuals the crime wasn't their fault, in a way. However, they were born of such a mindset that it was completely and totally their fault. That was when I learned that stories could cross in to other areas, depending on how the stories were written. This is also when I learned that successful authors created worlds for their characters, and as readers we should open ourselves up to look into these worlds. To see whether we love the characters as much as the authors do. To give them a chance. You never knew when you might be surprised. That book started me on my road to being a writer, even though I was just a child when I first read it. :)

Brina Cary said...

Time for the drawing!!!

And the winner is....

Rita Bay!!

Rita, you have won a $20 VISA gift card! :)

Philisha Stephens said...

I love fantasy, sci-fi, & paranormal because it can be anything. Not guessing how the story will proceed is the best part.

Charlotte said...

Fantasy is fantastic,( a little play on words there). It can take you through emotions you've never experienced. My super side kick would be my imaginary playmate, Kicky Stone; he was very inventive. He could make blow guns from bamboo,
Bows and arrows from chinaberry trees and oak saplings,weave ropes from corn stalks,and used them as traps and a whole array of other arms. I was actually the one who literally made these machines of destruction, but Kicky was my inspiration and he could really kick some knots on the heads of the enemy.There was more than just the protection aspect; there were the beautiful friendships and love connections found in fantasy.I love reading these stories.

Shadow said...

I love fantasy! The creativity, its amazing! I love to see what authors come up with! I find myself wondering alot "Why cant they turn this into a movie?!" lol I love something thats different, unique! I love authors that break molds, not afraid to invent, throw us into an adventure not yet chartered! Its all fascinating! Im not sure who my side kick would be. Hmm. Can i get back to you with that? My mind needs a bit to come up with something good! lol Thanks! :)