NaNoWriMo Brings you: Fantasy Pet Peeves

Participant-2014-Twitter-ProfileNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) is soon upon us and the forums are buzzing with posts about ideas people have, help others, discussing the written language, or sharing of their fears.

For me, NaNo is like the Little League World Series. Countries all over the world coming together to compete, except it is more like Golf, since this is more of an individual achievement than a team achievement. For some, it is a pathway to becoming a writer, others it is a hobby that is fun and challenging.


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One great thing about NaNo is the forums. It’s a great way to find advice to help you become a better writer. Upon searching the forums, I found a great diamond in the rough with the post Your Fantasy Pet Peeves. People added in some annoyances they have with Fantasy and I pulled out a few I thought were really good. Take a look and if there is anything you think I got wrong, please post below. If you have any others, post below or go to NaNo forums and post there.

Proper use of horses

War Where No One Dies – It’s War, someone should die.

Rebelling Princesses – A princess who is against her father (or mother) and acts out or joins a rebellion. More than that, the Princess is generally seen as the hero of the story, and her parents are evil.

Dumbass in Distress – strong female character becomes helpless when her skills would be useful, especially when they are kidnapped and they could easily get out of it. Generally done for the sake of the plot, while trying to show women are capable as warriors, but still easily get captured. Term originates (at least where I first heard it) from Nostalgia Critic’s review of “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court”

Ding Dong, My IQ’s Gone – a character shows to be really smart and skillful becomes the complete opposite when a love interest comes into a scene. Can me male or female. Similar to Dumbass in Distress. DiD is related to being captured, this deals with them being in love and dumbing themselves down.

Impossible Kickass Combatants – While an average male and female can fight and possibly win, this becomes annoying when a weaker person can kick the ass of a well-trained combatant or soldier, without the assistance of some magic. All things being equal and everyone being highly trained, then it is entirely possible for a woman to defeat a man, or a man to defeat a woman. Like Samwise defeating Goblins or Bilbo defeating an Orc (or whatever it was).

Predetermined Chosen One – The story identifies your character through prophesy, and no matter what happens to them, they will overcome any obstacle. Why? Because they are the Chosen One. Of course, they will also win at the end.

Author Preaching through Narrative – As writers, we all have our own politics and ways to live our lives. Sometimes our stories can be a reflection our those beliefs or ideas, but one should be careful not to over do it. It can get annoying if you lay it on a little thick by focusing a little too much on a character that shares your belief, or a character learning that your way of life is better than the alternative. You can still insert some of your politics into the story, but make it more subtle than preachy.

Too Much Sex, Too Much Nudity – As humans, we tend to love sex. But unless you are doing erotica, you should only have sex scenes when they add to the plot, not have them for the sake of having them, to help increase sales.

Mastering a skill within a few days – To truly master a skill, one must train for many years, if not their lifetime. Yet some stories have a farm boy given a sword and by the next chapter, able to defeat an orc three times his size with ease.

One Solution to rule them all – LotR gave us the simple solution to destroy the ring in a volcano. However, the solution in a story shouldn’t always be all encompassing. There should be a variety of solutions to choose from and characters deciding what is the best for them to pursue.

Breaking Worldbuilding to Facilitate Plot – Your world is one way, but instantly becomes something else for the convenience of plot. Perhaps everyone hates mages, yet your mage saves the world and is instantly loved. This is unlikely. Despite the mage saving the world, people would still be quick to hate the mage. Such change takes time to overcome, not hate one day love the next.

Villains will automatically lose – Many play on the trope that yes, they will lose, but the question is how. How about we play the game of, they actually win, but to what degree? Or, there is a chance they could win, but leave it as a surprise which happens.

Strong Females Are Generally Tomboys — A girl can be strong and formidable and still enjoy the comforts of nice clothing, loves makeup, and can sew. In fact, most character should know how to sew, men or women. A girl can be girly and still be a tough fighter. Example: Ty Lee from Avatar

A Mentors Touch Makes It Work – Someone fails at a magical spell and a mentor/teacher whispers in their ear, or tells them to focus, and they suddenly can do it.

Insta-Stew – Stew is often a staple of Fantasy realms and medieval setting. It can be over used, but it’s generally the best way to cook for a group. However, Stew takes time to cook. In a modern crockpot, it can take 3 – 4 hours on high, and 7 – 8 hours on low (I know, I own 3 crockpots). If you eat it after 10 minutes, as some stories suggest, you will be greatly disappointed.

Only Women Know How to Cook and Clean – Your MMC or other popular male character don’t know how to cook, or knit, or embroider. If your character is on the road a lot, they likely know how to do many things, and don’t need a woman to be around just for those chores. It is also possible that if your males don’t know it, then the female warrior doesn’t know how to do it. Females shouldn’t be instantly designated to domestic care within a group.

Plain Names No More – Many stories want to have characters with fantastical names that have some hidden special meaning. What about having a Bob, or Sally, or even Mike? Names without special meaning, that are just names people have.

Faulty Worldbuilding – Why is the same currency used in the next country over? Why does everyone speak the same language? This inconsistency becomes problematic, and disrupts immersion with a story. Unless there is a really good reason for it (which you will need to explain), two Kingdoms will develop differently in all things, including money and language.

No Middle Class Heroes – Either the Hero comes from noble origins or the Hero comes from poverty. Rarely do we see a character who came from a family that may not have a lot of fancy stuff, but they never worried where their next meal comes from.

I thank those on the NaNo Forum, this is a great list. If I see anymore, I may add to this list.

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