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Writing Books/Fantasy cliches


Hi, I'm an beginning, unpublished writer with my eyes on the fantasy genre. I have a general question and a specific question about fantasy.
I'm worried about potential cliches - removing them, toning them down, smoothing them out, or making them more acceptable as my story requires.
My question is, are ideas that have been seen before (dragons, objects of huge power, spunky princesses, evil curses, ruined castles etc) more or less likely to bore the reader when they are potential cliches of plot, potential cliches of character, or potential cliches of setting etc?
My second question is this: are flying horses (I saw you wince!) a cliche if they actually have a place in my world's economy and culture?


Certain things in fantasy literature are considered pretty much standards.  And everything you've mentioned would fall into that category.  There's nothing inherently cliche about them.

They become cliche when you don't do anything original with them.  If your treatment of them doesn't raise an eyebrow on your readers' faces... if everything they do is expected behavior in the minds of your readers... then they're cliche.  But if you twist things around, you can avoid all that.

Look at what Anne Rice did for vampire fiction.  She breathed new life into a genre that was riddled with cliche.  Because she treated the vampires like real people, rather than semi-mystical creatures or animals.

So throw in all the pegasi that you like.  I'll only wince if you give me reason to.  :)

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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