In which I have an opinion about fantasy fiction

In which I have an opinion about fantasy fiction

I know, this is very different from every other day of my life.

Today on Fantasy I have some commentary up about one of the things that annoy me about many fantasy stories and novels I have read:

…my biggest pet peeve is with stories and novels that lack specificity–specificity of place, time, culture, even ethnicity. The reader is given a default medieval Europe-type setting, filled it with random, unspecified peasant or royal types, no discernible culture beyond “they believe in magic” or “X fantastical creatures/races are real”, but not much else. Yes, there are characters who have personalities and Do Things and are specific, and the plot they find themselves in is spelled out, sometimes in great detail, and all of this is good. But it does not excuse the fact that the author has not done the work of creating a fully realized world, because so much of it is left nebulous, or left for the reader to fill in themselves. And I feel this makes for bad fantasy.

I would like to note that though this commentary came about because of the many, many, many conversations I had with folks surrounding the story posted on Monday, this commentary is not specifically about that story.  I am speaking to the trend.  Also, this is not the first time I’ve said something along these lines:

An editor can shout from the rooftops all he or she wants that they would love to see more stories by women, or by minorities, with female and minority characters. However, writers will not believe them if they look at the magazine and see nothing but Blandy McWhitey White in Blandy McNeighborhood in America or Blandy McMedieval Europe or Blandy McDefaulty Man in any setting anywhere.

I’m particularly proud of the phrase “Blandy McWhitey White”.

4 thoughts on “In which I have an opinion about fantasy fiction

  1. OMG! Blandy McWhitey White (trademark it now!) almost made me fall out of my chair laughing. AND that character is why I don’t read -or submit by own writing- as often as I would like.

    I’m so sick of hearing about that guy.

    And I’m even more tired of hearing how my characters aren’t this…that they’re scary and angry and…yep.

  2. I’ve often had issue because of the occurance of monocromatic fiction that charater idenities are left for the reader to assume they are white. This also counts on the line of setting and anything else that could give a unexpected flavor to fiction. It’s the reason I write what I do. I don’t know how many times Ive seen an excerpt of something (first chapter) from one of the NY publishers and there was no mention of setting or discriptions. I have no internal visual to go on at all. Not appealing to me as a reader.

  3. A friend of mine coined the phrase “Buffy McNotSoMuch” for the ever growing stable of identical kick-ass urban fantasy heroines. It thought it was hilarious!

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