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Fantasy Friday! Traipsing through the Tropes

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

The falcon soared on the morning wind. It spied two figures around a fire and dove. It circled the pair of men talking about their fire.

An old man stirred the pot that hung over the fire. “When we reach the city we can find help and re-gain your kingdom.”

The young man scratched his head. “Funny to think a poor orphan like me is heir to a kingdom.”

The bird of prey alighted on a branch and cocked it’s head. “A common trope lingering in this wilderness? I must hear more!”

The orphan-prince and others are common in fantasy. From Tolkien onward it’s almost prerequisite to use the trope in epic fantasy – so much so that many readers are turned off by it. Many have fled to gray fantasy were there are no clear delineations between good and evil, right and wrong.

But why is the notion and others like it used so often? A missing heir or one who was usurped is excellent for conflict. Likewise, the orphan elicits sympathy through perceived weakness. It likely roots much further back in history to many tales of fallen nations and city-states. One such example is that of the Princes in the Tower during the Wars of the Roses.

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

This plot element has some basic uses for writing in fantasy the main one being conflict. The political or ethical conflict behind this trope and others like it are the grist of many a fantasy. These constructs have ready-made rivalries so it’s easy to use when writing.

Is the average tale of winning back the kingdom for the old family’s sake worth telling? In my opinion yes – but only as necessary. I think a writer must ask themselves the question, “Can it be told differently?” If the answer is no then the author should use this trope – or any other common one.

However, to use a common trope, one must do so with care or risk turning off readers. Some twisting is necessary so be inventive. If I want a well-worn path for my reading, I’ll just pick up my copy of Tolkien.

But if the answer to the question above is yes, then start re-plotting your outline. What the story can bear in being unique in the marketplace is most important.

Whichever way you go consider your presentation. Don’t follow in someone else’s footprints. Forge off the beaten path – trope or not.

The young man lifted his arm and balled his hand. “I’ll win back the kingdom!” His sleeve slid and revealed his forearm.

The old man leaned forward and squinted. “Your arm – there’s no mark.”

“Of course not. What are you talking about?”

The elderly fellow commenced packing his things. “You’re not the one.”

“What do you mean? You said I was.”

“I was wrong.”

The falcon screeched. “Looks like they have a twist. How far will it go.”

The old man hefted his pack and marched away.

“Wait! What will I do now? What does this mark look like?” The poor orphan grabbed the old man. “Maybe we can do this anyway.”

Just because the trope has been used is no reason not to use it. While readers may assume much based on the trope and reject the book out of hand there is no edict against using the basic concept of a common trope – just use it well and communicate with your blurb that you usage is different.

The Bow of DestinyWhat tropes bother you? Have you got a common trope that you’re using anyway? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Fantasy Friday! Cryptids Read Books Too – Sorta

Bigfoot CrossingI’m sure you’ve heard the stories about some well-meaning but unrealistic “researcher” who goes looking for a famous cryptid. What’s that? What’s a cryptid? Sorry – that’s a creature which is undiscovered but may “likely” exist. It’s your basic Lock Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Abominable Snowman (Yeti) and other such creatures reported to have been seen but always appearing in bad photography.

Well, apparently they read books so that’s where you can find them. No, not really. Actually, the rare creatures you’re seeking as an author are reviewers. The big question is where to find them, not whether they actually exist. So how do you find St. George’s Dragon or El Chupacabra? Here are 5 ways to find them.

Dragon Symbol1. Amazon – check your favorite books in the genre(s) in which you write for reviewers. This can be time-consuming, especially since many of these reviewers are back-logged or have guidelines.

2. Join a book club – I’m a VIP member of Rave Reviews Book Club by Nonnie Jules where I give and receive author support. Several members have given me helpful, honest reviews and I’ve handed out a few myself (I’m back-logged so be aware of my loooong time-table). Be aware when joining such a club that you may need to review a minimum number of books during a calendar year to remain an active member.

3. Facebook – yep, there are groups on Facebook where authors can meet reviewers. One such group is Reveiw Seekers. Take a look and be aware that there are requirements for such groups such as not plugging your book.

4. Goodreadscryptids reviewers are lurking all over the place here. The secret is to go out and interact with other readers before asking for reviews. It’s likely that you will attract one just by being in a group and joining discussions.

5. Twitter – it’s a bit more of a tall order but try these hashtags: #reviewers & #bookreviewers. Tweet that you are looking for a reviewer for your book as well as your genre. Someone may just notice and offer to review your work.

As always, when dealing with reviewers be willing to offer a copy of your book for free. Always remain polite and thank the reviewer whether the result is good or bad – the latter being part of life so don’t lose sleep over them.

Bonus Info: Here’s a list of 10 cryptids that turned out to be real. So don’t laugh, that hairy neighbor could be Bigfoot.

The Bow of DestinyHave you been cryptid reviewer hunting? Where have you gotten your books reviewed? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Bigfoot Crossing photo – Used by Permission of MorgueFile.com, taken by earl53

Fantasy Friday! The Roots of My Fantasy Writing

Lots of writers have roots for their writing. Sometimes we know exactly from where our source material springs. However, other pieces from our work may not be so obvious.

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OregontreesI’ve been thinking about the various settings in my upcoming book and realized there are a number of places I’ve visited in the past that serve as the basis for these fictional locations. They seem common for fantasy but they are more specific for me and aren’t based on previous fantasy worlds, familiar though they may seem.

For instance, Auguron Forest is actually based on a place I visited in Oregon as a child where the trees were enormous, some of the largest cedars in the world exist west of the Cascade Mountains (notice #2 on this list). Eagle’s Aerie which appears early in the book is based on an actual rock formation on the coast of Oregon, though not exact in reference. It’s called Haystack Rock and you’ve probably seen it in pictures. Without giving too much away, there are settings that occur underground that remind me of caves I’ve visited.

haystackrockLooking forward to the next book, there are travels in mountains based both on places I’ve been and those about which I’ve read. Another location is The Funnel where pivotal events from the main character’s life occurred. I was rather surprised a few years ago to visit a place very familiar to me and realize that it was the basis for that setting (I don’t want to give that away yet so maybe in about seven month’s time I’ll write about it).

The point is that, especially in fantasy, you may think you are influenced by other fantasy writers who have gone before you. You may think your ideas come from nowhere. You may think you have no experiences from which to draw. However, there may be more to your writing than what you think. Seemingly forgotten, or even mundane, events or trips from you life may be the real roots of scenes, settings, characters and pivotal events.

BOD FinalFantasy is fantasy – it’s filled with places like almost anywhere you may have visited. What I write often references what I’ve seen but it’s not necessarily something from what I’ve read from any other author. What’s more, what a reader associates with a fantasy locale may be entirely different from what I envision – that’s personal, what someone’s read or where they’ve been. The trick is to get the reader into what I’m writing enough so that they envision story from their own experiences.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Interested in more of my writing? Just click one of the retailer banners on the sidebar to see more.

About the Author

P. H. SIMG_4154-Editolomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, ru
nning, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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