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Fantasy Friday! Cavernous Kingdoms Aren’t Real – Or Are They?

If there’s a common fantasy theme that’s almost a trope it’s dwarven kingdoms of huge proportions. All those dwarven kingdoms hiding beneath fantasy mountains couldn’t exist though – right? There are no caves that long or deep. People don’t live like that out of the sun. That’s right isn’t it? It’s just the stuff of fantasy and that’s fine if you can stand that well-worn trope once again.

Or isn’t it?

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Here are some real-life underground, caves and dwellings that defy your understanding of what’s possible and where people have – and do – still live.

Cavernous Kingdoms 1First, let’s talk about caves. Most of us think of the tight places of tales and local legends and maybe visited a few pretty amazing caves with some pretty amazing formations. I’ve been in a few over the years and some provided quite a trek. But fantasy books come up with some pretty outlandish settings that just can’t exist – right. Wrong. There are some places underground around the world that have never been fully explored because they are so enormous. Some were lived in by numerous people on a daily basis. Let’s visit some:

First, here’s a list of the deepest caves in the world from Wikipedia. The deepest of which, Krubera, was explored in a National Geographic special.

But what about those massive caves described in some books which go on for who knows how long? Yep, those exist too. Case in point – Hang Son Doong in Vietnam which has some mind-blowing proportions and has never been fully explored.

Next, let’s discus cavernous dwellings because everyone knows that while people have taken shelter in caves for thousands of year there just aren’t vast dwellings out there. Well, there are some examples.

Derinkuyu – this underground city in Turkey is actually the largest of numerous, ancient underground cities in the region. This place could hold thousands of people – and animals.

NCavernous Kingdoms2abateans/Petra – is an ancient city built into a mountain which is famous from movies. The Nabateans were able to store and control their water supply in cisterns with a system of channels. This location became the main stopping point along caravan routes which meant the inhabitants collected lots of money in taxes. He who controls the water controls the gold.

What about those vast mines dwarves are always making? Yep there are several. One excellent example is Wielczka Salt Mines. This mine was open for about 700 years in Poland and runs for over 170 miles. It is adorned with statues and chapels and is now a major tourist attraction.

Cavernous Kingdoms 3So when reading fantasy and those incredible dwarven kingdoms are part of the plot, they have some basis in reality. Whenever there’s a major underground trip in a book, it may not even rival what exists in the real world. Authors would do well to research many of these caves, cities and mines as they provide excellent source material for describing them in any work of fiction, especially fantasy. Take a look around on the internet and you’ll find that people still live in underground complexes all over the world so don’t rule out books because you think of this as a well-worn trope in fantasy literature – it’s already well-worn in real life.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyPlease 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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Photos via morfile.com free section

 

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