The other day I came across a forum dedicated to discussing the fantasy genre. While perusing it, I found some interesting insights, several helpful suggestions, and a few complaints. There was one particular complaint that caught my attention: About the direction the genre is heading. I decided to check this one out.
While reading the different posts, I came across one person in particular who was complaining that all the fantasy books out there now are boring, mundane, or just plain more of the same. This individual wanted to see some more cutting edge writing, something that didn’t just follow the same old pattern. I saw his point. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something new, something different.
However, that doesn’t mean the old ‘tried and true’ has nothing to offer.
In my opinion, there are two broad categories in the fantasy genre: Classic Fantasy and Cutting Edge Fantasy. Both, I feel, are very important to the genre and its continued development.
Classic Fantasy, as you might imagine, sticks to a formula. You have your average, everyday main character who is up against fantastic odds but somehow manages to overcome these odds. I like classic fantasy. As a kid, I liked believing (well, I still do) that someone like me, pretty average and mundane with no special talents to speak of, can do extraordinary things. I think we all need to believe that on some level we are special. Classic fantasy gives us that hope. I have also learned with age that each person and each generation needs to be reminded of certain things, even though these things have already been said many times, many ways. Yes, themes repeat themselves, but it’s a necessary repetition. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of certain wisdoms or I find myself going astray, forgetting that I can do bigger things than I believe I can.
Cutting edge fantasy, as with all new twists, is also important. Much as I like my standards, I find that I still have much to learn about life. So when someone comes along who challenges my beliefs, makes me question what I think, I love that, as well. Cutting edge fantasy points out directions we might need to go in our fantasy worlds. It breaks through barriers we have erected with our safe, warm and cozy classic fantasies. Sometimes, we just need to be shaken up.
While I feel that what I write (at least for now) is more classic fantasy, maybe someday I will challenge myself to go beyond the old formula - maybe create something entirely different. The question is, do I have the imagination to come up with something new and groundbreaking? I’m not sure. You’ll just have to wait and see.