Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Smell Elf!

I'm sorry, but we appeared on the cover, so we must fight.
There’s very little genre fiction, especially fantasy, I won’t read, provided the writing is good. I have a strong love any world where a dragon can make an appearance.  The scaly beastie doesn’t have to actually show up, but the fact that one can—please and thank you!

That said, some authors worry about relying too much on genre tropes.  Gripes have been offered that werewolves and vampires and dragons and elves have all been overused.

That’s racist!

Elves, dragons, wizards, etc., should all get an initial pass because that's the genre that you’re reading—something of that nature is at least anticipated, if not expected. Except unicorns because screw unicorns! That expectation is especially true if the cover on the book includes and elf fighting a dragon. Then, they damn well better appear, and they’d better throw down in an epic fight that crosses miles of land and scorches hundreds of homes!

Pelves—Like elves, but with gravity-defying breasts!
On the other hand, if an author is writing about a species that we'll call "Pelves", and goes on about their pointy ears, lithe and willowy bodies, ancient wisdom, etc., then I tend to get a touch annoyed. The author is clearly trying to avoid a trope, but only by changing the name, not the fundamentals.

If you’re worried about racial tropes, then give your readers a new take on a classic. Say what you will about Stephanie Meyers, she at least provided a well thought out concept of her Sparkly Vampires that was different.  After all, it’s not necessarily what the character’s background is, so much as who is the character.  Likeable, smarmy, with a side of sarcasm goes a long way no matter which forest kingdom she hails.

So go on, write that elf v. dwarf epic that’s been crawling around your brain—just make certain your characters, dialogue, and plot are all solid.

No comments:

Post a Comment