Fantasy Clichés–Avoided!

OR, Not Another Prophecy About ‘The One!’

I just ran across this list of tired, overdone clichés in fantasy novels, and decided to post it up here. Since, after all, I didn’t get a proper post out on Thursday…

I was SO surprised to see the fantasy I’ve started posting on this blog doesn’t fall into too many of the clichés… which means it’s got a few original elements in it, I guess.

Here are the first couple items:

  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn’t know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about “The One” who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?

The rest can be read here.

But I will be the first to argue that re-telling an old story is not always bad – see this previous post of mine. Also, this page on TVtropes sums it up quite well. But clichés can be quite tiring and irritating, especially in fantasy.

What about you? If you’ve ever tried your hand at fantasy, how many of these traps have you fallen into? And do you think any of these so-called “clichés” can still be useful for writers?

Check out Why Polly? to see for yourself if I avoided any of these clichés!


Filed under On Writing, Why Polly? Extras

7 responses to “Fantasy Clichés–Avoided!

  1. My favorite: “Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named “Tim Umber” and “Belthusalanthalus al’Grinsok”?”

    This list is too funny. Thanks for sharing.


  2. LoL!! Love the list.. though, sometimes I think it’s hard to avoid some of those “cliches”… That’s basically saying, you can’t have any love in a romance novel. It’s gotta have some elements of “fantasy” in it, be it magic or fantastical creatures or circumstances & events.. 🙂


    • that was my thought when reading it – they pretty much named every fantasy element possible (dwarves, elves, etc.), so how can you have a fantasy novel without any of that? Maybe you just have to be aware it’s a cliche, and try to use it in an original way.


  3. When i read the words “Prophecy about ‘The One,'” my brain instantly thought “Someone telling you something about the person you’re going to marry.” I guess I’ve been cliche-struck by a different kind of fantasy culture.


  4. Very interesting reading Harmamae. I think whether we write fantasy or any type of literature we can all fall into the trap of using cliches. It is good to stay away from them if we really want to write with a fresh breeze of creativity. Thank you for sharing this.


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