Opinion needed on my world.

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by AnyaKimlin, Dec 7, 2011.

  1.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    Have just had some comments back from a Brit Awards assessor and mostly they are positive. She had an issue with the synopsis, but the chapters themselves were fine. It's the negative I need your opinions on lol part of me says I can't bloody change it because it will totally muck up my world.

    The Negative is:

    However, stylistically it can be confusing. Why would another world talk about 'gits' and have boys who wear jeans? Although this may be an intentional device to connect readers to your world, this is not standard in the fantasy genre and may cause agents / publishers concern.

    My not very considered I just got this back response:


    It isn't an intentional device to connect readers to my world. It is my world, it's set in a contempoary time frame to our own (with some constraints that make it different like in a world when people can turn into birds - developing aeroplanes took longer) and is not an historical-like world. When my MCs dad, the king, is dressed in his uniform, my MC states he looks like something out of a history book. The world also has a character who left Earth in 2010 along with a religious band of Brethren and arrived on the planet (it's a Noah type story he's commanded to build an 'ark' which links to another story later where one of my character's becomes the 'god' that commanded him). The man spoke English so my planet probably speaks a version of English.

    Is it just confusing to her because when it said high-fantasy she was expecting a medieval world? (even though the synopsis stated it was a time similar to our own) None of my previous fantasy addicted readers of the book have found it confusing, or can I really not write a fantasy set in another 'modern' world ? I've put the first two pages up in critiques (wary about adding any more).
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
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    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    Um I don't know what a Brit Awards assessor is, so it's difficult to know how informed she's likely to be.

    Sounds like -- as you said -- the problem could be the term 'high fantasy'. I know it means invented worlds, but there's perhaps a hint of Tolkein about it? On wikipedia the examples are all medieval-ish worlds, I think. If I was told something was 'high fantasy' I'd be visualising swords and damsels and all that stuff -- yours reads as more urban/ modern, I think.
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    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    Could I call it contemporary high-fantasy? I really don't want to change the world -- it seems to work. The only medieval elements are because of tradition - like the age of the palace, uniforms etc and issues relating to my immortals means swords are still in use.


    The Brit Awards are for unpublished writers. I knew it wasn't ready but figured I may as well try it and sent Mayhem in last year. Then in October they offered to act as readers for several agents/publishers and gave us under a week to get a submission in. The book was ready but the synopsis/title page etc rushed. (Which is where most of the deserved, negative criticism was aimed lol - that was the only negative aimed at the manuscript).
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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Without checking the definition, I would also expect "high fantasy" to have a medieval-type setting. Having said that, this probably isn't the problem as far as the other person is concerned, since it would have been obvious from the first page that your world wasn't like that. She just seems to have a fairly narrow view of fantasy. Many fantasy worlds have jeans -- those in Iron Dragon's Daughter and The Year of Our War to name two. Yes, it might not be standard in the fantasy genre, but fantasy is a genre that could do with less standardness in my opinion.
  5.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    Thanks Hare I knew I'd read one with jeans before - it was Iron Dragon's Daughter (I'm not good at remembering authors and titles). Harry Potter is High Fantasy and they wore jeans.

    Maybe I need to go back to the drawing board with the subgenre. High-fantasy was a rocky choice as well, because in later books I do have a secondary world, but that secondary world is Earth lol
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    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    Is there a definition of "high fantasy"? I've never been good about thesedifferent subgenres; I get the same problem when being informed a musical group plays black metal, death metal or some other alloy. Perhaps invent a new term for it, to really confuse matters.

    I see no reason whatsoever fantasy should not be contemporary; historically it quite often will have been. Assuming that everything written more recently must conform to the environment or taste of the 'traditional' fantasy and myth is like insisting that no decent music has been composed since Bach adopted the equitempered scale. And while I do not consider jeans or T-shirts inevitable vestimentary evolutions, they do give a practical, relaxed image, foreign to most royal garb. And it's fairly obvious that spilling royal blood here does not involve a high risk of immediate execution, so I suspect aristocracy's importance has diminished as far there as it has here.
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    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    Possibly the assessor means that if you want to play you have to play by the rules made by finance-orientated publishers and agents. If you give them something outside of what they might consider fantasy, high or otherwise, they pick up their ball and go home.

    I learned in academia that being different is a heck of a lot easier if you're established. Don't know if that helps.:)
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    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    @Chris thanks. I have got past head scratching to realising if I do have to change that element I may as well throw it up on Kindle, and work on my other stories. Changing it is going to involve changing the MC drastically and therefore the story, all the interactions etc. I am just not always sure if my initial reaction to comments is hotheaded. Her other comments were good, that it was a solid commercial piece, the language and characters drew her in etc She then went on to recommend I see a literary consultant so I did wonder if it was a way to plug their sponsors.

    They might not look like jeans and t-shirts, but it's whatever their equivelent would be and what they would translate as. I have the odd made up word or phrase- that is in the language of the ancient indigenous tribe, but not a full language. It's important because of the transformation Angus undergoes - it has to happen fairly quickly and one of the ways is when he changes his clothes.

    They are still absolute monarchs - but Angus' father is even more weak-willed than he is. His grandfather was of the chop their head off variety, so things are more relaxed than they were.

    I think the relaxation is because the monarch doesn't have his heart in it. (so I bump him off lol) He's the very last elemental monarch - the others have been exiled from their countries.

    @Abernovo I learned the same thing in academia. I wasn't very good at being the same then - I did tend to stick out and was fortunate to have one professor that encouraged it.
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    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    I don't understand the problem here (I'm probably being really thick). There are -- as you say -- lots and lot of fantasy books where people wear jeans etc.

    Just because this one person thinks it's a problem doesn't mean it actually is.

    Also, if you call it something other than 'high' fantasy surely part of the problem goes away? Call it 'parallel world' fantasy or something?

    It seems to me that the problem is with expectations and definitions rather than with the world itself. If you find the right way to describe it to people you can overcome their inaccurate expectations.
  10.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    That's what I was trying to work out lol I don't understand the comment I guess (I can cope very well with your work is pigging awful or other negatives, but the one's I don't understand I struggle with, because I worry I've missed something)- my fantasy reading is patchy, I love pre-Tolkein and read the really popular things: Terry Pratchett, Harry Potter, and a variety of other things I can't remember the names of. I needed to hear those with more experience.

    I need to reclassify it I guess. Just no idea as what lol Unless I just call it contemporary high-fantasy, can I make up my own sub genre and not look like an idiot ?


    This is how I have currently described it:
    Mayhem is a 97,000 word, young-adult high fantasy novel. It is aimed at the older end of the age group

    The story is set on the fictional planet, Litae, at the heart of the universe. The technology and lifestyle are similar to Earth in 2011. Prince Angus Lorenzo's fists have got him into trouble again, but this time the consequences of a fight could destroy all his dreams. Overnight his life changes when his sister kills their father and his older brother chooses his lover over the throne. Angus discovers the 'magical' power in the environment around him which aids him as he goes from clueless teen to a wise young king.
  11.  
    Boneman

    Boneman Active Member

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    I'll be honest and say that if it's a different world, I find it a little intrusive to have colloquialisms that evidently don't belong in that world, and have found it generally appears to be 'lazy' writing. I know yours isn't, and you have to remember it's only my expectations that are being set up, one way or the other. You never see a bra in another world, do you? But you might see stays and corsets, which only confuses the issue.

    HP was set firmly in this world, and I haven't read the ones HB suggested, so maybe it can work. And I get tripped up by High Fantasy, and Mid Fantasy and Low fantasy and steampunk fantasy - none of the descriptors are helpful - whenever I've sent off my work, I just call it fantasy with a two line description of the world.

    You might want to see what I said in response to the newcomer question, about synopses, and I'm going over to critiques to read your work...

    As Hex said, it's only one person saying it, so hopefully you'll get lots of replies and a more balanced argument...
  12.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    Umm I have a bra in mine ... lol There's probably more than one but only one is ever on display.

    Hubby suggested I could make the mobile phone and laptop steam powered and call it steampunk lol not sure that works either. (Although there are steampunk elements to a time travel I wrote in the same world).

    OK off to read your advice :) And that is what I was hoping for was a more balanced opinion on the world.

    Your advice on the synopsis thread is what I have read about other agencies and publishers as well. Hmm oh what the heck I'll throw it up - get feedback and then grow a set and start submitting it properly.

    It's just frustrating, because the only three reasons she gave for not passing it to an agent were that, something that was down to a technical issue on their end (which I reported), and the synopsis didn't tell the story fully. Her other comments were rather good.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  13.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    Why do you feel the need to call it "high" fantasy, contemporary or otherwise? As Hex says, it's the word that's the problem, not necessarily the concept of the novel itself. Don't try and be clever in giving it a fancy subgenre-title, just call it "fantasy" and leave it at that.

    I have to say I agree with Boneman. As written it runs the risk of being thought poor writing/world-building by using modern-day idioms/settings if it isn't in fact set in the present day here and now. And if the clothes don't look like jeans and t-shirt, than you're not doing yourself any favours by using those words, since they bring distinct cultural baggage with them. Decide what the items do in fact look like and use the correct terms for them -- if need be research other Earth cultures and use their terminology.
  14.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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  15.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    One of the reasons it didn't jar with me was that I assumed - we all know what they say about that - this section was set in this world; America, I thought. If that isn't the case it would need to be clearer.
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    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    To me they look like jeans and t-shirts. It's mostly similar to now. There are naturally differences that their cultures, places, available ores etc place on them. I don't feel a huge urge to even call it fantasy to be honest, but it is.

    Calling it high-fantasy entirely came from some other feedback from an agent last year where it was suggested I needed to be more specific about the kind of fantasy it was. Up until that point it was fantasy.
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    Dozmonic

    Dozmonic Member

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    I'd be more concerned reading "an historical" rather than having jeans in fantasy :-0
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    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    To be honest that has been my feeling this year - I am unsure how much of it is to get me to part with pennies. (I don't have any so haven't lol)

    from what you have submitted, the assessors could not refer your work to agents immediately, but they see great potential here. The issues highlighted above can be rectified easily, so before you go any further with this, we suggest that you need a consultancy to advice on your synopsis, positioning the book for an agent/publisher, highlighting USPs and ensuring that the main plots are woven into the synopsis which also needs some basic formatting.[…]
    You need to find an experienced literary consultant/marketing expert that can help you with this. […] If you would like us to arrange this for you, please let me know immediately.”


    I did get this as a response in my email, but some of it was clear she had read parts of it though, from other bits. A lot of the way it has been run felt a bit tin pot, and incredibly disorganised.
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    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    I'm just really suspicious. I almost got had by someone (writing wise!) when I was in my teens. When somebody else told me that it was a scam I was so disappointed! So I'm always a bit cautious now. :)
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    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Can I just say, having read the article, I'd be careful how much you put up here about them; they seem very litigatious.

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