Kate Elliott August 15th, 2006
1. Saving the World
Because the stakes donâ€™t get any bigger than this!
2. The Prettiest! Girl!! Evah!!!
I just finished writing my version of this character in Spirit Gate, although I hasten to note that the character has no Special Powers (see #3).
The inspiration for her came, in the most general sense, from an actual young woman who sold fruit at a street stall in the small Mexican town where we lived for six months while my husband did archaeological research. People really did talk about her as the most beautiful girl in that town. And she really was.
3. Special Powers (see also #2 above)
When I was 16, I desperately wanted Special Powers. Now and again I indulge my 16-year-old self.
On second thought, forget my protestations of maturity. All of my protagonists have Special Powers (except the character referenced in #2, above), although I suppose I could argue that my mandate for what constitutes a Special Power is broader than otherwise. Or perhaps I am just saying so to make myself feel better and so that you all will take me seriously (and avert your sophisticated eyes from the Chosen Ones and Lost Heirs cluttering up my tales).
I like to write about people who are at minimum competent at several things, and preferably highly skilled at one, which is a kind of garden variety Special Power.
My secret crush? Someday I want to write a super-hero story. I love super-hero/ines, and their Special Powers.
4. Beauty = Virtue and Ugliness = Evil
Compress this to drop out the center, and you get Beauty = Evil.
At its heart this can be just as cliched as either of the others.
Still, I had way too much fun with this in Crown of Stars.
I am a total sucker for elves, the sense of the perilous, the high-mindedness, the aesthetic eye, the built-in environmentalism, the gorgeousity and the athleticism. Orlando Bloom!
Oh, all right, sometimes they might seem merely like super-model jet-setters who are oh so talented with music, in which case, I am not so much interested.
And on that note:
6. Too many hot men and/or hot women as main characters.
Are you kidding? This is fantasy, isnâ€™t it? Just be thankful I donâ€™t try to write kinky sex.
7. Special Animal Companions
Dogs rule! How I love their slavish adoration of their masters!
But I admit I am not so fond of the special telepathic communication skills. However, Iâ€™m sure I would write a story of special animal companions with telepathic communication skills if I could come up with a way to do so, which I so far have not.
8. Failure to Abuse the System
When people donâ€™t make or take obvious shortcuts or mess with the technology/magic in non-standard ways in order to keep the plot in line (see Kevin’s post).
When I donâ€™t do this, itâ€™s not because I want to keep things orderly to keep the plot in line, but because all too often things donâ€™t occur to me that might occur immediately to others.
Like: â€œwell, gee, couldnâ€™t she just have hit him in the head with the axe?â€ â€œOh, gosh, so she could have; why didnâ€™t I think of that when I was writing that scene?â€
9. Changing the names of coffee and tea.
Because you just canâ€™t win in this situation.
If you use â€œcoffeeâ€ and â€œteaâ€ in the context of a â€œnon-Earthâ€ fantasy world, someone will criticize you for using Earth-specific terms in a fantasy world. And if you donâ€™t, then youâ€™re stuck with what can admittedly become tiresome attempts at made-up words.
Of course, I have used other â€œEarth-specificâ€ names for creatures and plants and objects, so feel free to call me fickle or a hypocrite on this position.
10. Dumb Naming Conventions
Sorry. Iâ€™ll try to do better next time.
Hey, I like stew.