Writing original fantasy fiction is hard.

I found myself at a bit of a quandary while fleshing out some of the background details for... something... I'm working on. I realised that it is remarkably difficult to avoid some of the fantasy tropes that we've all grown accustomed to since the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis captured our imaginations. When we think of fantasy novels we immediately thing of Dragons, Elves and Dwarves and the like and already have well formed preconceptions of what those things mean.

Even as the storyteller it is far too easy to fall into this trap. Possibly even more distressing is that the more you try and avoid these fictional stereotypes the more you draw parallels between your creations and the ones you're trying not to imitate. There's also an argument that in trying to create something that is more and more unfamiliar, you run the risk of losing the ability to create a meaningful connection between the concept you want to portray and your reader.

Surely the job of fiction is to actually tell the truth. It’s a paradox that’s at the heart of any kind of storytelling.
— Jeremy Northam

It's also true, that it's not intrinsically bad to write a story about Elves and Dwarves, with swords and sorcery abound. The real challenge is in forging a compelling narrative within the world that you have created, and portraying that world in an engaging way regardless of what you have or haven't borrowed from established cultural expectations of the genre. You need only look at the Twilight novels to prove that the right story will be popular with the right audience even if it borrows heavily from decades worth of established literature (whether you like the books or not).

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