1. The Name You Can’t Pronounce
No, this isn’t he who shall not be named. This is that name you have no friggen clue how to say. It’s got twelve hyphens and six apostrophes with no vowels and two Q’s at the end.
It’s names like, M’Tsluiqrth-Neiea, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Bene Tleilax, or Hermione (even JK Rowling had to give us clues how to pronounce that).
Why make it hard for us readers? When I come across someone’s unpronounceable name, I just make up my own name instead. Bene Tleilax (from Frank Herbert’s Dune) just becomes, “Bean Tax” every time I read it, which makes the name even more ridiculous than it was before!
If I could slap every author who uses an unpronounceable name, I’d have a very sore hand.
2. The Blonde-Eyed, Blue-Haired, Chiseled Body, 16-Year Old Main Character
This applies mostly to Young Adult, but unless your story is about an Adonis statue that has come to life, why is your main character the epitome of teenage perfection?
Did every fantasy writer miss the awkward years of pimple covered faces, squeaky voices, mysterious hair, and clumsy growth spurts?
3. The Ultimate Supreme Leader of the World Meets with Some Dumb Kid to Determine the Fate of Society
I’m looking at you, Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter, and every other Young Adult Dystopian Fantasy.
If real life has taught us anything, it’s that teenagers always know what’s right and are the true heroes of society. They just aren’t old enough to drink… or smoke… or drive… or vote… or have a job… or literally do anything but go to school. But that’s okay. That one awkward and quiet teen who sits in the back, who’s never had to balance a cheque book, or do income taxes, or even grocery shop, she’s the one who truly knows what’s right. Why? Well… because… of her heart or something about her staying true to herself… and every person in the country will look to her as a symbol of hope and freedom.
I imagine this is how the liberation of North Korea will come about.
4. Every Character Ever is White
In Fantasy Land, only white people exist. What’s even stranger is that other species are also portrayed white. Elves? White. Dwarves? White. Fairies? White. Hobbits? White. Alien races? White.
You’d think that with a genre where literally anything can happen, there would be more diversity. Wizards, Knights, Princesses, Villagers, Witches… Everyone is white!
5. Time Warp Travel
Okay, so I get that it would be boring to read about a group of people walking for three weeks (with the exception of Tolkien, *wink*). But, everything in Fantasy Land seems to happen so damn fast!
I did my research. A horse can only travel 30 miles/day, which means that a lot of fantasy novels are going to need a reality check.
6. Wounds Heal Instantly
Last time I stubbed my toe, I took a week off work, but that character who just got a sword to the shoulder? He said “ouch” when it happened, and it’s all good now.
There’s also zero risk of infection, and broken bones are somehow still usable. How is nobody calling these instances out?
“Wait a minute… didn’t that character just break his leg and now he’s walking again?”
Shhhhh… Shhhh… It’s okay. Just let the chloroform make you sleep.
7. Super Duper Flowery Descriptions
The elegance of the indigo twilight settled calmly across the still, baby bird blue, watery lake as a gentle breeze brought fine scents of freshly cut spring daffodils to her soft, pale, perfectly round nostrils.
Some fantasy novels need to come with a knife so the reader can put themselves out of their misery.
Okay, okay. I get it.
The genre is called “Fantasy” for a reason, which means anything can or cannot happen with or without rules, so I shouldn’t complain. Gosh!
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P.S. The Moon King
I’ve written my own fantasy novel and I’m definitely guilty of a lot of these terribly annoying clichés.
Since you’re reading this, why not read my novel, The Moon King? You can read the first it here. You can take a big red marker and highlight every cliché I made and send it back to me so I can feel bad, like I should.