Here is one of my favorite cliché checkers. Diana Wynne Jones put together this magnificent and quite entertaining guide for the world of Fantasy. She has gone through, defined and commented on every aspect of Fantasy that needs to need to be considered when writing the genre. For all those who are very familiar with all the aspects of this type of writing, it’s quite a hilarious read and very useful to help keep your writing fresh in a very pervasive genre.
It’s written a bit like an encyclopedia with picture coding, cross references and sections headed with quotes from Gnomic Utterances that poke fun of the various made up literary references that head chapters of many fantasy novels ( Example: “Doras II was somewhat an absent minded king. It is said that when Death came to summon him, Doras granted Death the usual formal audience and then dismissed him from his presence. Death was too embarrassed to return until many years later. –Ka’a Orto’o, Gnomic Utterances, LIV iii (Jones 49).
One of my favorite entries from this book is the one on Princesses, because I have found many fantasy novels contain one of these two types:
“PRINCESSES come in two main kinds:
2. Spirited and willful. A spirited Princess will be detectable by the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted nose (OMT). Spirited Princesses will often disguise themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms (See PRINCES)” (Jones 150).
All of the entries follow this format and tone to help readers better identify and spice up overdone aspects of Fantasy, and lemmie tell ya, it made finding my own clichés a lot easier!
2 thoughts on “The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land by Diana Wynne Jones”
I think I need this book.
Yes you do 🙂 I absolutely love going through this book and finding things that are so overused it is hilarious. One entry that made me really think was the section on packing the travel bag. It gave a list of all these things that the characters would need, and then put into perspective about how much would actually fit in a travel bag. It makes me want to sew myself a travel bag and figure out exactly what a character could fit in it and feel how much it would weigh. I love it when authors keep a running tally of what’s in the bag because a lot of times it turns into Mary Poppin’s magic carpet bag.