I recently cam across this website (The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam) and had a lot of fun reading some of these questions. The exam is supposedly set up to determine whether or not your fantasy novel is actually original and the instructions say that if you answer yes to any one question then you should abandon the novel immediately. Now when question four is:
Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
This doesn’t leave a lot of room for the vast majority of fantasy stories and so while the quiz does reveal some of the more cliche parts of the genre I don’t think anyone should be taking the instructions overly seriously. We all know that there are very few ‘new’ ideas out there. That said I think most of us can agree that if you answer yes to the following maybe you are going to have to work really hard to make it sound fresh:
Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
How about “a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons”?
Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
What I found really fun was trying to think of at least five books I have read that the question would apply to. It actually was a lot of fun though there are a few cheap shots taken at Robert Jordon throughout as well as RPG’s which aren’t necessarily a bad thing though probably shouldn’t be used to plan the plots of novels.
So here’s the challenge for the fantasy lovers out there. Pick a question, any question from the list, and see if you can think of at least five novels that it applies to.
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