Know Your (Literary) Roots

I used to be pretty convinced that I didn’t like high fantasy, which no, isn’t fantasy on drugs, it’s the sort of Tolkien-esque fantasy that we’re familiar with; named swords, elves, dragons, faeries, things like that. I liked the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, and that was about it. However, in the past year I came across a high fantasy series, The Argetallam Saga, that I enjoyed immensely. As such, recently I’ve been having a desire to develop a high fantasy idea.

But you know what?

I will NOT.

Not, that is, until I know my high fantasy roots.

A lot of aspiring writers I see, they choose a genre they want to write in based off a lot of contemporary books. Which is cool! There’s nothing wrong with contemporary books, but if you’re going to write something, I feel as if you should make an effort to know the influential authors and writings.

There was one person I was talking to the other day who wanted to write a dystopian novel. I said, “cool, that’s great! What have you read that’s dystopian?” She rattled off a few modern dystopia novels, all of which I’d heard were good, to which I said, “oh, you should totally read Brave New World.” And she went, “. . . wat?”

Hey, I understand that nobody knows every single book out there. It’s all good. So I told her what it was about and most importantly that it was essentially the beginning of the dystopian genre we know today.

She didn’t want to read it. Didn’t really care about it at all.

At all.

*head desk*

I don’t care if you don’t want to, you should. Hey, I sometimes feel like I don’t want to read The Lord of the Rings, – I mean, half of the entire book is just moronically minute details about the positions in which every single character is sleeping, or descriptions about every single leaf and rock Frodo sees, but y’know what? It’s an important and influential piece of literature. (Also, if you think I’m going to miss reading the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog, you are so delusional.)

Wanna write horror? Read Edgar Allan Poe.

Wanna write mystery? Read Agatha Christie.

Want to write high fantasy? Read J. R. R. Tolkien.

After all, writing isn’t all about, y’know, writing, it’s a lot about reading as well. So, right now I’m planning to read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, (I’ve already got The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring out of the way), and I’d also like to read A Song of Ice and Fire. If you have any other high hantasy novels you’d like to recommend to me, please do so in the comments below! The only high fantasy stuff I’ve read before is Eragon and Eldest, and I hate Paolini’s writing and think the books are rubbish, so . . . don’t recommend those to me. (Just personal taste; not a call to arms to change my opinion, Inheritance Cycle fans.) Any other suggestions you have, I am very eager to hear.

And finally, if you’re a writer, what genres do you write in, and what are the influential authors and works for you?

Farewell for now!


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