Shake the Box

New ideas are the Holy Grail of fantasy novelists. Be the first one to write the story of a time-traveling vampire who falls in love with a hobbit living under a moon rock and you might just make publishing history.

Already been done? Write it in dactylic hexameter. Why not? They turn poems into musicals, musicals into comic books, comic books into movies these days, and probably movies into poems (though I couldn’t find and examples of that sub-sub-genre.) As far as I know, nobody’s claimed dactylic hexameter in a very long time.

When I sit down to write something I hardly ever have a unique idea. My only alternative is to toss my few once-bright ideas around and see what falls out. Those of us who write fantasy know there are so many cliches in our genre that it’s hard not to bump into a few of them when writing.

Bumping into a cliche isn’t all bad. It allows me to think the same thought that every other writer has thought; “Cliche? Aha! Let’s turn in on its head, then! They won’t expect the elves and the dwarves to be friends!”

Actually, I stole that idea (see #22). “Well, they won’t expect the vampires to be the good guys!” Or: “They won’t expect the dragons to capture human babies so they can raise them to fight other humans!” I could reverse cliches all day. More

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