On elves, orcs, and other standard, fantasy fixtures

Fantasy creatures are all pretty well universally recognizable to most fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike. Orcs are usually the big, burly ones with green skin and a need to break bones, invade places, and generally wreck things in the name of honor, family, and glory. Elves are beautiful, often androgynous, woodland-dwelling masters of archery. There are certainly plenty of variations on these themes, but they are tried and true enough to keep readers (and viewers and gamers) coming back. Is it because these types of characters are familiar, bordering on near-family? Or are they more like set pieces to the overall story?

One of the driving forces behind A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is that I wanted to play around with these races of characters. High elves are always the most revered, esteemed characters, but why can’t they be laughable, lowly gutter-scum? Why not make orcs sophisticated, reformed from their more bloodthirsty ways? Does deviating from the tried and true versions of orcs and elves and so on reduce them to something less than they are meant to be or help them grow into something more?

Are writers better off sticking to the usual of what works or should we focus on mixing things up more often?

I’m asking these questions as I write, of course, but my focus is elsewhere. I’ve been slacking, and this novel has been sitting. There’s writing to be done if I ever expect this to be the novel that gets me noticed by HarperCollins (wish me loads of luck, please).

Over-thinking villains: the LOTR edition

By my entirely official, possibly inaccurate count (which just happened moments ago, shortly after my Surface 2 had to restart half a dozen times for updates it’s been denied for too long), this is the 89th post in my Hundred Days of Blogging. Probably. It’s been more of an ordeal than I could have anticipated, but it’s pushed me to keep posting. Even on nights when all I want to do is sleep forever. Nights like these past couple nights, especially after experiencing the human equivalent of the world’s shittiest rental property. Ahem. It’s been a while since I’ve used my Surface 2 for any extended bits of writing (opting instead to use my laptop or desktop, both of which are out of commission presently while I’m still unpacking), so this is proving to be its own magical misadventure. More so as I try to log in to my Screen Robot account with no recollection of my password. I know, I know; for shame, forgetful writer. For shame.

Some exciting news, first, before we continue into tonight’s post. I had a short story accepted for publication in The Literary Hatchet, a publication created by PearTree Press. I’m quite excited, as it’s a story I really enjoyed writing. More on that as I can post it, of course. Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King is a little bit closer to being a real thing that exists in book form. I’ve worked with the terrific folks at Cary Press on tweaking the cover here and there, and I’m very happy with how it looks. A couple more weeks and I should be hearing more from them, which is very exciting as well.

This is a post I had the idea for about a week or two ago, but it never saw the light of day (nor the dark of night, I suppose) because I was in the middle of moving. Here are a few disclaimery bits: I am not, by any means, an authority on Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the books and the movies, but some details have escaped me over the years (or never really made their way to my grasp). A lot of this is just silly speculation that rattled around in my brain the right ways to end up becoming a post.

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