I may have talked about this before (in passing), but I wanted to bring the subject up again, and in a little more depth. And then I’m going to ask a question.
I’ve been struggling as of late with writing fantasy. While I love the genre, I can’t seem to get past the third or fourth chapter in any fantasy novel I try to write (and from my reading statistics over the last few years, I apparently have read more fantasy than science fiction, as shocking as that may sound). The problem? Every time I start a fantasy idea (mostly in novel form), I end up burning out, not because of the usual (I’m bored of the story or characters), but because I cannot suspend my own disbelief in terms of the “cliches.” I have no problem doing this while reading, though, and this poses a bizarre dilemma.
How exactly can I write in a genre I enjoy if I can’t get past my own nagging guilt that I’m “telling the same story all over again?” Other authors do it (and let’s face it, most of them aren’t writing anything “original” at all, because that’s not really what fantasy is about). I read it. I love it. And I rarely dislike fantasy if the writer can pull off the cliches with grace (meaning they write in a way that makes the cliches irrelevant). I don’t know if that’s my problem. Am I graceless when it comes to fantasy? Maybe. When I write fantasy I get a good twenty or thirty pages into the story (maybe even 50) before I tell myself “I’ve seen this before” and lose interest. No, I’m not consciously trying to copy others (in fact, the novel I was working on for a while, Watchtower, had what I thought was a fairly unique use of old ideas developed outside of fantasy and then shoved into the middle of it for what the genre offered to the story). I may be doing this unconsciously, and, if so, I wonder if that is also a problem all fantasy writers (published or otherwise) deal with on a regular basis.
On the flip side, what makes it easier to suspend disbelief while reading fantasy (again, in terms of the cliches) than while writing it? Is there a switch that needs to be turned on somewhere in my head?
So, I’ll ask those of you who are writers (published or otherwise) what you do, or would suggest I do, to get past this? Is this a normal nagging thing for all writers of fantasy?