In my few years of writing, I have always written novels that took place in worlds different than Earth. Sometimes these world were filled with magic. Sometimes there was nearly none. Sometimes there were elves and dwarves and gnomes; at others all you could find were humans of different nations. None of my settings are the same, and none of them give quite the same vibe either. Fantasy worlds have the power to be anything. When you throw the first bases, your imagination is the limit.
And yet, there are certain things common to all fantasy settings (or nearly) and that do not have to be.
Sometimes last week, Ted Cross posted on his blog about how most fantasy settings were north-hemisphere centric. He also noted in the comments that we tend to put the ocean on the west side of our continents. Fantasy writers do these without even thinking about it. I sure did, and more than once!
These can be explained by the fact fantasy settings are often similar to medieval Europe, but there are other aspects of fantasy we include almost without noticing. About a year ago, I decided to go after one that irritated me.
Magical powers are discovered at puberty.
Harry Potter has this. Eragon has this. Nearly every YA fantasy in existence has this! But I don't think it's YA exclusive. So many things happen to a teenager at that age, it's only natural to throw magic in the lot.
Well, no more. For a year now, I have been working on a setting where magic is associated with old age, because it arrives at about the same time menopause/andropause would. It's associated with loss of fertility, among other things, and I have tried to rethink a lot of my fantasy assumptions around this new fact.
It's important to understand my story isn't about magic being restricted to old people. It's something else entirely. But this is an important shift in how magic functions, and in certain parts of my world, it has a great influence. It is as much part of my world than the religions, the kingdoms and the geography.
So let me ask you... are there any common fantasy assumptions you break?