Can you write sword & sorcery with elves in it?
It’s not an idle question – to me, elves are usually a mark of high fantasy, and all in all, only the old Eberron setting for D&D came close to show me it is not strictly so. Well, OK, Eberron and Shadowrun.
But, what can I say, I’m about to hit the shelves with a novella – hopefully the first of a series, should the readers like it – that is sword & sorcery (because that’s what I do and that’s what the client requested), but also features an elf. There’s always a first time, right?
The work was done to fit an existing universe, so there was no choice – elves it was. And also a very straightforward game-style structure.
I like the challenge, I like trying to write something different.
In this case, game-related fiction that is also good enough to stand on its own legs, with standard tropes thrown in, but possibly subverted.
One of the problems, when it comes to elves, orcs, dragons, is that they make it easy to get sloppy, to give in to laziness.
I can say “character so and so is an elf,” and that’s it – and count on the fact that nine readers out of ten will think of Orlando Bloom or of some off-the-shelf elf (aha! see what I did there?) that comes with a set of features I don’t have to bother describing.
“They were attacked by orcs.”
“The dragon unfurled its wings.”
And that’s all I have to say, a picture pops up in your mind, automatically.
It’s being done.
That’s the mark of the amateur, or of the lazy writer. Using tags instead of descriptions.
So I tried to go for a description anyway…
Zor Kiltei, sometimes known as Flaming Kil, arched her fine eyebrows. Pallid and long-limbed, in her fine purple silks and silver jewels she looked like a the sort of woman that hands out cursed rings and deadly quests to the unwary, and her pale eyes were completely dead. She had that cold, aloof expression all the members of her race shared, and that was the reason why the peoples around the Inner Sea were fond of burning down elvish villages.
The fact that I write of elves doesn’t mean I have to like them, right?
But I admit I have a soft spot for Kil.
Maybe not really soft.
Let’s say I find her more intriguing than scary.
And I like the idea that she’s fully clothed most of the time, contrary to the common iconography of her class.
I also tried to have fun with classes and “traditional roles”, and write a story that can be appreciated both by younger readers and more grown-up fans. And by non-players.
And I did pay attention to armor and proper adventuring attire.
All in all, it was a great writing experience, and pretty fast.
More news as the book hits the shelf.