Due mostly to various conversations at Shakesville, I've been thinking a lot lately about my potential Snow White reboot
. Last Wednesday (yes, the Fourth), I had an opportunity to sit and wait with some paper and a pencil on hand. I do some of my better creative thinking while sitting and waiting, and I took the chance to finally work out how I wanted to address Dwarf politics and society in the story.
I was pretty pleased with myself until I mentioned it a couple hours later, and my friends and I got into a discussion about fantasy as a genre and how Tolkien basically defined modern Euro-USian fantasy, laying down tropes that creative people have come to rely and build on for many years to come. Due to my mention of Dwarf politics and how it played into the conversation, there was a focus on how fantasy Dwarfs now always live in mountains and caves and tunnels - and I realized I had fallen into exactly that trap
At first, I was only quietly horrified by my own creative bankruptcy. Then I tried to reason with myself: It made sense for the story! I could totally keep it that way! It wasn't lazy! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it not only was lazy, but it was necessary for my story
that I expand Dwarf society beyond caves and mountains. What about forests and plains? What about swamps?1
What about the fact that I was having trouble figuring out how to make a poisoned apple with rock-dependent Dwarf magic? Wouldn't it make more sense if Dwarfs also did cooking magic, and tree magic, and farming magic, even if it was still different from Human styles of magic? Wouldn't it just plain be more fun
if the Seven worked in a Dwarf bakery instead of selling jewelry and metalworks?2
I'm going to have to re-think at least half of my Dwarf politics and society building now, but it'll make the story better, and that's what's important. Though it helps that I relish a creative challenge ;)1: I am totally going to have to write a swamp fantasy story eventually, because wetlands basically keep the world going. Okay, that's hyperbole, but they're still incredibly environmentally important.
2: Not that I object in principle to fantasy Dwarfs selling jewelry and metalworks, but if that's all they do then there's something clearly wrong.