Modern Language In A Fantasy Setting

Sometimes I think critiques can be more detrimental than helpful. I appreciate the time people put into my work and I appreciate their aid. Every single critique I’ve ever received is helpful in its own way. I’m not here to get angry at that. What gets to me is that I constantly get the same complaint/comment and it’s really starting to wear thin on me.

What’s that complaint? Modern language in a fantasy setting.

Where in the fantasy molding does it say that I’m not allowed to use language we use today in my own fantasy worlds? Maybe I don’t want to be another boring, stuffy, hard to understand fantasy. I could, arguably, write more modern fantasy but what if I want to play around in a new setting or world? Apparently, you can’t have the best of both worlds, because I get the feeling that very few fantasy fans would pick up my work based on the modern language I tend to use. It’s not hard to come to that conclusion when practically every reader of my work has to point out to me that my modern language is jarring.

A good rule of thumb in writing: when you get the same comments, you’re obviously doing it wrong, but this is something that I really don’t want to budge on. I don’t want to write fantasy the way everybody else does. I love fantasy settings, I love new and alien worlds with different concepts and characters. What I don’t love is all the archaic lingo.

I try to compare my work to a video game. When you play Tales of the Abyss, clearly a fantasy, in a fantasy setting with fantastical characters, you don’t get all up in arms about their language not being right, that it sounds too modern, do you? This is why I market myself as “light fantasy” because it’s not Medieval and it’s not meant to be heavy and hard to follow. It’s supposed to be a fun romp through a new world, like a fantasy style video game is.

But I can’t seem to get people to see it the way I see it.

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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