Last week I was nice. I talked about setting (a little bit, though expect more on this because setting is one of those Things that you can always say more about) and I talked about funny diction. But nicely.
This week I am slightly less nice. Like 1% less nice. Bordering on mean, really. Be prepared with the correct pair of undewear. That was not meant to rhyme, but I like it. (I am also not talking about Harry Potter in this post. I love Harry Potter. You insult Harry Potter and I'll sic my dragon on you.)
The fantasy trope I'm going today happens to be a very popular main character in fantasy novels. The young (naive, usually orphaned, shy and kinda stupid, yet magically gifted (though he doesn't know it yet), good at nothing yet somehow smarter than everyone else (though he may not know it yet), probably a goat herder, serf, slave, or worker at a crappy little inn in the middle of nowhere where he means absolutely nothing to anyone around him, but he fulfills a prophecy or was chosen at birth or has a magical right testi--uh, I mean ear,) boy.
Traits this character may or may not have:
The girls all like him, but he probably doesn't know that.
The adults are one of two things: dismissive, or secretly threatened (probably both).
His life is miserable and quiet.
He is miserable and quiet.
He has no self-confidence. Something which the people around him reinforce on an hourly basis.
There is probably some magical or super-intelligent skill he has, that he's always had, but he doesn't know it's important. It isn't until the Wise Old Man or The Dark Lord's Minion sees him do this thing he didn't realize was at all a magical skill that the plot begins and the young boy realizes he's actually speshul.
But he won't feel speshul until the end of the book.
(Conversely, there is probably some magical or super-intelligent skill he has, that he's always had, that's caused his village/parents/whoever to shun him and make him feel super un-speshul. So now he's got a complex about using it.)
He will mess up. A lot.
And then he'll mess up some more...
..with women, and with however he's being prepared to defeat The Dark Lord.
He'll mess up to the point that you don't think it's possible he could ever actually defeat Evil. (But this is a fantasy book. Of course he will defeat Evil. But you have to wait three more books for it to happen.)
The woman he loves will be woefully one-dimensional. Ladies reading the book will roll their eyes, because this is so not new we have learned to pick more important battles. Like with underwires and why they are necessary.
Did I forget to mention the quest?
When he finally does defeat The Dark Lord or Evil (or both), it will change him. He will become depressed somehow, or fall into a pit of "is this what it is to be a man?" or "look at how many people had to die for me to get here." This will make him into a Man.
This will not prevent him from having The Sex with his one-dimensional love interest. But he first will ignore her because he thinks his hands are too bloodstained to ever touch something so perfect.
And the most important trait of all:
Despite the fact that most readers of fantasy have read him a hundred times before, and maybe don't even like him while reading the book, by the end...he has won us over. Because who doesn't love tales of adversity, in which an absolute nobody with a miserable life gets to become something more? (And I mean that in absolute seriousness.) And we're probably even rooting for him to get together with his one-dimensional love interest. (I mean that in partial seriousness.)
(In my fear of posting anything negative on the internet and people forever after assuming I'm some kind of...nasty negative person, I just have to say: Y'all, this is satire, because fantasy is my favorite genre and I really do love everything about it. I'm not serious. Or maybe I am. You'll never know. But anyway I've read many young-chosen-boy high fantasy novels and loved them.)