Good points. However, I do like the other variation of the prophecy that generates “coincidences”. I refer to the prophecy of “fates”. In other words I like stories where characters attempt to go their own direction and fight fate, only to find out (sometimes to their dismay) that they were playing into fate’s hand unwittingly. One of the characters “in the know” in my story is fond of saying things like “The Sybils can prophecy, but we often do not know in what manner the prophecies shall come to pass, but what is prophesied to come to pass WILL come to pass one way or another.” It;s almost like in my story, the prophesy itself is a sentient “entity” (and perhaps even a villain…who says prophecies have to be for the good?). I guess the trick here is to be, as the author, truly omnipotent, knowing the end from the beginning, but perhaps not knowing fully how you intend to play it out. You know certain milestones, but you let the story fill in the rest. This also ensures that, even though you know how the story ends, you don’t give away the entire story. For you may know the end, but even you, the author, do not yet know how the end will come to pass…but it will come to pass. Lol!!
Do you guys think it’s ok to use prophecy if it’s subverted to reflect the downsides of what a prophecy might do to the person in it? Aka a prophecy with a dark twist? I’m hoping to subvert a lot of fantasy tropes in my story and this is one of the big ones
When I created my prophecy for the Legend Series, I did this:
Click here to view first one
I wasn’t in the vale. I was in some dark, horrible place. I could hear water pouring, rain fall… I looked up as lightning flashed, massive wings, Guardian wings. But the figure they were attached to wasn’t like the Guardians I know. It was a true Guardian, a Guardian in its final or true form, something that is impossible since the original 9 Guardians vanished. Wolves cried in the distance, dragons screeched. The sound of metal clashing, swords. I looked up as I saw blue flames cover the field, a phoenix made of blue flame and another one made of regular flame streaked across the sky.
“At the end of the end friend will fight friend, watch closely for the key is here. When the time comes the second moon will rise and the night will come, all shall play a part, the music of the Elements will play, they will be watching, waiting. You must not let them win, must not let them know the truth when you know the truth for if you do it will be all our doom…” A raspy voice whispered in my ear.
“What do you mean? The truth about what, who’s they and what do you want me to do?” I whispered in fear, a deep sadness welled up within me as the blue phoenix went down, its flames slowly dying. But no answer came as an explosion of pure power filled the night and whiteness filled my vision as a ringing sounded in my ears.
Click here to view the second one
When I awoke I noticed that even when I close my eyes I could still see. I was in a vision…
I heard a screech and looked to the side and gasped as I saw a person burning alive, then the scene shifted to a pile of ash which began to glow. When I exhaled the wind sighed as it twirled the ashes around and around.
Suddenly I felt immense heat at my back and turned to see a phoenix, it was beautiful and terrifying and when it looked into my eyes a shiver went down my spine, only I couldn’t help but feel as if I recognized those eyes in some way.
Then the scene changed entirely and that voice I’d heard in one other vision was in my ear, only I could find no one. “Beware, beware, for he his near. The King of Gods, mortal and Divine alike shall fall to him, strong will be his reign, and those who oppose him suffer. And a crown of thorns will rest upon his weary head, and with him shall come the dead…” She whispered.
“What do you mean?” I asked her, but then I heard a deep, horn like call and turned slowly to see a huge beast standing before me, he had horns like a bull that were black, his eyes glowed a beautiful blue and his tail was long and at the end was a strange shape, almost finlike. On the creatures back were two humongous, beautiful black wings, he lowered his head and charged, I screamed as those huge horns came at me…
Click here to view the third one
Suddenly my vision turned dark, around me everything came alive with flames. I heard horses screaming, but the loudest was the high, shrill shriek as a huge flaming creature dove down, the flames seemed to roar and twist towards it, exploding outwards as it shrieked again…
It was a phoenix. Like the one from my vision. “At the end of the end…” That cold, slithering, old voice croaked in my ear. I turned my head to see the same, shriveled old woman, her hands were bony, her eyes two black pools, her face was gaunt, her skin so wrinkled, she looked a thousand, thousand years old.
“What…do you want…from me?” I whispered, I could feel the heat of the flames, but instead of bringing me joy or pleasure, it made some primal part of me shrivel and shrink, shying away from them.
“Everyone sees the end of the world in their own way…but the one…religion…that never did, was that of the Divines…” She continued to rasp. "For nothing is ever set in stone, what is written shall happen, or so most think. Beware, beware the King of Gods, for with him the dead shall come…but be warry most of the wrath she shall bring, shall her King ever fall…" She said with a dry, hollow chuckle.
“Who?” I asked.
“Oh my dear, don’t you know? For every king, there is a queen…” She whispered, my vision turned to black once more, her ancient laugh echoing in my head…
Click here for the fourth one
Brenna handed the book to me, I looked at it’s covers, they were blank, but along the spine was written Dancer : A Compilation Of Poems & Prophecies . “Dancer?” I wondered aloud.
“I think that’s the author, look.” Brenna told me.
I flipped the book over and written in gold was Edward Dancer . My most recent visions suddenly burned within my mind, normally I’d just toss the book to the side and ignore it until it became useful, but my curiosity was too great.
I flipped the book open and was greeted by what looked like a poem.
Weeping angels and falling stars,
Both a beauty to behold,
One of sadness,
One of rebirth,
For doth not the angel feel the sadness of a thousand lifetimes?
Doth not the star fall to be reborn and twinkle with new brightness in the black abyss of time and space?
Both a rarity, both a memory,
The angels weep,
And the stars fall…
Both for an ending, and both for a start,
The angels weep and the stars are falling…falling…falling into Nevermore and Evermore…
The angels weep and the stars do fall…
So, these are all prophecies or visions my one MC had in my one series, the fourth was one she read about, they all tie in with each other. I have one more example, but I think those others should do. Pretty much, if it feels right to you, go for it, if you feel a prophecy should be a poem, make a poem. If it should be a vision, it can be flashes of the events that will come. Play around with what you can do, explore. When you have something, ask someone to read it over and help you smoothen things out.
What I am trying to say is: you are the author. You know your story like nobody else ever can, only you can decide if something should be in the story or not. BUT that doesn’t mean you should have a prophecy and then nothing happens with it, it needs to serve a point, build off of it.
I love prophecies! Am I one of the few?
My favorite type of prophecy is one that is generations old and predicts something negative. For example, a Seer says that a daughter of [Insert family name] will be the family’s undoing. The prophecy is vague enough to allow for various interpretations and the prophecy can occur at any time. Maybe the daughter will be born one hundred years in the future. To protect the family any girl born into the family is killed, but one daughter might survive. That girl becomes the greatest villain the world has ever seen. How did she become a villain? If she were raised by her biological family would things be different? Is it fate or did she chose her destiny? I’m getting so excited about this story!!
Something may be overdone, but unless you have written a dozen prophecy stories it hasn’t been overdone by you.
Execution is everything! Harry Potter is filled with fantasy tropes plenty of writers used before her books were published. A lot of people don’t realize that, because of her execution.
If you want a prophecy in your story then do it. Make it yours. What interests you about human behavior, justice, love, loyalty, etc. Your interests and personality will lead you down a unique road.
Prophecies are excellent. They are a great way to make your reader think things are going one way, and then WAM BAM! the prophecy is fulfilled in a completely unexpected way. They don’t have to be predictable or cliche at all.
The truth is that every plot/story device can work, even if they have been done before. Cliches work all the time if handled well.