What Writers Can Learn From The Witcher
So I will admit to watching the Witcher for a few reasons: I love Fantasy epics, costumes, worldbuilding and Henry Cavill. *clears throat noisily* Moving on…. After watching it, I noticed some things that we can learn from it as writers.
Magick is a grand theme in the Witcher. Everything is touched by magick somehow and it is part of the world. What I like about it? It’s realistic and isn’t some Disney-sounding shit. Every mention of magick is gilded by some tragedy.
- Yennefer wishes to be beautiful and shed her deformities, which costs her fertility.
- Geralt’s transformation to Witcher gives him great skill in battle but also costs him his fertility
- Jaskier’s wishes to the Jinn almost kill him.
- The girls practising magick in the opening episodes get hurt, die and transformed into eels for their failure.
If magick is easy and solves everything, there is no story. What need is there for anything?
Playing with Timelines
I have heard a lot of people moaning about the time line of the Witcher. It isn’t until the end of the season that we see that Ciri’s timeline is the present and everything that Geralt and Yennefer go through from episode one is the past. The timelines meet at the end. I was very impressed because jumping between flashbacks and the present can be confusing, like This is Us and The Hamdmaid’s Tale (tv series) for example, which can add the feeling of effort to the audience. The audience should be tested with little tidbits and false leads because it adds a bit of fun to the narrative but they should be yanked about like a goose on a string. By disguising the two timelines and only dropping subtle hints that the time line is not what it seems (Yennefer’s claim that its been three decades since she’s worked for the king)
Jaskier is the best part of the Witcher. What could have been a quick insert turned into a well established character with a part to play. His jokes and little asides soften up Geralt’s stoic attitude and the world’s gritty outlook. Humour can save a story and make characters more approachable. Also every time Geralt says fuck, it just resonates with us all.
The Strong, Stoic Male Brooder Archetype
Geralt is the hero of our story. He’s complex, he’s strong and he is a badass. We are basically programmed to love him. We are told that Witchers don’t feel anything and most of the time Geralt seems to live up to it. As cool as this sounds, it does distance him from us, the human audience as we feel emotions. Geralt would be very unapproachable if it weren’t for the characters about him. As intriguing as Geralt of Rivia is, he would be very hard to love if it didn’t dote on Jaskier, Roach, Yennefer and Ciri.
Geralt travels around the continent as does Yennefer. Each of the towns and courts they travel to are different. The people wear different clothes, act differently and have different views. The town Geralt first visits is a dank mediaeval-feeling world that feels very dreary and repressed. Yennefer and Geralt’s debuts at court are both different. Yennfer is coming into a court that seems very refined, grand and full of intrigue. Geralt visits Cintra where everything is blunter, more warlike and plain. Both are different as they ought to be. Yennefer’s treatment at a small village where is is trying to help some people in need is clever as it shows that magick isn’t respected everywhere in the Continent as we are told. Jaskier’s clothes change as he goes from court to tavern, showing us the class difference. His song is also a very clever trick. In episode 2, he writes a song about Geralt’s defeat of the elves. In episode 3, the tavern they are in is singing it after what seems like a few weeks later.