In Defense of Escapism and the Themes of Fantasy

fantasy escapeThe great journey, the valiant quest, the ongoing war between good and evil, the “chosen one” who by magic rises above peasantry and poverty to a place of heroism – these are the clichés of fantasy, and I will not defend them as clichés. But they also explore fantasy’s greatest themes.

They explore the themes of escapism. That’s part of what makes them awesome.

With fantasy, we can shuffle aside the trappings of modern society and explore life at the whims of the author and the worlds we create. Continue Reading

Write More, Care Less?

With November comes NaNoWriMo and by now many people are either realizing:typewriter

a. they might have something worth salvaging.
b. they have a steaming pile of crap.
c. a and b
d. none of the above

I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago that having a steaming pile of crap can be a good thing. Yeah, gross, right? So the age old question comes into play: is it better to have nothing or a bunch of slop on a page?

I think the key is to just care less while you’re writing. This doesn’t mean dishing out whatever random junk you have in your arsenal and hope it works. It means stop worrying about sentences not being perfect or how you’re going to market it. Continue Reading

The Griffin: Call it a Chimera Comeback

griffinBeing naturally drawn to mythology and the Reniassance Festival as a wee kiddo really paved the way for my geekiness as an adult (no way, really?). And it was only a matter of time before I laid my eyes upon this fantastic creature.

At first, I wasn’t sure what it was, but upon the shields of heraldry they stood, mighty-chested and with talons raised high. Looked like pissed off chicken-dragons to me.

And – to 10 year old me – they were badass. Continue Reading

Don’t Let Quality Stop You Now

Nov_NaNoWriMoIt’s November.

That means the NaNo is on. National Novel Writing Month. Write a novel in a month.

In the case of the NaNo this means 50,000 words in thirty days. That’s a lot of words – unless you’re a full time writer, or very productive, or for some other reason you’re just used to it and don’t feel it’s a big deal.

For me, 50,000 words is an enormous amount. I won’t be taking part in the NaNo, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it, and I won’t try and convince you not to do it. It’s just not my thing.

What I will try and do is encourage you to keep going if you’ve started. Continue Reading

Concealing Your Awesomes

fantasy mountains“And there among the lofty peaks of the Sanandrin Mountains were the tombs of the Founding Kings carved into the living rock. The angels guard their entrances as they guarded their lives, and shield their bodies from the churning rot of time. When the winter passes into spring, the fresh melt carries the blessing of light and is said to heal any affliction of the body. So, blah blah blah…”

I know, it’s tough to refrain from sharing with the world your awesome piece of worldbuilding. You want them to appreciate your creativity, to validate the many months you’ve gnawed over the minor details of your awesome. The unfortunate truth is no one cares about your worldbuilding. Continue Reading

Anticipating Story Length

thick bookI recently reconnected with some old projects, and was a little upset when I read them.

One of the mistakes I’d made was incorrectly anticipating story length, and now it feels like those old stories, that I thought were done and buried, have risen from their graves to haunt me.

Not only did I take some too-big concepts and try to write them into short stories, but I’ve got a few longer works that should probably be trimmed dramatically, because my work is better and cleaner when I begin with a short story format.

While some novels seem so complex that one could hardly try to distill their concepts to a single sentence, others are easy to peg on the first try. What makes it so hard to nail down a concept? And once you have a concept, what length of story will tell it? Continue Reading

Warfare in Fantasy: Forgotten Logistics

fantasy armyEver wonder how armies of tens of thousands of men spring up from the ground overnight like weeds?

How these weedy men go clickity-clank across the landscape with few troubles?

Do you question the ability of a feudal society to maintain said massive weed crops which they throw willy-nilly to the wind against one another?

For me I think that actual weeds have the decency to drain the land of its resources. I do not see any gardening of any sort go on in many of today’s fantasy stories that involve large scale warfare. No one is watering these things, feeding them the nutrients they need to batter down the other bigger weeds in their way. Continue Reading

Small Sparks of Life – Making Your World Feel Alive

spark of lifeAs a fantasy writer, you’re likely to create new and fascinating worlds for your stories to take place in. You have entirely new races, and their cultures and histories date back thousands of years.

You have gods and religions, dragons and monsters, heroes and villains. You have magic.

In short, you have a world.

Now it’s time to bring it to life.

Sure, the story is the important bit, but having your story take place in a living, breathing world just adds to the magic – and isn’t that part of the allure of reading and writing fantasy? Continue Reading

The Obsessive Worldbuilder Quiz

quizDo you spend weeks and weeks designing the ceremonial cloaks that your orcs wear for their Annual Wereboar BBQ?

Do you sketch maps of obscure villages that haven’t existed in your world for thousands of years on napkins?

Do you lie awake before bed and think, “I really should figure out how the ogres in Fazbaath take care of their teeth.”

If you even thought for a split second, “This sounds like me,” then you might be an Obsessive Worldbuilder.

Now let me start out by saying, this isn’t a bad thing. You have a certain eye for detail that some of us can only dream of having. However, it might be important to factor in the “Story-Worldbuilding Ratio.” Continue Reading