‘Soft’ Magic Systems Still Have a Place

This article is by Ashley Capes.

soft magicThe idea that magic in fiction might possess or need a ‘system’ was nonexistent to me when I first read my favourites as a boy in the early 1990s.

Magic was but a component to the awe and wonder within the stories. I didn’t need to know how magic worked, only that magic worked. I never questioned it and certainly wouldn’t have wanted to. Gandalf, for instance, simply wouldn’t have been the same figure of mystery and power if I knew the way his magic functioned.Continue Reading

Surviving Grimdark Fantasy for the Squeamish

grimdarkWhile there is still some debate about whether it’s a legit sub-genre or not, grimdark has become part of the fantasy lexicon in recent years.

I actually like a lot of the authors that some label as grimdark, so I’m a bit torn on if it’s a good or bad thing. The term can be used to define fantasy with more realistic grit, where morals are gray and blood is bright red. Sounds cool to me.

However, on the flip side, it’s also used as a pejorative term for fiction that is perceived as too bleak, dark, and soul-sucking. This being the opposite of the good vs. evil type of conflicts that may be more familiar for fans of fantasy.

Well, I’m here to show you that grimdark doesn’t have to be unpleasant at all.Continue Reading

Absolutism vs. Ambiguity in Fantasy

This article is by Matthew R. Bishop.

good evilIn a recent article featured on Mythic Scribes, Christian Madera explored the strengths and limitations of “black and white” fantasy, while defending the rise of “grey” fantasy as something that can overcome the drawbacks of black and white.

Let me clarify that I am an author of grey fantasy myself, so I do not take issue with this defense. For the purposes of fully understanding these disparate ways of writing fantasy, however, I want to expand on the strengths and limitations of both, and on the downfall of thinking one is exclusive of another. I hope this effort will lead to a greater appreciation for fantasy of all colors.Continue Reading

Is Single-Genre Fiction Outdated?

This article is by Michael Cairns.

genresFor decades, the publishing industry has worked to ensure that every book that they publish can be marketed within a single genre. This is, up to a point, understandable. Publishing is a business, and the clearer the genre of a book, the easier it is to find the target audience.

However, the rise of self-publishing has changed the way in which people not only sell books, but also write them. Indie’s don’t need to have a big ‘opening weekend’, so as to avoid high returns on print copies. Self-publishers can play the long game, relying on good stories and brave readers to build an audience. They can also take more chances and write outside the long-established boxes.Continue Reading

Using Role-Playing to Rein in Your WIP

D&D DiceSo, you’ve been busy writing, I see. That work in progress (WIP) is coming along pretty well. But you just don’t know how your audience will feel about it. Or perhaps you’re ready to throw a new element into your story, but you’re not certain that your world is ready for it. So, you pace to and fro, sipping on a cup of coffee while you think it over. Suddenly an idea pops into your head:

“Hey, maybe I can get someone to be a beta reader!”

Suddenly, a knock sounds at your front door. But isn’t it, like, midnight? You open it, startled, and a bit confused to see a group of people clad in mail crafted from pop-can tabs and dresses woven from bedsheets. And there’s a guy in the back wearing sweats. But it’s okay, he has Cheetos.Continue Reading

5 Ways to Build Stronger Characters

This article is by Anne Marie Gazzolo.

Frodo and SamIt’s possible to build characters who achieve a secondary reality, and become people who live in their own right in our hearts and minds.

It jars me every time someone says Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee are ‘characters.’ I want to shout, “They are not characters! They are people!”

J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterful essay “On Fairy-Stories” is must reading for anyone who wishes to practice, as he calls it, the “elvish craft” of sub-creating secondary worlds that achieve a reality of their own. I wish to add some thoughts from my own travels in Middle-earth and a galaxy far, far away, that I hope will help you to build ‘characters’ who are truly more than that.Continue Reading

The Iron Pen Anthology is Now Available!

Click to View on Amazon
Click to View on Amazon

We’re excited to announce the publication of the Iron Pen Anthology: Volume 1.

This is a collection of stories written by members of Mythic Scribes.  Each of these stories was written for one of our Iron Pen contests, which challenge writers to come up with fantasy stories based on four prompts.

This anthology features eight winning entries, which have been further expanded and polished, as well as a bonus story.

The collection includes:Continue Reading

Names in Fantasy – 3 Ways to Invent Names for Characters and Creatures

Sirius Black
Sirius Black

This article is by Grace Robinson.

People sometimes ask me how I come up with names for my fantasy stories – names of characters, as well as names of creatures, places, and things.

I don’t have a standard formula for inventing names, but after doing some thinking, I realized that there are three main methods I use.

I believe that many authors use these methods in one way or another:Continue Reading

Focused Ambiguity: Using Metaphor in Fantasy Writing

This article is by Walter Rhein.

Star TrekThere is an inherent paradox in the phrase “focused ambiguity”. Yet the disconnect achieved by putting those two words together approximates the mental state necessary for writing good fantasy.

One of the big mistakes a lot of new writers make in their world building is too much of a focus on practical construction. However, unless the overall theme of your fantasy book is economics, you really don’t need to explain how your “diamond city in the desert” gets enough drinking water to support its population.

An effective novel always has a strong connective thread, and, in fantasy, every character, setting, and action can be molded to function as an integral part of the extended metaphor that supports the novel’s overall theme.Continue Reading

Magical Creatures for Magical Worlds: Fairies

FairyFantasy is a genre where the mythical and made-up can be reality, where the fact that something is physically impossible doesn’t stop it from burning down your town or stealing your babies.

In this series, I’ll be looking at the creatures of fantasy – where they came from, how authors have used them, and what potential they have in the stories we’re writing now.

I’m starting with fairies. They are also known as the fey, the little people hiding in mystical groves, winged humanoids often thought to be pretty or playful – but not always quite so benign. Various other critters have been grouped under the fairy banner – imps, sprites, gnomes, nymphs and goblins, for example – but in this article I’ll be talking about the kind that are only ever called fairies or some variation thereof.Continue Reading