Category Archives: Story Analysis

Where True Blood Went Wrong: A Cautionary Tale for Writers

TrueBlood-PosterI am a strong believer in the power of stories.  Because of that, I look up to storytellers.  So much so, that I’m doing something very painful right now.  I’m writing about something I no longer care about… True Blood.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve taken on the job of helping writers by showing them a fan’s perspective… particularly a fan who is not an active writer.  I’m writing about True Blood because I believe that it’s the best example of how a promising series can go downhill.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

Fantasy and How the World Ought To Be

King_Aragorn
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn

This article is by Christian Madera.

Early Fantasy literature, with its black-and-white morality, was very comfortable making statements about ethics. I’m using ‘ethics’ in a broad sense here: I don’t just mean questions about what a person should do in a difficult situation (though such questions are definitely a mainstay of Fantasy literature and merit discussion), but rather broader questions about how a person should be and how the world should be.

Recently, we’ve seen a backlash against black-and-white morality and a move towards so-called “grey” Fantasy. While I think it is very important to be cognizant of and think critically about the potential pitfalls of black-and-white Fantasy, I would argue that grey Fantasy is not without pitfalls of its own.Continue Reading

Dragons and the Imaginative Mind of J.R.R. Tolkien

Smaug in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy

This article is by Anne Marie Gazzolo.

J. R. R Tolkien had a life-long fascination with dragons.

In his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” he spoke of the stories he liked and disliked as a child.  “The dragon had the trade-mark Of Faërie written plain upon him. In whatever world he had his being it was an Other-world. Fantasy, the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds, was the heart of the desire of Faërie. I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood . . . . But the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever cost of peril.”Continue Reading

A Demon Did It: Breakdowns of Consistency in Fantasy Fiction

Elric of Melniboné
Elric of Melniboné

This article is by Stefon Mears.

Years ago, on The Simpsons, Lucy Lawless uttered the now famous line, “A wizard did it.”

In context the line was a broad dismissal of the myriad small errors fans are famous for finding in their favorite shows.

Found an inconsistency? Blame it on a wizard. Ironic, really, because by the end of its run Xena: Warrior Princess had more gods as recurring characters than human beings, but I’m hard pressed to think of a single wizard.

But then, “a god did it” might not have gone over so well with viewers.Continue Reading

The Walking Dead is Not About Zombies

Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead
Norman Reedus as Daryl

It’s about us.  This is what I tell people every time I proselytize to the unconverted.

Consider me a missionary that goes out into the world and speaks the good news about good stories including The Walking Dead.  When it comes to this particular conversion, I go to those who are “not into zombies”, “think zombies have been overdone”, and even those who “don’t really watch a lot of TV.”

The Walking Dead started as a graphic novel series, and is still going strong as that.  If you prefer that medium, then I recommend it as much as I do the TV Series that came later.  The two share a lot of things including characters, story lines, back stories.  Continue Reading

Secrets of Fantasy Literature – Interview with Harry Potter Scholar John Granger

HogwartsLabelled by TIME as “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars,” John Granger is a pioneer.

When many were dismissing the significance of the Hogwarts Saga, or condemning the books for “promoting witchcraft,” John was the first literary critic to explain how they carry on the tradition of English fantasy literature.  His book, How Harry Cast His Spell, shows readers how J.K. Rowling used classic literary techniques to weave a timeless story that connects with the hearts of readers.

I recently spoke with John about the popularity of fantasy literature, and the secrets of writing a great fantasy story.

What draws people to fantasy literature?

I think Mircea Eliade was right when he wrote that reading serves a mythic or religious function in a secular society, which is to say that we read fiction in general because it offers us an escape from or transcendence of our ego existence.Continue Reading

How Tolkien Influences My Writing

gandalf-and-bearThis article is by Terri Rochenski.

My love affair with the fantasy genre started at an early age when someone bought me and my older brother The Chronicles of Narnia seven book gift set. I read them ‘til they fell apart.

Literally.

I can’t tell you how many times I checked the backs of every closet in our large farm house, totally expecting to find Mr. Tumnus. Oh, the disappointment of finding fantasy is just that—fantasy. Make Believe.

I was introduced to The Hobbit in middle school. The first time I watched the original cartoon released in 1977, I was hooked. I gobbled up the LotR series within the following month. While I may not have understood the underlying moral lessons at that age, re-reads through the years cemented Middle Earth as my favorite daydream land.Continue Reading

Sword & Sorcery Film Classics: Conan the Destroyer

So first you may be saying, “Film classic? Conan the Destroyer? Ha!”

Hear me out.

This isn’t going to be a glowing review of why Conan the Destroyer is the best movie ever made. Nor will it be a review trashing a movie that is maligned by most fans of fantasy cinema. It will be “balanced.” Meaning I will give both points and counterpoints to why I love/hate different aspects of this movie.

Come along with me on a journey. Not a journey to slay Dagoth, but a journey nonetheless.Continue Reading

Skyrim: A Fantasy Writer’s Perspective

Many of us stood in line on a brisk November night, waiting to get our hands on the game that would enslave us to our PC’s and consoles for days to come. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim went on to be named the 2011 Game of the Year, and countless players lost themselves within this fantasy world.

While most players were swept away by the gameplay, the fantasy writer in me was constantly analyzing every aspect of Skyrim, from the storyline to the world and the creatures within it. Such is the nature of the fantasy enthusiast.

I also had very high expectations for this game, after being wowed by Oblivion for years. This is my view on what I saw, and what I would have liked to have seen, in the world of Skyrim.Continue Reading