Reaching Beyond the Common Narrative

What is the common narrative? The common narrative is the system of default characters and stories that a society tells. If you look at the preponderance of stories in a culture, you will usually find strong patterns about who is written about—whose stories are considered important enough to tell. In the western world, our common … Read more

A Primer on Organized Crime for Writers

Organized crime has become a mainstay in modern fiction. From suited-up dons to street thugs struggling to survive, criminal networks make for interesting stories. As writers and worldbuilders, how do we make organized criminal groups believable? Buckle up, because in this article I’ll tell you how. 1.Mafias and Gangs In the golden olden days, the … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Bathhouse Keepers

This is another installment in my series, History for Fantasy Authors. There were scores of trades and crafts that organized into guilds. This is an essay about one of them, a guild that existed in Augsburg, Germany in the late Middle Ages. It’s not typical, and that’s part of why I think it’s worth examining. … Read more

The Talent Myth

There once lived a girl who wrote the best fantasy books in all the land. She was only twelve years old, having picked up a paper and pen to tell stories starting at age eight. She outsold all the big names in her genre, made millions of dollars, and never even went to college. She … Read more

It Was a Woman’s World, Too: Christine de Pizan

As speculative fiction authors, writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have the opportunity to create entirely new worlds for their readers. We can create new species, invent systems of magic, and imagine humanity traversing the galaxy. Yet very often these adventures exclude women. It is too often said that readers will reject women in … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Pirates

Everyone knows about the pirates of the Caribbean. Let’s talk about other pirates. Since I’m a medieval historian, I’ll stay firmly in the European world. Before we get started, a general comment: the lines between pirate, merchant, and rebel were blurry and ever-shifting. If you had a ship, it was sort of like having a … Read more

6 Characteristics of a Great Fantasy Writer

This article is by Jessica Wood. There are quite a few discussions about what makes a good writer, and they generally all come down to the same points; somebody who is hard working, perceptive, widely read, imaginative, and has close attention to detail. But what are the specific characteristics needed by a fantasy writer? What … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Money

Medieval money can be divided into two distinctly different types: the kind that existed and the kind that didn’t. Real money was currency, specifically coins of various qualities and weights. The other kind was called “money of account.” This was purely an accounting unit, used for large-scale transactions and never turned into a physical object. … Read more

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