Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Motivation

After missing my goal of having my last project edited a final time by 2009, I thought yet again about motivation and "writer's block". I am unmotivated by many things, one being work. Here is a fancy chart I made, while at work, to explain part of why I get no writing done (not included on chart is time spent making random charts):
If you're familiar with motivational charts, you've probably noticed that on most motivational charts for writers the portions dedicated to sleep and wrestling a bear would be switched, but bears are hard to come by in my neck of the woods, and all of the leg work necessary to even find a bear to wrestle makes it less appealing than sleep.
To get back to the main topic: If you're a writer and you work full time - Good luck to you, you probably will never be successful. I know that's a downer, but that's life - and no, there is no way around it.
Okay, so maybe that's a little extreme, so here are some options to consider when dealing with lack of motivation/"writer's block".

=>Take time off from your current project. Maybe a few weeks, or few months not writing will give your brain rest and allow you to start anew. But in my case, taking time off usually prolongs my lack of motivation, it doesn't really help.

=>Take the project in a new direction. Maybe your subconscious is stopping you because you are working your way to a dead end, and you need to rethink the plot so that your story will become what it is meant to be or whatever.

=> Work on a different project. Working on other story ideas, or other creative projects may rekindle your desire to work on the story that's stuck.

=> Get your life in order. It is possible that you are not motivated because you have other life issues that are haunting you when you try to sit down to write.

=> Re-prioritize. Maybe nothing is wrong with your life, as you see it, but you might be dedicating too much time to your miniature model-T sets, which not only strains your eyes, glues your fingers together, and expels fumes that give you flash backs from the 1880's; but also makes you too exhausted to finally sit down and finish the next great American novel.

Okay, you can't lose the job (or you'd be homeless) but you can cut down on bear wrestling (sorry bears, I know you love the "cuddles") and you can cut down on the miniature model-T's (sorry Henry Ford, or should I say Nazi Ford? That's right, I know your secrets Mr. Ford and I will share them with the world, once I get enough motivation to finish my novel!), that will allow you about 6 minutes and 43 seconds a day to work on that novel. If you type 50 words a minute and the average book is 80,000 words long (give or take 20,000ish), 50 over 60 equals .8333333333 words per second and you've got 403 seconds a day of writing time, carry the two, and you've got 335.833333333 words a day, divide 80,000 by that and in 238.2 days you'll have your first version (or rough draft) complete for your novel. So, about 6 years per novel. Should you quit now, maybe, that's not for me to judge. Does this scenario make you even less motivated?
Probably.
It definitely demotivated me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Excuses

So I've been away, apparently hunting down time traveling perps gets busy during the holidays. And I guess it will continue to be time consuming (in more ways than one) for a bit of a while yet, so I'm going to leave you with a little tid-bit and hopefully by the beginning of next year I'll be able to drop some more knowledge on y'all about writing, reading and living in a world of fantasy.

I've got a beautiful holiday story for everyone. This should be told to many children, preferably at once (so they don't spoil the goodness of the tale), and hopefully on the night before Christmas:

Title: Here is the ultimate reason why you don't want to be left behind when the Rapture occurs.
(Don't worry I'm not a fanatic, this is just something that came to me in the quiet time between being awake and being asleep, call it a prophecy if you will, although I must insist I am not a religious fanatic I am just a fan of humor and I think this story is funny).

Okay, so you're sitting around one day, let's say you're at work and then everyone disappears, except for you. Apparently it's the Rapture and you've been left behind. Instead of getting upset, you decide that this is what you've always been waiting for, ultimate reign over the earth. First, you must commandeer an abandoned S.U.V. this will allow you the flexibility to drive around all of the other abandoned vehicles on the street and make it to your nearest supermarket to get supplies. These supplies are actually lots and lots of food, because you are a glutton and that is why you've been left behind. While you are driving to the store you come upon the first of other creatures who have turned away from God. It's a Tyrannosaurus Rex. You think you've outwitted him, and you still feel confident that being left behind is the best thing ever but as you get to your local food depot you find that the automatic doors have been unwittingly mastered by a raptor. The only option for you is to ram your way into the store with your S.U.V. and run over the raptor - about 15 times to make sure he's dead (filling the front end of your auto with raptor guts which really increase your appetite as they cook on the hot metal engine) and drive on, expecting more dinos to appear as they catch the smell of blood. You drive down each aisle and just roll down your window for your supplies and make your way out of the store with lots of food, a little bit of extra clothing and other various supplies. You drive home to your small apartment, rush your stuff into the building and begin removing doors within your apartment to barricade your windows, you know it's going to be a long haul, and you want to be safe until the very end. By nightfall, and 2 packages of Oreos later, you hear something outside your window, you check to see what it is through a very small crack in your barricade. It's not a dinosaur, but another one of God's forsaken, a zombie. Luckily you've blocked yourself in, but for how long can you survive? As you consider which is worse, death by dino or death by zombie another creature appears outside. An alien, zapping zombies left and right, he's come to take you to his planet where you will become his lifelong slave. Now, I ask, why couldn't you just love God like everyone else?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something A Little Different...

As a writer, I've tried my hand at more than one genre. From a viable source (or at least a University considered her one), I've found that I'm very bad at creative non-fiction. I would say I'm worse at creative non-fiction than I am at Spanish but then I would have to ask myself que? which is what I always thought was equivalent in English to what? when it's really equivalent to that so I always ask that? but never in response to "who knows what [insert item here] is?" when I'm looking at the item and can point at it and say that? or que?. But luckily my sister, who knows Spanish much better than I do, is kind and is not mean to her slower sister, and when I say Que? she knows what I mean.

Long story short, my Spanish is pathetic, but my non-fiction writing compares to that of a three year old telling a story (or so I'm told). Even longer story short, I've decided to compete for a coveted spot on NPR reading my creative non-fiction essay for "This I believe".
Click on this sentence to link to This I believe, Inc. for further explanation.

What does this have to do with fantasy writing you ask?
Nothing, absolutely nothing. I only posted this to challenge all of my gifted readers to try their own hand at writing a 350-500 word essay explaining what they believe in. Perhaps you should challenge yourself as I am.
Por que no? I ask, Why not?

No matter what the genre, any writing can help a writer increase their skill, and maybe in the end, my creative non-fiction will challenge that of a four year old telling a story.

At least it can't hurt.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bored on a Saturday Night

Okay, so I'm not technically bored, I have things to do. But when brilliance strikes, one must have the courage to follow ones intuition and create a masterpiece of such genius that it shall live forever in the hearts of small children everywhere (or at least offer you a good laugh).

For those of you who did not understand the pink text under the "Kittencorn not approved" logo, it was Kittencorn's theme song.

Here is a small video I made, displaying the well written verses (which are printed under the
video for your reading pleasure).

video



She’s half a kitten and half a unicorn!
She’s full of hugs, kisses, rainbows, clovers and blue moons!
Kittencorn!
Not a freak, just a replicator’s mistake!
Or was it planned by the angels to bring us such a sweetheart?
It’s Kittencorn!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's History! (Try not to be bored)

Today is a historical day. Monday won't make it into the history books, your kids won't be learning about last Wednesday and novels will not be written about two Thursdays ago. Today is a historical day.

That being said, let's examine historical fantasy and alternate history fiction.

Historical fantasy includes our own history with new elements of magic (consider Orscon Scott Card's Maker Series or Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters/Fairy Tale Series). Historical fantasy may be a retelling of known events with new characters or the presence of magic to explain certain events in our history.

The retelling of historical events with new outcomes (consider if the South had won the Civil War) would be considered alternate history fiction. If a minor incident occurs in the novel and has little to no affect on the rest of history, this would not be alternate history fiction. These novels have great changes, they leave echoes through time that would affect our lives no matter how many years after the event. Maybe that is a little dramatic, and they would only affect our lives if we lived in the book, but luckily we don't live in a book, or at least I don't have enough evidence yet to prove that we do...

How events are changed in the novel also determines if it's fantastical or alternate history fiction. If a character is propelled into the past (through science or magic) it would be considered fantasy or science fiction. If events are changed by the author with no new characters pulled out of time and place to be a catalyst for historical change, then the book would be considered alternate history fiction. Compare the book A Kid In King Arthur's Court and books by Harry Turtledove.

History is compelling. Changing history or explaining it in new light can make a beautifully rich novel. While we can often feel like life is passing us by and history is something to be bored with when sitting in a lecture or when your sister drags you to Gettysburg, PA to witness the land where so many brave soldiers gave up their lives in a futile fight to stay united! (or to stay free depending on what side you were on); history is happening, right now - today - this second. And even though I would love to take my time machine into the future and tell you how it all works out (everything, not just the election) my machine is temporarily out of service [insert funny anecdote here]; so we'll all have to watch history unfold, try not to be bored and continue reading unique historical works wishing we had been part of the past and never truly knowing how this moment affects our future.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making A Stand: With Kittencorn!

Recently, I've found two "published" authors online that act as though they have some sort of superior knowledge about writing and being "published" because they are "published".
I keep using the quotation marks around published because these two fiends are published on lulu.com. This is a site which allows you to take whatever drivel you came up with on a late Saturday afternoon and publish it - without any person who has any authority/experience/knowledge to okay your novel. It's like me, saying I'm an artist without ever having artwork in a gallery, wait, I've done that. Okay, it's like me saying I'm a singer without ever making a CD, wait, I've done that too. It's like me saying I'm a published author without having someone with credentials want to actually publish my work, and then having them follow through with those inclinations by publishing it with a credible publisher.
Long story short, Lulu Press is:

She’s half a kitten and half a unicorn!
She’s full of hugs, kisses, rainbows, clovers and blue moons!
Kittencorn!
Not a freak, just a replicator’s mistake!
Or was it planned by the angels to bring us such a sweetheart?
It’s Kittencorn!

To learn more about kittencorn please read future blogs and check out http://www.tenthousandtacos.blogspot.com/ for a future blog featuring our favorite furry friend: Kittencorn!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Language People!

Let's consider, for a moment, that you have a space cadet who speaks like he's from Elizabethan era England. Does this pose a problem for your story? Not, if he happens to be Shakespeare and he has been transported through time, into space and has decided to join a spaceship team to someday be a ship captain. Most likely, though, you've chosen the wrong dialect for your:
1. Time
2. Setting
3. Character
4. All of the above

(Shakespeare in Space)
Often, readers lose interest and authors lose credibility when a character misspeaks. Vocabulary is something that must be considered when traveling to other times. Age is also something to be considered, I've heard that a rather famous book series contains teenage characters that speak like 30 year olds - now I've heard of old souls, but you'll lose my interest if it's obvious that the character is saying something the 30 yr old author would say, not what a 17 yr old character would say. It's lazy writing.
So, to make your characters and worlds believable remember to keep the language believable.
As Shakespeare in space would say: "Keep it real, bawcocks*!"
*Bawcock - A fine fellow; - a term of endearment

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting Published

After a series of failed ideas, and the pressure of keeping a deadline (that only I really care about), I decided to jump ahead 12 subjects and discuss publishing.

This will be brief, but I wanted to give some insight into the world of Fantasy Book Publishing, or at least what little I've experienced.


When it came time to publish my first novel, I knew I had three options.

1. Get an Agent - let them do the work ;p

2. Bother big time publishers - most of which only want already published authors or authors represented by an agent.

3. Bother smaller presses/publishers - people who still have a lot of work to do but take the time to give you attention.


I chose to follow option 3. Upon making this choice I realized that not only did I have to work on a cover letter, a synopsis for my novel, and formatting my manuscript appropriately, I also had to find publishers interested in my work. While fantasy is a popular genre, there still aren't that many publishers who will publish fantasy as there are publishers for other genres. So knowing the pool was already small, I found it was limited more by the different types of fantasy that publishers were looking for (some only wanted contemporary fantasy, some only wanted strong romantic fantasy). So after a long search, I found about 1 dozen publishers that I could pursue. There may be more out there, and I may find them yet, but in 1 year I've found about 12 I can harass about my book. I have found a few publishers which have changed their policies because they have received too many novels to process in a quick enough time so they either stop allowing submissions (for a period of time, sometimes this period is upwards of a year) or they move to an "open submission" period, and if you miss it you have to wait months to catch it again. The funny thing though, is with so many people trying to get their fantasy novel published, the amount of fantasy publishers isn't really growing. But I digress.


Okay, so I had found some publishers, primarily by using the Internet - google searches and this great site: www.ralan.com

I went through the list looking for the ones I wanted to harass first. These, for me, were publishers that were primarily print publishers (not e-publishers, I want an actual copy of my first book not an e-copy). I wasn't too concerned about contract and payment (not for my first book, I just want it on the shelf somewhere), but I was concerned about length of time that they would be considering my novel. So I picked through and ordered my choices based on those criteria. The publisher that came up as number one was Juno books. I really love this publisher because of what they are trying to publish (books with strong female lead characters) and because of their artwork - cover art is also important to me to some degree. I sent my novel out and got back a rejection - which is fine because it came with a personalized response - which was helpful and encouraging. Then I sent my novel to Mundania Press LLC I enjoy this publisher because their books are available through Baker and Taylor (a book lease company which many libraries subscribe to) and because their website was very thorough and helpful when it came to knowing what to provide them with and what the entire publishing process was like (as seen on their submission process FAQs page). They too, declined from publishing my book - which is fine because I received a personalized response - which was helpful and encouraging. Then I decided to go with Leucrota Press This press specializes in fantasy and science fiction and had a quick response time. Recently, I was passed by this press too, but I was not discouraged because they gave me the most specific feedback to date, which will help me to edit my novel once more and hopefully make it stronger and more appealing to the next publisher.

Long story short, as a fantasy writer, there are many publishing options out there. You can even pay to publish your work yourself. Hopefully by glimpsing at my publishing adventures you have found a few publishers to try out and you are not discouraged from your own attempts at publication.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty - A Writer's Perspective

The “haves” and the “have-nots”. We see these groups play out in stories, time and again. Fantasy is no different. Consider Aladdin, an exploration of poverty - Disney style. Aladdin had no monies, he had to steal, people threatened to eat him and he had a monkey to share adventures with; ultimately he broke free from his poverty and became King of the world (or his whole new world (w/e)). In reality these things rarely happen (when I was poor we didn’t have a monkey and I’m still sad about it, if you can’t tell L) and only children’s stories usually end up with a happy ending. Fantasy has tried over the years to explore poverty in many different ways, by showing the poor and suffering, by showing those that prey on the impoverished, by showing those that overcome their situation and those that revel in it. Even in fantastical worlds, we see scenes of poverty which resemble those in our own world. By writing about poverty, authors inform their readers about a real problem in our world. It’s hard to know the depths of human despair when you are financially secure, but when we pick up a book and create bonds with characters, when we explore their worlds through their eyes we become sympathetic travelers, we gain new insight and learn empathy for all of life’s tragedies.

In 2007, 37.3 million people in the U.S. were in poverty. The numbers are much worse when we look across the world, especially when considering children. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
Poverty creates more than just a lack of food or a lack of clothing. It helps spread disease because people can not buy medicine; it helps spread viruses because people cannot drink clean water. Poverty limits children's ability for education, which limits their ability to be able to ensure financial security as they join the work force. Growing up impoverished can lead to a life of crime.

Knowing about a problem is half the battle, what you do with that information can help so many lives.

What you can do:
Join online groups such as:
http://www.endpoverty2015.org/
http://www.one.org/
Contact local, State and Federal Governments on these issues
Donate time (habitat for humanity, food bank, soup kitchen)
Donate money
Play Free Rice Online to help the UN World Food Program to help end hunger

Help end world hunger

I know from personal experience what it’s like to be in poverty (it’s not all singing and dancing and having a monkey for a best friend). If it wasn’t for WIC and welfare, I wouldn’t have the life I have today. Please continue to support these systems, even if you feel like some people abuse the support, there are those that truly need it and lead successful lives because of the aid provided by the U.S. government.




Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Animals Are My Friends

The other day I was thinking to myself: "Who put these animal crackers in my soup?!?! This is disgusting, my soup is ruined! I hate people; but I do love animals - let's do a blog post on animals." End quote.

Animals are a common element in fantasy. Animals can be comical, mystical or evil but most animals hold a special significance in a story.
Example: A Pig can represent gluttony, filth, loyalty or intelligence.
If a character loves pigs, has a pig deity it worships or befriends this creature it may represent more than future bacon.
As a reader of fantasy, it is interesting to explore these meanings and gain a deeper understanding of literature.

Also, when considering the significance of an animal in fantasy, we must take into effect the culture where the story takes place. A horse utilized in an America-esk world, would have a different meaning than a horse utilized in a Russia-esk world.

Some animals also have universal meanings.
Here is a short list:
Rabbits - known to represent fertility
Dove - known to represent peace
Coyote - known as a trickster
Butterfly - known for metamorphosis
Fox - known to be cunning
Although the butterfly has a universal meaning it also has a culturally specific meaning of love in China.

Writers will often share the significance of the animals in their work but it's good to explore hidden meanings on your own. As a writer, I chose some animals for my last book and at the time they were practical choices but after doing some research I found that they were significant choices too. Squirrels can denote change and both times they appeared in my novel was a time of change. This deeper meaning will not be shared in the novel, but if my readers look into hidden meanings they will find that these squirrels represent something more than cute, fuzzy creatures and ultimately they may find more of an appreciation for the novel and any novel they explore more fully.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something I Can't Discuss Out Loud...

So while searching the web for something interesting to post about, I found this interesting article (click on the word 'article' to see the article). I decided to explore this topic from a two person perspective.

Hey, look at this article (see above). I think it's highly relevant and helpful to writers of both science fiction and fantasy.

I can't believe you would show me an article like this. Fantasy is obviously for children and contains little to no sex. Wait, let me rephrase that, it contains no sex.

Um, how many fantasy books have you read?

Enough to know that the concept of putting such material into fantasy just makes it smut, therefore it is no longer considered fantasy.

So every fantasy book that contains physical relations goes from being fantasy into the world of smut once what, clothes come off, certain words are said, certain events are implied? Where is the line drawn?

It's very clear to me. No relations, possibly even no relationships = fantasy, any romantic inkling = smut.

Really, do we have to call it smut, why not just call it a romance novel?

Once you make the beast sound like it's less of a monster everyone wants to be its friend.

What do you mean?

Once you make smut sound like it's not smuth, it'll run rampant through fantasy and every other genre.

Um, it already does.

Curtains close, players bow, lights dim...

I know, from personal experience and from discussions with other writers that it is hard writing relationships especially when it comes to romance between characters. Writers are weary about people judging them if they write something too graphic or disturbing. But, physical relations are part of the real world and should be part of real fiction, no matter how hard it is to put those scenes out there for everyone to read/judge. I guess, if you're a reader of fantasy, enjoy: if you're a writer of fantasy, remember my short two person play (and feel free to perform it as often as you wish - either as you playing both parts or with an equally apathetic friend), worry often, write much and keep in mind that I didn't really read the article (see above) I just thought it was a funny topic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fantastic Description!

I had an idea for a post last week, but as I began writing it out, it seemed pathetic (and not in the good Charlie Brown way) so I abandoned it and now I'm posting this instead.

I have been engrossing myself in edits lately and I thought I would bore all of my avid readers with a blog about it. This blog will be minimally comical at best, so if you want a good laugh check out some previous blogs or read something else - I promise not to be offended (but I am known to lie on occasion (also known as daily)).

Writing fantasy is challenging because fantastical works need to very visual. Fantasy stories hold scenes and characters that may not have been previously imagined by readers, so a writer must have intense powers of description to make these elements believable and see-able (if that's a word). The more I read fantasy (even my own) I can detect good description and bad/lacking description. A good fantasy novel does not force a reader to re-read a section three times to fully comprehend what images are being handed to them. In the same vein, a reader shouldn't be left wondering what a character or scene is supposed to look like (although some readers will never be content no matter how much description you give them, but we'll pretend those people don't exist). As a general rule, a fantasy novel needs a lot of quality description to allow the reader to believe the story and to be immersed in the lore of the tale.

So as I go over my novel: Two Heads Are Better Than One, I'm finding places that need clarification and places begging for better description and as I work on these I hope it makes the book stronger because description is the biggest key to fantasy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Travel

Time travel is a topic often explored in science fiction and fantasy.
Hard science fiction goes into the physics/chemistry/other tough to understand science to explain how time travel could be possible.
Soft science fiction may explain time travel through vague scientific means or just establishes that time travel is possible (without explanation) and the reader just accepts this fact.
Fantasy likes to use magical elements such as portals, spells, serums, so on and so forth to explain/utilize time travel.

While I personally have considered several time travel plots for my stories, I have yet to write one. I do, though, make weekly jokes about being from the future, being from the past, being a zombie, a vampire, a samurai - all which have the ability to time travel.

Time travel has been a fascinating idea for many writers and has been the premise of many books and I would like to explore here, my latest time travel scenario:

Amanda and I looking for pictures of kittens on the Google, hoping to find one cute kitten with an upset belly. This is not because we like to see kittens in pain (we hope that being cute outweighs the pained look) but because we wanted a picture to go on the cover of a journal called "angry tummy times" or something like that. Finding no pictures of kittens that would be acceptable for a pink bismuth advertisement, Amanda realizes that there is an untapped world out there for these such photos and by tapping into it we could become millionaires (or possibly just dollaraires but we didn't go into specifics). Amanda utilized the world of kittenomics to prove that kitten pictures would make money. I said, why don't we go into a time machine and ask John Locke about it. Then I realized that John Locke is a philosopher, not the creator of economics (that's Adam Smith) but I don't like changing plans on the fly, so we still went to see John Locke.

As we step out of the space time continuum, a surprised John Locke stares at us -- visitors from the future.
Me: John Locke! What is the principle of kittenomics?
John Locke: What?
Me: You know nothing!

Then Amanda and I jump back into the space time continuum. On they way back Amanda reminds me that the future is bright, and hands me my shades. We see Huey Lewis traveling back in time and wave.

As we land back into present day I tell Amanda a funny joke about fudz. She explains to me that fudz is lolspeak, I tell her I just made it up. She tells me that all of my thoughts are unoriginal and have already been plastered all over the internetz. I blame Huey Lewis and plan to give him the finger next time I travel through time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Characters.

Characters can be like best friends, or best enemies. They can be helpful and harmful to your story. Knowing a character is inevitable, and is going to move your writing along faster the sooner you find out who these characters truly are. Knowing mundane details about your character not only builds your personal appreciation of these people that are going to be a large part of you life, but also makes them more interesting for your readers and may adjust the storyline because of the characters particular likes/dislikes/circumstances/you get the picture.
Example:
Your main character is a pirate.
Is he/she a parrot pirate or a monkey pirate?
If you don't know the difference you should go back to pirate school.
Knowing which he/she is leads the character into a different direction and makes them more interesting than a pirate whose personal preference on an animal sidekick is not known.

When I write characters I tend to base them on who I think people should be with a little tiny bit of real people. Especially when creating heroes. Heroes get to be larger than life, so I make them into people that I think they'd be, not necessarily based on people around me that aren't heroes and whom heroes shouldn't be based on. While your characters should have realistic abilities/wants/desires/(you get the picture), they also can exceed the limitations of the people you see/know.

Also, knowing the back story of your characters helps your story be more complete and can offer that extra fluff to make a 44,000 word story into a 55,000 word story (I know from experience). I enjoy using several different "character sketches" to build on my character's back stories. These usually entail writing out details about birth dates, likes/dislikes, family history, physical descriptions, wants/fears and so on and so forth. If you Google "character sketch" you probably can get a lot of sites with stuff you can use to plot out your characters personalities and histories. I want to say though, that not only does knowing your characters help you enhance your story, it also leaves your reader more satisfied. It's like the difference between a plain bologna sandwich and a bologna sandwich with ham, salami, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mustard.

While you shouldn't leave you readers with questions, you also shouldn't tell them too much. A reader doesn't need to know how many sheets of toilet paper your character prefers to use, unless it matters (later in the story they run out of toilet paper and a mutiny on the ship causes the main character to go rouge).

I feel like this post is very scattered, so I may touch on this subject again in the future.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zoology of Mythical Creatures Vol. 3

I feel like this post series is making my blog juvenile, but not infantile so I guess that's okay because this is a classy rag. Without further ado, back by popular demand:

Orcs: Considered to be the ugliest of all mythical creatures. Group "A" believes that orcs are a proud warrior race who are very honorable. Group "B" believes that orcs are freaks of nature who are cowardly yet brutal. These creatures usually appear in large groups. They may utilize spiritual leaders such as shaman who may be able to use magical powers. Also use goblins as their grunts.



Centaurs: Half human, half horse. Female centaurs are called "Kentaurides" - I'm not sure why. Some consider this creature to be sworn enemies of amazon warriors. Skilled in battle, amazing archers. Inspiration for the constellation Sagittarius.






Mermaids: Half human half fish. Said to sing to fishermen to seduce them or create shipwrecks. Said to have saved many a fisherman from a watery grave. May live in underwater kingdoms, usually a patriarchy. Known to be friends with sea creatures and may grant magical powers, but there is a high price to pay for this gift. Considered to be immortal, and possibly immoral. (And yes, she does have a body/arms, they're just hard to see).


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jenny's World of Little Known Facts:

Mermaids are the biggest aquatic floosie. Yes they are more promiscuous than manatees.

Orcs love a good bedtime story. If you refuse to tell them one - you die, if you tell them a bad story - you die, if it doesn't have enough romance - you die, if you don't have the ending they want - you die. Ultimately if you encounter an Orc looking for a tale, you're going to die, but don't worry it'll be an honorable death.

When the centaur was being created, they were first considered manhorses, but when they realized that they were being associated with seahorses, and that they were expected to carry their young (not to mention they were not nearly as cute as seahorses) they opted to change the name of their species. Here's the list of names they went through:

Manhorses - 2,000 BC

Spidermans - 1,000 BC (inaccurate due to only having 6 arms instead of 8)

Human carriers of humans - 500 BC (HuCaHu for short)

Hercules Haters - 1 AD

Centaurs - 100 AD

Greek Taxis - 500 AD

Side Kick to Awesome Human Fighters - 1000 AD

Fons - 1400 AD (Short for Freak of Nature)

Cowboys - 1800 AD

James A. Garfield Haters - 1880 AD (It has been suggested that a centaur may have been behind his assassination)

Centaurs - 1900 AD

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zoology of Mythical Creatures Vol. 2

I must say that I am not an expert. I consider myself a field researcher who brings back the things I observe, along with crude drawings rendered in paint shop. Enjoy!


Faeries: Human in form, have magical powers such as the ability to fly and cast spells. They dwell among nature and often appear for children or the youthful hearted. They can be mischievous or helpful.





Trolls: Gruesome creatures, known to live under bridges (not to be confused with hobos). May steal children, known to be tricksters but do not like to be tricked themselves. Some consider them very intelligent while others see them as being very dim witted.





Gnomes: These creatures have been considered part fairy or of their own species. They live among nature and can be mischievous but helpful. Often depicted wearing dunce-caps although considered to be quite intelligent.








Elves: Elves were originally believed to be a race of nature and fertility gods. Most are immortal and have magical abilities. They may be very tall or very small (fairy sized). Human like and extremely beautiful.






Ogres: Hideous monster, large human shape. May feed upon unsuspecting or suspecting humans. Shunned by society for their looks and voracious appetites. Ogres hide in forests and swamps. And yes, he is attempting to eat a baby in this picture.
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Jenny's World of Little Known Facts:
~
It is said that trolls steal children for elves to bake in their delicious cookie recipes for ogres to purchase and eat. It's a win-win situation, except for the babies.
~
Elves are customarily seen with large ears and can be thrown into a fit of rage when asked if they are vulcans.
~
Fairies are similar to fireflies - they also emit a glow at night, with the exception that faries leave a pink streak on your windshield not a green one.
~
Remember the game "freeze tag"? Well it's not just a game for gnomes. Whenever your eyes
"tag" a gnome it freezes into whatever position it was in when you spotted it. So if you're home alone and you hear the shower running, don't go into the bathroom because no one wants to see a naked gnome frozen in the shower.
~
Trolls enjoy tricks. Especially magic tricks. It's quite possible that David Blaine is a troll, or a hobo or both.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zoology of Mythical Creatures Vol. 1

I'm going to give you some basic information about a few famous mythical creatures and then I'll give my own zoology lesson on these creatures. Since they are mythological and to some extent they can be used in a story how you see fit; my zoology lesson will be primarily made up of my own thoughts, not facts.
Dragons: A reptilian-like beast. It may or may not have wings. Lays eggs, may or may not breathe fire. Different world cultures have different interpretations of this mythical animal. A dragon can utilize different elements, hold different forms and can be either helpful or harmful.

Unicorns: A mythical creature, similar to a horse. Has one horn, no wings. Innately good, and in most folklore has healing powers.
Phoenix: Fire bird. Lives a long life then dies in flames. Rises anew from the ashes, either as the same bird or from an egg laid in the nest where the bird dies. Eternal symbol of resurrection. Has the power to regenerate when wounded.
Pegasus: A mythical creature, similar to a horse. Has no horns, has wings. May be helpful, may be wild and need to be tamed. Not naturally mean, but may be mischievous.


Griffin: Body of a lion, head, wings and talons of an eagle. Lion is the king of beasts and eagle is the king of birds so a griffin can be seen as the king of all creatures. Known to guard treasure.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Jenny's Zoology of Mythical Creatures

If a pegasus and a unicorn mate and the baby is a female it would be called a uni-sus, if the baby is male it would be a pega-corn. If a uni-sus and a unicorn mate and the baby is female it would be a uni-uni-sus, if the baby is male it would be a uni-sus-corn. If a pega-corn and a unicorn mate and the baby is female it would be a uni-pega-corn, if the baby is male it would be a pega-pega-corn. Interesting, huh?

Griffin's love guarding things, like churches and castles. But please don't ask a griffin to guard your sub sandwich, it's beneath them and you should know better.

Dragons tend to be lazy creatures who would prefer to take the easy way out of situations. They will smash, burn or eat things instead of figuring out a logical way to solve a problem. In one known instance, a dragon smashed, burned and ingested a rubix cube.

It is said that if a Ford Firebird flies off a cliff and bursts into flames, then a phoenix was behind the wheel.

Top five names for a unicorn:
5. Bo Jangles
4. Sunshine
3. GLAAD Float Extra
2. Waste of Space
1. Glorified Horse

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Wonderful World of Television

One thing often enjoyed by fantasy readers and writers alike, is T.V. Hell, they even have a T.V. channel geared towards our interests (sci-fi channel for those wondering what I'm talking about). Through the years, a few fantasy shows have really captured my interest and swallowed up my time.

Xena Warrior Princess - 8 years of kicking ass without taking names entangled with fun and deep story lines. An alternate history fantasy with lovable characters and believable relationships.

Charmed - 7 years of vanquishing evil while always searching for the highest power - love. Sounds cheesy, but this urban fantasy made a deep impression on viewers.

Both of these series are echoed in volumes upon volumes of fan lit. Although it can be tough to recreate visuals into text, books were a way for these characters to survive as their series ended. These shows not only inspired writers to continue their story lines, but also to create new characters which hold similar attributes.

I know, my female leads are always a little charmed and have a bit of Xena in them. Now, if only I could stop re-watching these shows and get back to writing my stories...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Books.

I work at a library which allows me, not only a lot of books to borrow, but first hand picks at books we must get rid of. I know this may come as a shock to avid library patrons, but we can't possibly keep all books that are ordered for us and with time, some of those books are removed from our shelves and sent away (to where, I do not ask). If I'm lucky, I get to snag a few interesting titles for my own library at home.
As a reader, you probably have a large personal library of your favorite books. I've found that not only do I have a wealth of my favorites but also a lot of books I've acquired that I hope to read "someday".
I keep these books to inspire me, as helpful sources for research and to continue my personal world of gluttony I've established since my early childhood.
As a writer, you must keep reading, no matter what. This helps you stay fresh, gives you new ideas, and continually reminds you of appropriate grammar and spelling. By reading, you make yourself into a better writer; more informed about the craft, more informed about history/science/etc., and more inspired to try new styles or to venture into new worlds.
Be you a reader or a writer, I say keep your library full and your mind open. Even if you don't want to be a glutton like me, you can always get a free library card and utilize their shelves as your personal collection.
And, it has been suggested, that if you write fantasy, read (at least on occasion) outside of that genre. I like to read historical fiction and non-fiction, I don't know if it helps with my writing of fantasy, but I know it can't hurt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fantasy Pick for July 2008

Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett are a great, fun read if you like humor and fantasy.

I came across the first one years ago:

(The Colo(u)r of Magic)

and I loved it.

The second book


(The Light Fantastic)

was equally enjoyable, but after that the series begins to follow new characters who may reappear from time to time throughout the 36 book (and still growing) series. Now, being a slow reader, I only got through the first five books, but the entire series looks promising. If you're looking for a good fantasy read, check these books out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Writing Process Pt. 3 Edits (and the end of this post series.)

I tend to write 95% of my novels by hand. My first edits occur when I type up all of my handwritten work. This group of edits is pretty basic, since I find typing to be so tedious.

The second batch of edits occurs one chapter at a time. I will print a single chapter and edit it as thoroughly as possible. At this time, I usually find places that need more description, more back story, better character development etc. and I will write out more (by hand) to add to the story. Later, I will type up my edits and my new additions into my word document.

As a third (and hopefully final) edit, I will look at the novel as a whole, to ensure fluidity and lack of plot holes. At this point, I'll have a clear vision of whether or not the story is complete or needs work, it is in this stage that I also like to share my story with chosen readers who give me helpful feedback - although they tend to steal the work from me to read at the first or second stage of edits and then I get the wonderful chance of being humiliated at my underdeveloped stories/characters/writing/self.

Usually at the third stage of edits, I feel like the novel is a strong as it will get and as long as it will get (damn you low word counts!), but sometimes I have to go back to stage two edits again to fill holes and make the story complete. Overall, edits tend to take up the most of my time as a writer because they are grueling but oh so necessary.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Writing Process Pt. 2 Writing Time

It's another long one, so please pull up a chair...

After ever major plot point and character is to some extent figured out in my mind and roughly outlined on paper, I finally sit down and begin writing the story.

I tend to find that the hardest thing to do as a writer is write. I don’t believe this means I shouldn’t be a writer, I think it just means I’m human – not a time traveling robot with super cool disco moves as previously believed. Story ideas are pretty easy to come by, but finding the time/ drive to chain myself to a notebook for more than 20 minutes can be hard to come by.

Last year, I took three or so months off from writing my last novel. This was partially due to my inability to just sit down and to the work and primarily due to the fact that I didn’t like where my story was going, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Ultimately, I momentarily gave up. When I finally decided that I wanted to finish the book, I was able to find the time and the drive to do the work.

Recently, I realized that my last book, which was barely up to novel length, took me three years to write. Now I was going to school full time and working 20 hours a week, so hopefully future books don’t take as long, but I freaked out at the prospect of only writing three books over the span of ten years. I decided things had to change.

Authors always tell you to write everyday. I didn’t agree with this for years but now I concede and agree that it is a good plan for any writer to adopt. In my attempt to write daily I did two things. 1). I gave myself a daily goal (only two handwritten pages which I proudly surpass on most days) AND 2). I gave myself a monthly goal (25 writing days a month). In this month, with its 31 days, I have 6 freebie days – days when I don’t have to write. I like to keep track of my writing days on my calendar. I put a star on each day that I do write and keep tally marks on the top of the calendar. This way I can see my progress through the month.

So far, I am happy with my plan and each day I write I feel good about my progress. Keeping a writing plan helps me ensure that my novel is being written and I don’t anticipate/worry that this new book will take me three years to complete
.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Writing Process. Pt.1

I know the title of this post suggests this subject will be merely egotistical, but knowing my writing process may be interesting and/or helpful.

For readers of fantasy, this may be interesting because your favorite authors may have similar processes when creating another amazing novel.

For writers, this may show you a way to conquer the ‘I don’t want to’s, to see a project to its fruition and to edit your work into (nearly) perfection.

To begin, let’s examine the first part of writing: the idea.
An original thought is hard to find, or at least I see my initial ideas in so many places. Just to vent: my current book awaiting some publisher, has a main theme of two people being stuck in one mind, Stephenie Meyer’s recent book The Host, also has this main concept. With these basic concepts are quite similar but they diverge severely after that point. Meyer’s book is a contemporary science fiction piece about an alien and a love triangle. My book is a fantasy piece about magic set in a medieval like world. I know what you’re thinking “Her book sounds better” and maybe it is, but my point is that no matter if you start with a similar idea, our own unique outlooks and imaginations allow us to take identical ideas to different places, establishing new novels out of similar concepts. Begin with a basic idea: give it plot, characters and conflict that take it someplace only you could create.

When I first get an idea, I roll it around in my head. Like a piece of clay, I warm it in my hands and shape it. Depending on how tough the clay is (how hard it is to mold your concept into something usable); it may take you a while to begin the shaping process. Depending on the complexity of my initial concept (sometimes it’s only a scene in a dream that I want to build on, sometimes I have 6 characters but don’t know what to do with them) this molding process can take a long time. If I don’t feel ready to begin a story, it can take me months before I begin a project. For me, this may also be a case of the ‘I don’t want to’s which is hard to explain since I do want to write in the grand scheme of things, but it can be hard to write in the moment. It has made sense to me, through the advice of others, that if you feel like you can’t write, you’re probably taking the work in the wrong direction. I find that if a project is taking too long to begin, it’s just my muse keeping me from making a big discouraging mistake.

Now that I’ve established a concept, gathered some characters, worked out some plot and conflict, I outline. At the beginning of a story I will do a basic outline, with a definite beginning and end and with a few points sketched out to carry the story from one end to the other. As I go along with writing, I will establish more in depth outlines to help carry me through important plot points.

I usually don’t work on expanding my characters until after I start writing and it hits me that my characters are a little flat/lame/boring/dull/crude. At that point I’ll have to do some character work (subject of a forthcoming post). This work often stalls my progress, but this is my writing process and if I don’t jump off the train when I’m excited (even if I am missing a few key elements) then I may never jump off and start a new novel.

Then, over the next who knows how long, I write and write and write and write. And since I just wrote and wrote and wrote all of this, I’ll save the rest of my process for another day…

Monday, June 23, 2008

Amazing Writing Books

I'm certain that there are more than four amazing writing books out there (I've actually probably read more than a few of those) but when it comes to fantasy writing, and to what I want to post on my blog, I've limited my selection of Amazing Writing Books to these four (not in any particular order).

Stephen King's On Writing:
This book gives you a look at the
life of a writer, the trials and
errors, the ups and downs, the
work you have to put into the
craft before you get a paid (usually).
It's very insightful, interesting
and helpful. Other than just
King's life story, it holds pointers
and lessons in writing.


Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy:
This is an awesome book devoted

to the craft of writing science
fiction and fantasy. It delves into
character and world creation
while giving help on the subject
of writing well and exploring the
business of writing for the novice
writer.


Orson Scott Card's Characters & Viewpoint:
This book may not be specifically
aimed towards science fiction
and fantasy authors, but it is
helpful when writing any story.
I find that Card explains things
well and thoroughly, leaving
the reader with few questions
and new tools to create better
characters in their tales.

Robert Masello's Writer Tells All:

This is an awesome book
that explores all
elements of writing
a novel, from the
birth of an idea,
through it's publication
and beyond. This is a book that will guide an author through every stage of writing and getting published. (Also check out Robert's Rules of Writing for good tips).

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Other Creative Arts In Which I Dabble...

This was a spur of the moment idea, to share some of the areas I express my creativity.
I enjoy art:
(This is a Jenny original)

I enjoy music:

(This is my fake band, I'm the Lame Unicorn - incase you were wondering)

I like to draw comics:


(Most are related to work, but are not as comical as Dilbert)

And I like to make children's crafts:
(Mind you, the pom-pom grover is my contribution to this set.)

I guess, upon review of these creative pursuits, I should probably stick to writing...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Workshops!

When considering the wild world of writing, we often need others too keep our stories on track.

One way to achieve this is to establish a workshop group. I’ve never been to one of those weekend/week/day/month w/e workshops, led by some know all where there are hundreds of people or hundreds of dollars (or both) involved, but that didn’t mean I had to go without receiving feedback from other writers about my work.

On several occasions a writer friend and I shared our writing with one another and finally we decided to make a larger group, an actual workshop group. At smallest our group was 2 people, at largest it was 5, but it has always been helpful. When you make your own group, it should be a small group so that everyone gets equal attention to their writing.

I find that there are three keys to creating a workshop:

1. Find people.

2. Set rules.

3. Write/submit/read/critique.

Finding people can be as simple as having friends who write or are interested in starting writing and would like the group to look at their work. If you don’t know writers you can place ads at libraries or book stores or even online.

Setting rules is pretty simple to. How much can someone submit for each meeting? How often will you meet, where and when? When do you have to submit your stuff to the group, at the meeting or before?

Lastly, you just have to do the work. You have to write stuff for workshop, or submit already written work, you have to read what others wrote, critique it on the page and then to their face when you meet.

In my current workshop we submit 10 pages or fewer one week before meeting. We try to meet around peoples schedules and we have tried several different places. We’ve met at my place and I’ve made food, we’ve met at restaurants and recently we’ve been more inclined to meet at the local bookstore’s cafĂ©.

Overall, a workshop group can be very helpful to your writing or even to your ego.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses

While preparing what I wanted to say at my most recent workshop meeting, I came across the concept of what my strengths and weaknesses are. This is something that haunts writers when their weaknesses are very evident in their writing or their strengths make a piece really work.

Weaknesses are something that creep out from all the dark places of your psyche when editing. The wish to be perfect is most severe in these moments. Overall, I don't mind my weaknesses because I understand them, they don't hide as faceless bogeymen around the corner waiting to undercut my newest story. By knowing your weaknesses, you can empower your work because it gives you something to improve upon and it won't surprise you when critiquers mention them.

My biggest weakness when writing is my description. I've done a lot to improve my description, and in the world of fantasy, description should be a writer's strong point, but my ability to show a scene will always be lacking. I accept that, and do my best to do what I can to portray the events and characters in my story as vividly as I am able.

My biggest strength (and this is something you need to discover, so that when you are thinking about your weaknesses you can at least smile about what you do well), I think, is my dialogue. I feel like I have knack for funny conversations, and for meaningful/thought provoking statements.

Ultimately, by discovering your weaknesses you can find a place to improve your work and by locating your strengths you can find the elements of your writing which keep you going even when your writing is lacking; those elements that remind you that you have something to offer, that there is something you do well and there is a reason to carry on writing, no matter how poorly something looks or how brutally something is critiqued.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

World Creation

Although I ususally wouldn't start with World Creation when building a story, it is probably more interesting to talk about and easier to explore in blog form than character creation and story outlines.

Now, Patricia C. Wrede (a wonderful fantasy author), has established an amazing set of questions for assisting authors in world creation. I am attaching a link to it HERE.

I, though, will go through some basic points of world creation for those of you who don't want to (maybe not now, maybe not ever) look through such a long list, and for those of you who like to see the basic points instead of/or with all of the small details.


First, you need to determine the time and place. This is a "duh" suggestion, but necessary. Is it in the past? Is it in the future? Is it on Earth? Someplace similiar to Earth? Someplace not similiar to Earth? In space? In the ocean? This is very basic, but building a fantasy world can be complex and you'll need this simple foundation to build the rest of your world on.


Next, I like to explore what kind of people live in this world. Is everyone pretty much human (or based on the human design), or are there elves, dwarves, unicorns etc.


Thirdly, I like to determine the geographic landscape. Sometimes I'll make maps (especially as I get further along in the story and I need to visually see where I'm taking my characters). I draw my maps by hand but I recently came across a program called Auto Realm which seems promising. Along with geography comes climate. Does your world have four seasons like we do or only two? Does it rain constantly or never?


As a final but complex stage to world building, I consider many things about my people.

-What is their history? This doesn't have to be too complex unless it affects the story or you like writing epics.

-What is their education? Also does not have to be too thought out, just limited to your main characters or an explanation of some sort of universal education (as in everyone learns to be a warrior, or everyone learns magic).

-What is their form of magic/what weapons do they use? This does not mean the magic has to be a weapon, it's just that in my experience a character either has magic, a weapon or both, so determining one can go hand in hand with determining the other.

-What are their customs/political organization/commerce/dress/food/manners/spirituality? These can be thought up together, because it is the layout of the society and gives a good direction for what food to serve, what clothes to wear, if there is a king or queen, if there is a proper way to greet people, if there is a class system, do they have a religion, so on and so forth.

Hopefully this helps in your attempts to create new worlds for your fantasy tales.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How I Craft a New Tale

Randomly images/ideas come to me. They may be in the form of nightime dreams, or day dreams, I may listen to music, read a book, or see a movie which inspires me. Some how, in my mind, bits of a story form. If these bits create the beginnings of a story that I think has potential/interests me, then I will persue the tale.

Usually, a story will be like a blurry image. I won't know who or why, just what and then my mind goes to work. Here's an example: a scene with two people fighting. Who are these people?What is their back story? Why are they fighting? Who will win? What is there to lose? What is there to gain? How will their own stories change depending on the outcome of the fight? Where will they go afterward?

Once I start working out a story, big plot points will jump out at me and I'll think - this must happen! - and I will work on connecting the dots, getting from point A to point B in the most logical fashion, while keeping in touch with my characters, my world, my limited magic.

As my tales grow, the characters may pull the story into a new direction, that I would not have forseen until they became complete entites with their own wants and needs. But in the end, as the story comes to a close, I just hope I did the original image justice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Subgenres of Fantasy

As another good introduction to the world of fantasy/writing fantasy, we must explore the different subgrenres of fantasy. Here are a couple of subgenres that seem to be most popular:

Contemporary Fantasy: A fantasy set in the "real" world and in the story the existence of magic, in an otherwise normal world, is revealed. If a character travels to an alternate world and the magic is revealed/used there, it is NOT considered contemporary fantasy. Like if someone walked up to you today and handed you a magical amulet, your biography (detailing your adventures with this magical amulet) would be considered contemporary fantasy.


Example: Highlander

Urban Fantasy: A fantasy set in modern, urban setting. May be considered a subgenre of contemporary fantasy, always set in a city.

Example: Charmed




Dark Fantasy: A fantasy which can be observed as an obvious fantasy but with horror elements.


Example: Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles Series
Fairytale Fantasy: A fantasy that uses characters, plot or other elements from folklore.


Example: American Gods By Neil Gaiman


Heroic Fantasy: A fantasy that always has a hero on a quest; it is part high fantasy and part sword and sorcery.

Example: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien



High Fantasy: A fantasy that shows the epic struggle between good and evil in a fantasy world parallel to our own.


Example: Chronicles of Narnia

Historical Fantasy: A fantasy that is set in the past with fantastical elements OR a fantastical world which parallels our owon with distinct connections to historical places/events/people.


Example: Alvin the Maker Series by Orson Scott Card




Sword and Sorcery Fantasy: A fantasy where main character (usually a warrior) deals with things physically and is more interested in their own self interst than the greater good.


Example: Conan the Barbarian






More subgenres exsist, but as I said, these tend to be most popular, but if you want more please check out wikipedia.com's page on the subgenres of fantasy. (I got a lot of my information from that site.)

Once you have determined the best subgenre for your work to be labeled as (for your own sanity and that of your future publisher), you will have a basic framework to structure your story. While these subgenres may overlap, only one will be your main genre (per piece, you may work with many genres and subgenres over your entire lifetime).

Overall, as a writer of fantasy, you need to have an understanding of these subgenres because publishers will ask which type of fantasy you write and because it limits what is possible in your story/guides the plot, conflict, character creation and world creation of your stories. This knowledge will also be helpful as we explore more elements of writing in upcoming posts.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Writing Fantasy 101

To write anything you need to know the basics of a story such as characters, dialogue, plot and conflict. You may not be skilled in all of these areas, but we'll assume you can grasp them well enough to formulate a story. When taking those elements and fashioning them into a fantasy, many new elements will be included, unique touches which take your tale away from other genres and place it into the realm of fantasy. One such element that does this is magic (not actual magic, but the presence of magic in your story).

Magic is key, it is the heart which beats inside most fantasy novels. If there wasn't magic present, most plot points wouldn't exist, a lot of characters wouldn't be created, the story wouldn't be the story if you took away the element of magic. If the wardrobe wasn't enchanted, the children would never have made it to Narnia and therefore, there would have been no tale of the Lion and the Witch.

Now, as you are creating your magical world, you must be controlled. A story where anything is possible is not a very interesting story. Your characters must still be flawed and your conflicts must still be challenging - even seemingly impossible to overcome.

I remember being a child and playing make believe with kids at school. Often we ran into a situation where we would try to one up one another with our superhero/supervillain abilities until it came to a point where we had unlimited powers. Our battle was a draw and no one wanted to play anymore. This will happen to readers if your magic is limitless, they won't want to read your story anymore.

So when writing fantasy: make your
magic unique, but keep it controlled.