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Category Archives: Fantasy 101

The Star and the Flowers


Mountains claw at the sky,

Asperous ridges etching morning radiance,

Scabrous silhouettes impress evening gloom,

Rumblings of Earth in her final cry.


Oceans grasp at the slick sands,

Surging gallons crashing with flow of tide,

Cavernous depths gasping at precarious ebbs,

Unrequited. They drown the transient lands.


Nature tainted slinks on callous,

Lion of gazelle, man of woman; child,

Dissolute deportation insentient,

Feigned morality swathed in malice.


Where then lies hope? We lament.

Beyond the stars in cosmic knowledge?

Intrinsically within ancestral bones?

In religiosity bred malcontent?


There is no hope.

Only pain.

Only death.

It’s depths we can never grope.


The star gazed upon the ravenous nature around him and wept; cosmic-imbued tears fell to the ground and sprouted perfect, white four-leaved clovers. He reached for one and watched as it turned to dust between his fingers. Disintegrated. Falling on his knees, crushing the sprouting flora, he continued to weep and bring to bloom a myriad of the fragile flowers. Like everything else on this cursed planet – this cursed universe; life was temporary. And he would continue to experience the anguish it wrought within his newly formed heart.


Camp NaNo Update: S.King, R.R.Martin and Fantasy Cabins


I spent some time today listening to Stephen King and George R.R. Martin talk about their books, their failures, successes, how rats have played an important part of the writing lives and a whole other goodies. I spent some time listening to two major authors in two of my favourite genres (horror and fantasy) and one of them is my favourite author. I have yet to read any of R.R. Martin’s books nor have I watched any Game of Thrones but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate his insights nor the fact that even Stephen King is smitten by the series.

I will admit that I have to fend off the obvious amalgamative (yes this is a word!) conclusion to write a horror/fantasy novel for Camp NaNo. Which, as I write this, seems like such a fantastic idea and I’m trying to write myself out of doing it. I think by the end of this update I will have completely failed at this.

Update on my Camp NaNo Preps:

Graphic Novels and things

First things first, I’m really excited to announce that my graphic novel has a tentative artist. In fact she has a published book on Amazon and works as an illustrator as her job. We’ve talked story, I gave her some comics to get a feel of what it would all entail and yes I know it’s not that simple and the whole process is different to just draw this here, write this there blah blah… but that’s the beauty of camp, isn’t it? It’s not about getting it perfect, it’s about doing it. And right now, I’m doing a fantasy/graphic novel for July. Even if she doesn’t do it,  I can probably scrape together enough scenes on my own to bring to a capable artist and bring my dream to life. *stares longingly into the stars*

Story things

So my story is based in Africa, up North this time along the Sahara desert. The premise is as follows:

The Galaxy (an entity of many) saw the destruction that humanity had wreaked upon the single living planet. Overcome with intense emotion, the Galaxy let a tear fall to Earth. It splashed across the Sahara desert and transformed the arid landscape into forestry. Within this tear drop was a star, a source of light that fed into the forest and gave it it’s life. This star was our Earth’s first “mage”, a boy who controls the elements by mental ability alone. But Earth is not unaware of this rare phenomenon, and the people flock to the great desert to see this miracle for themselves. Religion, science, superstition and everyone of the sort gather in hope of drawing some conclusion from the celestial forest to fuel their beliefs.

Of course the most obvious thing here would be to create some sort of mythical being who is jealous of the boy’s power and hopes to control it for world domination. Or a Dark Lord born from the anger of the Galaxy comes to eradicate humanity and it’s up to our lone star to prevent darkness from destroying nature and humans along with it etc etc. But I think I’m going to add a different sort of human element in this, as George R.R. Martin states:

“You don’t just have people who wake up in the morning and say, “What evil things can I do today, because I’m Mr. Evil?” People do things for what they think are justified reasons. Everybody is the hero of their own story, and you have to keep that in mind. If you read a lot of history, as I do, even the worst and most monstrous people thought they were the good guys. We’re all very tangled knots.”

Which is one of the things I love about Stephen King as well, is that most times his villains are the people themselves and not the outside evil that has put those people in those positions. The chat thing between King/Martin validates this too, so of course I’m not the only one who noticed this trait in King’s books. *-1000 ego points*

Camp things

I’ve updated the word count for my Camp to 40 000 words, which is 10 000 shy of NaNoWriMo and rather audacious for me. However, my Natural Man: Comic (name to be revised) will be a collection of stories rather than a novel so it’s word count won’t be very high. So I’ll be working on my Steampunk Horror (name to be revised…I’m terrible at names) and adding that to the word count. I’ve had some great insight from the Dragon Writers writing group I’m part of, with a lot of positive comments on the story. I’m exceedingly excited!

Writing things

Which brings me at last to my writing goals for the future. Listening to Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King and George R.R. Martin has been incredibly inspirational, and if I really want to be a writer, I will have to actually do some writing. And I have to stop this flitting about between books and stories on a whim because this new idea is great, let me write it or this idea is boring now let me work on this one and and and. So I’ll be focusing on getting both of these works done by this year, complete and ready for editing. A novel a year outside of NaNoWrimo, which will effectively mean two novels a year. I won’t say they’ll be amazing and become best sellers, but they will be complete and submission worthy.

Inspirational things

Right, so I’ve been mentioning this chat between Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, and here’s the video. Enjoy.

P.S. They do swear quite a bit so be warned:

Fantasy 101: Just Swords and Sorcery

Please put out your burning torches and reign your dragons, I’m not suggesting that Fantasy is just swords and sorcery. There’s also princesses and mythical creatures intertwined into the fabric of fantasy. Okay you can light just one torch but, before you burn my heretical self, sit down and let me tell you a tale. It begins with a Princess… and a goblin.


It’s quite a long journey from George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin novel to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire; about 140 years of Fantasy literature in between spanning across enough sub-genres that R.R. Martin couldn’t behead fast enough.

When we consider fantasy, we generally think of fantastical lands, magic, dragons, princesses, wizards, swordsmen, goblins, orcs, hobbits and the like. But the genre is so much more than that. There’s dark mythological horrors (have you read Dark Things), there’s juvenile fantasy (Harry Potter, Narnia), there’s diesel punk (steampunk… kind of… it’s a long story), high fantasy (Lord of the Rings), urban fantasy (please don’t say Teen Wolf or Vampire Diaries – the series not… never mind), fairy tales and the list goes on.

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

With CampNaNo a whole week away, I have just seven days to ensure that I get the proper gist of what fantasy actually is before beginning my short-story/graphic novel. So let’s start with the basics of fantasy:

Fantasy 101

Imaginary Worlds

Whether you have stepped out of a wardrobe or ran through a wall on Platform 9 3/4, most stories in the fantasy genre occur in a world outside of our own; a land where almost anything is possible. Sure, some incorporate a more contemporary era, but it is a world that is still outside our own in terms of possibility. In fact, that word possibility is the key word of any fantasy setting. The possibility of a werewolf as a presidential candidate. The possibility of finding a book that contains real magic. The possibility of anything fantastical happening. What would that mean to the world around us?

“They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle Earth. ”
― George R.R. Martin

Magic / Supernatural Elements

Some practice Allomancy, some are part of the legendary Istari, others are protégés among rêveurs in a moving circus; they wield otherworldly abilities that we can only dream of in the real world. Some are born with them, some invoke it into existence, others rely on relics, symbols, wards, wands and gestures, all in a bid to access some supernatural ability which we call magic. This idea of it being “supernatural” is what makes it fantastical, so otherworldly, that by simply saying a certain phrase of Latin origin, you can call forth a ball of fire or lightning from the sky.

Others have tried to use science to explain the phenomenon of magic. In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, this is the dialog between Balthazar and Dave:

Balthazar: Which also explains why molecular physics comes so easily to you.

Dave        : So, wait. Is sorcery science or magic?

Balthazar: Yes and yes.

Regardless of it’s origin, limitations, elemental attributes, invocation etc, the very idea of magic fuels the fantasy genre and adds a wonderful sense of fantasia.

Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus


Monster book of monsters

Copyright blah blah blah. Of course if you’ve read Harry Potter you know all about the monster book of monsters (and the upcoming movie about it! Fantastic beasts and where to find them) which brings another element of the fantasy genre: creatures.

The origin of these creatures can be traced back through the ages, and I mean waaay back. They appear in Norse mythology, Celtic mythology, Classical mythology (Greco-Roman), ancient Semitic religion (Middle East and North Africa), Chinese folklore and Sumerian religion (3500 BC).  They go beyond just goblins, orcs, elves, dwarves, fairies, harpies, dragons, werewolves, vampires, mermaids, chimeras, Gorgons, Dark Lords, leviathans and oh so much more. They are scattered across the world and appear in various forms, live in a myriad of landscapes, communities and holes. Not all are evil. Not all are good. And they definitely add a sense of wonder and fear into any fantastical tale.

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
― Werner Herzog


What would a story be without its hero? Most of them in the fantasy genre fall into some sort of trope: the orphan, the weird sibling, the loner who turns out to be from a “special” lineage, the reluctant hero, the underdog; and all of them find some ability (or learn to control it) which they use to prevent an evil. They are guided by some older mentor (mostly of the bearded kind) who may or may not die along the way, killed by some Dark Lord, which motivates the hero even more to quell the evil.

Or a wandering warrior with a mysterious past they wish to never relive. They are approached by a mysterious figure and called to embrace their destiny. This involves fending off hordes of creatures, finding the great evil behind them and engaging in an epic battle that forces them to reconcile their past and move to a better future. Normally with some beauty in tow.

All of them are plagued by a tragic past or future.

Regardless of their origin, we love the hero and their journey, watching them finally embrace who they are and defeat the evil. We are moved by their story, the hardships they overcome and the choices they made with the power they have been burdened with.

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
― Brodi Ashton, Everneath

As I research and read up on the fantasy genre, recall all the books, films and series I’ve watched, I can’t help falling in love with fantasy again. Definitely looking forward to the July Camp.

I still have some space in my cabin, so comment your username and I’ll add you in!

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