• writing fantasy tumblr meme coins terminology jargon world-building

    How Much World-Building Is Too Much?

    This Tumblr post asks an interesting question that I’ve always wondered about — how much world-building is too much? World-building is a big part of fantasy, the idea of an alternate Earth is fascinating. The problem is that, if Earth did evolve differently, that world would be so alien it would be incomprehensible. There is a line where the world goes beyond one’s grasp. Now some people like that sort of thing. But how do you market something like that? I read a blurb recently from a self-published fantasy novel, one of a billion, that was full of jargon. “The world is under control of the Zorbos, an only a…

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    The Key to Any Fantasy Story

    As I like fantasy, it’s very hard to make the kind that entertains me. Maybe that’s why I write atypical fantasy characters or plots, such as a coming-of-age adventure for a naga or a domestic drama involving female dwarf sisters. They’re not doorstoppers involving grand sweeping epic world wars and cosmic evils (and thus unpublishable). I love fantasy but I do not have a long attention span. I read fast and my memory isn’t great. All the names of people, places, and things are in some foreign tongue, so I can’t recall whether Niffenbukugard was that innkeeper, the capital city, or some magic spell. There’s more fantasy media than ever…

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    Orcs Be Racist?

    This was a recent hot take on the interwebs, and I love the low hanging fruit so… I actually have a little expertise in this (as much as one can about a swords & sorcery race that doesn’t exist). I have read the D&D Player’s Guide & Dungeon Master’s Guide cover-to-cover, and written a novella about orcs. So I’ve done my research. I mean, I’m not savvy on the history of orcs in fiction, but I’ve got some stakes as a fiction writer. So the big debate is whether orcs are a stand-in for Black people, either in the tribal African “Shaka Zulu” sense or the “genetic predisposition” sense. There…

  • robots vs fairies close

    Robots vs. Fairies

    So last month I read “Robots vs. Fairies”, a collection of short stories. I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t so much “versus” as “here’s robots and now here’s fairies” (except for one story at the end). But at the end of each story, the author declared whether they were “Team Robot” or “Team Fairy” and why. Even though the split is even, it felt like Team Fairy came out the winner. But I thought it’d be fun to declare my allegiance, even though I’m not part of the book. (They didn’t even *ask* me! *sniffle*) Even though I probably read and produce more fantasy than science fiction, I…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: January – February 2018

    The Elven by Bernhard Hennen It took me two months of dedicated reading to complete this. Of course, I took breaks along the way, but still, I feel stories can wear out their welcome. We’re not in the era of television-less-ness anymore. We don’t need War and Peace to keep us occupied. And this is a callback to those kinds of books. It’s a saga rooted in high fantasy and Norse/Germanic myths (like elves and dwarves). We’ve got three main characters. Two are elves who have been rivals for a girl elf’s love for whatever thousands of years elves live. The last is a viking who gets treated like the…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: November – December 2017

    Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia Eliza lives with a sitcom family of annoying siblings and health-nut parents who just “don’t get it”. They don’t get computers, they don’t get the Internet. They think the way to live life is out of doors, socializing face to face. And that’s not the only place to find friends and success. Especially for severe introverts like Eliza. Eliza is just a high schooler who writes a webcomic. A damn successful one. From the sound of it, it’s on par with Penny Arcade and xkcd in terms of popularity, but more dramatic (and made in manga style with space-existential elements). But on the…

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    Books I Never Finished But Wish I Did

    In case you can’t tell my attention span is very squirrel. The only times I’ve not finished a book is if I strongly believe I’m not going to get anything out of it: books that are terribly written or outdated non-fiction. It’s not them, it’s me. There are books I simply cannot get through. I cannot find a way to get them to work for me. So this is my apology to those books. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy I know, I know. Me, a fantasy author. Never read all the books in the trilogy. I saw the movies, and I love them, but the books I just can’t…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2013

    The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta I had high expectations for this book — a novel about a superheroine who usually doesn’t make it past the comic books. I was hoping that, since Jennifer Walters is a lawyer, the book would be about some courtroom drama, a la John Grisham, but with the added complication of superheroes. Despite it being The She-Hulk Diaries, She-Hulk is barely in it. It’s more about Jennifer Walters, her human form, and her “girl problems”. The crux of the story is Jennifer tooling around, talking to her friend, and trying to get a job. She spends way too much time obsessing over boyfriends — past,…

  • horned king black cauldron

    Analyzing the Disney Villains: The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)

    THE HORNED KING Origin: The Black Cauldron (1985) This is one of the first Disney movies I remember seeing a commercial for. I didn’t see the film, obviously. It looked too adult and complex (in 1985, I was four). Also, I had already ruined my movie privileges by running up and down the theater aisles during E.T. (according to my mom). I’m torn on where to place this one. The Horned King acts much like Sauron (or rips him off). Both are dark entities who are unambiguously evil and may or may not be dead. When it comes to action, they don’t get out much. They even both have the…

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    Words that Take You Out of Fantasy Settings

    Last night I was tossing and turning because I was worried about my new novel. It’s a first draft, it should be written badly, but that doesn’t stop me: it’s boring, the characters are flat, there’s not enough action, I’m wasting my time on scenes that don’t advance the plot. Stuff like that. And the biggest problem that I’m glossing over is that, while I’ve done a lot of world-building, I haven’t done a lot of terminology obscuring. What that means is changing those certain words that pull you out of the fantasy setting. For example, I had one character say “the heavens”, referring to up there. Well, this is…