Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.
This week I start prepping for NANOWRIMO and I encourage any fantasy fiction writers listening to this podcast to begin plotting too! Today I look at the various stage of a Hero’s Journey and discover Markstein’s criteria. I also visit the Celtic Way and consider the race of Celts. I consider the Guardian list of the 100 best books of the 21st century and I ponder Gwyneth Paltrow’s (empty) bookcase and try to imagine the books I would like to add. The Wildflower of the week is the Blackberry.
Now its NanNo Prep Time are you ready to start plotting out your fantasy fiction?
What form is your protagonist going to take?
Male /female/ gender fluid?
Old, young, ageless?
What form is your main antagonist going to take?
Male /female/ gender fluid?
Old, young, ageless?
What form is your tale going to take?
Coming of age
How will you construct your fictional world?
How does it differ to (this) real one?
What are the similarities?
What technology does it have?
Does your fictional universe have its own internal logic
Have you created a timeline to ensure consistency and continuity
Will your fictional world comply with Markstein’s criteria?
If characters A and B meet, they are in the same universe
Characters cannot be connected by real people
Characters cannot be connected by characters that do not originate with your published work
Specific fictionalized versions of real people can be used i.e Robin Hood or King Arthur
Characters are only considered to have met if they appeared together in the story
What will be the Triggering Event ?
How does your protagonist resist the call to adventure? Why won’t he/she/it go? What’s preventing their adventure?
(After the first plot point, there will be several chapters where the protagonist is learning about the new world. They might be doing research, or discovering things in conversations. There needs to be conflict and tension, which builds up to the first Pinch Point.
This doesn’t have to be a literal battle, but it is the first major interaction with the antagonist. The antagonist might not be visible yet, but they should be the one pulling the strings. The antagonist is after something, and that something is tied to the MC somehow…)
What does the Protagonist have that the antagonist needs or wants?
What will be the first pinch point?
Midpoint—the shift from victim to warrior – (after the first pinch point, the protagonist continues to face new challenges, but are in a defensive role. They might make some plans, but mostly they’re waiting for something to happen and reacting to events rather than being proactive.) Why does the protagonist decide to take action. What turns him around from being a victim to being a hero?)
This leads to a second confrontation with the antagonist (the protagonist realize that everything is much worse than they thought, and they realize they’ve underestimated the antagonist’s power.)
The protagonist tries to fix things, but things keep getting worse and worse, leading to a total, devastating loss… so we arrive at the the dark night of the soul.
What will be the First Major Turning Point in the story?
How will the antagonist get the upper hand?
(Perhaps, after a pep talk with a close friend, to “gird the loins” the protagonist finds a reason to fight, even if it’s hopeless. Even if it seems impossible to defeat the enemy, there’s no choice but to confront the antagonist.
But now he is prepared—he might have gained a valuable piece of knowledge or information. He might have a new weapon or new power, or he’s learned the villain’s weakness.
The final battle scene often includes a “hero at the mercy of the villain” scene, where the hero is caught, so the villain can gloat. Anyway it’s not a clear, easy victory. They fail at first, all is lost, the hero is captured, the enemy gloats… then the hero perseveres. With resolve and tenacity, the hero escapes and overpowers the villain.
Often the final battle scene also includes a “death of the hero” scene, where the hero, or an ally/romantic interest, sacrifices themselves, and appears to die… but then is brought back to life in joy and celebration.)
The Guardian list of 100 best-books-of-the-21st-century
This list of ONE HUNDRED best books of the 21st century (not all are fiction) published this week by the Guardian newspaper, includes just six works that you might accurately describe as “Fantasy Fiction.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (her only Hugo Award winning novel… The Hugos tend to not be given to the same writer twice)
Darkmans by Nicola Barker
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
Night Watch by Terry Prachett
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Why is this speculative genre so under-represented? (George R. R. Martin isn’t listed at all, but perhaps “A Storm of Swords” and the subsequent two Song of Ice and Fire didn’t make the cut) Is it because fantasy fiction is (these days) is considered to be “Young Adult” and therefore, because the books (purportedly) speak to a younger audience they are somehow considered to be less meritorious?
Is “Dead Until Dark” (Charlaine Harris) young adult fiction?
Dark Lover J.R. Ward
Vampire Academy Richelle Mead
City of Bones Cassandra Clare
Twilight Stephenie Meyer
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins , or
The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger
Oddly (and to even things up a bit) the top 20 best selling books of the 21st Century, combined, have sold over a billion copies. These include:
The “Harry Potter” books, over 225M sold
The “Twilight” books, over 120M sold
The Hunger Games books, over 65M sold
A Song of Ice and Fire” over 60M sold
The Divergent Trilogy over 35M sold
That means more-or-less half of all books sold have been fantasy fiction. Ha! [Stats from https://elitewritings.com%5D
Wildflower of the week: BLACKBERRY
All along the CELTIC WAY at this time of the year, you can find Blackberries (sometimes called black-caps in the USA)
aka brummel kites, gater berry, cock brumble, blaggs and mooches.
I can tell you, from experience, these edible fruit from the genus Rubus make the most delicious crumble you’ve ever tasted and go particularly well with sharp cooking apples. The possess a heavenly scent that makes my mouth water with anticipation. When I was young, my sisters and I would go blackberry picking on open land and bring home baskets-and-baskets of berries so my mother could make jam.
Blackberries and raspberries both live on what we call, in England, brambles. Though raspberries are “domesticated” and can be safely grown as “canes” in a garden or plot… whereas blackberries are decidedly wild and would take over an entire garden if not hunted down and eliminated.
Unmanaged plants in the wild form a dense tangle of arching thorny branches and these are often cut into hedgerows and provide important protection for nesting birds and all kinds of animals.
A bog woman who was found naturally in a bog in Jutland, and had died in the pre-Roman Iron Age was found to have eaten millet and blackberries before she had been strangled.
It’s also thought that Blackberry fruit, leaves, and stems were used to dye fabrics and hair. And Native Americans were known to use blackberry stems to make rope.
The delicious loganberry – developed in 1880 in Santa Cruz – is one of the best and most flavoursome cultivars from the original plant.
Blackberry leaves are an important food source for caterpillars; and some grazing mammals, especially deer.
Scottish highlanders once twisted a bramble with ivy and grown to ward away witches and evil spirits.
It was once thought that on Michaelmas day (the holy day of angels 29 September) the devil spat and urinated upon all the fruit and so it was unwise to pick them any more. In Ireland a similar belief held that the pooka ( the nature spirit that I described in my novel Moondog and the Reed Leopard) were responsible for ruining the fruit by pissing on them ( a few weeks later than the devil in England, at Halloween tide.)
CALL OUT 25 SEPTEMBER Assaph Mehr
If you like the idea of togas, daggers and magic and an Urban Fantasy set in a quasi-Ancient Rome intrigues you, then try ASSAPH MEHR and his Murder In Absentia
A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects a cult death, and knows who to call for discreet resolution.
Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a competent magician — but something in between. Drawing on his contacts in shady elements of society and on his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
Murder In Absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.
I like the idea that this book will appeal to fans of detective fiction as well as fantasy!
Well done, ASSAPH.