- Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
- Arthurian: Set in Camelot and deals with Arthurian mythology and legends.
- Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
- Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
- Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
- Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
- Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
- Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
- Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
- Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
- Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
- Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
- High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
- Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
- Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
- Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
- Portal: Involves a portal, doorway, or other entryway that leads the protagonist from the “normal world” to the “magical world”.
- Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
- Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
- Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
- Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.
Word counts for fantasy are longer than other genres because of the need for world building. Even in fantasy that takes place in our world, there is a need for the introduction of the fantasy aspect.
Word counts for established authors with a fan base can run higher because publishers are willing to take a higher chance on those authors. First-time authors (who have little to no fan base) will most likely not publish a longer book through traditional publishing. Established authors may also have better luck with publishing a novel far shorter than that genre’s expected or desired word count, though first-time authors may achieve this as well.
A general rule of thumb for first-time authors is to stay under 100k and probably under 110k for fantasy.
Other exceptions to word count guidelines would be for short fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.) and that one great author who shows up every few years with a perfect 200k manuscript.
But why are there word count guidelines? For young readers, it’s pretty obvious why books should be shorter. For other age groups, it comes down to the editor’s preference, shelf space in book stores, and the cost of publishing a book. The bigger the book, the more expensive it is to publish.
- General Fantasy: 75k - 110k
- Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
- Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
- Urban Fantasy: 80k - 100k
- Middle Grade: 45k - 70k
- YA: 75k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
- Adult: 80k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
A pseudo-European medieval setting is fine, but it’s overdone. And it’s always full of white men and white women in disguise as white men because around 85% (ignore my guess/exaggeration, I only put it there for emphasis) of fantasy writers seem to have trouble letting go of patriarchal societies.
Guys. It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. You can write a fantasy that takes place in a jungle. Or in a desert. Or in a prairie. The people can be extremely diverse in one region and less diverse in another. The cultures should differ. Different voices should be heard. Queer people exist. People of color exist. Not everyone has two arms or two legs or the ability to hear.
As for the fantasy elements, you also make up the rules. Don’t go searching around about how a certain magic spell is done, just make it up. Magic can be whatever color you want. It can be no color at all. You can use as much or as little magic as you want.
Keep track of what you put into your world and stick to the rules. There should be limits, laws, cultures, climates, disputes, and everything else that exists in our world. However, you don’t have to go over every subject when writing your story.
- Fantasy World Building Questionnaire
- Magical World Builder’s Guide
- Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds
- Creating Religions
- Quick and Dirty World Building
- World Building Links
- Fantasy World Building Questions
- The Seed of Government (2)
- Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Fantasy Worlds and Race
- Water Geography
- Alternate Medieval Fantasy Story
- Writing Magic
- Types of Magic
- When Magic Goes Wrong
- Magic-Like Psychic Abilities
- Science and Magic
- Creative Uses of Magic
- Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems
- Defining the Sources, Effects, and Costs of Magic
- World Building Basics
- Mythology Master Post
- Fantasy Religions
- Setting the Fantastic in the Everyday World
- Making Histories
- Matching Your Money to Your World
- Building a Better Beast
- A Man in Beast’s Clothing
- Creating and Using Fictional Languages
- Creating a Language
- Creating Fictional Holidays
- Creating Holidays
- Weather and World Building 101
- Describing Fantastic Creatures
- Medieval Technology
- Music For Your Fantasy World
- A heterogeneous World
- Articles on World Building
- Grand List of Fantasy Cliches (most of this can be debated)
- Fantasy Cliches Discussion
- Ten Fantasy Cliches That Should Be Put to Rest
- Seven Fantasy Cliches That Need to Disappear
- Avoiding Fantasy Cliches 101
- Avoiding Fantasy Cliches
- Fantasy Cliches
- Fantasy Cliche Meter: The Bad Guys
- Fantasy Novelist’s Exam
- Mary Sue Race Test
Note: Species (like elves and dwarves) are not cliches. The way they are executed are cliches.
- How bodies decompose
- Wilderness survival skills
- Mob mentality
- Other cultures
- What it takes for a human to die in a given situation
- Common tropes in your genre
- Average weather for your setting
THE WHOLE MAP
How much of your map you draw depends on you and your story. Start with what is important to the story and when you have time, you can draw maps for other places as well.
When you draw the main area, whether it be an island, a whole country, or just part of a country, start with the outline and geography. Draw the main borders, add some geography, and figure out its climate based on its position. I would suggest drawing borders within an area after drawing the geography, as rivers are often used as borders and they can help give your world a more natural look.
If you’re making up the whole world with all its land masses and whatnot, I would suggest creating one giant landmass, cutting it up, moving the pieces around a bit, and then adding and taking away some coastal lands to change the shape a bit.
When focusing on an area and with a story in which characters travel, it’s a good idea to figure out the distance so you know how far and how long your characters need to travel. To do this, compare the map to a real-world map and come up with a conversion for distance (ex: 1 inch = 15 miles).
If you have trouble coming up with borders, coastlines, rivers, mountain ranges, and other geographical and political locations, grab some maps or an atlas and trace small parts of real world places for your map. Put them all together and you’ve got a whole new world.
Stuff to Include:
- Compass rose
- Names of geographical places
- Symbols to represent settlements
- Bodies of water
- Geographical places such as mountains and deserts
- Important major roads
- A legend for these symbols
- The trail that your characters travel on
If there are important settlements in your story, it’s a good idea to make a map for your own reference. Some settlements are (in order of smallest to largest): hamlets, villages, towns, and cities. Of course there are other settlements, but the terms used and what they mean vary by region.
Before you make your map, you should consider the following:
- What is the population? How many people make up a village or a city is up to you and it should reflect the population and the population density of the fictional region you’re writing in.
- Where is it located? The first permanent settlements started small and sprung into cities while farms and villages popped up around them. These settlements were also near water and other resources, which brings us to the age:
- How old is it? The oldest settlements will be near water no matter how much technology is available in the time period you’re writing in. Older settlements were not built with the technology needed to transport water to far places. How old a settlement is will also affect the architecture and the artifacts and structures found nearby.
- What is the layout? Newer settlements will typically have an organized layout based on the geography around the settlement. Older settlements may be organized as well, but are more likely to have roads built around permanent dwellings and buildings rather than the other way around. If your settlement is organized, build the roads first. If it’s not, mark structures first and build the roads around them.
Roads & Buildings:
Like mentioned above, the layout of your settlement depends on geography, roads, and structures.
It would be best to start with the geography, such as hills, bodies of water, and forests. Once you have the general geography of the settlement, you can either put the roads down or the structures.
Organized settlements should start with major roads. How many you have depends on the population size. If there are only a few hundred people in the settlement, there may only be one or two main roads with several minor roads. The main road should lead people to important areas of a settlement, such as a government building, the roads out of the settlement, and other non-residential buildings or structures. However, there can still be residential dwellings. The minor roads should come off the main road(s) can lead to anywhere from residences to parks. To differentiate between the main roads and minors roads, draw the main roads as thicker lines.
Unorganized settlements usually, but not always, start with the structures and without a plan of what this settlement will develop into. While organized and pre-planned settlements are more likely to cut into geographical areas rather than work around them. If your settlement has less grid-like roads and more random placements, start by placing all the structures of your town before drawing the roads.
These types of settlements will still have some type of structure. For example, non-residential buildings tend to be in one area with the occasional stay building. This is usually where a main road ends up. Residential buildings are more random. How far apart they are depends on the type of settlement and what the people at that residence do. Farmers will have more land while those who don’t work off the land or who work outside of their home may or may not have smaller properties.
Draw the oldest roads in unorganized settlements first. The oldest roads usually end up being major roads whether they are straight or curved. The minor roads will go next or there may be no minor roads at all.
Now you have to name your roads and buildings. You don’t have to name all of them, but it can help for reference and it can help build your world.
If you are building a city rather than a smaller dwelling, there are more tips for that here.
Climates and Ecosystems:
- World Climate Zones
- World Biomes
- Tundra Biome
- Grassland Biome
- The Mediterranean Biome
- Deciduous Forest Biome
- Forestry Terms
- Tropical Rain Forests
- Temperate Forest
- Forest Biome Regions
- The Forest Biome
- Anatomy of a Beach
- Types of Dunes
- Desert Biome
- The Formation of Deserts
- How Are Deserts Made?
- Where Are Deserts Found?
- Waterfall Classification
- River Anatomy
- Anatomy of a River
- How Rivers Are Formed Animation
- Freshwater Biome
- Marine Biome
- Lake Origins
- Water Geography
- Get as far ahead of the daily target as you can in week 1 while you’re running on adrenaline. Week 2 is tough, and having a good margin will help you enormously.
- Turn off the television. If you think you can write in front of the tv you are just kidding yourself.
- Treat yourself for reaching goals. Put your favourite chocolate bar, cake, beer, or whatever your vice is, on the table in front of you while you write. Don’t allow yourself to have it until you’ve written your daily word target. It’ll also make your treat taste that much better…
- Be strict on yourself. Sit down and tell yourself you will write for 20mins, or 30mins, or an hour. Actually do it. Turn off the tv, hide from other people and stay off the internet. Write.
- Don’t do it alone. Whether you meet up with people in real life, or meet up with people online, just meet up with someone. Make friends, encourage each other, motivate each other, compete against each other. (And most importantly, drink coffee with each other)
- Compete against your writing buddies. Each day, check the word counts of your writing buddies. Decide whose wordcount you’re going to try and beat, then do it.
- Take part in word wars (also known as word sprints.) Either meet up with friends or play with people online. Agree on an amount of time (20 mins, 1 hour, 24 hours) and at the end of that time, see who’s written the most words. Good fun, a great way to make friends and super productive too.
- Don’t take more than one day off in a row. NaNoWriMo is full-on, and we all need a break now and again. We also all have a life to live outside of NaNo. Don’t feel guilty about taking the odd day off. But if you make it two days off, it’ll be that much harder to get back into it. Three days, and you’ll really struggle. More days and you’re unlikely to get back to it at all.
- Trust your characters. Whether you’re a strict outliner or more of a discovery writer, you can often find your characters rebel; leading your story off in a direction you didn’t expect. Let them explore, you may find out that they have had a better idea than you did! And if your characters do start telling their own story, be glad. It only means that you have written them well, and written them fully, managing to bring them completely to life.
- Just keep going. So what if you’re 5,000 words behind? So what if you’re only managing 800 words a day? So what if it’s 11.30pm on November 30th and you’ve only written 30,000 words. Not everyone will hit their 50k target, but that doesn’t mean they’ve failed at all. By carrying on until the end of the month you have achieved an incredible feat no matter what your word count. The only true failure is giving up.
This is an ultimate masterlist of many, many resources that could be helpful for writers/roleplayers.
- Improve Your Writing Habits Now
- 5 Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Writing
- Getting Over Roleplaying Insecurities
- Improve Your Paras
- Why the Right Word Choices Result in Better Writing
- 4 Ways To Have Confidence in Your Writing
- Writing Better Than You Normally Do
- How’s My Driving?
- A Description Resource
- 55 Words to Describe Someones Voice
- Describing Skin Colors
- Describing a Person: Adding Details
- Emotions Vocabulary
- 90 Words For ‘Looks’
- Be More Descriptive
- Describe a Character’s Look Well
- 100 Words for Facial Expressions
- To Show and Not To Tell
- Words to Describe Facial Expressions
- Describing Clothes
- List of Actions
- Tone, Feelings and Emotions
- Writing Specific Characters
- Character Guides
- Writing Help for Writers
- Ultimate Writing Resource List
- Lots of RP Guides
- Online Writing Resources
- List of Websites to Help You Focus
- Resources for Writing Bio’s
- Helpful Links for Writing Help
- General Writing Resources
- Resources for Biography Writing
- Mental Ilnesses/Disorders Guides
- 8 Words You Should Avoid While Writing
- Body Language Cheat
- Body Language Reference Cheat
- Tips for Writers: Body Language
- Types of Crying
- Body Language: Mirroring
- Words Instead of Walk (2)
- Commonly Confused Adjectives
- A Guide on Punctuation
- Common Writing Mistakes
- 25 Synoms for ‘Expession’
- How to: Avoid Misusing Variations of Words
- Words to Keep Inside Your Pocket
- The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups
- Other Ways to Say..
- 300+ Sophiscated and Underused Words
- List of Misused Words
- Words for Sex
- 100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
- Words to Use More Often
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’ or ‘Laugh’
- Three Self Editing Tips
- Words to Use Instead of ‘Walk’, ‘Said’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Sad’
- Synonyms for Common Words
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’
- Transitional Words
- The Many Faces and Meanings of ‘Said’
- Synonyms for ‘Wrote’
- A Case Of She Said, She Said
- How to: Cure Writer’s Block
- Some Tips on Writer’s Block
- Got Writer’s Block?
- 6 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
- Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block
- How to: Make That Application Your Bitch
- How to: Make Your App Better
- How to: Submit a Flawless Audition
- 10 Tips for Applying
- Para Sample Ideas
- 5 Tips on Writing an IC Para Sample
- Writing an IC Sample Without Escaping From the Bio
- How to: Create a Worthy IC Para Sample
- How to: Write an Impressive Para Sample
- How to: Lengthen Short Para’s
- Drabble Stuff
- Prompts List
- Writing Prompts
- Drabble Prompts
- How to Get Into Character
- Writing Challenges/Prompts
- A Study in Writing Prompts for RPs
- Para Prompts & Ideas
- Writing Prompts for Journal Entries
- A List of Para Starters
- Bad Asses
- Bitches (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Emotional Detachment
- The Girl Next Door
- Introverts (2)
- Mean Persons (2)
- Party Girls
- Rich (2)
- Serial Killers (2)
- Shyness (2, 3)
- Villains (2)
- Disorders in general (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Anxiety (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder (2, 3)
- Cotard Delusions
- Depression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Eeating Disorders (2, 3)
- Facitious Disorders
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Multiple Personality Disorder (2)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Night Terrors
- Kleptomania (2)
- A Pyromaniac
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2)
- Sex Addiction (2)
- Schizophrenia (2)
- Sociopaths (2)
- Aspergers Syndrome
- Someone Blind (2)
- Cancer (2, 3)
- Muteness (2, 3)
- Ballet Dancer (2)
- Alcohol Influence (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Cocaine Influence
- Ecstasy Influence (2)
- Heroin Use
- LSD Influence
- Marijuana Influence (2, 3)
- Opiate Use
- California (2, 3)
- England/Britain (2, 3, 4, 5)
- New York
- The South (2)
- A Death Scene
- Loosing Someone (2)
- Old Persons
- Physical Injuries (2, 3)
- Sexual Abuse (2)
- Fight Scenes (2, 3, 4)
→ CREATING CHARACTERS
- Components of Your Biographies
- Character sheet (2, 3)
- Need Help With Character Creation?
- How to: Draw Inspiration for Characters From Music
- How to: Write a Biography (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- How to: Write a Fully Developed Character
- How to: Create a Cast of Characters (2)
- Writing an Original Character (2, 3)
- Creating Believable Characters (2, 3)
- Bio Formats (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Little Things You Can Add To Your Bios
- Connections (2)
- Bio Twists
- Jung’s 16 Personality Types
- Underused Character Personalities
- Birth-Order: Personality Traits
- The Difference Between Personality and Behavior
- How to: Show a Characters Personality In a Paragraph
- 16 Character Traits
- Underused PersonalitiesPersonality TraitsHabits
- 300 Possible Secrets to Give Your Characters
- I Bet You Didn’t Know..
- Character Plots And Secrets (2)
- Celebrity Secrets
- Secret Masterlist
- Song Lyrics Masterlist
- Songs for Biographies
- Favorite Quotes: TV and Movies
- Favorite Quotes: Notable Authors
- Favorite Quotes: Celebrities
- Favorite Quotes: Popular Books (2)
- Quotes From Songs
- Character Quotes
- Masterlist of Bio Lyrics
- Masterlist of Bio Quotes
- Masterlist of Song Lyrics
- Biography Lyrics
- A Masterlist of Quotes
- +130 Quotes
- The Quotation Garden
→ WHILE ROLEPLAYING
- 100 Paragraph Titles
- Para Titles - Song Title Edition (2,3)
- A Whole Ton of Para Titles
- 350+ Song Titles
- Para Titles For You (2)
- How to: Create an interesting starter
- How to: Make an Interesting Starter
- Gif Conversations: A Guide
- A Brief Guide to Starters
- Interesting Gif Convesation Starters
- Starters Masterlist
- Gif Starter Posts
- 46 Interesting Gif Chat Starters
- Ideas for Gif Chat Starters
- Masterlist: Jobs
- Possible Careers for Characters
- Artistic Occupations
- Martha’s Vineyard Job Masterlist
- Interesting Jobs
- Para Ideas
- Masterlist: Para Ideas
- Top 50 Places for Starters
- Writing Topics: Para Ideas
- 101 Date Ideas
- 68 Date Ideas
- 22 Date Ideas
- Popular Places to Eat
- Character Development Questionaire
- Character Surveys
- C.D. Questionaire
- 30 Day Character Development Meme
- Character Development Questions (2)
- 100 Pt. Questionaire
- IC and OOC Surveys
- Online Test for Character Building
- 30 Days of Character Development
- How to: Develop Characters
- Get To Know Your Characters
Romance (in general)
- The Little Ways a Ship Gets Build
- Roleplaying Relationships
- 8 Ways to Say I Love You
- How to: Make a Set Ship RP Work
- How to: Write a Romantic Scene
- Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Relationships
- Putting a Label on It
- Synonyms for Love
- Pregnancy (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Smut Guide: Casual Sex
- Smut Guide: For Beginners
- How to: Write a First Time Sex Scene Romantically
- How to: Smut - The Bare Bones
- How to: Smut (For Virgins)
- How to: Write Lesbian Smut
- How to: Write Smut (2, 3)
- How to: Write a Blowjob/Prepping for Smut
- Smut Guides of Tumblr
- Tips on Writing Sex Scenes
- A Guide to Language in Smut
- Domination and Submission
- Making Love
- A Smut Guide
- How to: Create the Best Plot for Your RP
- How to: Create A Plot Outline in 8 Steps
- How to: Write A Plot in 12 Steps
- How to: Write A Quality Plot
- How to: Spice Up Your Roleplay Plots
- Components of Your Plot Page
- Writing Up A Plot
- Basics of Writing A Plot
- Links for Plot Writing Help
- Eight Unique Plot Ideas
- Plot Twists
- Situation Ideas (2, 3)
- Guide to Plotting
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
Writers have hilarious conversations.
Writers come up with amazing plotlines.
Writers tell everybody in sight about their stories.
Writers notice little, interesting things to fit into their tales.
And occasionally, at four in the morning, one minute before the caffeine wears off and two minutes before they go to bed, writers write.
Writing fantasy can be a bit overwhelming, especially since you have to create an entire world (in most sub genres) when you’re already trying to create characters and plots. Here’s a guide and some questions to get you started to inspire.
- Physical:Geography: Make a map of your world. Start with an outline of the country, kingdom, or nation you’re making. Is it an island? Is it landlocked? Does it share borders with other countries or regions? Once you have your basic shape, you can add more borders within for states, provinces, kingdoms, and more smaller regions. Now place it somewhere on a globe. This will affect the geography and the climate of your world. Look up the ecosystems and geography of lands similar to yours.
- Local Setting: Where is the general area that your story takes place? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Is there not enough sun because of all the trees? Are there mountains? Is there a tide? What does it smell like? Is the air polluted in one area more than another? How does that affect breathing, smell, and daily life? Those who lived near the Chicago Stockyards when it was open breathed bad air their entire lives. Going to a place with cleaner air was quite an odd experience for them.Ecosystem: What animals are most common? Have your characters hunted any species to the point of extinction? Which animals have been domesticated? What plants and herbs grow there? Rural characters should have knowledge of the nature around them and the uses of certain plants and animals.Climate: Climate depends on the geographical location and other environmental factors. This will affect your characters’ lives significantly.Regions: Does your story take place in one country? Or many? Either way, these places are going to have small regions within whether they are called states, provinces, kingdoms, or whatever you want. Or maybe there are no regions. Your characters may just ambiguously refer to places as “the east” or “the lakes” if there is a place heavily ridden with bodies of water. A fictional island in one my stories has a place that many refer to as “the southern branch” because it is the southern most part of the island and it juts out from the rest. If you have regions, make up their borders. Are there border laws? Are people allowed to pass freely? Are criminals allowed to pass freely? Are there no set borders, but a general idea of where one region starts and another ends? Are there physical borders (such as a wall or a fence)? Do customs vary from region to region?Astronomy: Consider how many moons your world has and constellations. Does your world notice stars? Have they given names to stars and constellations?Villages, Towns, and Cities: When creating a city, town, or village, draw a map and consider who lives there. Draw the geography first. Is there a river that runs through it? Are there hills and forests? Or a swamp? Draw the major roads and note where there may be bridges or tunnels. Add the minor roads next and draw in buildings and homes. Your town could even follow a certain shape, like a circle that has a major building in the center. Maybe, for a smaller village, there is only one road and homes spread out on either side. Or perhaps there are no roads at all.Population: How many people live in certain areas? Is the population high or low? Consider the average family size and life expectancy. If your characters live for a long time and have a low infant mortality rate, they may have a high population. Or maybe they live long enough to realize high population can be a problem, and thus limit the amount of children they have. The population will affect available jobs, amount of towns and cities, and the environment. Think of the diversity in the population. Are there more men than women? More children than adults? What about the percentages of race?Foreign Lands: What are the foreign lands? Are they as advanced as the place your story takes place? More advanced? Less advanced? Do they have a bad or good history with your land? What is the relationship between these lands? How do their cultures differ? Are the borders controlled? What do these places look like? Have borders ever changed? Do mountains or rivers make up the borders?
"Respect your characters, even the minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters’ stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist’s."
Sarah Waters (via jaimecallahan)
Recently, an anon came into my inbox asking for advice on writing essays for class. And since I am a liberal arts major, and good for so little else but writing a lot of papers, I thought I’d share some knowledge. So pull up a chair, tumblr, and I shall take you by the hand and lead you through the perils and pitfalls of paper writing!
I. WHAT THE HELL IS AN ESSAY ANYWAY????
It’s an argument.
That’s it, really. Writing an essay is about constructing an argument. You’re trying to convince the audience that whatever you’re saying is sound—a philosophy term that means “both accurate and logical.” You are trying to convince your audience that whatever you’re saying is not only true, but that it can be arrived at through logical thinking.
This means that in every essay, you have to 1.) say what it is you’re arguing for, and 2.) give evidence as to why your reader should believe you. Yes, even if it’s just a research paper about the life of William Faulkner, you still have to make an argument—though in that case it’s “This is how Faulkner’s life was and here is how I know.”
So…that’s it, that’s my whole explanation. An essay is just saying what it is you’re arguing for, and then giving evidence as to why the reader should believe you.
…of course those things aren’t as easy as they sound.
I really enjoy your So You Want To Write A Fantasy posts. Do you have any recommendations of good examples of fantasy/sci-fi books or movies that I can check out?
I’m going to preface this by saying: Yes, I do. I have not read everything, but there’s plenty of things out there that have been recommended to me, or read by others or places that have good recommendations. I like to be upfront with people - I am half White (Mayflower) and Half Hispanic (Mexican American/Yaqui descent). It has been infinitely easier for me to connect in the Fantasy realms of my WASP American heritage than my Mexican American heritage. I think I’m hyper aware of how race is portrayed in Fantasy because I only have half of myself represented in the media. My mother (Mexican American) grew up reading and watching White Fantasy and Sci-Fantasy, which in turn, is what I read/watched.
My knowledge is limited, but I think I can give you some ideas; mostly resources that come up with these such lists plus some links to Authors of Color and a Few Specific Books:
- Black Science Fiction Society
- Mind Blowing Sci-Fi by POC
- TOR’s Mindblowing SF by Women and POC
- ColorLines: The Ultimate 21st Century POC SF List
- SF/Fantasy by POC
- 50 Books by Queer People of Color
- 50 Books POC DeLiCious Lists
- Feminist SF Net
- SF Bookswap
- Dead Bro Walking (likely to have lists and commentary somewhere…)
- ABW - Media SF + Fantasy tag
- 50 Books POC Lists
- 50 Books Community Recs
- American Indians in Children’s Lit
- A reflection on the 50_POC Challenge + List
- Tu Books (A SF/Fantasy Imprint for Children’s & YA Novels)
- African American Science Fiction
- Speculative & SF in Color (comments are Recs)
- SF Works by People of Color
- So Long Been Dreaming: Post-Colonial SF & Fantasy (an Anthology)
- AFRO Sci-Fi
- The Carl Brandon Society (Spec. Fiction)
- SBattle AFRO Futurism/SF
- Ursula K Le Guin
- Laurence Yep (Asian Children’s/YA Fantasy & Historic Fiction)
- Diversity Rollcall: SF/Fantasy
- Color Online
- SFF YA POC list
- Fantasy Magazine’s Recommended Reading List: Characters of Color
- Cosmos Latinos: A SciFi Anthology
- Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (an Anthology)
- YA Fantasy of Color
- Fangs for the Fantasy: Reviews from a SJ perspective
- Seeking Avalon’s POC Carnival
- Animation in Asia
- DesiLit Magazine
- Metempsychosis of the Machine: Science Fiction in the Halls of Karma.
- Secret Identities Graphic Anthology of Asian American Superheroes
- Also check out these Asian Indie Comic Creators: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Kean Soo, E.J. Su, Amy Kim Ganter, Kazu Kabuishi, Gene Yang
- Seriously check out Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese
- Khmer Comics (Cambodian Comic Reads)
- Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish.
- Stealth (Comic)
- Race in American Science Fiction
- Race in Space: The Representation of Ethnicity in “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”
- Star Trek and History: Race-ing toward a White Future
- Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films
- Decoding Gender in Science Fiction
- Native American Author Project
- On Eurocentricity in Fantasy Fiction
- YA Fantasy Diversity
- Black & Brown Characters in Anime & Manga
- East of Elvendom: POC in SF/F Art
- 5 Sci-Fi movies really about Racism
- 10 Reasons why Steampunk Fans should watch Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (for the portrayal of the Ishvalans as parallel to the Japanese Ainu people and for the Buddhist undertones). Race is important in this series.
- Dr. Who (specifically 10th Doctor for Martha Jones. Frankly she’s the only reason why I continued watching.)
- Misfits (TV Series)
- Attack the Block (Urban Zombie Sci-fi)
- Star Trek (different series for different characters of color as well as the movies)
- Read Racialicious for POC in pop culture. (they watch a lot of True Blood)…
- Heroes before the show went downhill
- Fringe, especially for Astrid
- Sailor Moon for an all Japanese cast of badass girls.
- Miyazaki anything but I insist you watch Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke
- John Woo’s Red Cliff (the international version. It’s not quite fantasy, it’s more like a Chinese 300/Troy. Badass anyways.)
- Aida | One By One
- Mulan (Disney version AND the Chinese film from 2009)
- Steam Boy
- Hulu by genre
- Netflix - > Foreign -> Fantasy & Sci-Fi
- Eon & Eona (which I have not finished reading but started, and liked.) The white author goes into the books she read for research on her webpage here.
But wait, we’re not done. Here’s some more things to get you started. This links focus on Myth, Legend, History, and Folktales:
- Warriors: Asian Women
- Warriors: African Women
- The Rest of ColorQ’s Articles which include: Same-sex/Female history and culture
- The Beautiful Way of the Samurai: Same-sex love
- Gay Tales of the Samurai
- Comrade Loves of the Samurai
- The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagun
- Tales of Genji
- Monkey: Folktale of China
- Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan
- Passions of the Cut Sleeve: Homosexuality in China
- The 3 Kingdoms (China)
- Journey to the West (China)
- The Ramayana (India)
- The Epic of Giglamesh
- Eskimo Folktales
- Favorite Folktales Around the World
- Myths and Legends of the Sioux
- Tibetan Buddhist Folktales
- Joseph Campbell’s Mythology books
- Myths and myth-makers: Old Tales and Superstitions Interpreted by Comparative Mythology
- The Mythologies Of Ancient Mexico And Peru
- The Popol Vuh (Mayan)
- Egyptian Mythology
- African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library)
- Diné Bahane’: The Navajo Creation Story
- An Illustrated Dictionary of Gods & Symbols (Ancient Mexico and the Maya)
- Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer
- African Folktales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
- Encyclopedia Mythica
- Useful Notes
That’s a small sample. Read. Read everything. You probably had to read Shakespeare or Beowulf or Chaucer. Now read the Tales of Genji or Popol Vuh. Read books on religion - read Buddhist Scripture or Hindu tales. Find the Mythology section of your local library or bookstore and park yourself there. Read stories. Many myths or folk tales are only a page or two long, and you can read them in short bursts, putting the book back when you’re done. Open up a book on Daoist philosophy or Confucianism or read about the Aztecs. Explore the Fertile Crescent. Read about the Mongolians, examine Art that isn’t western, isn’t European, and then figure out why the very core Philosophies of art were different. Discover perspective. Read about Africa, and not just Egypt. Study Archaeology or Anthropology or History. Take Art History. Read Non-western Literature Canon. File away everything for later use.
If you live in the US, go to a local Native Reservation and buy out their folktale book section. Or their history section. (Always patron Natives rather than buying rip off works! Boycott Urban Outfitters. You know the drill!) Hell, go to any culturally specific place, and buy their books. Chinatown, Little Mexico, the neighborhoods have books and libraries and they cling to them, because keeping this identity and cultural connection alive can be hard sometimes.
Walk into a Comic Convention. Tell yourself you cannot buy anything that doesn’t:
A.) Have a Protagonist of Color and/or
B.) Was written by a POC.
See how much you can buy besides a whole lot of manga or anime. (If you buy Manga or anime, buy the kind that contains specific cultural narratives.)
Actually, if you’re curious, I encourage the buying of Manga and Anime over American mainstream comics in general. Buy the hell out of Indie comics that feature POC/LGBTQ/etc. But be forewarned about DC/Marvel and their imprints: they will fuck your favorite characters over. Frequently. The fandom will not welcome you as a POC/Woman/WOC/LGBTQ unless you only hang out with those folks. The rest of them? They’re privileged assholes who will question your right to play in their sandbox or critique their toys. They’re rude, and they’re also in charge of the companies. Finding an American DC/Marvel comic written, inked, and colored by women is like finding gold lying on the sidewalk. It’s really rare. Finding that in Manga or Anime? Some of the most popular series are written by women. At least half the series on any given shelf are by women. You’ll find more LGBTQ stories in Manga/Anime than you will in any American comic. They may not all be portrayed in the best or most thoughtful light but you’re talking about having maybe one or two characters versus having entire ‘genre’ sections dedicated to these kinds of characters. Yes, Yaoi/Yuri can be fetishizing. There are also lots of really good romances within those genres or within the regular mainstream stories that are just presented as part of the story. (Hello Sailor Moon.)
If you don’t want to say, read a Buddhist scripture, pick up Tezuka’s Buddha. Look for the dozens of adaptions of different popular myths and legends into Fantasy series. Watch Wuxia films. Enjoy Toku live action. Find a place to see Bollywood films. Watch Nollywood films. Search for Novellas that have Fantasy elements or Korean Dramas or Japanese Dramas or Mandarin Chinese Dramas. Take advantage of Hulu’s Anime and Korean Dramas. Watch Generator Rex (he’s half Mexican.) Watch shows with subtitles. Movies with Subtitles. Steal away in the pages of History books. Read critical literature of your favorite series: read Harry Potter Critiques or Lord of the Rings Critiques or A Game of Throne Critiques. Read TVtropes and critique them.
Ultimately, that’s my good recommendation. Read everything.
"If you find yourself asking, “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death."