What Are My Favorite Fantasy Tropes?

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Hello, my readers. It’s been a busy month for me, and I just finished my long beta read for a fellow writer. Reading through the story got me thinking about fantasy tropes in general—especially since it’s #fantasymonth. In fantasy, you have everything from elves, dwarves, dragons, and halflings! In science fantasy, the scope expands even more to robots, cyborgs, aliens—the sky’s the limit.

Below, I’ll discuss some of my favorite ones, not in any specific order. I’ll focus strictly on the fantasy elements, but they can be applied to sci-fi too.

 

I. Elves

Who doesn’t like elves? An elf—by general definition—is beautiful, slender, graceful, and powerful. Elves have played a large role in fantasy since the Tolkien days—and continue to do so. Usually as a force for good, elves help maintain the order of the world they live in, often living in cities that are in harmony with nature.

 

II. Dragons

Another favorite of mine, dragons are the epitome of power, feral beauty, and arcane mystery. While elves are almost always good, dragons have played a multitude of roles ranging from villains, to advisors, and even heroes. Dragons are a wild card in how they have been used throughout all fiction.

 

III. Magic

Magic is a whimsical topic—and a detailed analysis of such a trope is clearly beyond the scope of this humble article—that symbolizes the human imagination. Anything from fireballs, to teleportation, flight, or telepathy falls under the magical category. The price of using magic can be just as fascinating as what it produces. An author can conjure whatever he or she wishes via magic; that’s what makes it such an unpredictable and exciting trope.

 

IV. Alchemy

But what is alchemy? It’s essentially the transmutation of an object into something else. Lead to gold is a classic example, but you can make other things like herbal elixirs too. In fantasy settings, authors often use alchemy as a profession to make a living, a means to heal others via healing salves, or—even better—a plot device that integrates with your magic system like in Mistborn. In other ways, alchemy can be a religion or way of life that shapes a character’s decisions.

 

V. Culture

I enjoy reading about the different types of civilizations in a fantasy story. An elven society may differ from one book to another, for example. How do the people function in said society? What roles does said society play in the plot? From culture, you can derive things like currency, prejudice, personal values, and even a magic system.

 

VI. Food & Consumables

I love food in general, especially cooking with it. It’s like a gift from the Divine—every meal is a blessing, every bite a prayer. Anyway, food heavily influences culture, reflecting how the world is assimilated by the protagonist and his/her society. Bonus points to the author that devises a completely unique fruit or herb with special nutritive properties.

 

VII. Magical Creatures & Beasts

Who says a writer should stop at elves and dragons? How about a mix of the two with its own racial name, abilities, and cultural values? This is another way creativity can work its magic and weave beautiful fiction. Magical beasts can be ally or foe for the protagonist—and such creatures help shape the conflict of the plot, giving depth to the reader’s immersion.

 

—On A Final Note—

A fictional world is only limited by the author’s imagination. Each new story is a dive into untold depths, whimsical and sylvan mystery. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading and writing fiction so much.

What are your preferred fantasy tropes? What are your thoughts on elves, dragons, and magic? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Thanks a bunch for reading and enjoy #fantasymonth! Cheers.

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The Ballad of Atläs

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Atläs, mother of all
Throughout the years watched us grow tall
For many years, Tiamat ruled this land
Her draconic legacies spread like sand
In the heavens, a star shone
Sending chaos onto Tiamat’s throne
Long we have witnessed the ravages of war
Of demons, giants, ogres, and more
We plenty have much to repair
Lest calamity once more brings her care
The Gate will see us through
Or break us until we relearn what we knew
Guide us, divine Aspects; show us the way
For only through ourselves will harmony stay
Plenty would Ronald’s avatar wail
But to observe the strength of Tiamat’s renewed tail
Still, she claws at hearts with her call
Through mortals, dragons, and bastards most of all
Now darkness gathers around, priming for evil to rebound
Yet a hero may rise to meet the temptress
To foil curse, shadow, pride; strong yet relentless
A divine blade will shine free
Guiding the hero towards destiny’s tree
Guide us, holy Aspects; brighten the past
For only through peace, will the future last
—Lily Hymnfoot

Fantasy Month Blog Tag

Fantastical Realms Blog Tag

Hello, my readers! It’s February, and that means #fantasymonth! I’m excited to get involved in this blogging tag game. First, I’d like to thank Jenelle Schmidt for the idea, and A. M. Reynwood for tagging me.

Anyway, I’ll start with some questions on worldbuilding and gradually move to some zany ones. 😛

What aspect of worldbuilding do you enjoy?

Probably the spontaneous nature of it. It’s fun to give birth to entire worlds from nothing. The possibilities are endless—and you never know what the result could be! A novel that has a wild and whimsical world is my preference.

How do you worldbuild?

Usually by the seat of my pants. I’m not a great outliner and planner. I find the process to be tedious, and that it impedes the creative juices. The editing can come later—and I honestly don’t mind it.

What is your favorite fantasy novel in regards to worldbuilding?

Hmm…not an easy question. What first comes to mind—I enjoyed the worldbuilding in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. The use of alchemical reagents to fuel superpowers was fascinating. The world of Mistborn is also dark and mysterious, leaving the reader with a feeling of suspense.

What fantasy creature do you wish featured in more stories?

Instead of which fantasy creature, I’ll rather have a shift in the whole fantasy genre. Too often fantasy focuses on European mythology. There’s plenty of creatures and fantasy elements in East Asian mythology, for example. Speaking of which, I’ve had a lot of fun writing Tempest of the Dragon. The research I’ve done into Japanese mythology has been refreshing—and it has opened my eyes to how limited and dull European fantasies have become.

As you are reading this, a voice rings in your ear proclaiming:

A hero true, a leader strong,
A quest is where you do belong,
So arm thyself, and take your stand
With an item to your left your fate is at hand.

Besides the fact that this prophetic voice is clearly incapable of sticking to a meter, what ordinary item do you now find yourself armed with? (And, for bonus points, what helpful magical properties does it now possess that will help you on your quest?)

I would choose a set of prayer beads. The necklace would be blessed by a god and goddess, granting me wisdom in how to proceed in life. Through these divine words, I would walk forth, prepared to reforge creation and bring balance to humanity.

Congratulations! You are a fantasy hero/heroine about to start your adventure. You get to choose a small fantasy creature to accompany and assist you on your quest. Who/what do you choose?

I choose you, pikachu!

Seriously though, I would choose a magical familiar likened to a mouse, something small enough to fit in places I could not. It would be a sentient creatures capable of defending itself or me with magic.

Elves or dwarves?

How about both? I find each to be fascinating in their own way.

Do you prefer your dragons (we had to have at least one question devoted solely to dragons!) good or evil or a mix of both?

A good mix is always refreshing. As dragons are usually wise, they can be benevolent or manipulative, no? Some may even be feral and savage.

World building is a complicated undertaking full of many details. As a reader, what is a small detail you really appreciate seeing when it comes to diving into a new realm? What is something that helps you lose yourself in a fantasy world?

Immersive, descriptive scenery draws me in the most. This teleports me into the fantasy world—to touch, smell, and feel what the characters experience. Now, scenery need not be external like mountains, hills, or castles; it can also be internal to the protagonist. What are their fears? Their hopes? How does this reflect the world they live in? You can do so much with internal world building.

You have been transformed into your favorite fantasy creature. Problem is… you’re still in your own bedroom and your family is downstairs, completely unprepared for this shock. What creature are you, and how (if at all) do you break the news to your loved ones? (Or how do you get out of your room?)

Quite a predicament. My favorite fantasy creature would be a phoenix. As this creature, I would fly out of my room’s window (unfortunately melting the glass) and soar through the skies. Eventually, I would return home and nest in a secluded spot, watching over the property until the enchantment faded.


Well, that was an entertaining set of questions. I’ll admit, I had fun doing it. Fantasy Month is a time to celebrate, so I’m tagging you, my dear reader, to take up the challenge! If you own a website or blog, try answering the questions posted within this article. Or, you could make up your own set of questions related to worldbuilding. Be sure to thank Jenelle Schmidt and mention #fantasymonth within your post.

Thank you for reading. Until next time. 🙂

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My Favorite Music While Writing

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Music has a powerful influence on the human brain, particularly with creativity. The mileage varies from person to person, as some prefer silence—which is its own type of music. I’ve found that my creative process increases when I play certain tunes. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the genres and bands that I listen to.

—My Favorite Genres—

I listen to different types of music depending on my mood, activity, and environment. In this way, I view my playlists as a toolbox, allowing me to select particular tools to help me with an activity. That said, sometimes I deviate, but the list below gives a general idea of what I prefer and why.

1. Epic Music

Who doesn’t like epic or opera music? These tunes encourage excitement, creativity, and wonder in my brain. When I’m writing a jaw-dropping scene or a tense battle, this music is ideal. I like the bands: Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, and Ivan Torrent.

2. Chill Lounge

This is a slower, melodic music that allows me to space out and relax. When I’m talking with friends, co-writers, blogging, or writing a soothing scene, chill lounge is my first choice. Bands I like here are: Jjos, Alexander King, and Electro Pump.

3. Smooth Jazz

Smooth jazz speaks for itself. Like chill lounge, this genre helps me unwind, but without losing too much concentration in my writing. I view it as the middle way between epic and chill; it is also great for romance scenes between characters. I don’t have a particular band that I listen to with this genre—all smooth jazz is good!

4. Lofi

A genre of music that I discovered recently, lofi has happy tunes with a steady beat. I find this music to be best for travel or adventure scenes without a lot of action. Some lofi is very beautiful and helps me when I’m in a creativity jam. I find myself listening to oriental lofi when I write Tempest of the Dragon for that East Asian feel. There’s also video game lofi that I enjoy. No particular bands here.

5. Classical

Classical is a nice way to unwind while, like smooth jazz, keeps a steady beat to maintain concentration during writing. Sometimes I alternate between smooth jazz and classical. I enjoy: Chopin, Mozart, Vivaldi, and many more.

6. Anime/J-pop

This is cartoony, upbeat music that is perfect when writing comic scenes between characters or working on Tempest of the Dragon. Some of these tunes can also be similar to epic music. Favorites are: Kogarashi, Senso, Sakuzyo, and Konbanwa.

7. Progressive House

Progressive house is a melodic, curious genre (somewhat like trance in my opinion) that “raises my spirits to new heights” and gives me energy. I find this genre to be good when I need to brainstorm or work for very, very long periods of time. It’s basically audio coffee—if that makes sense. I like: Shingo Nakamura, Epicuros, and Gregory Esayan.

8. Chiptune

Remember that music you heard when playing Mega Man, Zelda, or Mario as a kid on your NES? That’s chiptune! This genre had been forgotten for years since its introduction in the 80s and 90s, but now it’s making a comeback. Chiptune has a comic flair like J-pop, but with a swift beat. It’s a good music for fast-moving, action or battle scenes. My favorites are: Tombofry, Rolemusic, and Sasakure.UK.

9. Psybient

Psybient is an…acquired taste. It has a deep, alien feel that works for bizarre or mysterious scenes. The music may leave you wondering about yourself, your characters, and where they are all going. My top choices are: SiebZehn, E-Mantra, and Johnny Blue.

10. Dark/Deep Tribal

I listen to this genre if I need to write a shocking, or dark atmosphere to encourage visceral emotion in the reader. Most deep tribal also have a steady drum beat, likened to the heart, and are mysterious like psybient—or even pseudo-erotic for intense romance scenes. Some artists I’ve listened to are: DJ WOPE, Moshic, and Mundeep.

 

—Let’s Wrap Up, Shall We?—

Yes, I listen to a lot of music. Each genre holds a unique function to me, as I connect with the tunes on an intimate, and almost spiritual level. The music alone can transport me to another reality, engrossing my mind in its creative juices. I love music, as much as I enjoy writing.

What types of music do you listen to? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

 

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Slyhart Prayer of Courage

Oh mighty sword of legend and yore

Your essence draws courage to my core

 

Long have we ridden betwixt mountain and plain

Through desert, cavern, and forest, yet alive we remain

 

I feel thy wind at my back as it banishes my sorrow

We venture forth, to bask in adventures on the morrow

 

Ever churning is your wind within my soul

The passion of a hero burning upon legend’s scroll

 

Ogres, undead, dragons—and more

They will hear the might of D’wyrm’s roar

 

Passion, strength, fortitude, and righteousness

Cleaves darkness, shadow, flesh, and wickedness

 

Woe be to the monster who dares threaten the meek

For my blade will arrive to avenge and seek

 

From ocean’s horizon to mountain’s zenith

My ship, my wagon, my horse—travels to defeat the behemoth

 

And when the adventure is done and all is completed

I will return home to my kin to be greeted

 

And a feast in the people’s honor will be held

To celebrate how the demon’s army had been quelled

 

But a hero mustn’t rest for long

For evil ever pushes back with wicked song

 

Oh mighty sword of legend and yore

Your essence is myth, legend, and more

 

I pray thee to forever remain at my side…

—Saul Slyhart, hero of Atläs


 

This was a bit of poetry that came to me spontaneously the other day. It’s a limerick from my book, Ethereal Seals book 1: Dragonsblade. The protagonist, Pepper Slyhart often repeats it whenever she feels scared or confused. The poem was composed by her father, a figure she looks up to. Thank you for reading! 

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A Huge WordPress Thank You—100 Follows!

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I just hit over 100 viewers for my blog! Thank you, my dear readers, for making this possible. It warms my heart that viewers like you take time out of your day to enjoy my content. Looking back since I started, it feels like a long journey. I wanted to express some of my feelings about this blog and what plans I have for it going forward.

—WordPress Beginnings—

How I Started with WordPress

I was halfway through my alpha manuscript for Ethereal Seals when I read good things about blogging—WordPress in particular. Many writers took up blogging, not just for building followers, but also for the sake of the craft. I find it relaxing  and a chance to meet wonderful people like you.

My First Year on WordPress

Not much happened within the first few years of my blog. At attime, my webpage was an unpaid subscription with minimal features. I rarely posted, mostly using the page as an archive to brainstorm and test ideas rather than a blog.

—A Rough Journey—

Enter 2018

In 2018, I began routine posts to connect with any viewers. I had fleshed out the skeleton for Ethereal Seals and wanted to spread word about it. Unfortunately, it was rare for me to get more than a few views each week. The road was rough and depressing. Some months I was too busy to blog, or I felt unmotivated. Many times I almost threw in the towel.

Yet, I kept blogging, regardless of my dismal results. With every post, my blogging skills improved. I explored WordPress more and discovered new ways to format my site. I read other bloggers’ pages and networked. Soon, I had a small niche of blogger buddies.

Leveling Up

Early in 2018, my website had leveled up to a Personal WordPress page. I wanted my own domain at a reasonable cost. I also read that having a domain is like owning your own brand—it shows the world you’re serious about blogging and writing.

Towards the end of 2018 and through parts of 2019, I was between jobs, relying on my freelance writing and part-time gigs to keep me financially afloat. I also found a local writers’ group in my village, a place for feedback and networking. So far, I have enjoyed it, and the people there are helpful.

Meanwhile, I noticed my follower count improving on WordPress. I expected to get only 10 to 15 followers by year’s end. With your generous help, I’ve achieved so much more!

—Looking into the Future—

A Spiritual Vacation

Although I still consider myself a neophyte at writing, my ability has improved considerably since 2018 and 2019. Not only am I more creative, but also a bit more confident.

I’ve taken a hiatus from fiction reading in favor of some spiritual nonfiction; it has helped put things into perspective. Some of my favorites so far have been Spiritual Experiences by Swami Sivananda, The Essene Gospel of Peace by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, and Along the Path to Enlightenment by David R. Hawkings.

Into 2020

I’m happy with the way this blog has turned out. My intent for the first couple of years was a casual blog. It’s now turned into a helpful website for writers and new age thinkers.

Going forward, I will continue to improve my blogging skills and expand my outreach. This should garner more support for my writing projects: Ethereal Seals and Tempest of the Dragon. I’m always looking for beta readers and helpers. If you’re interested, let me know.

Final Remarks

With that said, I know the writer’s journey is arduous for anyone. I will remain patient and steadfast to my goals. My manuscript has improved significantly—and continues to with every editing pass.

As 2019 draws to a close, my objectives for 2020 are to save up enough money for an editor, find an agent, and begin the publishing process for Ethereal Seals book one. I intend to remain a blogger and attendee to the writers’ group. If things pan out, my book—or ebook if I self-publish—will be available by late 2020. Hopefully this will be the year (fingers crossed). You can read more about my ambitions for 2020 in this post.

Thank you all once again for your support, my readers. Without you, I may have given up long ago. Comments and even likes motivate me to blog and my writing endeavors. You have my love and gratitude.

 

 

 

 

10 Tips on How to Write a Protagonist

 

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A protagonist is the central character of a story. Unlike side characters, the hero influences the story the heaviest. Because the hero holds the plot together, developing a solid character is vital.

Below, I’ll discuss some tips on how to write a protagonist; things that should assist you with your hero’s development. These are guidelines, as the majority of the hero’s creation comes from the author.

How to Write a Protagonist

When learning how to write a protagonist, there are several things to keep in mind. How each parameter lines up can influence both the protagonist and the plot.

1. Gender

This is one of the more prominent points when you write a protagonist, as the POV can change considerably with the hero’s gender. I read an enlightening series of forum posts that discusses male and female characters. You can check this and this for additional information.

Stay true to your character’s quirks and personality. Don’t let traditional stereotypes interrupt that creative flow. If you hit a roadblock, ask a reader of the opposite sex. Often, he or she can add some insights to your character design.

2. Race

Whether your hero is Caucasian, African, or some fictional alien race, have that racial background define who they are and their ordeals. Maybe a particular breed of space elves are hated in society, or they lack a specific trait that humans take for granted.

3. Height, Weight, Body Mass

Maybe your hero is a short, fat dwarf or a lanky human. How they appear to other characters can influence how the hero comes off. Perhaps a tall protagonist looks formidable and therefore commands respect.

Maybe give your hero some facial scars, a distinguishing feature that sets them apart. Make them unique, as the main character should be.

4. Secrets

Any reader enjoys secrets; even better are secrets within secrets. What I mean is, wrap your main character in mystery. Give them an enigmatic past and don’t give out the answers too quickly.

Have your secrets evolve as the hero progresses through the plot. This evokes intrigue and helps pull the reader in.

5. Character Flaws

“There’s nothing more boring than a perfect heroine!”

DrosselmeyerPrincess Tutu

Tension is fundamental on how to write a protagonist. Incorporate conflict into your characters, whether in their backstory, gender, race, or physical limitations. You can also give them technical flaws, like the inability to perform a skill or a specific action.

Giving them too many perks and too little flaws result in a bland, uninteresting hero. You want to challenge your hero, not make them a god; nor do you want them to fail in their quest.

6. Attributes

As in video games, especially RPGs or tabletops like D&D, a character in a story has a given set of attributes. These parameters define what the actor is good at, what he or she may fail at, and perhaps unique modifiers that make the character stand out from other characters.

First, define what kind of a character, or class, the actor is. Take your stereotypical warrior: they—usually—have high strength and resilience to trauma. Warriors may not specialize in other fields of ability like magic or stealth, but they have their toolbox of skills to make up for it.

Characters like the warrior fit a niche in a company of heroes, whereas others party members address their shortcomings. Having one character do all the work often comes off as lazy and boring. Give your characters a challenge that pushes them to their limits.

7. The Hero’s Journey

The hero should be someone who struggles through the impossible. The protagonist should suffer but persevere. This is a reflection of the journey we all go through—the Hero’s Journey.

It is vital when writing a protagonist that the hero is relatable to your audience. This draws readers in and generates sympathy and a sense of kinship with the hero. Plot out your story using the Acts found in the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell did an excellent job in his novel, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I highly recommend this book.

8. Antagonist

An antagonist complements the protagonist, forming a wholesome plot. The villain often provides the tension and challenge to the hero. In traditional works, the antagonist is a reflection of the hero with exacerbated personality flaws. It could also be a father figure.

9. Leveling Up

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As a character progresses through a story, they level up or gain additional attributes. With games, the hero adds new parameters to their character sheet. In a novel, leveling up is more subtle. The author may demonstrate this as a character acquiring a new artifact/weapon for study, graduating from school, or finishing a spellbook.

The development of new experience enriches the character’s worldview and the way they handle problems. A rookie fighter may view a few brigands with horror, while a veteran would display confidence.

This system of progression enhances characters and leaves a player or reader with a greater sense of appreciation by the end of the story. Typically, characters begin with little to no experience and graduate to seasoned fighters by the end of the plot.

10. Tropes

If you’re still struggling with how to write a protagonist, check out TV Tropes here to browse a list of familiar character tropes. That may give you some idea of what you’d prefer in your character.

As an example, the farmer hero trope is heavily used in fantasy settings, but it still works. My main hero of Ethereal Seals starts out as a half-dragon farm girl who trains into a knight by the end of the story, yet she fails at some tasks that others take for granted.

There are endless variations to this trope alone, and putting your original spin on it will help it stand out.

Conclusion

Learning how to write a protagonist can be a complicated process. There are certain factors to keep in mind, like gender, race, body proportions, and flaws. Tropes provide a convenient starting point for character creation. Remember to challenge your hero—introduce some tension.

I hope this article has provided a good idea of the thought and time put into a character. For more information, please check out the provided links throughout the page.

Thanks for reading. Much love and gratitude. 🙂


Like what you see? Click that follow button to keep up with blog updates.

I’m looking for beta readers in my app here. Click it and read about my ebook if you’re interested. My book cover has a green gem on the cover, titled Ethereal Seals: Dragonsblade. Thanks.

 

Making Maps for Fantasy Settings: A Tutorial

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Crafting a map for your fictional universe can be a handy resource for readers. Not every fiction has a cartographic reference, nor is it a requirement for good work. However, it dramatically compliments the space where the story takes place. When done correctly, a map benefits to both author and reader.

In this article, I’ll give an example of how I create my maps. You can take what you find appropriate and apply it to your projects. Hopefully, this tutorial will get you started. It may be a bit complicated and technical but bear with me.

—Some Startup Info—

You can use whatever media you want to design your map. I use a free program called GIMP, which is like an advanced version of Microsoft Paint, last I checked.

—Creating a Digital Map—

Layer 1: The Background

When you have your blank canvas set up, first address the background. My personal preference is a basic fill tool. Your mileage may vary, depending on what kind of background your story needs. Most maps are continents, so they require an ocean or blue background.

Something like this.

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I did a fill command in GIMP for the ocean backdrop here, then added some darker shades to indicate ocean depth.

Layer 2: Landmass

The next layer I work on is the outline and general fill of the land. Choose a yellow, peach, or brown color that resembles dirt or clay—or do whatever you want of course—for the land color.

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You can use a pathing or pencil tool to create the black outline of the land, as shown, then use the fill tool. Most land isn’t perfect or smooth—go for jagged edges along coasts or coves to simulate water erosion. You can also get creative and design fragment islands.

Layer 3: Land Color/Features

With the general land layer in place, you can focus on the more detailed facets of your map. This step can be done in several ways, but in my example, I use pure color to indicate trees and mountains.

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That may be a doozy of a step forward, but allow me to explain. I used a light green to represent grasslands, dark green for forests, blue for lakes and rivers, brown for mountains areas, and white-brown for snow. One suggestion I have is—if you’re doing this method, select all of layer 2 with a wand tool, so you don’t create color outside the landmass.

For the water masses, I went back to layer 2 and erased parts of it. Doing this allowed layer 1 to fill in where lakes and rivers lie.

Layer 4: Additional Land Details

This is another optional and flexible step, depending on what you want for your map. I added redundant mountain figures and then floating islands here. This gave the map more depth.

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Here’s a tip: create one mountain figure and then use the clone stamp tool to easily replicate it. This makes it a lot easier! 🙂

Layer 5: Landmarks

Now that you have your land finished, it’s time to add landmarks! What do I mean? Cities, castles, special areas, and so forth. No, you don’t have to draw an entire castle—use symbols to represent them.

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In this example, I used simple dots with minor details. You can certainly be creative with this and draw one small castle—then, using the clone stamp tool, replicate it wherever you need to.

Layer 6: Map Legend

Every map needs a legend—a reference to tell readers what your landmarks mean. A north arrow or distance bar is also handy.

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Position your legend so that it doesn’t overlap over map details. Choose a location where there is a lot of “empty space”; this will add visual balance to your map.

Layer 7: Captions

You need captions that specify major or minor points on the map. Include text for your legend, a title, and any additional information a reader should know. A small bit about who authored the map is also essential.

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In this example, broader or more critical areas have a larger font size, while minor or smaller areas have a lower font size. If I were to do this over again, I’d probably make the font size for cities a bit larger, but at the same time, I don’t want to crowd the other map details with text. On an ebook or actual copy, the text would scale larger, but in the thumbnail here, it’s smaller.

Other Things to Consider

You could also add in fantasy details like sea dragons swimming in the ocean, or maybe other mythic creatures that add an “ancient” feeling to your map. Go wild! Remember, this is your map and fictional world.

—Conclusion—

Creating maps is a fun activity that adds important detail to your story. A map can be a wide variety of things—and the example above is just one of them. I hope this article has helped get you started with the map making process. Thanks for reading and click that “follow” button below if you like what you see. Cheers. 😎

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Years!

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Hello, everyone, and Happy New Year! 2019 was an exciting year for me—and a lot happened. However, in this post, I wanted to reflect on what’s ahead. I’ve compiled a survey of questions that should help me think more about what I want to achieve in 2020 in regards to my writing and other pursuits. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you too!

What Are Your Initial Impressions of 2020?

It’s the beginning of a new decade. That means big changes and shifts in everyone’s lives. For me personally, I see it as a milestone. Looking back reminds me of how far I’ve come and what lies ahead for me. In short, I’m excited to get started!

Any Literary Goals for the New Year?

Well, I’ve been busy the past few months with the holidays, family gatherings, new projects, my meditation sessions, and some fun game releases. Other than NaNo and my Havok submission, I’ve spent less time on writing that I would have liked.

In general, my goals would be thus:

  1. Polish Dragonsblade and find an agent or self-publish by the end of the year
  2. Finish my alpha manuscript, Tempest of the Dragon
  3. Submit one or two more short stories to online magazines
  4. Read more books! 😛
  5. Observe the spiritual changes in myself as this all happens

How Have You Changed As a Writer Since Last Year?

Overall, I’m more confident and I have a higher pool of knowledge to draw from. I’ve done a lot of research into health and spirituality, which has indirectly benefited my abilities as a writer. The healthier and calmer I get through practices like meditation, the better I can focus and utilize the infinite creativity within all of us.

I’m nowhere near perfect by any means, but I’m constantly growing  as a writer and as a soul. The way I see it: if you aren’t healthy, you can’t enjoy or perform as a writer. If you’re without a divine goal, you don’t have a strong enough drive to get your writing done.

I now realize I want to write to inspire and encourage people through my stories. Maybe, years down the road, readers will appreciate such tales and grow as individuals in subtle, but meaningful ways.

Do You Have Any Fears About the Coming Year?

Yes, actually…

I’m worried that 2020 will pass and I still won’t have found an agent for Dragonsblade. I am building my writing resume through online magazine submissions to make me look attractive to agents, but it’s no guarantee. I’ve never done this before as a writer, so it’s unexplored territory for me.

Do You Have a Specific Event or Goal You Are Excited About?

I may try to attend a writing or spiritual convention sometime this year if time and my finances are looking good. There are a few events that I have in mind—one being in Hawaii, and another in Colorado. I just bought an Omega 8008 Juicer, so my wallet is rather empty right now.

Any Last Comments About 2020?

As I said earlier, it’s the start of a new decade, so it’s time to make big changes in our lives—for the better. I’m anticipating a productive year, filled with victories and failures found in any good fiction. Regardless, a writer must do what he or she must ro persevere. The creations of a wordsmith transmute fictional characters as much as they do the author.

That is the path of a writer and a spiritual alchemist.

Now that you’ve finished this article, I challenge you to create your own survey, questions that will help you reflect on your goals for 2020. You can use the questions above if you’d like.


Thank you again for reading! Click that “follow” button below if you like what you see. Enjoy the new year! 🙂

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The Hero’s Journey in Fiction

 

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Years ago, I read a fantastic book named The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. In it, the author details the Hero’s Journey. This is a powerful story element that every writer, artist, or screenwriter should understand. It illustrates a protagonist’s adventures, from safe haven to the darkest dungeon—be they literal or figurative.

—What is the Hero Journey?—

The Hero’s Journey is a story mechanic that centers around the protagonist’s progression through the various acts of the story. Typically, there are four acts for each journey, from which the audience witnesses the evolution of the hero.

The first act of the Hero’s Journey introduces the hero, while the second and third act elaborates on their ordeals, and the fourth finishes round circle. You may notice certain tropes or definitions used in each act; these are minor plot elements that form the Hero’s Journey—and some are necessary to flesh out the story.

—Act I—

The Ordinary World

The story begins in the Ordinary World, a mundane realm that may be a safe haven or even a prison for the hero. Here, the audience learns about the hero’s life situation, his/her abilities, fears, and personality.

The Call to Adventure

From the Ordinary World, conflict arises that stirs the hero from complacency. This may be something serious like an assassination or a minor incidence like a strange phone call. The hero now has a choice to pursue the source of the conflict and resolve the issue, or remain in his or her realm.

Refusal

Initially, the hero may be hesitant to leave the safe boundary of the Ordinary World. The hero sees the risks involved and what’s to gain if s/he succeeds. Some stories skip this step with a willing or reckless hero who jumps onto the quest immediately.

—Act II—

The Mentor

The hero encounters the mentor, a wise or experienced individual. The mentor trains and/or guides the hero, providing new knowledge about the nature of the quest. This character is more often an elderly person but can manifest as a younger individual or inanimate object such as a legendary sword.

Crossing the Threshold

The mentor guides the hero away from the Ordinary World to the first Threshold—or the point of no return. The hero’s commitment is tested, determining if the hero is truly ready for the quest. The Threshold is the gateway to a new dimension, far away from the Ordinary World.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Now in a world of mystery and danger, the hero learns more about his/her new adventure. This strange world brings a host of challenges, allies, and enemies. Every obstacle is a stepping stone to unearthing the hero’s personality and capabilities. Abilities are sharpened, and pain is endured. Temptations are met, and the hero struggles with his/her inner shadow self.

—Act III—

Approach to the Dungeon/Inmost Cave

The hero prepares to enter the Inmost Cave. Setbacks occur, but the hero endures, priming for the Supreme Ordeal—an inner crisis that demands change from the protagonist. The hero must analyze personal flaws and push forward to complete the quest. This brief respite offers another connection between the hero and the audience as both understand the danger and gravity of the quest.

Supreme Ordeal

The protagonist faces a dangerous challenge, often against the antagonist, risking life and limb to complete the ordeal. The antagonist can also be a dark reflection of a father figure, such as with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, with exaggerated flaws of the protagonist. The Supreme Ordeal is a highlight of the hero’s quest, and everything is at stake. S/he must draw upon all the experience from the journey to survive against the antagonist.

Reward, Seizing of the Sword

If the hero succeeds, s/he emerges as a changed person. The hero also receives an award as proof of victory; this might be a mythic sword or artifact, signifying the change in the hero’s life. The hero now prepares for the last part of the quest.

—Act IV—

The Road Back

With the quest completed, the hero begins to travel back to the ordinary world, which is the opposite of the call of adventure. Instead of worry or pain, fulfillment and satisfaction arise. The quest is not done, as the last challenge awaits the hero.

Resurrection

The hero faces a test or battle against the antagonist at the final Threshold—likened to the supreme ordeal on steroids. This ultimate tribulation challenges the hero immensely, evoking his/her greatest fears and requiring all the experience they’ve gained from their quest. Failure may result, leading to the hero’s death, a dearth of all hope, or even a severe injury that mars the hero.

The protagonist is reborn from the flames of demise, returning as a new person–transmuted into the true hero, and no longer the false facade from before. Following the brush of death, the adventurer conquers the final ordeal, or the Dragon at the Final Threshold, seizing the Elixir. Reconciliation with the Father is obtained and the hero is purged, fully equipped to end the adventure.

Return with the Elixir

The adventurer returns to the ordinary world as a changed person—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Using the reward from the final ordeal, s/he improves upon the ordinary world and a new era of peace and reflection results. The prize is multifaceted, manifesting either as a damsel in distress, a powerful relic, or a shift in the climate of the realms.  At this point, the hero finishes the journey back to the ordinary world, but things will never be as they were.

—Conclusion—

Others Variables in the Hero’s Journey

While the hero’s cycle is a general formula for a fictional plot, there is a multitude of additional elements, such as sub-cycles that stretch throughout a trilogy. Sometimes, the hero cannot return to society as they are, instead choosing a form of exile to live a new life more suiting to his or her needs.

How The Hero’s Journey Relates to Readers

The Hero’s Journey repeats in every good fiction; it’s a retelling of human life, the growth of a person into a mature and wise individual. It is a blueprint from which anyone, as a soul, can appreciate the heroic archetypes and make changes for a more prosperous, happier life.


Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas!

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