Sunday, 28 February 2016

'F' is for Fantasy

(...That's it, I'm resigning.)

Are you kidding? Fairies, dragons, portals to whole new worlds...what's not to like?

(How about the fact that this is BROADER THAN ENEMIES. AND YOU ACTUALLY WENT WITH IT.)

Okay, I'll give you that. Fantasy is, after all, an umbrella term for any genre that incorporates the impossible. Magic, myth, walking down a street without a flyer being shoved in your face - these are all things you'll find in fantasy. It would take millenia to go through every sub-genre of fantasy, so we're going to stick to four of the major ones.

Urban Fantasy is fantasy set in our world. Witches roam the streets of London, Chicago and Brooklyn. Werewolves prowl through Minnesota. Fairies flit around the English countryside. Usually, the impossibility is hand-waved by the fact that we, the readers, are made blind to the magical world by some kind of powerful magic.

Urban Fantasy books include -

High Fantasy is what we call stories set in other worlds. In these, the world-building tends to be very in-depth and absorbing. Human is not necessarily the only species, with fairies, elves, orcs, trolls, dwarves, gods, pixies, selkies and merfolk all popping up from time to time. There's also usually a prophecy.

(Who do you think you're kidding? There's always a prophecy.)

Almost always. But that's how I like them.

High Fantasy books include -

   Portal Fantasy is a sub-genre of high fantasy which takes characters from our world and drops them into the other world. These characters tend to act as audience surrogates.

Portal Fantasy books include -

Mythological Fantasy is fantasy which incorporates gods, monsters and stories from one (or many) mythologies. Classical, Norse, Celtic, anything is fair game. Sometimes, this crosses over with Urban Fantasy.

Mythological Fantasy books include -

Historical Fantasy is fantasy set in the past. Obviously, it isn't entirely accurate. Vikings did not keep dragons as pets, Elizabeth I was not a witch, and Henry VIII was not possessed by Zeus (as far as we know). Sometimes crosses over with Mythological Fantasy.

Historical Fantasy books include -

Of course, there are many many more sub-genres of fantasy, but these are four of the most common. 

What's your favourite genre of fantasy? 

(What's the best fantasy novel you've ever read?)

Blasphemy! There can never be only one!

And, finally, we're having a fantasy-creature smack-down! *Takes a deep breath* Dragons vs fairies vs elves vs orcs vs dwarves vs selkies vs merfolk vs pixies vs trolls vs ghosts. Which would win? And which do you love the most?
(Now who's the blasphemer?)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

'E' is for The Epistolary Form

I genuinely struggled to think of something for the letter 'E'. 

(She's not joking. We almost ended up going with enemies.)

And what's wrong with that?

(Let me count the ways. One. It's generic. Two. It's ridiculously broad. Three -)

I get it already!

The epistolary form is far harder to pronounce than it is to understand. Epistolary is basically just what we call stories that incorporate newspaper articles, diary entries, letters, emails, text messages, blog posts and the like into them. 

Sometimes with the epistolary form, the reader is not treated as the primary audience of the story. Instead, the protagonist is addressing another fictional character through letters, shared diary entries, etc. This can lead to the protagonist being an unreliable narrator if they have something to hide from the recipient.

The epistolary form in literature -
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is essentially one long letter from Robert Walton to his sister.
  • All of Karen McCombie's Ally's World and Stella Etc. novels. Ally was writing letters for her missing mother to read when she finally came home, whilst Stella was sending emails to her friend, Frankie. 
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is apparently made up of everything from emails to secret letters.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Ten Songs That Would Make Epic Stories
I think this week's topic was made for me - it combines music and books, two of my favourite things.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

1. The Hanging Tree by Blackmore's Knight

And not just because it's from the perspective of a tree/tree nymph. This would make a great medieval fantasy. Most of their songs would, in fact.

2.  Independence Day by Martina Mcbride 

 Just what happened to that eight year old who ended up at the county home?

3. Hello by Evanescence

Oh God, yes. I listened to this continuously when I tried to write a story about a girl with DID a while back. It's so haunting.
4.  Both Sides Of The Story by We Are The In Crowd

  A dual POV break-up story for a dual POV break-up song.
5.  Sierra by Maddie and Tae 

Because everyone like to see the mean girl get her comeuppence. 

6. Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

 For all the girls who can trip over air, can't open the fridge without something falling out, and have a magnetic attraction to mud. Finally, a heroine who doesn't just polish up, play the part and win the pageant. Sometimes, it's okay for the leading lady to lose.

7. Brave by Idina Menzel

There's a moment in everyone's life where they just have to take a deep breath, put their best foot forward, and be brave. Every one of those moments is a story worth telling.

8. Something Bad by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
 Two strangers on a road trip that possibly qualifies as a kidnapping. What could possibly go wrong?

9. Letter Bomb by Green Day

 I don't know why, but I can totally see this song being set in high school, the land of angst.

10. She Is, Sounded Good At The Time, and I Was Here, all by Lady Antebellum

 Don't ask me why, but I really think we need more chick lit told from a male perspective, and She Is would make a really cute one. It was the song I listened to when I was writing my favourite couple out of all the ones I've written so far. 

Sounded Good At The Time - for all those times you've woken up and wondered what on earth you were thinking when you signed up for something/agreed to do something/stayed up until 3am the night before. 

We're all on the clock every day of our lives, but some of us know when our time is going to run out. I Was Here would make a great story about someone whose time is running out trying to do something incredible.

(Do you get a kick out of showing off your total inability to count?)

No. I get a kick out of the fact that it annoys you.

Link me to your Top Ten Tuesday posts and l eave me some song recommendations in the comments!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Themed Names - From The Garden

How do you name your characters? Do you pick names you already know? Do you scour the internet for names that fit the setting? Or do you theme name?

I do all three but, recently, I've really gotten into theme naming. Finding the perfect name for your character is hard enough but, when you're sticking to a theme, it can get really difficult after a while to find names that fit the pattern and won't leave anyone who hacks into your hard drive in peals of laughter.

(Or, you know, anyone you let read it.)

You're hilarious. 

I absolutely love names, so I thought I'd make some lists based around common themes.

Girls' Names From The Garden

Rose: The flower of love. For variation, consider Rosie, Rosa, Rosalie, Rosalyn, Rosemarie, Rohese, Rosetta and Rosalind. 

Briar: Contrary to what Disney tells us, Sleeping Beauty's original name was Briar Rose. A Briar is a prickly bush. You could also consider Briony.

Daisy: This flower represents purity and innocence.

Jasmine: Associated with love, beauty and appreciation (it varies from culture to culture). Can also be spelt without the 'e'.

Laurel: Associated with glory and victory.

Heather: A purple flower, representing good luck.

Lavender: Another purple flower, associated with grace, serenity and devotion.

Violet: Yet another purple flower, that can be associated with modesty and the divine. The colour purple is typically associated with royalty. Consider Viola as an alternative.

Flora: Refers to the plants of a particular place in general. Florence is an alternative.

Fauna: Refers to the animals of a particular place in general. Can also mean chastity.

Fearne: As in 'fern' which, funnily enough, can also be used as a spelling. 

Holly: A plant with distinctive green leaves with red berries. Traditonally associated with Christmas. Can also be spelt Hollie. 

Hazel: From the shrub, Witch Hazel. Also, the name of a tree.

Dahlia: Can represent anything from change and travel to betrayal.

...There's something I wish I'd known back when I first played the Ace Attorney games.

Iris: A white flower symbolising purity and innocence. It has religious connotations. Also the name of the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow.

Azalea: I've never seen this one used as a name in fiction or real life, but I think it would make a really beautiful one, so on the list it goes. Apparently, it's a symbol of femininity.

Camellia: A genus of plants. Could be used as an alternative to Camille, Camilla, or the unisex name, Cameron. 

Pansy: A symbol of rememberance.

Poppy: Polite reminder that a sedative can be made from poppies. They symbolise sleep, death and, obviously, are associated with remembering soldiers who die at war.

Sakura: The Japanese word for cherry blossom can also be used as a name. Symbolises accomplishment.

Kiku: The Japanese word for Chrysanthemum, a flower with connotations of nobility and purity.  

Ran: Japanese name meaning 'water lily'. Also, a Jotun Goddess of drowning.

Willow: A deciduous tree.

(Aren't you forgetting one?)

Ivy: A creeping vine with distinctive green leaves and poisonous berries. Looks gorgeous on old buildings, but can do terrible structural damage. Associated with binding and fidelity.

(I'm not poisonous. And I'm not damaging either. I'm encouraging, and helpful, and -)

Suffocating? Brutal? Catty?

*Two hours later*

Sarcastic? Malignant? Cruel?

(A spiel like that could really make a person feel unwanted.)

I'm so glad we understand each other.

Boys' Names From The Garden

Adonis: From classical mythology. An anemone flower grew from his blood.

Bracken: I'm not convinced this has ever been used as a name, but it's not the worst one I've come across. Bracken is a type of fern.

Bud: All flowers start as buds. Could be used as a shortened form of Buddy.

Basil: A herb. Also, a talking fox. 

Heath: 'Moorland'.

Ren: The male equivalent of Ran.

Sylvester: Meaning 'forest'. 

Unisex Names From The Garden

Ash: A type of tree. Could be used as a shortened form of Ashley/Ashleigh, or entirely on its own.

Rowan: A type of Ash tree. Can also mean 'red'. 

(This post is a little heavily geared towards girls' names, don't you think?)

Would you like to try finding half-decent flower names for boys? 

Speaking of which, if you can think of anymore, please leave them in the comments.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

'D' is for Deuteragonist


(You're only doing one now to procrastinate on your essay. Don't even try to hide it. I can see right through you.)

Ivy, you are me. A terrifying aspect of me, but me nonetheless. 

Today we're giving the deuteragonists the spotlight. This is the first (and possibly only) time in their lives that they will ever come before their protagonists. We may have to give them a moment.
More in the early seasons than the later ones.

The deuteragonist is the second most important character. No, not the best friend, and not the villain either. It's not good enough to just follow the protagonist around, or oppose him. The deuteragonist is the character who the plot stalks when it isn't stalking the hero which, of course, means that it can be the best friend or the villain. But it can also be a character who never meets the protagonist. It can be the five year old girl who lives next door to him, or the blind boy on the other side of the world. The billionaire on the wealthy side of town, or the runaway teenager living in his basement.

(Shall we just set the Deuteragonist's relationship with the Protagonist to "It's complicated" and move on?)

No, because there are a few really easy ways to tell a deuteragonist apart from the other characters. 
  • The plot sometimes focuses on the deuteragonist seperately from the protagonist.
  • The story is seen partly from the deuteragonist's point of view (arguably, this isn't compulsory as you can have deuteragonists in a first person novel.)
  • The deuteragonist's plotline contributes to the main plotline.
  • The deuteragonist's actions affect the plot as much as the protagonist's. 

Deuteragonists in literature include - 
  • Skulduggery Pleasant, despite being the eponymous character, is the deuteragonist to Valkyrie Cain's protagonist.
  • Stefan from The Supernaturalist is the deuteragonist to Cosmo's protagonist.
  • Arguably, Lady Macbeth from Macbeth acts as a deuteragonist to the eponymous character.
Can you think of anymore deuteragonists?