National Day of Writing 10/20/16
Goddard High School, Roswell NM
Many consider George MacDonald’s, Phantastes written in 1857 as the first work of modern fantasy fiction, not least because it was a tale for adults. It greatly influenced many writers including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Our rich history of literature has always included tales and verbal tellings of the wondrous, unimaginable, and horrific. Often these tales were crafted to instruct and warn, sometimes based on visions of afterlife or another world.
If you study the roots of fantasy, you will find deeply spiritual men and women, and often you will find clues to sustained inspiration.
For instance, MacDonald was said to be influenced by the French fairy tale Undine. C.S. Lewis was influenced by MacDonald, but also by Norse myth and spent some time with his peer J.R.R. Tolkien unraveling and relearning Old English to better understand and engage with the epic poem. Beowulf.
William Morris was a textile designer and a contemporary of MacDonald and G.K. Chesteron. He was an artist with a strong interest in Icelandic literature, and is responsible for translating and keeping much of the Norse myth alive in English today. But what drew me to Morris was his illustrations and textiles. They are richly detailed and inspiring.
In today's fiction market, Fantasy covers everything from high fantasy and faery to science-fiction, horror, paranormal, dystopian, and a few things which defy definition. These are sometimes called speculative fiction.
So, I have some questions for you. What makes you want to write fantasy, or are you here because you needed a place to land?
What are your favorite stories, movies included?
Who inspires you, truly, not just the coolest answer?
What I find most fascinating in the world of other worlds is inspiration. Where do we get it? What is it made of? How do we sustain it?
That is where I’ll leave off talking for discussion. These are questions for you to answer.
Your assignment: pick two of the following, but one has to be the monster/villain
Create a monster, an enemy, or a villain. Give him or her an element of charm and style. Give him or her a weakness. Give Him or her a power. Give him or her a powerful desire.
Create a hapless hero or heroine. Give him or her a weakness. Give him or her an ugliness, a seedy underside. Give him or her a quest that has to do with the villain.
Create a setting or world. Give it a currency. Give it a wonder. Give it a horror.
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