What *is* it with all those “How-to” books on writing Fantasy assuming that you want to create an all-encompassing Medieval world? Isn’t “Buffy” fantasy? Isn’t “Harry Potter” fantasy? Both of those happen in the contemporary, “real” world? Where are the books that help you structure a fantasy story that takes place in the here and now? That gives you info on magic, the occult, mythological creatures, etc.?

26 thoughts on “Argh!

  1. Assuming I wanted to write a “non-fiction” book with all that entails. In my favor, my query letter could include a link to as my “portfolio.”

  2. Well, Buffy took from all different sources and then just winged it in terms of how things worked. Harry Potter definitely seems more structured but there’s a strict divide between the magical and the Muggle worlds. The magical world seems about 50 years behind technologically, with magic filling in the gaps. No one seems to be working on a spell to de-bug Windows or anything like that.
    I suppose with these things you decide what your story needs and then make up rules to accomodate it. If only we could do the same with math and physics!

  3. I have no problem with making up my own “hidden subculture” and the rules which govern the supernatural aspects of my “world”. I’d just like a good reference book on mythical creatures, magic, myth, etc., etc., to spark ideas for my world.

  4. Perhaps the best fantasy series ever created was contemporary. The Blitz didn’t happen in the Middle Ages. Most people forget that the classics of fantasy were contemporary. They were just written a long time ago.
    To be frank, those books that tell you how to create a medievalish society are garbage. They suck the life out of a time that wasn’t all mud and fear. If you want to see how to create a universe, examine a universe. Luckily we were all born into one.
    So if you are writing a contemporary novel, study the present. The real universe created a most spectacular universe to work with. If you want to know about magic, study Wicca and the Druids.
    If you want a book dealing with mythology, the best place to find one is in the mythology section. It doesn’t have to be in the “writers” section. Neither Tolkien or Lewis studied manuals telling them how to write. Homer didn’t either. Mallory, the writers of Beowulf, and Tristian and Isolde, yada yada yada. I can give a rather lengthy list of what would be considered fantasy writers who never went to a single workshop, These men wrote of the time they knew and all of them are incredibly inspiring. They even inspire each other.
    To be honest, it isn’t a cliff notes version of anything that is going to get at the heart of anything. Lewis wrote a beautiful retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I’m fairly certain he wasn’t inspired by some listing of creatures. He didn’t populate Narnia with them because he saw them on a list (and there are tons of books, typically referred to as “the dictionary of” or “the encyclopedia” of, that give these lists, often with beautiful illustrations).
    What you want is out there, just not in the writers section.

  5. I was really hoping for the Cliff Notes version, rather than having to spend hours in the Mythology section.

  6. Try AD&D manuals. There is God’s and Demigods and the Monster Manual. Magic is covered under the Mage character. There is even a spellbook.
    That might be what you want.

  7. Yep!
    I have a couple books in that series already and each is very specialized. You would need the whole series to get a broad-ranged spectrum of the various mythological creatures that there are. They’re good as a launching point, though–little bitty blurbs on each creature that you can then use to expand your research if you find something interesting.

  8. Yeah, just something with wide-ranging but short Encyclopedic-style blurbs from which I can then go do more research if I find something interesting.

  9. Re: Yep!
    That’s my thought, but just poking around, it’s hard to tell which ones are the good ones and which ones are not. Encyclopedia Mythica, for example, isn’t that great, in my experience.

  10. I asked Jill, and she suggested a book called “World-Building”, published by Gillett. It is out of print, but she says you may be able to find it in a used book store or on line.
    She’ll let me know if she thinks of any others.

  11. That’s science fiction, not fantasy. I know the book and it is available on amazon, but it’s about building other planets, which is not what I want to do.

  12. I can’t remember what the letters stand for but it’s a generic roleplaying system. By Gary Gygax. You can find the sourcebooks at most gaming stores.

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