How to Resist Writing Stereotypical Fantasy Races

A fine line separates inspiration and imitation, or so the saying goes. Writers struggle to define this boundary more than most artists—they are, after all, rearranging the same twenty-six letters in various patterns judged to be the most pleasing to the mind and ear. The number of plots guaranteed to captivate readers is also limited (falling in love, freeing the kingdom, solving the mystery). Since fantasy writers have immersed themselves in the worlds of their literary heroes from childhood, they cannot help subconsciously modeling their own stories off them.How_to_Resist_Writing_Stereotypical_Fantasy_Races

Thus, it is unsurprising that many books seem to be penned by copycats, or just another Lord of the Rings rip-off. Nevertheless, original fantasy works with fascinating new species are still being written and enthralling audiences. What are these authors doing differently?

To answer this question, let’s examine the staple of high fantasy: the common elf.

How Tolkien Reinvented the Elf

These mythical beings predate recorded history and intersperse Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, Germanic, and Scandinavian tradition. [Read more…]

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Sierra Ret — homeschool grad, camping fanatic, and amateur adventurer — joined the KP team as an intern a year ago and has since been promoted to Writing Team Captain, an honor equally thrilling and humbling. She enjoys both swinging in a hammock in the woods and hermiting behind a laptop screen with a mug of tea in one hand and a bar of dark chocolate in the other (something that tends to make typing difficult).
While the most recent plot in her long string of fantasies involves making a living as a travel blogger in New Zealand, she currently makes her home in Peterborough, Canada, a pleasant land that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Shire. But regardless of whether she eventually settles at home, abroad, or at the seat of government power in Ottawa, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

How to Enrich Your Story with Magic

By Amy Caylor

I’ve always adored fantasy. I’m fascinated with princesses in castles and knights battling dragons. But I especially love magic (and yes, Christians can write about it with discretion). To live in a world where books have self-turning pages and torn clothes can be mended with a gesture would be delightful.

I’m particularly drawn to unique magic systems. Over the years, I’ve observed stories where magic was thrown in as a component of the genre, and others where magic was purposefully included. Brandon Sanderson’s laws of magic have helped me identify two factors that set apart a magic system or any sort of extraordinary powers/abilities: costs and limitations. With these in mind, you can develop a distinct magic system and enhance your story.How_to_Enrich_Your_Story_with_Magic

Establishing the Cost for Using Magic

Characters should experience consequences for exercising their abilities. Not all magic systems have drawbacks, and when they do, it’s typically energy—such as in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. After a magician casts a spell, he feels tired. I can count on one hand the books I’ve read that had a downside to magic besides energy. Thus, energy-cost systems will likely be familiar to readers, which may be what you seek, but unusual disadvantages to magic will make your world more interesting to visit. [Read more…]

Night and Day

By Isabelle Evans

There she stood,

Tall and pale in the moonlight,

Pearlescent eyes glowing,

Silver scales shining.

Night_and_Day

The dragon queen,

Glorious majesty,

Hatched from a moon,

Fathered by a star.

[Read more…]

Keeping Readers Grounded in Strange Worlds

Have you ever worried that the fantasy world and story you are writing is too weird to be believable? Some fantasy stories are so far afield of reality that their authors have (valid) concerns that readers will be lost and skeptical of the world, causing them to miss the important aspects (characters, theme, emotions).

Does this mean we can’t tell bizarre fantasy stories? No. But our stories need to be organized and handled correctly. Here are a few tips to make your fantasy world comprehensible, and even familiar, to readers.Keeping_Readers_Grounded_in_Strange_Worlds

Focus on Humanity

If your story involves shifting fifth dimensions, alternate-dimension non-humanoids that feed off of human emotions, and an evil shadow which distorts time, it may run the risk of being too kooky. The best way to curb its nutcase behavior and mold it into something worth reading is to fixate on the most relatable part of your story: the characters. [Read more…]

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Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

What Life Is

By Mariposa Aristeo

What is life? What defines it?

Even the dictionary can’t describe it.

If you had to define it, what would you see?

If it was left up to me, this is what it’d be:

What_Life_Is

Life is more than writing and reading a book,

More than eating and learning how to cook,

It is more than watching movies and having fun,

More than buying merchandise by the ton, [Read more…]

My Testimony

By Natalie Griffin

That glorious day I felt a stir,

One in my heart that I’d never heard.

It was the Word

Coming to intervene in my lost, broken life,

My_Testimony

To be a light in my darkness and a relief to my strife.

Although it’s fair to say in my eight-year-old circumstance,

I didn’t give the true meaning of “new life” a second glance.

It wouldn’t be until several years later [Read more…]

Five Reasons You Aren’t Writing Your Dream Novel

Grab a paper and pencil, because this isn’t an article you can just read and ignore. Instead, you’ll be forced to examine yourself and identify what’s hindering you from writing the book you dream about. Because, let’s face it, most of us haven’t achieved our aspirations. We’re in despair because our writing style hasn’t sharpened quickly enough or because we’re unable to finish a draft.

We’re in trouble. We need a breakthrough—which can be accomplished by training ourselves to detect and destroy obstacles that might be holding us back. But first we must address the core issue.5_Reasons_You_Aren_t_Writing_Your_Dream_Novel

What’s Your Long-Term Vision?

If you can’t define why you’re a writer or what your goals are, you’ll lack motivation, and the rest of this article won’t matter. Knowing your desired destination will help you navigate toward it and determine what to sacrifice along the way. [Read more…]

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Daeus is the published author of two books, Edwin Brook and Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin. He is a Christian seeking God’s face when he remembers to and finding that that is all he was seeking when he seeks for something else. He is a joker who takes himself too seriously and a sack full of ambition who likes to relax. Among his top interests are poetry, reading, philosophy, theology, gardening and permaculture, athletics, marketing, psychology, and interacting with his friends. You can also find him participating in such activities as ranting about the glories of frozen raspberries or making impromptu music for every occasion.
He also is a fanatic over The Count Of Monte Cristo. Be thou forewarned.
If you would like to sample his work, you can get a free copy of his novella, Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin at the link below.

Why Most Modern Christian Allegories Fail (and How to Prevent This)

As of this Saturday, I’ve been reviewing submissions at Kingdom Pen for four years. During this time, I have seen several trends in content that’s submitted for publication.

Few are as prevalent as allegories.

Roughly half our fiction submissions are allegories of some form. But I can count on one hand the number of allegories I’ve approved to be published over the past four years.Why_Most_Modern_Christian_Allegories_Fail_(and_How_to_Prevent_This)

Simply put, most modern Christian allegories are terrible. Somewhere along the road, it seems that Christian writers began to believe that traditional rules of writing compelling, three-dimensional characters and subtle, non-preachy themes don’t apply to allegories. As a result, most modern allegories I’ve read follow the same blatant retelling of the Gospel story centered around a conversion narrative with flat characters and a predictable storyline. Bonus points if Christ literally shows up in the story or it’s set in a generic fantasy environment. [Read more…]

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Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

A Sprig of Green

By Jane Maree

I scrub some of the dirt from between my fingers, trying to ignore the furious beating of my heart as I hobble across the pavement. My arms sting with small nicks and scratches from hours of scrabbling through the ruins, but all for nothing. I didn’t unearth a single tiny root.

Not even a hint of green.

And now I’m late again.

The apartment door looms up in front of me, the scanner glowing a soft blue. I lay my hand beneath the sensor. If I slip in quietly maybe Venys won’t notice.A_Sprig_of_Green

“Good evening, Michayla.” The automated greeter registers my identity and swings the door open for me.

“Clover Glyn,” I whisper. How long had it been since Father remarried and Venys reprogrammed the greeter to omit my middle and last name?

One week. Maybe two.

I tiptoe into the hallway, placing each step tentatively against the cold boards. The floor vibrates with the heavy bass blaring from the parlor, but the laughter that accompanies it is still audible over the sound. I clamp my hands over my ears, inching toward the nearest door. [Read more…]

Perfectionist’s Prayer

By Kate Flournoy

Lord, give me the courage to accept that I am human.

Give me the confidence to plod in the path You’ve given me,

Even when others soar,

And the peace to wish them joy with a whole heart.

Perfectionist_s_Prayer

Remind me that I am where I am

Because You placed me here,

And that the plans I have for myself

Aren’t necessarily the plans You’ve had for me from the beginning—

Plans for good, and not for evil, as You promised. [Read more…]