is it fiction though

Ben Headcanons

👑 Speaks at least ten languages

👑 Is always the straight friend if the group

👑 On the swimming team

👑 Had never dated anyone before Audrey

👑 Spends every spare moment he had preparing to become King

👑 Chooses to look at everyone in a good light

👑 Isn’t actually as naive as he acts

👑 Inherited his father’s Beast strength

👑 Has a huge sweet tooth

👑 Loves to read

👑 Not all that excited to be king

👑 What’s sleep

👑 Hates the taste of coffee

👑 He loves tea though

👑 Wants a lot of children

👑 Wants to write fiction books

👑 Knows how to play piano

👑 Loves video games

👑 Knows how to repair clothing

👑 Really athletic

👑 But hates the gym

👑 Knows lots of French lullabies

👑 Calls Mal “Mon petit dragon” as a term of endearment

👑 Doesn’t actually have a license

👑 Enjoys baking with his mother

pfffbfbbbttbtt

Happy Birthday Iwa-chan~   (ノ≧∀≦)ノ ♪☆゚. 

Does anybody else remember a time, long long ago, when you could just enjoy things?

You could watch a movie and just appreciate it instead of over analyzing every single scene to make sure there’s nothing remotely offensive about it.

You could have a favorite character and just like them and appreciate how great they were written and portrayed, without being told you’re terrible because they’re a villain. Even though they’re FICTIONAL and most likely were deliberately written to be likable. (Even if they were written as an evil character, I still think you have a right to like them, but maybe that’s just me)

You could love and be a fan of the actors without having to go full on FBI agent, looking into their backgrounds to make sure they are 100% perfect and had never made a mistake ever.

You could post about said actor without some busybody little fandom cop, slithering into your inbox to tell you(all too happily) that your fave is “problematic” (god, I fucking hate that word), and you’re disgusting if you still like them.

I’m in my 30’s so I remember those good ole days and it’s kind of sad to know, that most of you will never truly know how great that was. That’s a time long since forgotten. Bummer.

I need a cooking show where the contestants are tasked with recreating fictional dishes

Like

“Make this dish that showed up in that anime one time - it looks like this and it’s slightly spicy. This is all we know” *shows big picture on a screen*

or

“Your task today is to make a health potion. It should be able to stay preserved for a week in room temperature, at least. But it’s not like we can really check that on a 1 hour show. Still, keep it in mind”

and then the old man who lives alone with two dogs and a cat wins, and the gamer and the anime nerd look at him in horror whispering “how…” to themselves

or something

but yeah I need this

What is a magic system?

When writing speculative fiction, one of the writer’s most important jobs is to establish the new rules for their world. In many branches of speculative fiction, especially fantasy and even horror, this is magic, though it can also be technology and alternate scientific rules for science fiction. Whatever alternate fact(s) or reality you utilize to make your fictional world possible, that qualifies as a “magic system.” Your magic system is most often defined by what it can’t do rather than by what it can.

Why do I need a magic system?

When writing speculative fiction, it’s usually assumed that something about your world is different than ours. That can be a small tweak or it can be a complete dismantle-and-reassembly of physics as we understand it. Whatever system you choose to implement, it needs to have internally consistent rules. If, throughout the course of your book, magics begin to contradict each other, then it will disturb your readers suspension of disbelief. You don’t want your awesome magic to yank your readers from the believability of the story. But…most important of all…you have to establish some sort of rules and limits in order to prevent yourself from pulling a deus ex machina. No one likes a poorly executed deus ex machina. Few people like a well executed one (is there such a thing?). If you have rules, limits, cost, built into the magic or technology of your world, then you establish something that is not only nuanced and interesting, but believable.

But…but…it’s magic!!!

Why write speculative fiction if I have to create and follow all of these tedious rules?! The real world has rules enough.

It’s true. But following your own rules and following real worlds aren’t the same thing. Lots of you have probably heard the little saying, “Give your world a Flux Capacitor.” If you think about it, Back to the Future’s Flux Capacitor doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not explained. But we accept it because it’s magic. And when Doc says, “Here’s this thing. It makes time travel possible.” We accept it because it’s a simple alteration. He doesn’t try to use it to do more than what is initially established. It never breaks that rule. It’s not used to get Marty out of an impossible situation, defying any previous understanding of the technology. That’s why it works.

So where you do start?

First, you need to probably choose what type of magic you will use. Will be elements based? Or energy based? Spirit? Physical? Time and Space? What things is your magic summoning/manipulating/drawing from?

Now you’ll want to focus on the parts that make your magic yours. Sure, elemental magic has been used half a zillion times, but it can still be interesting if you do something new with it. The best way to do something new is to alter its limits, change the cost, give it a new spin that makes your regular ol’ fire magic something intriguing.

You can do a little bit of research into ancient forms of magic, into other literary uses of magic. See what those before you have done and use it as an inspiration.

If you’re having trouble knowing where to start, I’m here to provide you some thoughts concerning the skeletal-assembly of your magic system! Use these prompts as you see fit!

What does magic use/alter/manipulate?

  • visible energies
  • gravity
  • laws of physics
  • light
  • thought
  • water, only, in all of its forms
  • fabric of space
  • elementary particles
  • items of specific color or texture
  • perception
  • plant life
  • the dead
  • blood
  • magnetic forces
  • demons
  • vibrations
  • earth
  • emotions

Who possesses magic?

  • scholars
  • children
  • random lucky people
  • anyone
  • everyone
  • the elderly
  • anyone who’s ever petted a dog
  • specific animals
  • deities

How is it acquired?

  • at birth
  • intense study and training
  • gifted
  • through random action
  • through a ritual
  • as one ages
  • stolen

From where is power drawn?

  • internal mana
  • heat energy
  • alignment of the stars
  • physical contact with _____ (the earth, another life force, a drawing or rune)
  • kinetic or potential energy
  • the moon(s)
  • other realms
  • movement of tectonic plates
  • spiritual energy of those nearby
  • consumption of specific foods/drinks/elements

Check out the rest of the Brainstorming Series!
Magic Systems, Part Two
New Species
New Worlds
Cultures
Civilizations
Map Making

Politics and Government
Belief Systems & Religion
Guilds, Factions, & Groups
War & Conflict
Science & Technology

Why We Need Stories about Dark Things

One of the things I get tired of from time to time is the perspective that if something shows evil behavior then that means the story, song, game, whatever, is inherently bad. But there is a difference between illustrating evil behavior and promoting it.

Not all appearances of bad behavior invite bad behavior.

While one purpose of storytelling is to entertain, another purpose is to teach or educate–a purpose that in today’s world, most people seem to have forgotten.

A long time ago, there used to be all sorts of horrific stories told. Open Grimms’ fairy tales, and you’ll see that Cinderella really isn’t that Disney-friendly. But often some of those older stories were meant to teach a lesson or scare children into behaving (that latter point is one I personally don’t condone). Horrific things happen in the Bible (and the Book of Mormon). We can often learn from these accounts, but some of them are simply a record of what happened (if you believe in that), whether you like the content or not. It is what it is. Conspiring incest, rape, slaughter, and even cannibalism can be found in scripture stories. In today’s world, most people have been conditioned to believe that stories are only meant to entertain. Or entertain and uplift.

Those two things are valid. But what I get tired of, though, is the perspective that all stories should be full of puppies and rainbows (yeah, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean), and that’s what we should be writing, and if a story is dark, it’s “bad” or lesser or … something.

The World Needs Stories about Dark Things

It’s important we write about what I call “the big and heavies”–rape, addiction, suicide, massacre, societal brainwashing, etc. And when I say “we,” I don’t mean specifically that you or I HAVE to; I mean “we” as in us, writers and creatives everywhere. The world needs creatives who delve into the big and heavies, and here’s why:

1. Stories provide a safe means to explore and discuss dark things

The big and heavies are vital to discuss for a healthy society. We shouldn’t be turning a blind eye to dark deeds. We should be turning the right eye to them. Literature offers a safe way to explore and discuss these issues. It offers some distance (because it’s usually a work of fiction) while simultaneously having the ability to offer closeness–empathy.

Also, fiction provides a type of lens to view these behaviors through. Speculative fiction might have a more exaggerated or symbolic lens, such as the fashion industry of Panem in The Hunger Games, or the discussion of pure bloods in Harry Potter. A lens lets us view the issues in a way that may emphasize certain points or give us a new perspective on them, and again, the distance can provide a bit of a “safe” buffer for readers. We aren’t talking about racism; we’re talking about magical blood–and we can have a whole discussion on it that correlates with issues seen in racism, and no one needs to feel uncomfortable because this is about wizarding blood. Even realistic fiction provides a perspective, though less exaggerated, to see these issues through.

2. Powerful, emotional ramification drives home a point or idea or lesson.

Unlike reading text books or the news, fiction writing often works off making the audience feel something. It appeals to emotional experience, even more than intellectual experience. It is one of the only mediums where we can put on the skin and thoughts of another person.

In parts of society, we try hard to divorce intellect and emotion, but powerful emotional experiences are often what cement ideas and lessons into our minds. Back in the day, fathers used to take their children out to their property line and beat them so that the child would never forget where the property line was. We’ve seen similar conditioning with training wild animals. Both are crude examples, of course, but the emotional experience drove home the lesson. While negative emotions are powerful, this same thing can happen with strong positive emotions. We remember powerful feelings of happiness and of love, and if there are any lessons or insights associated with those, we recall those too.

In fiction, emotional experiences can drive home powerful lessons. And they stick with the audience.

Strong emotional experiences in fiction amplify the conceptual ramifications of dark deeds, and cements into the reader the weight of such behavior, in a way that pure intellect cannot. Once we “experience” an issue, we care more about it. Fiction is a vehicle that allows us to develop and fine-tune our empathetic skills, so we can better understand and relate to those who’ve dealt with such issues.

3. Explore, cognitively, the causes, consequences, and facets of the big and heavies

In the real world, we live our own lives in our own perspectives, and that’s it. In literature, you can include several perspectives of those involved with an issue. You can often see the issue’s causes, consequences, and facets to a degree you may not in your own life. You can see far-reaching effects in a matter of hundreds of pages, rather than decades or hundreds of years. This opens up new ideas, new perspectives on the topic, which leads to more discussion.

4. To provide hope and uplift, in spite of darkness. To overcome.

I sometimes see this weird idea that an uplifting story needs to not cross some invisible line too far into the dark. In some ways, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a Harry Potter fan, I’ve had friends come up to me and talk about how they’re disappointed that the stories got darker and darker. Maybe I’m weird (okay, there’s no “maybe” about it), but I like that. I like stories getting dark. I like when they get darker and darker. I like my evil, evil. I want the Voldemort who tries to possess Harry to get Dumbledore to kill him. I want the Voldemort who tortured animals as a small child and who murdered others to split his soul into seven pieces. The world is often an evil place. And how much more powerful is it to overcome the bowels of the most wicked, than it is to overcome a guy who shoplifted? I like my evil, evil. Not because I want to be part of the dark, but because I like seeing people overcome it.

A story that includes dark materials can be just as uplifting, if not more uplifting (because of the contrast) than a story that doesn’t. The idea that a story can’t be dark and inspiring is just unfounded.

Every Christmas season, I become a fan of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra all over again. If you’ve never heard of them, you may still recognize some of their most iconic Christmas songs, some of which have gone viral on synchronized Christmas light videos.

What many people might not realize is that each of their Christmas albums actual tells, and comes with, a written story. If you see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live, they will read the story to you bits at a time, interspersed with music. But not all their stories are about happy sleigh rides, warm fires, Christmas hams, and decorated trees. There are parents who abandoned their disabled children, babies born addicted to crack, love that has been lost. But the stories and albums are uplifting, not because the creators avoided dark subject matter, but because they illustrated the power of overcoming–overcoming difficult times and personal mistakes. It’s hard to make it through one of their performances with a dry eye through the whole thing.

5. To render reality–others’ reality or your own

But some stories aren’t necessarily meant to be about overcoming the dark or inspiring an audience. Some stories are just about reality. Human nature. The natural man. Experiences that people actually go through. Some stories are simply meant to render, often for reasons 1-3. It’s a statement. It’s meant to create social awareness, empathy. Maybe it’s meant to start a discussion. Those stories need to exist too.

Closing Thoughts

Keep in mind that many audiences only see stories strictly as mediums for entertainment and, on a subconscious level, a reinforcement of a positive, maybe even sugary, feelings and ideas. Those audiences may (on a subconscious level) refuse anything that is otherwise, and consider any mention of the dark and heavies as something that shouldn’t be there. That is their right.

And in some cases, they are correct. Some stories do not need and should not have dark content. It doesn’t serve the purpose of the story, it messes up the tone of the story, and it can ruin what was already working. You wouldn’t, for example, put in a serious plot line in The Office about Pam being legitimately raped. It doesn’t fit.

And with all that said, you shouldn’t feel forced to write content you feel very uncomfortable writing. Your work should reflect the writerly you.

Next week, I’ll talk about how to write about dark things without promoting them.

Writing Living, Breathing Characters

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Sometimes this is the easiest skill to forget! I find when talking to other writers about this, it is especially muddled when writing fan fiction - though there’s a lot more thought that has to go into previously established characters constructed by someone else in writing them and making them still feel real - mostly because it’s harder to know “everything” about them. Anyway, I am going to talk today about how lately I’ve been going about the process of writing characters.

Keep reading

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« In 1957, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac seemed to come from nowhere, though they had been writing their poetry and fiction underground since the beginning of the Fifties. It was just that no one had dared to publish them. They gave voice to the restlessness and spiritual discontent so many felt but had been unable to articulate. Powerful desires for a freer life were suddenly set loose by words with compelling, irresistible rhythms. The Beat writers found an audience grown so ripe that the impact was immediate. »

Minor characters : a beat memoir by Joyce JOHNSON 

Do you guys ever think about how lucky we are?

We get to read novels that other people will never know existed. We get to know authors before they hit the mainstream.

We get feedback from like-minded people who are 90% of the time gushing over how much they love our work.

We get to watch ourselves grow as writers, laugh and cry with our favorite characters in ways most people will never get to experience, and discover new writers who become our friends.

Guys.

Fan fiction RULES.

I just don’t get it. People want LGBTQ+ and mental illnesses normalised, but whenever there are realistic or just different depictions of it in fiction, where they may not be the main focus of the story, or the story may not bother to be a “good representation” like KS it’s “not healthy” and “fetishised” or something. 

Depicting those people happy is not realistic, unrelatable and insulting because “you are ignoring the struggles of the people”, and depicting those people upset and struggling is unhealthy and “you are making people who chose to view this media struggle and get wrong ideas about how relationships of these people may work even though the fiction makes no point in telling this is a healthy depiction”? 

You want it to be normalised, like healthy and straight relationships or characters, but you don’t want those things to be explored thoroughly with fiction, like…I don’t understand. 

If you want healthy depictions, look elsewhere. Read a pamphlet or a children’s book. You are obviously not ready to consume media in a way that you try to digest it and think about it and understand what it means or may mean instead of just staring at your screen for 5 seconds and jumping onto the first thing you think but never get much farther.

There’s tons and TONS of literature and art and fiction and series out there with a million different depictions of what you are looking for, and if you are only looking at one depiction of it, reading it over and over again, and whining that you are still unable to find what you are looking for, maybe you are not doing it correctly. 

Nobody will censor themselves because you take what you read too literally and can’t think over it, because you are blinded by thinking everyone is out there to get you. You can’t go out there and “fix” everyone you see and how they think. 

People are unable to consume art anymore because they are so ready to start shouting and crying at the slightest hint of discomfort or thought provoking they may come across while that’s the point of art.