What Defines Fantasy?

Fantasy is by far my favorite genre. I can get into other books, but I always come back to my first love. And, since I could talk about fantasy for years on end, you get to hear about it today.

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First, you need to know that there are certain kinds of fantasy that I separate from normal fantasy. These types are what you would call “high fantasy” or even “epic fantasy”, but I refer to it as “traditional fantasy”, due to the fact that it’s essentially how fantasy used to be done before the genre evolved.

How is a piece of fantasy dubbed as traditional fantasy? I define traditional fantasy as being such using one and only one piece of criteria. Traditional fantasy must, in my personal definition, center on a fully developed world apart from ours. Though it may be hard to believe, the presence or absence of magic is not a factor at all. While magic is a fun element of fantasy and is present in most works in this genre, a book can have absolutely no magic anywhere in it and still be a true fantasy story. Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles has nary a trace of magic threading through its world, but the important thing is that it’s a fantasy book (and an AMAZING one at that) because it does have that world.

Okay, so traditional fantasy always has a well-thought-out fictional world. But I also divide it into two types of traditional fantasy. I know, things are just getting all crazy, right?

Traditional fantasy type #1: The purest type of fantasy is that in which our world is nonexistent. One of the possibilites for traditional fantasy is that you are immersed completely in a fictional world with no acknowledgement of our own. The characters know nothing of our world, and by all means, it doesn’t exist. You’re in another land, and that’s where you stay, learning the cultures, customs, and general life of its people. You can find this sort of fantasy in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers, Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles, Jennifer Nielsen’s The Ascendance Trilogy, and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice*.

*Some may debate whether Ranger’s Apprentice is even traditional fantasy, since it’s been hinted at that the story may actually be set in a medieval Europe. However, since it operates very much under the fantasy umbrella and it has never been determined that the lands in the book are real, I’m going to count it as such.

Traditional fantasy type #2: This second subgenre of traditional fantasy still meets the criteria of having a developed fictional world. However, this world is featured alongside our own as people from our neck of the woods somehow journey to another place. The new world is still as unique and different as in the first type; it’s just that our world is acknowledged and recognized. Additionally, we learn the rules and customs of this different land through the eyes of the people from our world that go there. This is demonstrated in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper’s The Berinfell Prophecies. (I would put more examples of this type of fantasy story, but I’ve discovered that I must read more of the first type than the second, so I don’t have many others).

To summarize, books that contain a central, well-developed world apart from ours are called traditional fantasy. Traditional fantasy can either occur solely within a different world or can center on humans from Earth that are transported to a different world.

What do you think of traditional fantasy and its two subgenres? Which do you like to read most? What are some other books that fit this description? Do tell! 

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5 Myths about Writers

Writers are a mysterious group. If you’re not one, you’ll likely never understand what goes on inside their minds. Therefore, a lot of myths and misconceptions have sprung up about writers and how they work. I’m here to clear the air once and for all (or at least until you have more questions about us). It’s time to reshape how you think about writers.

5 myths

Myth #1: All writers are introverts

I’m not sure how this myth came about. The only thing I can figure is that people looked at writers, wondered why they wanted a profession where they worked solely with imagination and words, and then automatically assumed it’s because they didn’t want the company of people. That’s far from the truth. While I’m sure there are many writers that are introverts, it is not a job qualification. I, for one, am much more extroverted than I am introverted, and I love writing.

Writers definitely need alone time with no distractions to focus on writing, but that doesn’t make them introverts. It just means that we understand the value of sitting down where we can get a lot of work done without being interrupted.

John Green once said that writing is a “profession for introverts”, and I couldn’t disagree more. While it may not be the right career for someone who wants to constantly be interacting with people, extroverts can do it just as well as introverts can.

Myth #2: Writers are out of touch with reality

You don’t realize how frustrating this misconception is.

Yes, writers have vast imaginations and fictional worlds that we love. Yes, sometimes we wish those worlds and characters would be real, and we often treat them as if they are.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand what’s a part of reality and what isn’t.

Writers don’t think the same way you do. We know all about reality, but there’s an element of our minds that will never stop at “this is real”. We push further to “what if this was real”. We know that this-and-that can’t happen, but we want to know the ramifications if it did. Plus, we love our characters and wish they were real, so why not have some fun and pretend that they are?

Don’t act like writers have something wrong with them just because they see things differently than you.

Myth #3: Writers daydream all the time and are therefore oblivious to things around them

Writers are some of the most observant people you will ever meet. We’re people-watchers by trade. We take in everything around us with a great curiosity and notice small details that others might miss.

Sure, we get lost in the occasional daydream or two, but you’ll find that more often than not, we’re listening to things around us. We’re observing and mentally taking notes for the future (who knows, this situations may come up in a book further on down the road). We’re rarely completely unaware of our surroundings.

Myth #4: Writers don’t like to talk about their writing

This myth is a tricky one, because sometimes it’s actually true. In full disclosure, some writers don’t like to talk about their writing.

However, I am willingly to state that the majority of writers, if you really care about what they have to say and they can sense that, will gladly tell you all about their writing. After all, contrary to popular belief, we’re not total recluses.

I am a little wary of telling people about what I’m write because I’m worried that my carefully crafted plot will come out sounding totally ridiculous when the words leave my mouth, but if someone genuinely wants to hear about it, I get excited! After all, my only wish is for others to love the characters and worlds that I have created as much as I do. If someone wants to hear about it, then I want to tell them about it. Additionally, when I get a new plot or character idea, everyone hears about it. And by everyone, I mean everyone. Or at least the people in my general vicinity at the time.

Some don’t like to talk about their writing to people who aren’t fellow writers. While I don’t always understand it, I respect that. Just genuinely show interest, and if the writer in your life jumps at the chance to tell you about the latest development with their protagonist, listen. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Myth #5: Required writing automatically makes you a writer

In my opinion, there are two main things that make someone a writer – a soaring imagination and an intense love for storytelling. While non-writers can most certainly possess imagination and enjoy stories, there is a way that these two traits combine in writers that is unique and special.

Writers, very simply put, like writing. They want to do it. A lot.

A pet peeve of mine is when other people with no love of writing (in the creative sense or with journalism) call themselves writers. You are not a writer just because you have written essays or any other sort of mandatory project. You are a writer when you like to write and you pursue it with a burning passion outside of obligatory assignments.

The difference between being a writer and being someone who writes is vast. Can you write well? Perhaps. I am in no way saying that you can’t. But what you can’t do is call yourself a writer when you do not like the profession and do not wish to pursue it. You have no authority in which to say things and then call them definite because “I’m a writer”.

Why do I care so much about whether people say they’re writers or not?

Because I feel it devalues the group of people who have the skills and passion necessary to be defined as writers. It implies that their vocation is so easy that it can done by anyone who has ever put pen to paper. It suggests that writing takes no special talent and skill, which is absolutely false. I can say that I’m a singer because like to belt Adele’s “Hello” at the top of my lungs when no one is home, but that doesn’t make me a singer, because although I do have a love for singing and music, I do not have the talent and skills to sing for a living, and I am not pursuing that career.

Long story short: not everyone is a writer. Don’t say you are when you’re not, or your writer friends will be annoyed with you.

Writers are very misunderstood beings! Do you have any other myths about writers to debunk? Which myths bother you the most, and have you encountered any of these 5 myths firsthand? Do tell! 

An Open Letter to 2015

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Dear 2015,

Wow, were you a roller coaster of a year.

You were the year that I turned 16. The year that I started my junior year of high school. The year that I started this blog. The year I got my first job.

I was able to fulfill a dream of mine by visiting Ford’s Theatre, and I stood in the doorway to the balcony where President Lincoln was shot. I got newer, hi-tech hearing aids that can do some pretty cool things (like act as a substitute for wearing earphones). I attended Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival, and I saw a Star Wars movie in theaters for the first time.

2015, you brought a plethora of emotions.

There were times I laughed so hard I thought I couldn’t stop. There were also times where I cried so hard I thought I couldn’t stop. I did stop, eventually.

There were good times and challenging times. Sometimes happiness and sadness were felt at the same time.

A lot of things happened in 2015. Both the good and the bad are contributing to who I am as a person, so I won’t throw you away, but I am excited for what the new year will bring.

You were only one year among many, 2015. Your events won’t set the tone for the rest of my life, but man, they sure were a doozy.

Thanks for an interesting year, 2015.

Sincerely,

Someone Living In 2016