Genuinely exciting for writers and aspiring writers alike, NaNoWriMo is a huge challenge for anyone looking to complete a novel. Whether they’re experienced writers, aspiring novellists or just a hobbyist, NaNoWriMo is a set goal to work towards throughout the month of November. Now that we’re less than a month to go, I thought I’d talk vaguely about the story I’ve been working on the details for, as well as a bit of a general chat about writing in general and how I’m feeling leading up to the massive endeavour… Also about how Discord is helping me prepare, so there’s something! Excited ramblings may be contained within this article, so don’t say you’ve not been warned!
Behold, the mighty myths of Britain. Whether they originated in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, we’ll be looking at some important myths that have become more well known not just here, but further afield. From simple spirits, through to heroics that have been told throughout the ages, this week, we’re checking out our Top 10 British Myths.
For those of you who didn’t know, I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. Writers around the world will be trying to complete the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. For some of us, it’ll be our first ever attempt at writing a novel and for others, they have multiple books under their belt. In my case, this’ll be my first attempt at writing a whole piece of fiction – and I’m excited by the prospects. The organisers of NaNoWriMo appear to be hard at work as well, but instead of working on literature, they’ve been working on their website – and it looks great. Here’s what to expect from NaNoWriMo’s website this year.
Shh, do you hear that? It sounds like the trees rustled over this way, quickly, hide in the underbrush. Now, careful, for today we’ve got to keep on the low-down, lest we become prey for them. Whether you’re a vampire, a beast, or even just an ordinary human, today we’re going to check out the Top 10 Hunters across all pop culture. Video games, Film, TV, Literature, you name it, we’ve got it covered. (more…)
Michael Moorcock is a big name in fantasy. He tends to fall off the radar a little in the face of Tolkein’s masterful mythologues, Pratchett’s wondrous mirror, and Martin’s political complexity, but Moorcock’s legacy runs as deep as any others.
Most famous for the Eternal Champion, a title given to a series of figures who undergo a repetitive cycle of events which, though cast in different circumstances, mark them as an agent of balance destined to restore order in times of chaos, or chaos in times of oppressive law. Eternal Champions exist as a universal constant, appearing in worlds, times, and dimensions beyond counting, they are destined to suffer greatly under their burden, with certain common factors appearing from champion to champion, and only once becoming aware of the cycle.
Among the most famous is the strange white-haired warrior, Elric of Melniboné, the White Wolf, whose details would mark him heavily as progenitor to fantasy staples like Drizzt Do’urden and Geralt of Rivia. I highly recommend delving into the legacy of Elric alone, but he’s not the major focus of this article. I want to talk about the sword Stormbringer, a sentient, black blade that steals the souls of those it kills (also paired with Mournblade). Sound familiar? It should. Because in addition to being a repeated element in the life of the Eternal Champion, it is an artifact that recurs throughout fantasy as a nod to Moorcock and his incredible creations.
Blackrazor, D&D – One of the oldest artifacts in the game is one of its most brazen nods to the Eternal Champion saga, popping up in Baldur’s Gate 2 and in the White Plume Mountain adventure, the weapon is sentient, malevolent, and devours souls of the slain. It has a personal relationship with a pair of other artifacts (Whelm and Wave) that makes it distinct to Stormbringer/Mournblade, but ultimately it’s a straightforward nod to the fantasy heritage upon which the game stands.
Dragnipur, Malazan Book of the Fallen – These books are a tough read but very worthwhile, because the fantastical concepts behind them, pushing them are truly magnificent. I’m a particular fan of the method by which magic works, where dimensions or planes called Warrens can be studied and opened into a mortal to create magical effects at great personal risk. The sword Dragnipur has its own Warren, into which souls are taken. Within the blade those souls are chained together, dragging a vast, mysterious wagon behind them, including a dragon held by the neck, all working together.
The Legacy of Kain – This one’s not a great stretch of the imagination, forces of law and chaos war over the actions of one, highly powerful vampire, who betrays his closest ally, who – in turn – turns on him, stealing a spectral fragment of a blade and learning to subsist on souls instead of blood, before returning to fight by his side against a far greater foe, becoming the soul of the sword as the fight together to restore balance. Said vampire looks astonishingly like sundried Elric of Melniboné!
Soulstone, Diablo Series – Embedded into the body of the Dark Wanderer, protagonist of Diablo 1 who attempted to contain Diablo himself but sadly failed. It’s not a sword, admittedly, what it represents (intentionally or otherwise) is the Black Crystal of Dorian Hawkmoon, which is used to manipulate Hawkmoon into obedience of a dark force. It’s another manifestation of the blade in the Champion’s continuity.
Soul Edge, Soul Calibur – Short example because I don’t know the series that well but it popped up in my research, another sentient soul-eating sword, but it’s not black… it’s black in places, sure, but it’s mostly metal… and sticky. It’s got a saga of its own going on, passing from owner to owner, changing shape to suit their needs but generally being the villain of the piece, considered at times to be the greater antagonist compared to whoever’s holding it.
Tyrfing – An old norse myth, possibly one of the earliest examples of Stormbringer – because hell no it’s not the first of its kind – is a sword that strikes true with every swing and cleaves stone and metal as easily as flesh, but is cursed to take a life whenever it is drawn, to cause three great evils, and to ultimately kill the wielder. Ok we’re talking a millennia of narrative changes, but it’s got definite thematic elements.
Black blades, soul devouring blades, sentient blades, all of these aspects pop up in a vast array of combinations with unique quirks and places within their own mythology, but they’re all part of a much greater and more fascinating saga. I’m not here to claim that they all start with Moorcock, Stormbringer, and Elric, but that the varying arcs of the Eternal Champion are something of a narrative loadstone, a lynch pin that has brought the concepts into much harsher relief.
In the same way we’d never credit Moorcock with creating the anti-hero – Shakespeare may still hold that credit but it’s still questionable – still he sets a mould that proves hard to break because of the way it has entered the culture, in the same way we can’t help retelling Shakespeare’s greats even when we may not intend to. The Eternal Champion also establishes the notion of law and chaos as independent of good and evil, a hotly debated element of character design in fantasy role-play. People and deeds can fall anywhere along either scale, where law and order may previously have been intimately tied to notions of good and vice-versa, Moorcock breaks those bonds.
Play “spot the Stormbringer” as you delve into the vast array of novels, games, films, and anime series, you’d be surprised how many you see.
Every year, we like to mention NaNoWriMo. It’s an exciting month, where writers across the world take up the challenge. Can they get their novels written? Can they do it in just one month? That’s the challenge laid before all takers in November, where writers must write at least 50,000 words and submit their daily accomplishments to the NaNoWriMo website. Every year, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch people take part. From friends and acquaintances, to complete strangers across Twitter and Facebook. This year, I want to be one of the crazy people who completes their novel in November. Here’s a little bit of information in prepping for NaNoWriMo.
A menagerie is a collection or group of animals, in today’s case, we’re going to be looking at magical ones. This isn’t just a list of herds or groups, but rather areas which feature a collection of the most magical creatures. In this week’s Top 10, we’re going to get all magical and in some cases, a little bit science-fictiony. But don’t worry, we’ll stick to our guns and only pick gatherings of creatures that have some strangely magical properties. (more…)
From Tolkien to… Furby’s?
Ahem, yes, well, across all forms of entertainment, there are examples of made-up languages. In some cases, like the ones in The Sims (Simlish), or even Furby (Furbish) it’s all for a bit of fun. A fictional language can help make these beings more lovable, more relatable. In other cases, a fictional language can be a good way to make people dislike a character, if they refuse to speak a common language, even if they know it.
Recently, I’ve found myself jotting snippets down. No matter how big or small the idea, I’ve been writing words down that sound like a good sentence. Sometimes, they end up over several different documents, before finally being merged into one. No matter what, I’m going to keep this log down. If you’re getting into writing as a hobby, or even a career, why not come up with your own writers log? Here’s a few tips on how I write my log, how often I write in it, the types of things I keep and how the information gets used.