Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Happy Birthday, Ms. Rowling!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is J.K. Rowling’s Birthday!
If you don’t know who J. K. Rowling is, well, you certainly haven’t been paying attention. She is, in short, the creator of Harry Potter and crew. As a divorced, single mother struggling to scrape by on public assistance, aka “the Dole”, in the UK, she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which she sold astonishingly quickly for a first time author. The book went on to become a wonderfully popular hit with adults and kids alike. At the same time she wrote the first book, she plotted out the rest of the series and started drafts of those books as well. Each year after that first release a new book in the series has come out, for a total of six, so far, with the seventh on it’s way.
I know many people who dislike the books for their simplicity or how they handle magic or any of a number of reasons, but, as far as I’m concerned, anything that can get so many kids reading books again, instead of suckling at the glass teat, is okay with me.
I hope Ms. Rowling will keep writing after the series is done. She’s a good one, even if she does write kids books!
Happy Birthday, Ms. Rowling!


Hindi Comics and Animation

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I was originally inspired to post this by a commentor on my other blog who was in Bangladesh. I’ve been a fan of Bollywood for some time now. In fact, I paid for extra international channels on my cable system just to see more of Bollywood productions. But, this is a little different. In fact, it’s a “new twist on an old myth”, according to the website. The myth is the Sitayana, as animated by Nina Paley. The link will take you to a page that has all the parts, so far, of this animated myth that you can look at for free. Seems like the perfect thing to show on a wall in Bangladesh as part of a free, mobile drive-in to me!

Besides, it’s Friday and a long weekend, too, so why pretend you were doing any work? Turn the volume up and check out the amazing Friday Fun Link!


Characterization Made EZ

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Building characters is as easy as writing their biography.
Okay, so maybe that’s not quite as easy as it sounds at first. The first step to knowing about what your character is going to do is knowing who they are and where they’ve been. What was their start in life? How has that shaped their desires, fears and goals? Get the answer to those questions and you should know your character pretty well. Of course, if you’ve never done this, it can be a challenge. Or, if you just want to flesh out a character in a game, but aren’t sure what questions to ask, it might be hard to get started.
Well, back in the day, when Advanced Dungeons and Dragons ruled the fantasy role-playing game universe, there was a handy, little magazine called Dragon that was put out by TSR, which got bought by Wizards of the Coast, which is now a subsidiary of Hasbro. One particular issue included an article titled “Characterization Made Easy” by Scott Bennie. Below is a list of questions cribbed from that article that, when answered, will help you get to know your character.

  1. Background
    • Where was your character born?
    • Who raised them?
    • What was happening in the region when they was growing up?
    • Do they have any relatives? If so, how did they get along with them? What are they doing now?
  2. Motivation
    • What are your character’s immediate goals (i.e., what would they like to do in the coming year)?
    • What are their long-term goals (i.e., what would they like to be doing 20 years from now)?
    • What type of person would be their ideal mate?
    • Who is their patron deity? Are they a devout worshiper?
    • Are they a devout member of any nonreligious cause (i.e., Are they a loyal servant of a king or baron)?
    • Is there any race, creed, alignment, religion, or the like against which they are strongly prejudiced?
    • What is their greatest fear?
    • What is the one task they absolutely refuses to do?
  3. Idiosyncrasies
    • What is your character’s motto or favorite saying?
    • What is their favorite color?
    • Describe what they would wear if money were no object.
    • What is their favorite food? Their favorite drink?
    • What is their favorite animal?
    • What habits of their friends annoy them most?
  4. Traits
  5. Rate these behaviors for your character on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 means they has no trace of the trait, behaving in a completely opposite manner; 10 means they have great amounts of the trait).

    • Courtesy
    • Valor
    • Self-sacrifice
    • Generosity
    • Sobriety
    • Calm temper
    • Optimism
    • Curiosity
    • Forgiveness
    • Cheerfulness
    • Patience
    • Honesty
    • Helpfulness
    • Loyalty

    Name at least one other trait in which your character possesses a rating of 8 or better.

  6. Miscellaneous
    • What well-known media figure from sports, movies, or politics most closely resembles your character?
    • What would be their theme song?
    • If their friends were to write your character’s epitaph, what would it be?
    • What would their job be in modern society?

And, here are some stereotypes to avoid:

  1. All wizards are old men with long beards and robes.
  2. All evil characters wear black.
  3. All good characters wear white.
  4. All giants are stupid.
  5. All fighters are stupid jocks.
  6. All thieves are small and cowardly.
  7. Evil characters are irredeemably awful.
  8. Elves are flighty and carefree.
  9. Major bridges are guarded by trolls, who ask for a toll.

Obviously, this is geared toward a fantasy setting, but, with some small variation, it can apply to almost any character in almost any fictional setting.
If you’d like to read the whole article, you can still find it in the Dragon Magazine Archive on CD-ROM.


Personal Jetpacks

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hmm, is this geeky or just plain cool?

Well, either way, I would LOVE to have my own personal, James Bond-style jetpack. It’s really more than just a simple jetpack, though, as it incudes a sort of wing suit that, I assume, allows one to steer more easily. Also, there’s room for a parachute, essential gear for the flying spy, and a “payload” backpack. After all, if I’m jetting about the European countryside, I’d best be doing it for darn good reason. You know, like a spy mission that requires the use of super, high-tech gear that I stored next to my parachute on my flying wing jetpack.

Hey, what do you want from me? It’s Friday, and I am totally in need a little escapism! And, admit it, you are too, so, just click the link.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Today is Ernest “Papa” Hemingway’s birthday.
He was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. Hemingway snuck off to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He had bad eyesight, so he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in Italy. Just about a month after he got to Italy, he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He spent weeks in the hospital and then came back home to his parents in Oak Park.
After his parents got tired of him hanging around, he started writing stories for Chicago newspapers and magazines, and then got a job as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and went off to Paris with his wife Hadley. He became friends with a lot of writers who were in Paris at the time, including Fitzgerald and Joyce and Pound and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote every day, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in cafés, but he wrote every day.

His first collection of short stories, In Our Time, came out in 1925 and the following year, his first big success, Sun Also Rises. Three years later, Farewell To Arms came out. By the 1930s, he was one of the best-known writers alive. He developed cancer and, in true “Hemingway hero” fashion, killed himself with a shotgun in 1961. But, by then, he was one of the most recognizable people on the planet.


Plot Condensed

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Or, why I like comic books and cartoons.

To put it quite simply, I like the way these two art-forms condense and compress plot. Think about it for a minute. A comic book, or graphic novel, has considerably less room to develop a deep, complex plot than, say, a literary work because a lot of space that could be used to develop plot via text is taken up with art. Also, there are generally fewer pages in a comic book than a novel, of any significant length, at any rate. The writer, therefore, has less space, or literary “time”, if you will, to develop a lengthy plot, so it usually is condensed down to its tightest form, its most simple aspect. It makes comics the perfect medium for examining plot to see how it works, really.

The same is true of cartoons. Now, I’ll admit that other regular shows can condense plot fairly well, too, but nothing seems to do it as well as kid’s cartoons. Take anything from Bugs Bunny to Sponge Bob Square Pants to G. I. Joe to Batman and you’ll find plot in its simplest form. Two, or more, characters in conflict struggling toward a resolution and, of course, finding one, all in 30 minutes or less. Now, one might argue that the sitcoms do the same thing, and they do, to an extent, but not with the same simplicity that cartoons manage. There’s rarely call for complicated subplots in a child’s mind. Oh, sure, the more adult “cartoons”, or animation, might have this, but how many Cowboy Bebops or Full Metal Alchemists or Ghost in the Shells are there running around out there? Right. (And, two of those three were manga, Japanese comic books, first.)

So, if you’re a writer who struggles with plot the way I do, check out a comic book. Find the plot. Identify the elements of it. Find the starting state, the conflict and trace it through to the resolution. Don’t be put off by the threads they leave open for the next book in the series. Just remember, each little plot is like a chapter in a larger book. Besides, there are worse ways to look at plotting a longer piece of work than to treat each chapter as a short story.

Oh, and I read them for the pictures, too. 😉


Mickey Spillane, dead at 88

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

While not exactlly a fantasy or science-fiction writer, he was still one of the great ones.  Famous for his Mike Hammer books and his rough-and-tumble pose style, Spillane was one of the more successful writers of his day.  And, according to his obituary on MSN, that’s how he thought of himself, as a writer who sold his work.  It was a job to him, a way to make money, not high art.  I can respect that attitude.  Get it written and get it sold.  Interestingly enough, Spillane got his fiction-writing start in comics writing for Batman and Superman, but then World War II broke out and his plans changed.  After the war, he turned to full-length fiction to earn money.

Mickey Spillane died yesterday, Monday, July 17th, at the age of 88.  He was married three times and the father of four children.


Glass Grave Markers

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Have you ever thought about your gave marker? Have you considered making a “statement” on it with a clever saying or quote or what have you? Then, have you ever considered having something other than marble or granite or any of the other more traditional materials?

Okay, so maybe you haven’t thought about this, but the folks at Lundgren Monuments have. Really, when you consider it, a glass tombstone is a fairly innovative concept. I mean, in this age of trendy architecture and performance art, what could make more sense than a tombstone that stands out in a crowd? Either that, or it’s my sick sense of humor that finds this amusing. After all, when I’m dead, will I really care what my tombstone looks like anymore?

Well, before I get too morose for a Friday, click the link and admire the pretty headstones. Really, they are cool and, after all, it is a Friday. The way some of my readers drink, we may not make it all out alive!

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