Fantasist's Scroll

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


Library Porn

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

Okay, this might not be what you were expecting…

No, I’m not talking about pornography in a library, but images of libraries that would excite book enthusiasts.  At least, it got me all excited.  Interestingly enough, the book is discussed on the Cool Hunters website.  It’s brought to us by Kids Republic and, based on the pictures, I can only describe it as library porn.
Seriously, if you like libraries, or old books, or just lots of books, at least go look at the Cool Hunters website, if not the book itself.  Way cool.

Besides, it’s Friday, what else do you have to do?


Reading is Good For You!

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

My mother always told me that all that reading would make me smarter. Now, thanks to this article on MSN about just that thing, she has some extra weight for her argument. Apparently, someone at UC Berkley actually did a study and wrote it all up in a paper called What Reading Does for the Mind. Based on that study, we get three benefits from reading, especially when we start young. First, reading increases vocabulary more than talking or direct teaching. That was my mother’s main argument for reading, incidentally. Second, reading substantially boosts general knowledge while decreasing the likelihood that misinformation will be absorbed. This one is the one that most people seem to think is true. I’m not quite as convinced, but, hey, the study says it’s true, so I’ll go with it. And, finally, reading helps keep our memory and reasoning abilities intact as we age. Again, not sure about this one, yet, but it did seem to keep my grandmother sharp. She lived to be like 96 or something ridiculous like that and was pretty sharp all the way until the end. Well, except for often asking the same question several times in an hour, but I always suspected that was more her testing us than her not remembering. Always checking to see if my story changed and all that. And, she only had one or two episodes in the hospital when she had any age/time displacement, so I figure that’s pretty good. I mean, after all, she was born before electricity was common in the home and when the “horseless carriage” was still a bit of a novelty, so, all things considered, she did pretty well.

So, even if I don’t read quite as much as I used to and a lot of ficition as well, I figure it’s still good for me. At least, in the long run.
So, kids, a little advice from your Uncle Jim? Read, even if it’s just comic books. Reading actually is good for you!


Happy Birthday, Tarzan!

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

Today is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ birthday!
ERB, as he is often known by fans, was born in Chicago in 1875. He is probably most famous as the creator of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, which is a series of stories about an English nobleman who was abandoned in the African jungle during infancy and brought up by apes. His first Tarzan story appeared in 1912, and Burroughs followed it with the novel Tarzan of the Apes in1914. He is also the author of A Princess of Mars, which is the first book in a series about a US Cavalry officer transported “mystically” to Mars, as well as, Pellucidar, about a savage world hidden beneath our own, The Pirates of Venus, about space pirates on Venus. Not to mention his lesser known works, including The Mad King and many others.
For many of us, ERB was our first introduction to science-fiction and fantasy. He was a real writer, by which I mean he churned out novels and stories at a furious rate for one reason onlyL to support his family. He is, in many ways, one of my heroes.
So, Happy Birthday, Mr. Burroughs, wherever you are.


Fantasy Writers

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

Looking for a free forum for fantasy writers?

Well, I don’t have one here, yet, but there is one at As always with writers, there’s a lot here to read through, but it all seems to be worth it. Of course, I think that anything which helps me get more creative or more inspired to write is worth the effort to slog through, even if some of it is shlock or doesn’t apply to me or my work. Inspiration can take many forms and find its way into my head by strange paths, so I’m always willing to look at another possible inroad to creativity.

Hopefully, you’ll find this site worth the read, too.


Articles on Writing

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

So, not too long ago, I brought you a link to an on-line course in writing.

But, by now, I’m betting you’re ready for more stuff on writing science fiction and fantasy. Well, even if you’re not, I found a table of contents on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website that has all kinds of great articles about writing. Now, obviously, many of these are geared toward fantasy and science fiction, but some are just general advice about writing and, in any case, they’re all helpful to writers. At least, all the ones I’ve read so far have been helpfull to me! And, as always, this is a free resource, this time, brought to you by the SFWA.

So, go read some inspirational articles and then, get back to writing!


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.


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. 😉


Unspeakable Vault (of Doom)

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 love cartoons.

Some of you may have noticed that I’m a fan of rather unusual literature. I admit, I tend toward the fantastic, surreal and bizarre, but, hey, if it’s getting published, I can’t be the only one! One of my favorites, who I discovered in early High School, is H. P. Lovecraft. I started with The Tomb and Other Tales
and moved on from there.

Well, there are a lot of fans out there and we all seem to have slightly skewed senses of humor. Often times, this results in very, very strange homage taking forms that the human mind can barely encompass. The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom) is one of those things. It’s a parody of much of Lovecraft’s work. It’s also a very funny cartoon. Enjoy!

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