Writing Resources

If you’re like me, you scour every available print and online source for the best and newest in writing resources. Or, maybe, like me, you tell yourself that this is what you’re doing when you’re really just gathering all this how-to information in hopes that, through the very scientific method of osmosis or photosynthesis, you’ll absorb the wisdom from said writing resources, miraculously becoming a highly published and sought-after writer. Or, you know, maybe you just like to have a handy list of writing resources for those occasions when you need them.

Arts Online has a nice listing of all things writerly, including links to individual journals, a database of published writers, and much more. If you’ve not perused the site’s listings before, I recommend you go ahead and give them a gander. 

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Share your favorite writing resources in the comments below.

 

Happy Writing!

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Fantasy Friday: The Sphinx Myth

Before I delve into today’s post, allow me to state that I use fantasy in Fantasy Friday rather loosely. While I would like to keep to this theme, fantasy can be many things to different people. It could, for instance, include the realm of mythology, as in today’s post. Fantasy can also refer to Jeremy’s post from last Friday.

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Mythology has long held intrigue for me. I’ve yet to investigate the many twists and turns that encompasses this labyrinthine set of stories and characters. I have, however, spent hours inside my own head, re-enacting the often strange tales associated with Greek and Roman gods. I can’t help but wonder on the birth of these myths. Who was the person who first spread the seeds for the story of the Sphinx, for instance?

It is said that Oedipus defeated the Sphinx by correctly answering her riddle. This heroic act came in the middle of a less than glamorous life in which he unknowingly slew his father and wed his mother. [I would say that this kind of thing happens only in mythology, but there’s always that one guy, you know?] Anyway, where was I? (Got lost in a Jerry Springer-like daydream. Sorry.)

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The Sphinx

Read Thomas Bulfinch’s story of Oedipus and the Sphinx here.

What I bring away from Oedipus’ life and interaction with the Sphinx are these questions and musings:

–Moral: One mustn’t attempt to cheat an oracle’s prophecy. The king was destined to come to a bad end at the hand of his son (or so the myth alludes), and no action could otherwise thwart prophecy.

–Oedipus eradicates the Sphinx with a clever answer to her riddle and, while he is crowned king after the fact, the joy is short-lived. (He may have bested one woman, but another will be his downfall.)

–When Oedipus discovers he has wed his mother, he tears out his own eyes and wanders away. (I would think it would be other organs besides eyes that one would rip out…) That said, my mind makes an automatic connection with Blind Justice, and I begin to wonder if the two ideas share a common thread in the fabric of lore.

I’m mulling over the possibilities of incorporating elements of this myth into a story. Doesn’t it seem as though the basic structure of the Sphinx myth is similar to that of a fantasy novel?

–> Character is orphaned.

–> Character is rescued and reared by strangers.

–> Character undertakes heroic task and prevails.

–> Character is rewarded.

–> Character’s reward becomes downfall.

So, then would it actually be accurate to say that mythology serves as the seed from which fantasy grows? It certainly wouldn’t be inaccurate.

I suppose the main point here is that it’s often difficult to clearly decipher where one genre/group/what have you ends and another begins. Everything is derivative. Write what you want to write, how you want to write it, and don’t stop for those invisible barricades thrown up by ideas like the canon and popular literature. Go ahead. Write the story about the character with the Oedipus complex who owns a unicorn stable in troll country. Throw a Sphinx in the mix and see what happens.

“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.”

–Terry Pratchett

What do you think? Are you a mythology buff who can shed some light on this subject? Do you have a favorite myth, book, or website? Please share!

What If Wednesday: Topsy-Turvy Tales

I have a confession to make. I’m a total geek for fairy tale adaptations. I absolutely adore the idea of topsy-turvy fairy tales in which an author re-imagines the lives of characters whom we all know and love. (My current favorite author who pens these sorts of tales is Gregory Maguire. You can read this post to learn more about his work.)

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Bizarre fairy tale adaptations from Litstack.com

I’m enamored by the seemingly simple idea of What If? I say simple because it’s probably something we’ve all done at least once, either as children or as adults—after finishing a fairy tale, we throw out that simple question. What if? Though a simple question, the answer can be as miniscule as morphing Snow White into the lead singer of a heavy metal band or as enormous as meshing Oz and Wonderland together. What if can lead to all sorts of quirky new worlds with characters who seem vaguely familiar, yet they are somehow brand new.

Of course, the What if is nothing new. Storytellers have been adapting this little trick of the trade for as far back as one can imagine, but the rising popularity of such tales within the last decade alone makes me smile. Take the Shrek movies, for example. These movies are based on re-imagined nursery rhymes and fairy tales alike. I love them because they’re like a big pot of childhood, mashed together and sprinkled with humor that the kids laugh at but don’t completely comprehend.

Shrek

I love every aspect of the re-imagined fairy tales. I’m intrigued by an author’s vision when beginning to brainstorm the ideas for stories such as these. The very idea seems rogue and almost forbidden, yet it heightens the sense of creativity and imagination. Yes, anyone could dream up a genie stuck in a lamp, but what if…?

And so, I introduce What If Wednesday. I’d like to delve more deeply into the simple, yet complex idea of what if and how it plays into stories that we have known and loved forever. In fact, I’d love contributions to this category. Do you have ideas related to the What if scenario? Have you written a topsy-turvy fairy tale that you’d like to share? Email me at carvingoutaspace@gmail.com if you’re interested in contributing to What If Wednesday.

I can’t wait to see what we discover next.

 

**What if, instead of being a pirate, Captain Hook was a cowboy? How might that story evolve?

At the Library

I don’t visit the library as often as I once did–work tends to prevent or postpone a lot of things we’d rather do, wouldn’t you say? This past Saturday, however, my son woke before the alarm he’d set and we headed to the library. (I must admit that it’s difficult for us to make it to the library on Saturdays because I want nothing more than to be lazy and drink coffee until noon on the weekends. So, since the library in our little town closes at noon on Saturday, I’m sure you can see where the problem lies.)

 

Reading: It's never too early or too late.

Reading: It’s never too early or too late.

At any rate, we made it. My son is more of a gamer than a reader, so of course he dives straight into the computer station. My daughter loves books just as much as I do– and I’m giddy about it!– so I sit and watch as she scours the aisles full of colorful covers. I can’t help but wonder about the history of the stacks. How long have these books been shelved? When was the last time a reader checked the lonely looking volumes out? I imagine each book as an individual personality, each clambering for attention as my daughter passes, much like a lively farmer’s market where vendors exercise no shame in yelling about their meager offerings. If these books had arms, would they reach out and pluck at the fabric of her shirt? How would their voices sound if they could talk? Would the YA mystery novel call out in a cool, gravelly voice, accompanied by Psst and Hey, kid!? Would the fantasy novel release butterflies and fairy giggles while a sleeping dragon blinks awake in the background?

Meanwhile, my son is oblivious to the magic of books as he tap-tap-taps on the keyboard. I suppose he’s finding magic of his own in the gamer world, but I just can’t relate to that vision as easily. I’ve pushed books on him enough that he’s started coming around a bit, and I know that one day he’ll actually sit down to read a book by choice. I wonder with which voice that book will call out to him?