Category Archives: The Writing Workshop

Here be the posts about my experiences with writing whether it’s original or fan fiction.

Defining Fantasy Fiction

Currently I’m going to SFSU for my MA in English w/creative writing, with the intention of not only becoming a better writer, but to become a great teacher! One class that I’m taking to is Teaching Creative Writing, which is probably one of the bet classes I’ve taken. Essentially you’re creating a syllabus for a creative writing class or workshop, and my teacher has been extremely flexible with what kind of class we created. Naturally, I created a class that is basically an Introduction to Fantasy Writing class.

In Teaching Creative Writing, we have a 5, 10, 15, and a 20 minute presentation on the different elements or processes of craft we want to teach. Yesterday was my 20 minute presentation in which I attempted to define fantasy fiction.

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Pictured: Myself prepping for this presentation

Luckily most of my classmates don’t know a lot about fantasy (making them perfect guinea pigs for this presentation) but had some experience with speculative fiction, and one classmate is as knee-deep in fantasy fiction as I am. Before I handed out my handouts, I had asked my classmates to think of an adjective to describe fantasy. After I wrote down “the fantastic,” “portal fantasy,” “immersive fantasy,” “intrusive fantasy,” and “estranged fantasy,” I went down my list of classmates and received a wide variety of adjectives describing fantasy (from “Justin Trudeau” to “silly”). This was a perfect segue to hand out my handouts:

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I talked about the aspect of the fantastic and how Farah Mendlesohn’s essay attempted a taxonomy of fantasy by creating four categories of how the fantastic is incorporated within the story. My main goal was to show why the fantastic element is important in fantasy stories, and that if that fantastic is taken away, the story can either change dramatically or just completely fall apart. This is where William Joyce’s Jack Frost came in handy.Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 4.21.51 PM.png

Spoilers for Jack Frost, btw.

For those who haven’t read the story, Nightlight is a “creature of light” who is sworn to protect the Man in the Moon (MiM). He saves MiM from Pitch, but falls to Earth and is frozen in a comatose state long enough for him to forget his previous life. When he awakes, he’s now changed into Jack Frost, but is lonely and purposeless. MiM helps Jack by helping him remember who he use to be. Jack remembers his oath to protect MiM, but now amends it to protect the children of Earth, and is much happier with renewed purpose.

First, I related his story to the four categories. Jack Frost could be interpreted as a portal fantasy because our protagonist Nightlight falls from the world of the fantastic and into our reality, but it could also be interpreted as an intrusive fantasy because his magic, the magic of the Man in the Moon, and Pitch have also intruded on our reality.

Second, I made sure to point out how the texts guides the story while the art takes Jack’s internal feelings and makes them external. For example, let’s take a look at one of my favorite and most heartbreaking pages in the book:IMG_2667.JPG

Jack is tiny and sitting next to a dead tree, staring out into the nothing of snow blindness. The story guides us by telling us that Jack’s name is now Jack, but the pictures really emphasis Jack’s loneliness and possibly depression (or I could be projecting since this story feels like a fantastical version my life in the past five years):

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Pictured: the Giddy Owl after she finished her BA with high honors.

Thirdly, I explained how the fantastic is necessary for this story about losing one’s purpose, wandering, and regaining that purpose. I feel I didn’t explain myself as clearly as I could have, but I do recall saying that what fantasy does is separate the reader from the problem, and because of that the reader is able to look at the problem differently than they may have done if the story was told straight naturalistically. Here we can see our protagonist physically change from his old life Nighlight to his new life Jack Frost, see his emotions being illustrated by how snowy everything, and most importantly, see how he keeps his purpose once he remembers it, but he changes it to fit his new life.

Anyway, once I finished my presentation, I received feedback and answered questions with my classmates that I’m just going to summarize here. Here’s the crux of the matter with defining fantasy: it’s essentially undefinable and can be applicable to just about anything and everything. In a classroom setting I can apply rules and categories to give students structure and focus to create effective and engaging fantasy. However, attempting to define or even categorize the fantasy genre can lead to generalizations like all magical realism stories would fall under estranged fantasy or portal fantasies are quest stories. Another issue with defining fantasy is that ultimately, the author decides how they want their story to be identified. With my experience in academia, there is still a lot of negative stigma against the term “fantasy” (which I have personally experienced) but not so much with “magical realism” (and that…that is a whole ‘nother rant).

All around though, my classmates and teacher really enjoyed the lesson. My teacher suggested that the four categories would be really great for writing exercises, and I completely agree! I was also told that even though the categories ran the risk of generalizing, they really are a great way to think about how fantasy works and why it is the way it is. So over all a great success, and now I’ve got a syllabus to work on!

Special thanks to William Joyce. Your books make for great presentations!

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The Epic of Tale-Spin

As I’m working through my MA in Creative Writing, I thought it’d be fun to post some of my writing assignments. Last week’s assignment was to write a two page novel, and I had way too much fun writing this.

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The Epic of Tale-Spin

Translated by Astrid Myrna

Translator’s Note: Having newly recovered this rare, completed novel from the small pond created by a soil depression and too much sprinkler water in the lawn of Mesquite Elementary School, we at the Institute of Tiny and Fragile Magical Creature (I.T.F.M.C., pronounced “it fumk”) have learned much about the mysterious culture of the American Fairy.

For one, it seems that fairies seem unable to stay in one place for very long, and for fairies who do stay in one place for some period of time, they are lauded as heroes deserving of praise and stories told about them, even written about them! To be written about appears to be a great honor in American fairy culture, and to have their story written legibly by a scribe who is not rushing to have it written is perhaps the greatest praise. Our story that we recovered was legible at first and became difficult to decipher but not impossible at the midway point in the story, clearly showing the importance of this Tale-Spin. Who he or she was, what he or she did, and if he or she actually existed are topics still hotly debated, but clearly this was a fairy of some worth to have his or her story not only told on its own, but to be mentioned in other fairies’ stories! Tale-Spin was once mentioned in the partial recovery of the Epic of Stag-Farter, which reads:

“…I curse Tale-Spin as I drink my milk…” (Anthologie of the Faerie, Brisker 297)

Of course, as we all know, Stag-Farter is of English origin, so it is very possible that The Epic of Tale-Spin may have been an English import and absorbed into Americana fairy lore. 

I may have been head translator for this precious text, but I must also thank Dr. Maya Gulper and my apprentice Leila Shu for their months-long work on this first translation of The Epic of Tale-Spin, Dr. Rei Miyamoto for referring me for this project, Trader Joe’s for their endless supply of sweet potato tortilla chips and especially those mini Belgian waffle cookies dipped in dark chocolate and covered in crushed peppermint, and most of all, thank coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee. I guess thank coffee with a bit of vanilla extract, brown sugar, and heavy cream too.

We at I.T.F.M.C. hope that this story will spark an interest in Fairy literature and in our institution, and if you have indeed been sparked please go to http://www.itfmc.wordpress.com to learn how to donate. Hopefully by the time of this publication the social media department would have the web page up, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Epic of Tale-Spin

I stand outside. It rains. It always rains here. Forever raining, like my heart. I stand in the rain. I am still standing in the rain. I have stood in the rain for five minutes. Will I drown in this much rain? I will drown if I continue standing in this rain, but I can’t come inside. I can’t! I will bring mud in the house. I defy you rain! The rain has heard me. The rain has stopped. I declare today a holiday, and we will have parades and punch with my neighbors.

The End

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Slight Fangirling and Fanfiction

So I’ve been neglecting my Warcraft fan fiction Twelve Women of Azeroth because I’ve been playing Warcraft a lot to get up to date on the lore, and boy howdy, is there some lore. So far this is one of my favorite cinematics to date (my absolute favorite being when Vol’jin has been appointed as Warchief. MY FEELS, MAN. MY FEELS):

At first I was like–

when you could see that Maraad just ate his last tamale. Then Yrel and Maraad have this beautiful moment that makes me all–

AND THEN AND THEN YREL’S LIKE “SUPER SAIYAN BADASS MODE HOME SKILLET!!!11!!” AND I’M ALL–

Good gravy talk about emotional whiplash. This is good, though, and my favorite out of the three major deaths in WoD. Velen’s sacrifice, while noble, felt hollow because this isn’t our main timeline’s Velen, but alternate universe!Velen. On the other end of the spectrum, our main timeline Garrosh did die but it feels cheap. Probably because Thrall declared mak’gora and then didn’t follow the rules of mak’gora at all. Yeah, Garrosh is a bloodthirsty asshole who’s killed countless numbers of people for his shitty version of Horde, but when you declare mak’gora, there’s an implication of honor, y’know? There’s been a lot of people throwing around the term “mak’gora,” though. Maybe we should take a break from it and play checkers to the death or something.

What was I saying?

Oh, right, fan fiction. Anyway, here’s my goal for the week:

– rewrite Mishka’s chapter (don’t worry if you like the original chapter, I’ll post it as its own one-shot)

–  write the short story about Ciere, one of Mishka’s friends in the rewritten chapter, and her relationship with Maraad and his sister (I’m still coming up with the name if anyone has any suggestions)

– write the next Leda chapter

I’ll post again this coming Saturday about my progress. See ya!

Here's Khadgar with a stuffed elekk that squeaks like a rubber ducky.
Here’s Khadgar with a stuffed elekk that squeaks like a rubber ducky.