There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

If the Slipper Fits. The Power of Symbolism in Fantasy: Part II April 21, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:07 am
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Often, the greater themes of symbolism in fantasy are reserved for the hero or heroine in a story. Granted, I’m thankful the glass slipper fit Cinderella, else where would we be without the belief that faith/true love/kindness triumphs over the most evil of stepmothers?

But if the slipper represents these things, might it be possible that other characters can wear the slipper as well?

And by slipper, I mean any object or other symbolic idea integral to the story.

For example: The main theme in my novel, A Song In Winter, is rebirth. It’s what Winter represents, what my main character witnesses and experiences. Everything that happens in my novel—the battles, the transformations, the objects I use—spirals out from this idea and symbolizes rebirth.

Now, at one point in my story, I tried to make my love interest the prince of Winter, but unlike Cinderella’s slipper, it didn’t quite fit. I didn’t force the issue. Instead, I listened to my muse and gave my love interest a brother. And though the Prince is a secondary character, he turned out to be pretty important.

I wrote a scene, the events of which I didn’t initially intend, and the Prince received an item of great symbolic meaning (I can’t give too much away) in which the theme of my novel was reiterated. It was beautiful. If it had happened to my love interest it wouldn’t have worked and I would’ve deleted the scene. And then my story would’ve been lacking in some way. As it was, the power of that symbolic event gave my story strength.

Needless to say, I’m glad the slipper fit another character. And if you find the same thing happening in yours, trust your instincts, and let the power of symbolism work its magic.

Happy reading!

Kate

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Don’t Be A Lazy Pants (or is it breeches?). Research Your Fantasy Novel. March 27, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:00 pm
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Hello Readers! I’m a new member of There And Draft Again and this is my first post. Woot! Thank you, ladies, for inviting me to join.

Inspiration for my subject came in the form of a tweet some months back. A reader mentioned being pulled from a story because the character wore in an item of clothing clearly not part of the era in which the story took place. While this was probably his-fic, the same can happen in fantasy.

This is NOT a good thing. We don’t want our readers pulled from our story for ANY reason, save that of an alien invasion. This is why fact gathering and research is so important, even when creating our magical realms.

Clothing’s not the only thing you need to get right. Weapons, food (your characters don’t need to eat fish if they live on a desert world like DUNE), livestock, building materials, etc. Aside from this, you’ve got religion, language, symbolism, and even science. Here’s an example:

In my YA fantasy novel, A SONG IN WINTER, air is the element of winter. Now, I’ve studied the classical elements of Greek philosophy, so my brain rebelled at this, saying, “Wait just a second. Winter’s element is water. You know this, so fix it. NOW.”

But I couldn’t change it because my story needed air. Happily, my muse intervened and reassured me I could keep things as they were. What made this possible was further research regarding the ancient classifications, then using that knowledge to create my own classification. And I had to do it convincingly. If I didn’t, if my readers didn’t wholly believe this new invented logic, then those aware of such things would be pulled from my story, never to return again.

Other research included reading myths from many cultures (so I could change them) and studying weapons and battle tactics–THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu is excellent. Then there were phrases in Italian, ancient burial mounds, alchemy, flowers that grow in the mountains…

All this research for fantasy might seem crazy, but if you take the time to do it, it’ll transform your make-believe story into something real. And your readers will thank you for it.

Happy researching! Kate