Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Started with Mythology

Culture and belief systems are hugely important to world building, whether it's an urban fantasy or a jaunt across space. If you write historical or romance or mainstream, a person's culture and customs are important in shaping who they are.

I write primarily fantasy, so mythical creatures are important to the worlds I craft. I wanted to start things off with some resources I have used and continue to use. These are general sources. I will post more specific ones that I have used for urban fantasy and historical at a later date.


Books:

World Mythology: I like this book because it gives a nice overview of different cultures and their beliefs. There are plenty of pictures of artifacts and illustrations. Included are both general mythology and some specific myths.

The Enclycopedia of Mythology: This books gives a good overview of three major mythologies in Europe - Norse, Classical (Greek and Rome), and Celtic. Again, lots of pictures to supplement the text.

Mythology: Another good general source on different cultural beliefs and mythology from around the world. It's a big fat book :)

Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia: Don't let this title fool you. This book has a massive amount of information on TONS of creatures and spirits from every culture you can imagine. They have Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Native American...many others. The pages of my copy are worn and the book itself has seen better days. That is how often I use it. I love this book. It's helped me with everything I've ever worked on. This comes highly recommended. Try it out!

Now, I have quite a few other books to share, but I feel like these are a good starting place for anyone wanting to add some culture and myth into their writing. Eventually I'll create a master post.

But before I go, I wanted to leave with a few decent links to start with in case you don't have access to the above books.

Encyclopedia Mythica: Nice site to get the general flavor of some belief systems and stories from around the globe.

Folktexts: Excellent site that has a library of various folktales and stories from different countries, though its mainly Europe.

As always, remember to double check to make sure your sources are sound. But when it comes to folklore, it's ever changing, like a living creature itself, so dive in and enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Writing: Rough Drafts

I'm beginning my writing posts with the concept of rough draft because I think it's the hardest for me to understand.

I'm a perfectionist and I'm inclined to want everything super perfect the moment I write it down. The reality is it's never going to be that simple.

Now, there are many writers out there who can write fast and bang out a first draft that needs very little editing. I am amazed at their ability since that is not how I function, and I respect that.

But for many of us, we need to work hard at getting our words ready for publication. This includes realizing that our first draft might be extremely rough and that it's going to take a few revisions to get it right.

So this is my advice to you (if you're like me and fall into this category). It's okay if your prose is not fantastic. It's okay if you don't know how to describe that foreign parallel world full of walking Twinkies. It's okay if you haven't mapped out each and every scene.

You rough draft is rough. It's meant to be.

The real magic will happen afterwards, during rewrites and revisions. The story will come together during editing.

Just get the words down on paper (or type them on screen) and worry about tweaking it into a novel once the story is done.

Writers write. Getting stuck on the first line for years on end will never get either of us anywhere.

So, lock up Mr. or Ms. Perfectionist and just lose yourself in the story. :)

Topics Ahoy!

I've decided it's about time I make better use of my blog. To that end, you'll be finding the following appearing on my blog starting as early as today:

Mondays - Writing

On Mondays, I'll discuss a writing topic. It could be about the writing process, genre, style, voice, characters, plot, etc., etc.

Wednesdays - Myth/Research

I've been struggling over just what to talk about on my blog. There are many things I love, but I didn't want to be completely random. At the same time, it's important to me to keep my topics somewhat related to writing. I am disorganized as it is!

So why not a topic near and dear to my heart? I love mythology, folklore, and culture. This is the day I'll pick a creature, a culture, history, a myth and discuss it. Feel fee to use it as a springboard to help you with your research.

Fridays - Miscellaneous/Grab Bag

We all need time to talk about whatever. There may be times when I just want to talk about a favorite recipe, how the exercise routine is going, the pups, or my fave TV show. (Supernatural, why are you not back yet?!)

Of course, other topics might show up from time to time, and I will cross-post anything to do with my upcoming published words both here and on my LiveJournal. However, my LiveJournal will be primarily focused on the writing process as a whole. If you're interested in word counts, structure, edits, and the like feel free to friend me there.

I'll be cycling these topics weekly, with a different one each week, or biweekly, depending. Barring any crisis, you will find one blog post a week.

Once I get going, I'll be open to suggestions.

Happy writing!