Analysis

Five Stories That Violate Their Own Conceit

No story can perfectly mirror reality, especially stories with lots of speculative elements. Sometimes, for a story to work, the audience must accept certain conceits. In X-Men, we accept that mutants are persecuted for their powers, even though in real life they’d be rock stars. In … read more »

Six Novels With Weak Throughlines

The Gentleman and Norrell from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

A throughline is a story’s core, the problem that’s introduced at the beginning and resolved at the end. Sometimes throughlines are called “central plot threads” or a story’s “main arc.” But whatever we call it, it is the single most important element of a story. When … read more »

Five Strengths of Harry Potter

Critiquing Harry Potter is a popular pastime among speculative fiction fans, and we’ve done our fair share here at Mythcreants. There’s a lot to critique: a house system that seems designed to churn out evil wizards, potions that grant god-like powers, a sport where only … read more »

Five Injustices in Superhero Stories

Batman on his Bat-Cycle

I’ve written about injustice in speculative fiction before, but this week I want to focus on the superhero genre. For superheroes, justice is a particularly important topic. A huge number of superhero origin stories focus on a person seeing some kind of injustice and deciding … read more »

Five Stories That End With Bizarre Reveals

Riker dresshed as Chef talking to Hoshi.

Ending with a well-executed reveal brings the whole story together. The audience finally knows what’s going on, creating enormous satisfaction. Unfortunately, reveals don’t always fit the rest of the story. They could be out of theme or contradict established facts. Instead of watching the story click together, the audience gets a bad taste in their … read more »

Five Stories That Undermine Their Own Message

Christopher from District 9.

Beyond dramatic climaxes and character arcs, many stories have a message to deliver. This message might be a statement on human nature, a cautionary tale about environmental damage, a call for social justice, or anything else you can imagine. Sometimes a message isn’t even intentional, … read more »

Five Magic Items That Break Their Stories

We all know about magic items so powerful they damage the plot. Take time turners and liquid luck potions from Harry Potter. Why not go back in time and stop Tom Riddle from ever becoming the Dark Lord? Why not take some liquid luck and destroy Voldemort … read more »

Five Unaddressed Injustices in Spec Fic

Deucalion from Teen Wolf, transformed into his monster shape.

In real life, it’s all too common for unjust acts to go unaddressed. But in fiction, audiences want evildoers to get their comeuppance. If a misdeed goes unpunished, it creates a feeling of dissatisfaction. Plus, if a protagonist doesn’t care about justice, it makes them look like … read more »

Five Heroes With Dark Reflections

Many popular heroes have faced a dark version of themselves. This trope creates thrill in a video game battle or novelty in a TV episode about an alternate reality. However, some stories go beyond that, using a hero’s dark reflection to add meaning and depth to the work. By comparing the hero to … read more »

Eight Reasons Your Critiques of Marvel Are Wrong

The actors for Netflix's Defenders, with Jessica Jones looking at Iron fist like he just said something rude.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, is the shared universe for the screen adaptations of Marvel’s comic book properties. It started with Iron Man and includes all of the Marvel movies since then, as well as TV shows like Daredevil and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Notably, it … read more »

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