Star Trek’s First Episodes Ranked, Part 1

Archer and Hoshi from Enterprise. Last year, I compared the final episodes of every Star Trek series that had finished its run, so it was only a matter of time before I reversed the polarity and looked at where each series began.* While a story’s ending determines how the audience … read more »

336 – Star Trek Optimism

The Mythcreant Podcast No spec fic story is more iconic for optimism than Star Trek, with its post scarcity economies and its powerful message of equality. But how does that optimism actually manifest across a franchise that continues to grow by the day? It won’t surprise you that … read more »

Building Age of Myth: How Sullivan Employs the Neolithic

A large tree from the cover of Age of Myth It’s about time we got back to high fantasy, so let’s examine Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan, the first entry in a six-book series.* It’s about 140,000 words, and it’s actually a prequel, set around 3,000 years before Sullivan’s other series. However, the … read more »

Six Twists That Hurt the Story

Everyone loves a good plot twist. However, plot twists are notoriously difficult to execute properly. All too often, storytellers sacrifice their story’s integrity for the sake of short-lived surprise. On the bright side, that means we have plenty of fresh-caught examples from the wild to learn from.

Lessons From Three Bad Fight Scenes

Fight scenes are probably the most complex and demanding type of scene you’ll ever have to write.* You have to coordinate where all the characters are, think through their tactics, and monitor the level of realism you’re using. We already have a few posts on how … read more »

Five Stories With Weak Stakes

A glowing ant with fungal tendrils from Agents of Dreamland cover art. Stories need conflict, and stakes are what make the conflict matter. They represent the bad things that will happen if the hero doesn’t win the day. Without proper stakes, stories have no tension. Who cares if the hero wins when there’s nothing riding on it? … read more »

Five Badly Motivated Villains From Popular Stories

Kirigan activating Alina's powers from Shadow and Bone. A character’s motivation tells us why they’re doing what they’re doing. A hero wants to end oppression, so they join a rebellion against the evil empire. A villain wants to enrich themself, so they strip-mine a vital wildlife preserve. If a character’s motivation doesn’t fit … read more »

Five Stories That Suffer From Muddled Atmosphere

Jasper, Inej, and Kaz from Shadow and Bone A story’s atmosphere is its general feel, and when the atmosphere gets muddled, it can seem like you’re suddenly reading or watching an entirely different story. While a lot of factors contribute to atmosphere, two of the most important are theme and tone. When a … read more »

Six Stories With Weak Romantic Attraction

Seven giving Chatokay a perturbed look. It takes several factors to make a compelling romance, but everything starts with attraction. This is what draws the lovebirds together in the first place. If there’s no attraction, then nothing else matters because the romance can’t even get started. That sounds simple, but many … read more »

Five Fascinating Monsters From Speculative Fiction

A giant misty stag with glowing eyes stands in the background, viewed by someone holding a lantern The best monsters have something fresh and interesting to offer. In other words, they’re high in novelty. Novelty not only gives a monster that wow factor but also contributes directly to spookiness. Let’s look at five monsters that gave audiences something to remember.

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