Storytelling

The Eight Character Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey

In The Hero of a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell demonstrated that many of the most popular stories, even over thousands of years and across cultures, shared a specific formula. That formula is now commonly referred to as mythic structure, or the hero’s journey. Even if … read more »

Should You Use a Monster or a Villain in Your Story?

Villains and monsters are both antagonists. However, they serve different purposes and provide their own flavor to stories. To illustrate why you might use one over the other, I’ll use the Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook as a case study. The series follows … read more »

Three Experiments You Shouldn’t Try

It’s in the nature of writers to push boundaries. Innovators of the past are widely celebrated, and as our cultural mindset changes, our stories must too. However, a successful experimenter needs a solid understanding of what conventions they are breaking, and why those conventions were … read more »

Balancing Character Agency

It’s pointless to debate whether plot or characters are more important. They are both essential, and they work together to create the story. Unfortunately, they don’t always work well together. More than a few storytellers have planned their plot to the end, only realizing once … read more »

Tying Your Plot Together

You’ve finally finished the draft of your magnum opus. You’ve developed engaging characters and placed them in a vibrant setting. You’ve filled each scene with conflict, tension, and chocolate. But something’s wrong. The friends who’ve read it tell you that while each scene is entertaining, the … read more »

Repairing Unbelievable Story Elements

In my last two posts I discussed the importance of belief, and how setting audience expectations are crucial to maintaining it. But setting expectations requires planning ahead. For episodic stories in particular, it’s impossible to plan for everything: An actor on a show could suddenly … read more »

11 – Episodic, Overarching, and Anthology Stories

The Mythcreant Podcast

Mike, Oren and Chris discuss the weaknesses and strengths that come with episodic, overarching, and anthology stories. They analyze TV shows that fell victim to the Monster of the Week or the Reset Button Ending, and praise American Horror Story for being new and innovative. Read more »

Maintaining Belief During Fantastical Stories

In the film version of The Return of the King, Gollum falls into the lava and slowly sinks. But as it turns out, lava is much too heavy for people to sink into. Gollum should have remained on the surface and burst into flame instead. A science columnist made a point of this inaccuracy. Read more »

Three GM-less Games for Your Roleplaying Group

Most roleplaying games have a very slow start. A game master must do hours of prep work, and players must build complicated characters. That makes it difficult to change plans on the fly, or to add a friend that doesn’t know the rules system. Fortunately, … read more »

Why Should Fiction Be Believable?

People argue that critics shouldn’t complain about the realism of fictional stories, either because it’s hypocritical to critique just one thing, or because fictional stories don’t need to be realistic. It’s not real — so what if it’s technically incorrect? Read more »

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