Archive for May, 2013

Just a Heads Up

I’m afraid there will be no update this week; my writing time is going towards a project I’m hoping to get published. Tune in next week for a new article about mythical creatures created in the last fifty years.




Let’s face it, magic can be hard to write. It offers limitless possibilities to a writer, but once we touch the keyboard or put pen to paper our options can seem much more restrained. After all, if your wizard protagonist (or antagonist) can do anything with magic, what stops them from using it to get what they want immediately and ending the story right there?

So you create rules and restrictions, outlining what magic can and can’t do in particular circumstances, and a bit of the wonder is lost. Some intangible quality that was there before is there no longer. The question is, how do you get it back?

Human beings have believed in magic for thousands of years, and when you go back to the old stories and beliefs of people who accepted it as a reality, you find some interesting things. They viewed magic as an incredible force in the world, but it also had limits. Yet in these stories and beliefs, the strangeness, the weirdness, the impossibility of magic can endure despite that. The old-style flavor is sometimes the best.

So, in the interest of helping you to make use of that, I’ve gone through quite a number of my books, collecting examples of spells. They are split into two lists. The first is from ancient myths and legends, reflecting what the people who wrote them might have once thought magic was capable of in their own distant past. These spells tend to be more fantastical, but a bit vague about how the magic was done. The second list is lifted from books of history and anthropology, and consists of spells people actually thought they or their neighbors could cast. These spells tend to be smaller scale, but provide us with more information on how our ancestors thought magic worked and was performed.

Feel free to make use of any of these spells in your writing, either wholesale or as an inspirational jumping off point.

  Continue reading ‘MAGIC, PART WHATEVER: The Spell List’

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Sourcebook and Research Guide

The last time I put up a book recommendation, I said that when researching mythical creatures, you usually had to pick between a book that covered many topics shallowly, or covered only a few but with more depth. The Carol Rose books I mentioned were probably about as good as you’re going to get in the first category, but this week I thought I’d give you an example of the second.

Continue reading ‘BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Sourcebook and Research Guide’

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

In a blog dedicated to the use of myth, legend, and especially monsters in fiction, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of a great. Ray Harryhausen was one of my childhood idols, and source of great inspiration.

Continue reading ‘Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013’