Tropes 001 – Why is it Always a Farm Boy

Tropes are important for storytelling. They are essential tools that help an author. They can also feel overused and outdated.

Fantasy heroes have a pretty standard origin. They are either the noble son of the noble father of the noble line, destined to rule with peace and prosperity…or they are a farm boy. But why a farm boy? Why always a farm boy? Let’s take a look at why this trope exists and what function it serves. I mean, we need to look at why it’s always a farm boy before we can find a replacement.

First and foremost, this person is supposed to become the hero. Farm boys work because working farms are hard. You get those country muscles. I could see a farm boy overpowering a soldier. If that were the only case, that leaves us with some other jobs that are good subs. Blacksmiths are great, dock loaders, pretty much any physically demanding job.

Second, farm boys come from humble origins. They have to overcome their social class as well. This adds at least two decent subplots as the farm boy learns to be gentile and some snobby git tries to sabotage them for the farm boys heritage. If this is the case, any lower class job would work. I’d start to avoid things like blacksmiths at this point as they would have routine dealings with nobles who need repairs and arms. Depending on skill, a blacksmith might have more leeway to say what they want, but they still know their place. Kind if ruins some of the humble origins bit.

But the most important reason why it’s always a farm boy is this. They are easily ignorant of the world. Farms are in rural areas. Rural areas are simple and innocent and poorly educated because everyone has to work all day. So the farm boy leaves the farm and now doesn’t know anything about the world. He gets to ask questions and get explanations, meaning we get explanations. He doesn’t know urban politics so we get the crash course in the major houses and who hates who. Same with the war and the rebellion and etc and etc and etc. So who can replace the farm boy here? Well, someone rural. But they also have to be strong enough to become the hero in a 100 pages. See how we are starting to run out of jobs? So that’s why it’s always a farm boy.

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Flash Fiction Friday 004 – The Coming of Spring

Spring is a magical time, especially for fairies. But Fionia has a special challenge ahead of her. How will her work hold up against February? #fantasy #flashfiction #flashfictionfriday #fairy #spring

Spring was the best time in a fairy’s life. The ability to flit around in the early morning sun and spread the blossoming flowers. Fionia loved helping the flowers to blossom.

And so it was Fionia found herself fluttering about the open meadows on a late February morning. The sun was barely rising in the east, shooting golden beams of light down towards her and her work. A rainbow sparkle trailed along behind her, and where it fell, blooms of red and orange would spring up.

Fionia spent several hours flying back and forth through the meadow. At noon, she found the shade of a nearby tree to rest and admire her work. Nearly every inch of the meadow was covered in little flowers. The sight caused the fairy to smile to herself.

Fionia was so confident with her work that morning that she decided that a nap was in order. As she pay under the shade of the tree, she dreamt of a world of color. A soft music filled the air, causing the vibrant hues to explode forth. Soon, Fionia’s dreams were a neon saturated light show.

The sun was near the western horizon by the time Fionia woke. She rose on thin legs and stretched delicate arms high above her head with a yawn. The sky was a blaze with pinks and purples, contrasting nicely with her red and orange meadow. In the distance, a white haze began to creep along the edges of the meadow.

Fionia frowned at the haze. It crept further into her meadow, passing over her flowers and causing them shrivel. It was night frost that was settling over the coming night. Unfortunately, it was just not spring enough yet for the flowers to last.

With a huff and a kick at the dirt, Fionia took flight and gave the meadow once last glance. Her frustration eased as she flew home. Just as her mood was evaporating, this frost will disappear in the morning and she will be able to make the flowers bloom again.

Random Thoughts – Time Management

Time management is always something I have struggled with. You can call it the curse of having too many ideas, the curse of taking too many projects, or the curse of being lazy. I’ve used all three excuses.

Take my current situation. I have a full time job and it requires a large amount of my time. I also have a wife and a baby girl who both need and deserve a large amount of my time. So what do I do instead? I decide to finish my college degree and start writing a book and run this blog and beg people to sign up for my newsletter and start a story telling podcast. (Luckily that last one has a bunch of cool people involved and I’m excited and you should be too. The first episode comes out soon.)

Of course, all of this stuff is manageable. Realistically, my college classes take two, maybe three hours a week to do. The podcast is split between people, so I really only have to worry about that when it’s my turn to tell a story. That leaves plenty of time for my family and a steady writing habit….except that time management thing.

I spend a lot of time doing dumb things (I’m looking at you YouTube). I waste a lot of time. Hell, I wasted 30 seconds just starting out my windshield before writing a sentence on how I waste time.

In the end, maybe it’s just fear. As long as I have a lot of things going on, that’s why no one thing is done without a deadline. As long as the story stays in my head, it us the perfect example of my literary genius (as opposed to all my other geniuses which are totally legit).

Maybe it’s not fear but just contentment. I have a good life. Everything is fine and going according to plan in the grand scheme. I have procreated so I’ve succeeded there. I have a career that I do well in so I’ve succeeded there. I’ve hit all of Maslow’s blocks. Who needs self actualization? (Of course that also requires one to know who their self truly is and my philosophy is way too jacked up to accommodate that.)

Or maybe I am just lazy. You know, it’s probably that one. No worries though. I’ll figure it all out.

In the meantime, make sure to share this with your friends. Maybe the self validation of others will help. If your friend shared this with you, congrats. You have a fantastical friend. You should totally subscribe and be fantastical as well.

But until next time, I mustache you all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 003 – Speed Demon

High above the desert, there lurks a demon. This demon preys on those who try to out run it.

High above the Mojave Desert, the test pilot was being chased by a demon. He and the other test pilots all knew that a demon lived up in that bright, blue sky. They all just assumed that they were chasing it, not the other way around. Who would have thought that the sound barrier was guarded by a malicious spirit?

The Bell X-1 was not very maneuverable. She was built for one purpose and that was to go fast. Going fast was all that the pilot could do now that he looked out the side of the cockpit and saw the black form racing alongside his plane. A smokey claw reached out towards the plane, grasping at its wing as the pilot willed her to fly faster.

Mach .8

The only hope he had was to try and outrun this demon. How was he going to do that though? How does a person outrun a speed demon?

Mach .85

The gauges continued to inch further ahead. The desert floor was a blur beneath him. God, he was really burning up the speedometer. It didn’t matter, though. The demon had managed to grab a hold of his wing and hold on to his bird, causing her to shimmy and shake wildly.

Mach .9

It was all the pilot could do to hold her steady. The poor plane continued to shimmy as the demon crawled its way from wing towards the canopy. Just a little further to go, and hopefully he would be able to shake this thing off.

Mach .95

Red eyes stared through the canopy at him. Despite the speed, the demon clung on and looked at the contender with malice and contempt.

Mach .97

A shadowy hand passed through the canopy and reached out towards the pilot. He felt the white-hot burn in his side as the claw gripped him, but he couldn’t tell if it was the demon or the cracked ribs he was flying with. If it was the ribs…well…he didn’t let those stop him from taking off, he’d be damned if he’d let them stop him from beating this demon.

Mach .99

A dry cackle erupted in the cockpit. A second clawed hand reached out towards the pilot’s face, easily engulfing his head. His breathing became short and his head began to swim. So close…he was so close.

An explosion rang out on the ground below, the force of it causing the bystanders to shiver with the implication. There was nothing but static on the portable radio that they had set up. Another pilot lost….

Just then, a crackle was heard from the radio. After a few seconds, it was followed by another crackle and a pop. At last, the voice of Chuck Yeager came across, reading a speed of Mach 1. Cries of joy flew from the lips of the bystanders.

High above them, Yeager thought of those last several minutes. He had just managed to punch his plane through the sound barrier. As the boom of breaking the sound barrier exploded below, the demon lost its grip on the Bell X-1 and slid off. Yeager could see it attempt to catch him again, but its monstrous size had already shrunk greatly. Never again would this particular demon pose a threat to him or his fellow pilots.

Of course, he knew better to include this in his final report. Instead, the sheer velocity caused him to black out from a lack of oxygen, but that was the official report. Anyone who had ever tested new equipment knew that more demons were lurking out there, waiting for their chance to strike until they get beaten just like the sound demon.

 

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Flash Fiction Friday 002 – Knowledge is Strength

This week’s flash fiction looks at a world where knowledge and strength go hand in hand.

Master Rotenaphon sat atop his pillar, his large forearms resting on crossed legs. Six shelves were cut into the side of the pillar, and each shelf was filled with scrolls of various thickness. Those scrolls alone were proof of Rotenaphon’s prowess. Years of study and work went into gathering all that knowledge displayed within the pillar.

A potential student was brought within the room to stand before the pillar. The student’s jaw clenched and his shoulders shook slightly at the sight of the pillar. There was nothing else within the room to compete for his gaze. All the young man could do was let his eyes travel up the pillar, past each shelf, with growing apprehension before finally setting on the master himself.

“So,” Rotenaphon began. “You wish to learn of the philosophy of nothingness?” The master punctuated his question by flexing biceps the size of melons. “Well then, I hope you are properly prepared, otherwise you shall only learn the philosophy of pain!”

The fight was over quickly. Rotenaphon sprung from his pillar with lightning speed. Before the potential student was aware of what was going on, he was balled up on the ground and staring at the ceiling. Within minutes, the student was on his way out the door.

At this rate, he was never going to be able to learn anything beyond the basic education. Maybe he should just try an easier teacher, at least until he learned how to fight. Until then, he was never going to be able to win any lessons.

 

Remember to follow this blog for more stories and musings on storytelling. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We also have our quarterly newsletter you can sign up for with the link on the sidebar. Sign up for exclusive short stories and news about our projects. And remember, I mustache you to stay fantastical.

Prince Phillip 002 – Setting the scene

The setting of a story is one of the most important aspects of storytelling that hides in the background. How do you go about selecting a setting for a fairy tale though? Be sure to read to find out how I chose the setting for Prince Phillip.

Setting is obviously an important part of any story. After all, it is the place in where your story is taking place. Of course, fantasy has an interesting advantage when it comes to setting. After all, many fantasy settings are the made up creations of the author. They are complete fabrications. That offers a certain level of freedom. You get the chance to borrow from multiple cultures and geographies, then mix and max them as needed to create something new.

Unfortunately, I had a slight restriction. I am retelling a fairy tale. That requires an actual environment. A real place. So how does one choose a real, earthly place?

I decided to go with the origins. Sleeping Beauty is a German fairy tale…well it might be French. There is no real clear answer, so I went with the Germans. Awesome! I’ve narrowed myself down to a single country. Germany is still pretty large though, so where to go from here? Well by choosing a single territory. Ok, technically two. Thuringia and East Thuringia. The Thuringian region has everything that I need. It has a couple cities, a few mountains, and, most importantly, the Thuringian Forest.

But physical location is not the only thing needed for a setting. After all, all stories take place in both a location and a time. Great. Now I need a time. When to set my story?

Luckily for me, some of the requirements of the tale easily eliminate many time periods. Prince Phillip is a fairy tale. That means Middle Ages. But like German is a large country, the Middle Ages is a long time period. What I needed was a time where relatively small regions could have their rulers claim to be king. That meant centralized national power was out, so we are looking early Holy Roman Empire. I also needed a time period where the fantasy elements would still be somewhat known, but not common.

Pre-empire felt too early, but I also couldn’t go too late. Charlemagne brought Christianity to a large portion of Germany by the sword in the 800s, but that is too early. I do want some classic feeling fantasy battles. I couldn’t go that early and have a realistic army fight. I also couldn’t wait too long because once Christianity was firmly established, it went hard with ridding the world of its pagan beliefs, so post-Crusades was also out. That pretty much left me with the early 11th century.

So there you have it. Prince Phillip takes place in the early 11th century in the Thuringian region. Does that mean I’m going to be draconian in my application of the time frame? Nah, it is a fantasy after all and there are some genre conventions and personal preferences I will probably use. But it is important to have a level of authenticity there. With a time and place for the setting, I can provide that authenticity.

Remember to follow this blog for more updates and musings on storytelling. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We also have our quarterly newsletter you can sign up for with the link on the sidebar. Sign up for exclusive short stories and news about our projects. And remember, I mustache you to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 001 – The Witch’s Apprentice

“A sprinkle of sunflower and a dash of glitter. Add a pinch of rose petal and bake over a low heat for three hours. Let cool for about five minutes and top with cinnamon.”

“And that will give me a love potion?” Gina looked up at Myrtle with an expectant gaze.

“Oh no dear child.” Myrtle smile gently at the young girl. “That is just a nice table topper that also smells really nice. Love cannot be made in a potion. Now help old Myrtle by cleaning up. I feel a nap coming on.”

Gina let her head fall with a sigh as the older woman made her way out of the room. Picking up a rag, she began to wipe down the kitchen counter. She had been apprenticing with Myrtle for six months now but had not learned a single useful spell. What was the point of training with the village witch if she could not even get a simple love potion?

Instead, she had spent all her time gathering plants, grinding various things into powders, and doing all the housework. And while she worked, Myrtle would nap or tell her she was sweeping wrong. It was so unfair. Gina paused from her wiping to glare at the door to Myrtle’s room.

On the other side of the door, Myrtle hustled about. The bedroom was a large space that was dominated by bookshelves. On the shelves where an assortment of books and curios. The bed rested in a corner, tucked out of the way, while the exterior wall held a fireplace. The embers glowed brightly beneath as large cauldron.

It was the cauldron that held Myrtle’s attention. She moved back and forth from know bookshelf to another, snatching items to drop them into the steaming brew. After the last ingredient was added, Myrtle gave the concoction one final stir and dipped a cup into the mix. She moved towards the door and placed an ear against it, hearing nothing on the other side.

That lazy girl. Then again, Myrtle would probably be just as lazy all things considered. She drank the contents of the cup with a single gulp. A shiver ran up her spine as she felt a renewed burst of energy. It was easy to for Gina to be lazy when her spirit was being siphoned off for a greater purpose.

 

Remember to follow this blog for more stories and musings on storytelling. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We also have our quarterly newsletter you can sign up for with the link on the sidebar. Sign up for exclusive short stories and news about our projects. And remember, I mustache you to stay fantastical.