Link Round-Up: The Vast World of Fantasy

Recently, we’ve all been treated to another new piece of the Potterverse: details on the American wizarding school, Ilvermorny. In fact, those wizards and witches blessed enough – or those muggles who have their own Pottermore accounts – had already been sorted into Ilvermorny’s houses.

The constant addition of details into the Potterverse canon may come off as Rowling’s attempt to breathe new life into something that’s already passed its prime, but it also tells everyone – fans of the Harry Potter series, readers, and the general public – that there is still much to explore and to be found in the fantasy world of Harry Potter. The continuous expansion and fleshing out of the series’ universe – even years after the seventh book about Harry’s life came out – serves as a testament to the flexibility and vastness of the world, and of fantasy as a genre, in general.

This post will be a short – but sweet – one: a list of links directing you to websites, lists, articles, and writing advice about fantasy books. This one’s to tide you over until the next big post – which should come out soon.

So – without further ado: the vast world of fantasy!

  • Top 10 Women Writers of Fantasy (Part 1) – fantasy fiction appears to be a male-dominated field. However, there are a lot of excellent women writers of fantasy who should be read by any good fantasy fan. This link provides a partial list of those excellent writers – so if you’re looking for a good read, you may want to consult this list.
  • Top 10 Fantasy Worlds in Literature – We’re all familiar with Middle-Earth, Narnia, and Harry Potter’s wizarding world. Perhaps we’re even familiar with the Wheel of Time’s setting, or Ansalon. These are settings we might know by heart now, having read and reread books and journeyed over and over again with our favorite characters. However, fantasy settings aren’t strictly tied to high fantasy books. This list provides a good sampling of fantasy worlds in literature – from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, to Thomas More’s Utopia.
  • Top 15 Fantasy worlds in video games – Video games have always been great when it comes to immersing people, pulling them into virtual worlds. Certainly, games are no stranger to all things fantasy. This article lists down the top fantasy worlds in video games – so far – in which thousands of video game players have spent countless hours in.
  • Brent Weeks’ Writing Advice – Something for the writers out there. There’s a lot of writing advice on the Internet, but today, we’re looking specifically at Brent Weeks – author of the Night Angel trilogy – and his advice on writing fantasy.
  • Brandon Sanderson Writing Lectures – And finally – here’s a link to the masterpost of the first series of video lectures conducted by Mistborn trilogy and Stormlight Archive author Brandon Sanderson (whom you may also know as the guy who finished Robert Jordan’s the Wheel of Time series). Certainly helpful for budding young fantasy writers who really need solid advice from an expert.

There! Have a great time looking through the links. And if you find some more interesting fantasy-related links for everyone, just let us know in the comments! (And if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to get sorted and find out what your Ilvermorny house is!)

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The Power of Influence: How One’s Creativity Can Influence Others

We always talk about inspiring and influencing through creativity and creative works, but although it’s something we know instinctively, it always pays to have some great, concrete examples of how creative works have influenced others. It pays to acknowledge the fact that, of course, being influenced is inevitable. Once, one of my professors overheard a creative writing student claiming that they’re adamantly avoiding reading anything because it will affect their writing. My professor scoffed at this, and I would have, too. Attempting to deny others’ influence – so long as it’s good influence, the kind that makes you productive – may very well equate to denying your own work any relevance in any genre, in any aspect of life. It denies acknowledging your own roots – how you’ve come to fall in love with art and creativity, in the first place, or how you’ve come to think and act in certain ways. Influence is important, in other words, and it pays to always know what your influences are, for your own work to spring from them.

In this post, I’ll run through a few works and articles in which famous writers and artists acknowledge how existing works have already influenced them, whether the influence is on a specific work or on their entire creative oeuvre.

The Ecstacy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

  • Speculative fiction writer Jonathan Lethem released this collection of essays that, as the title suggests, largely discusses what has influenced him in various points in his life. Lethem talks about his relationship with the works of various writers and artists, from Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard, to Marvel works. It’s an interesting collection because you’ll be able to see how Lethem reacts to the figures that have shaped his life and form his interests – even as he speaks in his own voice and talks about his personal experiences.
  • Dwight Garner wrote about Lethem’s book in the New York Times. Read it here.

Turning Point: 1997-2008 by Hayao Miyazaki

  • Turning Point: 1997-2008 is a collection of essays, notes, interviews, poems, and illustrations by – or conducted with – Hayao Miyazaki, the ever-famous director of such films as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, and is just about synonymous with the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli*. This is just a half of the series of books revolving around such a collection of material from Miyazaki, but 1997-1998 talks primarily about three of his most famous films – Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. You’ll read in the notes and interviews about Miyazaki’s influences – and it’s not the kind of influence on which Miyazaki was compelled to build on, if that makes sense. Miyazaki shows that influence is not always following a certain tradition or style set by certain artists. He talks about Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which he saw was a misrepresentation of certain aspects of Japanese history. He in turn attempted to amend this in Princess Mononoke. He talks about how Osamu Tezuka has influenced him – but only through certain works, and not Astro Boy. It’s an interesting read, certainly, as Miyazaki gives a lot of great insight on his work, and on what foundations he built them on.

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

  • Manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s  A Drifting Life is one huge book. Using manga as the medium to deliver his memoir, Tatsumi shows what the sights and sounds of his childhood were, what kind of world he was growing up in, and the effects of it all on his work. He was, like Miyazaki, inspired by Osamu Tezuka – but his was a glowing, wide-eyed, absolute admiration towards the Astro Boy creator, whom he managed to meet during his childhood. The book shows not just Tatsumi’s admiration for Tezuka, but also the other factors that influenced his manga style – films (the techniques used in which he incorporated in his work), existing four-panel manga (which he tried to distance himself from when he wanted to innovate), and the people around him. It just goes to show that influence isn’t just from one writer, or from something absolutely positive – influence goes in bits and pieces. How to craft everything was left to Tatsumi himself.

These are just a few works that show how others have managed to influence artists and their creative works. I repeat – it pays to acknowledge others’ influence. If you don’t particularly like how you’re being influenced, attempt to subvert it, or try to make something new out of it. If you like how the influence has come across to you, then by all means work with it. Creative works and creativity pulse with life — not just yours, but also others who have come before you, and who have lived and done their work before you. Consume a lot of material, and use them to your advantage. Let influence make you grow. The good work will certainly follow.

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Love Wins: LGBTQA in Literature

The recent Pride Day celebration for the LGBTQA+ community and their supporters all around the world has made such a presence that it’s difficult not to think about how queer themes and concerns have become a large part of culture and a topic of discussion. We live in an age where queer communities are able to celebrate and be vocal about their identity and who they love. But queer themes have always been part of culture, albeit muted or suppressed in the past. Instead of the regular long post, this post is a list of websites, pages, commentary, and lists on the rich and long history of queer themes in literature and queer literature, as well as the authors whose own life experiences have helped shape and contribute to it.

The Greatest LGBT Love Letters of All Time – from

  • Maria Popova of BrainPickings gives us a fascinating rundown of the love letters shared by famous writers and artists, such as Virginia Woolf and Allen Ginsberg, with their lovers. The post itself provides excerpts of the letters, which are, in their own right, beautifully written and filled with passion. If you’re a fan of these artists and their works, you’ll potentially find connections between their lives and their work. Looking for and reading the letters themselves can be rewarding experiences.

On Bisexual Characters and YA Literatureby Malinda Lo, from her website.

  • Malinda Lo, who is herself a writer of YA LGBT, tackles the issue of – as the title outlines – bisexual characters in YA. Bisexuality itself gets overlooked as, Lo points out, issues tackled are often on the “gay” part of the queer community. Bisexual erasure does happen – bisexuality is often seen as a “watered-down version of gay,” which, Lo says, is problematic. All in all, the post is fascinating, as Lo ultimately asserts that – while each part of the LGBTQA+ has its own problems and its own history – bisexual representation has to overcome certain prejudices and prevailing notions that hurt it.
  1. As a side note, you may also want to look at Malinda Lo’s article, My Guide to LGBT YA,” a rather long list that covers covers issues, writing advice, interviews, and statistics on LGBT YA literature. This list is especially helpful if you want an overview of LGBT YA.
  2. Another side note: I’ve said earlier that Lo herself is a writer, and her works are particularly good and readable. You may want to read her Cinderella-inspired novel, Ash, as well as the follow-up and companion novel, Huntress.

From Problem to Pride: A Short History of Queer YA Fiction – by Daisy Porter, from Malinda Lo’s website.

  • YA has always been a place that tackles queer themes as part of teenagers’/young adults’ coming-of-age and identity formation, although queerness was not always given a friendly treatment. Daisy Porter tackles the history of queer YA fiction, looking at how it started out and listing down the key texts of queer YA, from Nancy Garden’s Annie On My Mind, which was the first major queer YA text depicting a queer relationship in a positive, healthy light, to more recent works and writers, like David Levithan.

Julie Maroh on creating Blue Is the Warmest Color – by Trish Bendix, from AfterEllen.

  • This article is a short interview with the graphic novel Blue Is the Warmest Color’s creator, Julie Maroh. The graphic novel is, of course, the work on which the film directed by by Abdellatif Kechiche, starring Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.

50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction – from

  • Finally, if you want to read LGBT fiction, or fiction that tackles LGBT themes, here’s a long list that you might want to check out. Among texts listed here are works by Jeanette Winterson, Yukio Mishima, Alice Walker, and Patricia Highsmith.


Do you know other important or interesting works that contribute to discussion on LGBTQA+ literature? Let us know in the comments!

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Writing and the Internet: Why the Internet is Your Friend

These days, it’s absolutely easy to find information on just about anything. Considering that we’re living in the age of the Internet, where virtually the entire world is connected and is accessible through all sorts of gadgets, it’s not surprising that any regular person can find out about the basic things in most topics, from medicine to science to literature and beyond. News articles are archived, how-to’s are available, and online encyclopedias – from Wikipedia to – can be good repositories of information. Obviously, the Internet won’t be conferring degrees in astrophysics to the regular armchair Internet surfer anytime soon (and it is important to remember that not everything on the Internet is reliable information, and that the good researcher should check and cross-check information before deeming it accurate), but when you need a quick brush-up on surface knowledge on many topics, then the Internet can be hard to beat, really.

All this talk about the Internet — well, what does this have to do with writing, and why should you be concerned about the Internet as a repository of knowledge if you’re a writer? The answer might be painfully obvious, but it is almost as easy to ignore. There’s a saying that goes “write what you know,” but obviously no one knows everything about everything. So following that, “write what you know,” but if you’re not sure about what you’re writing, the next step is “know what you write.” Writing isn’t just about spinning pretty words and vivid sentences into wonderful scenes. A lot of times, in writing, you find that you’re tackling certain topics you’re not entirely sure about, whether they’re technical or otherwise, and you feel like you’re hitting a dead end because you’re not sure if you’re writing about these particular topics properly. What would those familiar with those certain topics say if they come across your writing? We’re all scared of misinformation, and of writing inaccurately, as inaccurate content hurts your text and the chances of readers getting immersed in it. Moreover, your credibility as a writer may also be put at risk.

And here, at this point, is where the Internet comes in. When you write, make sure to do a bit – or a lot, depending on you, really – of research on what you’re writing about. It’s not simply about character development and location, looking up tips on how to write certain kinds of characters or subvert certain tropes. While those are important for your craft, and especially if you want to set yourself apart from existing pieces of written work, those aren’t the only things that you have to pay attention to. Medical scenes, the recovery period of the human body, politics, functions of machines – they’re all very important, as well. You don’t have to go incredibly in-depth to learn anything and everything about, say, about behaviors of certain bird species (this is creative writing, after all, and not a thesis on bird behaviors), but at the very least, you do have to know basic information that’s related to what you’re writing about. Don’t be afraid to use search engines and look up blogs that give out writing tips! There are a lot on the Internet and they’re useful. Good writing is backed by good research — and it will make your writing all the more engaging.

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The Right Notes: Writing While Listening to Music

When writing, people tend to do everything they can to make themselves feel absolutely comfortable and to ease themselves into the writing mood. This involves a lot of pre-writing rituals that may vary from person to person: walking around, talking to yourself, eating certain types of food, brewing coffee and smelling its aroma, exercising – the list is long, and for some, overwhelmingly so, and very much specific. But there’s one ritual – whether before writing, or during the process itself – that a lot of people do as, for one way or another, it could help in the writing process. I’m talking about listening to music.

Even outside of the act of writing, music is already an effective mood-setter for just about anything in our daily lives. The kind of music you play at the start of your morning can make or break the rest of your day. The music played on air while on your morning drive can either make you feel at ease in traffic, or irritated. A lot of times, when we want to feel certain things, or are in a certain mood, we listen to music. Music is effective in making you cope with certain situations, or making you enhance your experience of a situation. That’s perhaps part of the reason why movie awards shows recognize their scorers, or why video game reviewers also consider how good the music is when reviewing a game.

That said, what is the effect of music to the writer? In “How Music Affects the Writing Process” by Nona Mae King, King outlines how turning on her music actually begins her writing process. She says that “silence is distracting,” and that music ultimately helps her keep her focus. King also says that music enhances the mood that helps her “create a writing soundtrack… for a specific scene, character, era, or particular intensity [she wants] to impart to [her] readers.” In a way, it works similarly to how music sets the mood for certain scenes in movies and TV shows so that viewers may get further absorbed in what’s happening, or how video games use music to make the player feel more involved in exploration and battle.

And going away a little bit from writing, Gregory Ciotti in the article “How Music Affects Your Productivity” says that music’s “effectiveness is dependent on how ‘immersive’ a task is… the creative demand of the work.” Ciotti says that music certainly helps make repetitive tasks more enjoyable. However, it doesn’t take just any kind of music – familiar music would be better and less distracting. Much better if there were no lyrics. Ciotti’s article touches on the idea that music certainly helps you focus – and not just in writing, but in many other day-to-day activities, often ones that are mundane and repetitive.

Going back to writing, there’s certainly a positive effect for the writer who listens to music while writing. However, it’s not always the case. I know someone who tends not to listen to music while writing, as she finds this distracting. It can depend on the genre, too: you may want to feel dramatic or romantic emotions writing a particular scene; or you may want some white noise background stuff that helps you focus and concentrate. Here’s a list of best music for writing that covers a few of the main genres.

Ultimately, it depends on you as a person. If you think music sets the mood and helps you write, then listen. If not, then there’s definitely no pressure. In any case, going back to my first point, it’s always valuable to know what makes you comfortable enough to get into the writing mood, and what makes you distracted. Do what’s best for your writing, and if it involves listening to music for your writing to be able to hit all the right notes, then by all means do so.

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Out of the Box: The Wonderfully Reckless World of Creativity

All good creative work is, in one way or another, a response to other creative works. They may deviate or follow a certain creative trend, but there will always be a way to position each creative work in the larger body. Take all the -isms we’re familiar with, for instance. Posthumanism is in a way a response to humanist thought. Post-structuralism is a response to structuralism. Postmodernism, though broad and rather difficult to define, is in a way a response to modernism. And so on and so forth. Works of art are reactions to something, derived from individual thought, personal reactions towards something, and the need to position one’s ideas in a larger conversation. But what if it seems as if everything’s been said and done, all stories have been told, all ideas appear to have been pinned down on paper and written or drawn or composed? What then?

That’s where your creative juices come in. Like I said, any piece of creative work is a reaction to something – so think of what’s already been written, and react to it. What did you like about it? What do you think doesn’t work? What could be done better? Take all these questions and try to answer them in your own work, and try to make things fresh and new. All easier said and done, certainly. Be assured that you’ll spend a lot of time, a lot of sleepless nights attempting to make a new creative work that you’d be even just a little satisfied with. It always pays, however, to think outside the box. How can you make familiar things strange? How can you tweak certain everyday situations for you to be able to view them in a new angle, a new perspective? Throw in crazy ideas and make them work. Do anything you need to do to make your brain flow, and initiate brainstorming sessions. Walk around, for example. Or read a lot and write a lot. Engage in free writing, engage in conversation, watch people or animals or events around you, and most of all, think about what makes up these people or these events. Definitely don’t give up trying to be creative — even if it will take you ages to come up with something great.

That said, here are a few quotes that might help inspire you and get you in the creative zone.

  1. “Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  2. “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” – Ray Bradbury
  3. “Sometimes I think that creativity is a matter of seeing, or stumbling over, unobvious similarities between things – like composing a fresh metaphor, but on a more complex scale.” –  David Mitchell

Creativity is risking and being reckless, giving your head some space to be irrational but also making sure you can string all these together. So go ahead – defy expectations and write something people don’t usually see, talk about, or want to talk about. As Sylvia Plath said, “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Believe you can think out of the box and write something new and fresh — what may come out will surprise you.

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Right Spaces and Proper Places: The Importance of Knowing Where and When to Write

One of the things about writers is that they’re not always in the mood to write, because of little details under specific circumstance. It’s frustrating when you’re walking around and getting all these brilliant ideas to write down, just to have them all melt into the air when you finally get home and sit down to write. It may be because suddenly your location has changed and your environment has shifted. It may be because your house is not exactly conducive for writing. It may be one of many things, but all you can think about is how such a brilliant idea of yours has disappeared, and that you are unable to work on it again. It will be replaced by another brilliant idea, perhaps, something that comes to you while you’re walking, or watching other people, or doing various other things, and then it might disappear again. A vicious cycle, certainly.

This kind of situation – something that frustrates just about any writer – is the reason why it’s important to be aware of the kind of writer you are when it comes to writing in certain locations. No one can tell you where you can write effectively – only you know where and what kind of situation you must be in for you to be able to write effectively. It’s always reasonable to try out a lot of places – bring your notebook around, and write your ideas, or verses, wherever. It may be the park, or your favorite cafe. A restaurant in a mall, or somewhere in your school campus. It may even be at home, perhaps, or in your car. Whatever the case, it’s important to know where.

However – and this is also valuable to understand – you won’t always be comfortable writing in the same old places all the time. One coffee shop, for example, may be a good place for you to write your verses, but when you come down there to write your short story, it suddenly becomes off. The music grates, the smell of coffee makes you uneasy, and the quiet chatter of other customers might jar your head more than a little. So you set off, and find perhaps another coffee shop, or an entirely different place for you to write. And no one can tell you, I repeat – you’ll be the only one who’ll be able to understand that a certain situation is good enough to make you write. Sometimes, it’s not even a question of where but a question of when. Small details like the weather and what time of the day it is  all contribute to your writing mood.

So what can you do about it? Don’t fight the feeling, but rather be prepared for flashes of creativity. Bring a notebook, or a laptop, that you can access immediately to pin down ideas. That should keep you going, even if the verses aren’t full or the story is not complete. But the important thing is that you don’t use the place and the time as an excuse not to write, as not trying to write at all is much worse than writing something you’re not satisfied with.

So go around, look for the right place, and be prepared. You’ll eventually get in the zone and write down that brilliant piece.

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Is the Author Dead?: Why We Should Read Authors’ Nonfiction (and What We Can Learn from It)

Books are always the creation of their respective authors, and are therefore informed by a number of things concerning the author: what topics the author might be interested in, what particular events may have transpired in the author’s life that inform the events in his or her book, and who or what might have spurred the author to write that particular story. Stories spring from an amalgam of resources and references, but how all these are tied together is all up to the author, which may tell the reader what the author wanted to say, precisely, or what the text itself is supposed to do to the reader.

Of course, it’s not always easy to actually involve the author in the reading of the text, for various reasons. One may be that readers don’t exactly know a lot about an author, to begin with, or the context that produced that particular text. There is, too, a sort of resistance to the idea of reading a text in light of its author. French literary critic Roland Barthes, for example, said that “the image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centered on the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions,” and that to truly understand literature, one must metaphorically kill the author: “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.” In other words, if the reader thinks about the author and his or her life while reading the author’s text, it might immediately color the reading of that text. So just don’t think about the author and read the stuff and interpret it on your own.

But authors aren’t always dead, and the meanings they try to weave into the text don’t disappear just because you remove the authors themselves from the picture. Sure, it’s frustrating – especially in high school English classes – when you’re asked to share what you think the author said, because it might make you feel like an uncertain mouthpiece for that author. But literature is the product of a sort of co-authorship between the reader and the writer: the writer, of course, writes, and this writing is informed by their reality and what they want to comment on, while the reader interprets the text based on what they know of it and what they know of themselves. When a piece of literature becomes too difficult to understand, meanwhile, it’s always helpful to find out what the author might have meant by it, so there’s always one good thing to do when you’re stuck like that: read up on the author’s comments on the work, if there are any.

In this day and age, especially, a lot of authors do opinion columns on the Internet and elsewhere, share their thoughts over on social media, and release nonfiction books – usually collections of essays – talking about their work and their writing process. For both readers and writers, all these nonfiction material are helpful in two primary ways: to understand the author’s intents and the author’s work, and; to study the author’s craft. This is especially helpful when you yourself are trying to write, and are trying to figure out how others have done it – or have tried to do it, at least. What did those writers do to arrive at the point where they’re writing smoothly? What inspired them? What did they want to accomplish? These are questions that you can look at and think about when you’re reading nonfiction by authors, as often the nonfiction works themselves reveal how the writer thinks.

So what’s our take-away from this? It’s not enough to just write, the same way that it’s not enough to just read books and leave them at that. It’s always helpful and enriching to understand the authors behind the works, and to ultimately draw from what you’ve read and learned and apply them to your own writing. Remember: the author can’t die.

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Blog Roundup: Get the Write Help Now!

It’s always a good idea to look for places on the Internet that could offer some (or, let’s face it, a lot) of writing tips, but sometimes it’s not always easy to know where the good ones are. Not that they’re hidden or are few and far between, but that there are just so many blogs that cater to different writing and writers’ needs, to begin with. This post collects some of the blogs we’ve come across on the Internet, tackling different things from character development to general resources for writers. Hopefully these links will help you on your writing!

  1. The Writing Box – run by author Angeline Trevena, The Writing Box reblogs a lot of diagrams from grammar and vocabulary help, to popular authors’ writing tips for other writers. There’s a lot of writing advice that The Writing Box reblogs (most notably reblogs of posts that give word lists to help writers avoid such words as “very”), and they’re very helpful regardless of what your genre is or what kind of writer you are. Angeline Trevena also has a WordPress blog that caters to writers of speculative fiction, so if you’re a spec fic writer, you can check that out, too.
  2. The Writers Helpers  – The Writers Helpers primarily accepts questions on just about anything in writing, from general questions like plot concerns, to more specific ones like creating descriptions for LGBTQA+ characters. It’s basically a detailed, helpful Q&A for any writer needing help with their writing.
  3. FYCD – FYCD is a blog dedicated to discussing concerns and asking questions about character development and writing. What’s great is that they supply legitimately helpful resources to those who ask about how to write certain kinds of characters, as well as technical details on some topics like medicine, whenever it’s relevant to someone’s question on character development. They reblog stuff too – from world-building to drawing how-to’s, so it’s not all limited to character development. They also have a helpful page directing you to all the discussion threads in their blog, as well as book recommendations on writing characters.
  4. pen > sword – This blog is a wonderful mix of amusing art, quick writing tips and templates, and writing- and literature-related trivia. There are a lot of resources that can be found here, and will give you a smile as much as it will give you help.

That’s all for this round-up! There’s definitely a whole lot more than these four sites, and we’ll be sure to write about them more when we do another round-up, but even with these four sites alone, you’ll hopefully be able to find a world of writing help. Definitely don’t hesitate to ask or drop these sites’ admins if you ever need help.

Know more great websites for writers? Drop us a line!

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Short But Sweet: Creativity Through Constraints In Flash Fiction

In her introduction to the anthology Fast Food Fiction Delivery, Singapore-based writer and editor Noelle Q. De Jesus writes, “[e]veryone is writing shorter and faster, condensing the plot and crystallizing the climax…” Such is the essence of flash fiction, fiction pieces that are around 500 to 1000 words in length, packing the full weight of lengthier pieces of fiction in a quick package that can be read in a few minutes. It’s not exactly Twitter fiction (though several 140 characters-a-pop posts can be made into a flash fiction piece), but it’s not your regular short story, either. It’s smaller, faster, but with as much flavor as its larger, wordier cousins.

That does not mean that flash fiction is easy to write, however. Don’t let the shorter word count fool you – a faster piece can look easier to write, but the flash fiction writer must be able to skillfully weave in all aspects of a good story – from the introduction to the climax to the resolution – under the pressure of a smaller word count. So what’s the tendency going to be, for the flash fiction writer? Cut, cut, and cut some more. David Gaffney, in an article on The Guardian, writes about his experience writer shorter fiction (which he refers to as “sawn-off tales”):

It felt destructive, wielding the axe to my carefully sculpted texts; like demolishing a building from the inside, without it falling down on top of you. Yet the results surprised me. The story could live much more cheaply than I’d realised, with little deterioration in lifestyle. Sure, it had been severely downsized, but it was all the better for it. There was more room to think, more space for the original idea to resonate, fewer unnecessary words to wade through. The story had become a nimble, nippy little thing that could turn on a sixpence and accelerate quickly away.

Flash fiction compels you to remove the weight and decoration normally afforded to you by writing without any considerable restraint in terms of word count. This is a great test for how you are as a writer. Fond of long, painterly, but meandering descriptions? Need to take a while to introduce your character? Can’t help but use some lengthy dialogue between two characters to show just their relationship dynamic? All these will be challenged when you write flash fiction, and for better or for worse, you’ll be compelled to come up with new ways of going around your own writing, trying to come up with the same effect you’ve produced through longer prose.

But take that all as a challenge! There’s a lot of merit in trying your hand in writing shorter – but equally impactful – stuff. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to fine-tune your writing, too!

I want to know more about flash fiction! But where do I go?

Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

Already written flash fiction? Share it with us!

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