Influences on Fantasy

I haven’t made a lot of progress on actual writing this week, but I have been kicking around a lot of ideas related to another setting that doesn’t really have a satisfactory name yet.

This setting shows more of the Tolkien fantasy influence than a lot of my other ones, being a setting without widespread use of high-tech or modern-tech. It does involve some of the most enduring concepts I’ve dealt with in fiction: immortality and nonhuman forces.

Anyway, the idea I had for this post was the main influences of my work beyond the obvious ones. Some of these are books, and others are life experiences. I numbered these, but the order isn’t really important.

1. The Hobbit – A favorite book of mine as a child, and one I think I’ve absorbed on a subconscious level (hence my love of dwarves in Warhammer Fantasy and other settings). This one is more or less a no-brainer, but it really demonstrates a good adventure story, from the unlikely protagonist to the great deeds and the long journey.

2. Swimming – I haven’t swum in a lake for a while, but when I was a child I’d often go to Lake Madison so my Dad could take his catamaran out, and I would swim there. It isn’t really swimming that I remember as the most powerful part of this point for influencing stories, though. Its splashing. When I played in the water, splashing my brothers with cold, dark, Minnesotan lake water, I remember feeling powerful, large and impressive. It didn’t matter that I was really just a kid in a swimsuit. When I was in an intense splash-fight I felt myself like a titan, a sentiment I actually remember feeling was that of a Greek God, a massively powerful force, moving things with such ease, turning water into foam. Swimming in a pool never compares to that sort of feeling.

3. Magic: The Gathering – I built my vocabulary off of this excellent trading card game when I was small. I also think the blend of fantasy elements of sets like Urza’s Saga and Tempest contributed to my development as a storyteller. The novels that went with the game never really lived up to their concepts, but at least they had some ambition most of the time.

4. The Bible – Okay, it’s not what you think, though I have written Christian Fantasy before I don’t really want to anymore. The Bible’s modes of storytelling really influenced me as a storyteller in less direct way. The way tensions builds through these stories is not as drastic as say, a thriller, but it is there. I read the Bible cover to cover as a child along with my twin brother. There is quite a variety of storytelling if one knows where to look for it. Also, the feeling of reading a translation has stuck with me quite a bit, and it is a unique way of looking at a story as one version of an event, rather than as “the truth”.

5. The Matrix – I still haven’t seen the third film, but the original is still foundational for me for one primary reason: style. The Matrix showed me that style is as important as substance to a story. After all, the film is really pretty light on story, but it has just enough of that to go with its gobs of style to make it very memorable. I remember watching it for the first time with my Dad when I was probably only 13 or 14. Talk about a progressive parent!
That’s it for now. I could do more posts like this however, as its quite fun to write.

The book I’m writing right now is pretty lacking in a lot of these feelings, so I really should review it for emotional content.


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