a little east of reality

Saturday, June 02, 2007

all fiction is fantasy

...as Neil Gaiman once said (I was there!) but some stories are more 'fantastical' than others, with their dragons and faerie folk and magic. Today I went to a course at the Writers Centre on writing fantasy, which was run by Sophie Masson, a French-Australian writer who looks like a gypsy and speaks like a witch explaining how to make a complicated brew. Probably half the time was spent on the practicalities of finding and dealing with publishers, and on what was available in Australia in the form of arts grants for writers. And that was useful.

But the other half was spent talking about world-building and ancient myth and lore, which was a lot more fun. Some things I already knew, but had never thought about long enough to realise I knew them. For example, Norse dragons are rapacious, gold-hoarding creatures (think Smaug in The Hobbit). However Chinese dragons are wise and benevolent and considered lucky. So not all dragon stories are alike. [An interesting webpage on the same subject.]

We talked about language and political structures and how to translate existing cultures into something genuinely new. But the best thing I walked away with was what I always walk away with when I go to courses like these: ideas. Somehow the discussion opens up my mind and ideas start bouncing off whatever they say. At the last course I went to someone said something like "I wish I had more spare time" and suddenly I found myself scribbling down a story idea about time-shifting. It's not so much what is said, but more that I'm in a mode where the ideas flow no matter what happens to be said. This time I came out with my mind full of triangular symbology because we were talking about modes of transport and my brain went, 'planes...plane crashes...Bermuda triangle...hmmm).

It made me wonder why I don't put myself into that kind of creative environment more often. I love the side of me that it brings out.

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