A Year of Storytelling Concepts in One Post

Today, Mythcreants turns one year old! Our year-long discussion of storytelling, roleplaying, writing, and worldbuilding has revealed ideas that are important enough to repeat. Let’s review those concepts, and some of the posts that love them:

Meet the Expectations of Your Audience

An audience arrives with basic expectations about your work, whether it’s the role of the main characters or the operation of the world. If you violate those expectations during critical points in the story, they’ll be unhappy with you.

Or Better Yet, Subvert Them

Meeting expectations doesn’t mean you can’t turn conventions on their head. Make your story stand out by contrasting it with similar works.


Six Reasons You Should Read Discworld

Discworld is an expansive fantasy series created by Terry Pratchett. It features a flat, disc-shaped world (who would have guessed) resting upon the backs of four enormous elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle, the Great A’Tuin. It’s made up of multiple series … read more »

As Long as You Aren’t Inconsistent

Whatever you do, think it out ahead of time. If you add things to your world because they’re convenient in the moment, your universe will slowly fall apart. Then your audience will know you didn’t do your homework.


Know How Your Magic Works

Magic is a cornerstone of fantasy. A good place to start when creating a magic system is to ask yourself some questions about how the magic works. Knowing the answers to the following questions is integral to building a cohesive world. P.S. Our bills are … read more »

Or Confusing

There are few things more disastrous for a story than confusion. Worse than simply disliking your story, your audience won’t be able to experience it at all.


Five Tips for Running a Mystery Game

Mystery is one of the most common types of roleplaying game sessions, especially for games that have moved out of the dungeon. They provide both a direction and objective for players: solve the mystery! Mysteries come preloaded with suspense and the subversion of expectations, plus … read more »


The Four Rules of Using Fake Words

If your story takes place in another world, none of your characters are really speaking English. They aren’t telling stories or recording history in English; they’re doing it in the language you invented for them. An English language book describing their journey is clearly an anachronism. Read more »

Without Problems, You’ll Have Problems

Another issue that plagues many stories is chronic conflict deficiency. Once the story ventures too far into wish-fulfillment, there may not be enough challenges to keep it interesting.

So Create Some

Luckily, there are many cures for conflict deficiency. Do yourself a favor, and preemptively build numerous conflict hooks into your story and your world.


Four Ways to Limit Magic & Technology

A DoD photo of a robot trying to open a door.

While powerful spells and gadgets are fun to imagine, they can do serious harm to a story. Once you add a transporter or summon giant eagles, it becomes too easy for the protagonists to overcome challenges. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the impact of … read more »

Then Let Your Characters Solve Them

A satisfying story is shaped by the characters in it. Give your protagonist difficult and important decisions to make, then let them use their skills and ingenuity to save the day.


Balancing Character Agency

In the reflection of a black man's sunglasses, a man reaches for the red pill in one hand instead of the blue pill in the other.

It’s pointless to debate whether plot or characters are more important. They are both essential, and they work together to create the story. Unfortunately, they don’t always work well together. More than a few storytellers have planned their plot to the end, only realizing once … read more »


Creating a Party Leader

The party leader is the Captain Kirk, Malcom Reynolds, or Gandalf (maybe Aragorn, depending on when you are in the wizard resurrection cycle) of your group. They are at least nominally in charge and the one who provides direction. They often end up making decisions … read more »

While You Stay in Their Shoes

Stories become much stronger when both the storyteller and the audience identify with the main character. Use the outlook of your protagonist to set the tone of the story, and never break character for the sake of your plot.


Three Tips for Getting Into Character

There are few things that make roleplaying games more enjoyable than playing a part. Even if the GM is railroading you through the Oregon Trail, fun character interactions can save the day. Unfortunately, getting into character can be an elusive target. If you have lots of … read more »

Tie It All Together

Don’t let your story become a two-headed dragon trying to run in opposing directions. Keep all of the elements tightly related to one another. Your story will be stronger for it.


Tying Your Plot Together

You’ve finally finished the draft of your magnum opus. You’ve developed engaging characters and placed them in a vibrant setting. You’ve filled each scene with conflict, tension, and chocolate. But something’s wrong. The friends who’ve read it tell you that while each scene is entertaining, the … read more »


The Problem With Multiple Viewpoints

Many storytellers enjoy looking through the lens of more than one character. In speculative fiction, multiple viewpoint characters are often used to show different places in the world, or illustrate a conflict that is epic in scale. Unless the story involves a device that is … read more »

And Make It Feel Real

Neglecting basic geography will make your work feel sloppy and contrived, whereas putting extra thought into your story and setting can create a deeper, more immersive experience.


How to Create a Simple Language

Creating your own language probably brings to mind Tolkien’s Elvish languages or Marc Okrand’s Klingon. Most of us, though, aren’t scholars and linguists like Tolkien and Okrand. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be to add some linguistic depth to your worldbuilding. Creating a relatively simple naming language can do the trick. Read more »


How to Color Your Map Using SCIENCE!

Forests, tundras, deserts and plains don’t appear arbitrarily. These biomes are located where they are on Earth due to the way air and water circulate in the atmosphere – and any Earth-like world should follow the same basic rules for its atmosphere that Earth does. Read more »

But Be Efficient

There’s lots of work to do, but time is precious. Save it where you can.


Avoiding the Planet of Hats

Worldbuilding is a time-consuming process. There’s all of those governments to decide on, flora and fauna to develop, architecture to design… and when you have to do it for planet after planet in your spacefaring adventure, well, who has the time? Certainly not the writers … read more »


Six Tips for Doing More With Less

Speculative fiction readers are interested in different things. Some of them are passionate about characters, some want to explore new worlds, and others look for a riveting plot. It’s easy to make any of these elements memorable if you throw enough words at them. While … read more »


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