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Celebrating Five Years of Mythcreants

Fantasy and scifi word collage
We’ve just turned five! We’re now old enough that you can trust us with scissors. It’s been a long journey from a fledgling blog to a bustling online space. Allow me to share the highlights.

Top Articles of All Time

You’d think it would be easy to choose the most popular articles in our archive, but it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Our newest posts benefit from much higher traffic on first release, while our oldest posts have had five years to accumulate views. Articles can also go viral long after their original publishing date. Many of these weren’t even in the top ten list for their year. But since I have to choose, here are my picks for top ten.

Storytelling

Five Unrealistic Character Traits

Storytellers want to have their cake and eat it too, even if the cake is absolute perfection, and the eating is relatable flaws. The inevitable result of trying to have it both ways is a character that defies human nature. These characters have traits that … read more »

Commentary

Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist – Against Men

A muscled Riddick broods on his throne.

You’d think patriarchy would be good for men, but it isn’t. Patriarchy enforces strict standards of masculinity that are impossible to meet. But because masculine traits are glorified, it’s easy to lose sight of how toxic they are to men. As storytellers, we may think we’ve created strong central characters when … read more »

Storytelling

Six Plot Excuses No One Wants to Hear

When storytellers are cornered by a tough plot problem, our first instinct is to ignore the problem by making our characters behave irrationally. Then we use character dialogue to handwave it and hope the audience doesn’t notice how unrealistic it is. Just take these six excuses. Read more »

Commentary

Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if making a story sexism-free was as easy as not being a misogynist jerk? Unfortunately, living in a patriarchal society means that sexism feels normal to most of us. If you want to prevent sexist tropes from getting into your work, you have to learn about them. Read more »

Storytelling

Six Unrealistic Tropes and How to Avoid Them

Tropes get repeated over and over again throughout spec fic, and usually that’s fine. Many tropes are perfectly acceptable. Others are just lazy writing, sacrificing believability for narrative convenience. We’re concerned with the second group today. Fear not, there’s always a way out, no matter … read more »

Analysis

The Three Traits of Annoying Characters

Once in a while, storytellers slip up when crafting a protagonist. A character that was supposed to be an audience favorite becomes the focus of malice and frustration instead. While each person’s taste in characters is unique, some traits are likely to inspire intense dislike. … read more »

The Landmarks of Our Five Years

Running Mythcreants has involved a lot of trial, error, and slow improvement. Here’s some notable steps along our path to today.

August 2013: Website Launch

Mythcreants officially goes live. The leadership team is comprised of Mike, Jack, and myself, but we also have a bunch of contributors, most notably a blogger named Oren and a copy editor named Dash.

Before launch we prepare twelve pieces, including some truly ridiculous posts by me. Jack writes and draws the comic Magic Beans, and Mike decides he’s interested in podcasting. Luckily, Oren runs a podcast where he discusses Star Trek for two hours every week, and he agrees to help us with ours. Soon, I am unwittingly roped into it.

November 2013: First Big Post

Our first “popular” post is published – my Five Unrealistic Characters Traits. I get excited when SF Signal links to us, sending a whopping 60 people to the website. That’s nothing really, but Five Unrealistic Characters Traits continually gets bursts of traffic as it’s discovered by more people.

January 2014: Pinterest Deluge

Mike suggests we make a Pinterest account and start sharing posts there. I’m skeptical. Isn’t that for sharing images rather than articles? But I reluctantly agree. Later that year, Pinterest doubles our traffic.

October 2014: New Leadership

Jack discontinues Magic Beans and departs the leadership team (we’re still on great terms). In his place, we add the blogger, podcaster, and audio editor that we’ve come to rely on: Oren. Around the same time, Oren finally notices that I blog every week. Not to be outdone, he doubles his blogging frequency. Because somehow that’s not enough, he also starts the Roll Dice Already comic with illustrator Lillian Ripley.

On the hunt for additional copy editors, Dash finds Ariel at a party. Ariel sends us a message saying she is a “a creative writer and aspiring editor stuck in the body of a technical writer” and offers her “undying devotion” to Mythcreants. Ariel’s passion for copyediting quickly sets her apart. Satisfied that they are leaving their editing duties in good hands, Dash decides to take a well-earned break from contributing for a little while, and Ariel takes up the position of senior copy editor.

January 2015: Viral Anger

Oren’s Five Destructive Myths Perpetuated by Roleplaying Games goes viral. We get so many toxic comments from tabletop reactionaries (aka grognards) that we start calling it “comment-geddon.” As we celebrate our first viral post, we discuss what our rules for comments should be.

April 2015: Podcast Crisis

The audio quality of our podcasts is terrible, and we don’t know why. It’s so bad we have to throw away several podcasts we recorded, and we post others with an apology. We spend an entire day making test recordings in hopes of solving the problem. I even make a blanket fort for us to record in. The tests seem okay, but when we actually record again, it sounds awful once more. I’m ready to pull my hair out when I talk to a sound technician friend. He helps me discover the thing I hadn’t accounted for: the computer. It turns out my laptop makes terrible recordings. We use a different computer, and the crisis is averted.

June 2015: First Critique Post

After trying to read Sword of Shannara, I write an experimental post breaking down how bad it is. The post is popular, so I write more like it. Then Oren writes some. After reading these posts, people start asking if they can hire us to edit their work. We discuss the possibility.

August 2015: Patrons Help Us Out

The exponential increase in traffic is emptying our pocketbooks. Mike works hard to create our Patreon program. Soon, our patrons contribute enough to cover our basic expenses. We still aren’t getting paid for all the work we’re doing, but now we don’t have to dig into our savings just to keep the site running. Thanks, patrons!

Fall 2015 – Summer 2016: Editing Coursework

Ariel and Oren enroll in an editing program at the University of Washington. There Ariel meets Wes, a copy editor who likes speculative fiction writing and roleplaying. He tells me he likes the blog – except he wishes Oren would stop playing DnD instead of criticizing it. Wes joins up anyway, and the rest of the team is awed by his talent for flattery.

March 2016: Social Justice Goes Viral

I write Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist. It goes viral. It also attracts lots of angry commenters, but we’re used to that by now. We start writing more Signs Your Story Is Bigoted posts, and social justice topics become a more regular part of our content production.

Summer 2016: Products & Services Added

We publish our first product* for sale: Oren’s amnesia oneshot game, The Voyage. Since we met Oren in 2013 by playtesting this game, it was a long time in coming.

We also offer editing services for the first time. Over the next year, I make several large revisions to the editing pages so our services are easy to understand and order.

December 2016: Podcast Change-Up

Mike is so busy with his day job that he has to step down from hosting the podcast. After wowing us in a guest appearance, Wes becomes a regular host. The podcast is now a weekly half-hour affair, instead of an hour every other week. We also now record on three tracks in separate locations. It’s more work for us to edit, but the audio quality is better.

May 2017: Flight to New Webhost

Traffic has continued to rise, and our webhost is eating up more and more of our meager budget. After a big search, we select a new host. But when we try to move there, we find it isn’t compatible with some critical features of our site. We cancel the effort. After some trials and tribulations, we manage to migrate to our second choice. The next year, the old host announces it’s getting even more expensive. Phew.

November 2017 – April 2018: New Content

In 2015, we resolved not to create even more free content lest we burn out. Now our resolve fails. We add fiction and a new actual (role)play podcast. Our last actual play didn’t work out so well, but we’ve learned things since then. Maybe this one will be different? And after answering people’s questions for years, we finally put those answers up on the website. We justify all this new content by saying it’s mostly work we’d be doing anyway, but Oren and I know we have a problem.

The People of Mythcreants

Sometimes I try to imagine what Mythcreants would have been without some of the people who donated their time and talent, but that’s impossible. Mythcreants is the people who contribute to it. So while I’ve already mentioned our key team members, there’s many additional people who deserve thanks.

Copyediting

Blog and Podcast Contributions

Other Contributions


While we’ve accomplished a lot for a volunteer blog, we still have big dreams and a long way to go. We’re planning more exciting developments in the years ahead, and we hope you’ll be there with us.

 

Comments

  1. Lydia

    Happy anniversary! I hadn’t realized that your site has been around for so long. How cool.

    • cerabobble

      Aww Lydia, you beat me! Your comment is almost exactly what I wanted to write.

  2. SunlessNick

    Cake + | | | | |

  3. Bunny

    Happy Birthday, Mythcreants! I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you. You’ve given me whole new realms of possibility and perspective in fiction, and improved my writing and plotting in enormous ways. You inspired me to tackle difficult issues in my work, and guided me on the best ways to go about it. Your articles made me question my own fictional constructs, and prompted more than one embarrassed “oh crap, I’m totally guilty of doing that.” Your Lessons from Bad Writing posts are hilarious, and I always laugh at Roll Dice Already. The podcasts are spot-on and very interesting, and clear the fog from lots of tricky things and topics. You’ve brought together a thoughtful and interested online community with a similar passion for words and RPGs, a community which is respectful and thoughtful, even during their long comment debates (something virtually unheard of on the Internet). Whenever I talk books or writing with someone else, I inevitably bring Mythcreants up. I can’t even express how much I love Mythcreants; it’s almost an online home for me. You deserve every view you’ve gotten, and then some!
    You guys are the best of the best. If I could send you a cake with 5 candles, I totally would. Keep up the good work!

  4. American Charioteer

    Congratulations! Among all the blogs I’ve seen on writing, this one is truly exceptional; especially for your use of detailed case studies and for the visual appeal of the website.

  5. Cay Reet

    Happy Birthday, Mythcreants!

    I don’t think I have been here for a year now, but I do immensely enjoy this blog and I surf through stuff here several times a day. I’m learning so much and having so much fun!

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      We’re always glad to have our vigilant knight with us! For reference, your first comment was in 2015, and we’ve appreciated them ever since.

      • Cay Reet

        That long ago? Feels like hardly a day has passed

  6. Tifa

    Happy birthday! I wish you all many more years of awesomeness.

  7. Dave L

    >old enough that you can trust us with scissors.

    When you’re thirty I still won’t trust you w/ scissors

    I enjoy your posts, and frequently reread the old ones. I’ve learned a few things from them. Even when I don’t agree w/ your points I do find them well-thought-out and well-argued. And a couple of times you’ve convinced me that you were right and I was wrong

    Happy birthday. I’ll continue to read, and I hope you’ll continue to grow and prosper

    Just don’t play w/ scissors!

  8. Chris Winkle

    Thanks to everyone leaving congrats! It’s making our day.

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