Thursday, January 9, 2014

Alana Garrigues on Vampires, Fairies and Dragons, Oh My!: Inviting the Whimsical into Your Story

Today we have special guest Alana Garrigues from Story Sprouts talking about inviting the whimsical into your story. Take it away, Alana!

Vampires, Fairies and Dragons, Oh My!: Inviting the Whimsical into Your Story

Hello there Cherie fans!

My name is Alana Garrigues, and I'd like to thank Cherie for hosting my co-editor, Nutschell Anne Windsor, and me during our whirlwind January Story Sprouts CBW-LA Writing Day Exercises and Anthology blog tour! (More on that later.) We're so happy to be here.

If you're a regular reader of Cherie's blog, I'm going to first assume that you are here to bask in her awesome personality whenever you can - good choice! - and then I'm going to assume you are into special magical mysterious things. 

Things like vampires and mermaids, dragons and fairies, speaking flora and fauna, magical potions, witches and wizards, unexplainable beings and unnatural coincidences. Things our left brains tell us don't exist, but our right brains scream of possibility and wonder. 

I'm going to assume this because you love to read the works of a very talented speculative fiction author, and because I believe there is still a leprechaun-chasing, tooth fairy-dreaming, Rudolph-spotting child hiding in all of us, looking for the magic.

As we age, some of us cling to the memories of childhood magical beings that are benevolent and kind and grant wishes, while others delve a little into our fears and the dark side, curious about monsters and night dwellers and black magic. And as much as some may argue that make-believe and imagination is for kids, we know that is not so. Magical, imaginary characters and their powers for good and evil stand up as allegories of what it really means to be human, with all of our hopes and anxiety. They also entertain the heck out of us.

Now, a quick time-out to tell you about Story Sprouts ... and how it relates to this post.

Story Sprouts is a collection of writing exercises, tips and tricks, and an anthology of 38 short stories by 19 authors, created by the CBW-LA writers during a one-day workshop. Within the anthology, you will find many whimsical characters lurking around. A few are there to save people, a few are there to be saved, and a few are there to scare a character or jar the reader.

Within the anthology, there are aliens invading earth's candy shops, a boy hidden in a robot suit, a character with a vivid flashback of her warrior life centuries before, a hidden room in a seemingly parallel world, vampire shopkeepers, magical wishes, a fairy that protects children from bad decisions, an oozing sandpit taking monstrous shape, a counseling Greek god, and a magical flying pinwheel.

They are all placed in our human world, living among us mere mortals, exposing our weaknesses. Greed, haste, confusion, moral dilemmas, feelings of inadequacy. I believe that is precisely the purpose of introducing make-believe characters in our stories. By inviting the whimsy into our human stories, we are tapping into our childhood yearning for magic while uncovering character traits that may otherwise go unseen. At the same time, in creating a world where human meets imaginary, we are creating an instant tension that draws a reader into the story.

Not all of our writers used whimsical characters. Several of the stories contain all humans, thrown into situations out of their control, and those stories are very strong too. But so many of our writers drifted into the land of vampires and fairies because we gave them permission to play with the concept during that six-hour writing workshop. We provided a character box filled with mad scientists and tricksters, dark wizards and zombies, werewolves and aliens, vampires and fairies, as well as more traditional character types, and encouraged our readers to pick characters at random, allowing them to puzzle and play with magic.

More about Story Sprouts: Released in October, it is the first in a series of Writing Day Workshop Anthologies, which we plan to publish annually. As a bonus, now through January, we're donating 50% of the proceeds from all sales of the book (Kindle and Paperback on Amazon) to Philippine Relief Efforts! So, you can support fellow writers, get 10 great writing exercises and donate to charity for as little as $4.99 - great deal!

33 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Really good fantasy deals with the issues we deal with in our own life and world, but in a way we can handle them better. And imagination is good for any age. Nothing would ever be invented if someone didn't imagine it first.

Nicole said...

The ability to weave in the whimsical is one of the things I love most about writing!

Samantha May said...

I believe that there's always room for something whimsical in any story :) Sounds like a really cool book!!

Emilyann Girdner said...

Story Sprouts sounds like such a helpful resource. And the world be pretty boring I think if we never played in the world of fantasy. =)

nutschell said...

Alex, I agree! Imagination is good for any age. It's how awesome advances in technology, medicine and everything else are made!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

nutschell said...

Nicole, it's one of the things I love about writing fantasy!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

nutschell said...

Samantha, I agree! Thanks I hope you find Story Sprouts helpful in your own writing. :)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

nutschell said...

Emilyann, thanks! And I agree. the world would be boring without fantasy and imagination
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

nutschell said...

Cherie, thanks again for hosting us on our tour! You rock!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Alana said...

Absolutely! A solid mix of relatability and imagination are key to draw a reader in! And re. the inventions - it's fascinating how strong the relationship between literature and television and science is. There was a story on NPR not too long ago about the inventors who grew up reading or watching sci fi and figured out ways to implement the dreams of the writers. So interesting!

Alana said...

So fun!

Alana said...

Ditto!!!

Heather Holden said...

I'm definitely a fan of all things whimsical, so Story Sprouts sounds very cool to me!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So agree with what Alex said. And yes, I think there is a part of us who love fantasy who wish all these magical creatures and magic were a part of our world. Good luck with Story Sprouts.

DMS said...

Story Sprouts sounds like a wonderful collection of exercises. I love the title! Fantasy creatures are so much fun to think about. :)
~Jess

Cathy Keaton said...

The exercises sound interesting. Sounds like a cool book!

Medeia Sharif said...

I never fully went into that area of speculative fiction. I would love to explore it, though.

I have my copy. :)

Catherine Stine said...

Making up creatures and magical elements is a joyful process. Good for the soul. And Story Sprouts sounds great.

Morgan said...

Great post from Alana, Cherie. Thanks for having her. I could feel the magic!

Alana said...

Thanks Heather! There's a little something for everyone in this book, thanks to a gaggle of talented, multi-faceted writers!

Alana said...

Thanks for the comment Natalie! Yes, wouldn't it be fun if the magical creatures were a part of our world? (Hmm, perhaps they are....) ;)

Alana said...

Thanks Jess! Fantasy creatures are so fun! Maybe because there are truly no limits to what they can become.

Alana said...

Thanks Cathy!

Alana said...

Hooray! One of the things I like the most about writing exercises is that we get to play with a ton of different genres without the same level of commitment that a piece we hope to one day publish requires. It's fun to take risks and play with different styles! (I'm a non-fiction writer through and through, but I still try to dabble in a little bit of everything - it helps look at writing with a new lens!)

Alana said...

Absolutely! Good for the soul - I like that. :) I've seen illustrators and artists use similar techniques with the imaginary - I think all creatives, whether they be writers, artists, scientists or inventors, can use a little time with make believe!

Alana said...

Aw, thanks so much Morgan!

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful post. I do love a good does of whimsy in a story! :)

Tracy Terry said...

A fairy that protects children from bad decisions? How wonderful.

Interesting post, this sounds like a great book.

Ellie Garratt said...

Story Sprouts sounds like a cool book and my kind of read.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Whimsy and imagination give flight to our dreams and thoughts, and help us deal with the every day world in new ways. :)

Rachel Morgan said...

Hey, Alana! Great to see you here on Cherie's blog! As a fantasy writer (although I've just begun writing contemporary), I'm all for inviting the whimsical, the unexplainable, and the magical into my writing :-)

Congratulations again on STORY SPROUTS!

Alana said...

Tyrean - I couldn't have said it better. How astute of you - and beautifully said!

Hi Rachel - great to see you too! Thanks for the congrats, and best of luck with contemporary! It's fun to switch up genres every now and again! :)

Ellie - Thanks so much! Hope you are able to pick up a copy and enjoy it!

Thanks Christine and Tracy!

Alana said...

(PS - Cherie fans - Rachel Morgan formatted our book and did an outstanding job of it! She's a computer genius. So, when you're at that self-pub level and want to go with someone who knows what they're doing, we definitely recommend her services!)