Monthly Archives: May 2013

Genre Fiction Commentary – Originality in Fantasy


Wanna hear a joke? Well since you’re here I guess you’re at least willing to humor me.

So a Fantasy author sits down to plan his first big novel. He smiles, pen in hand, and leans back in his chair.

“Man,” he says with an excited grin, “The best thing about fantasy is that I can make it anything I want. Could be based on any culture in any place from any time. Could be a mix of places and times, or something newly invented by me. Yup, there is literally nothing out of bounds here.”

He looks at his page for about ten seconds. As the pen hits the paper he says “Let’s go with Medieval England!

Now, back to the plot!

Fantasy is a fun genre. It allows us to explore countless worlds and go places only imagination can take us. It challenges us to take the first step into the unknown in the same way (insert protagonist here) does. It can be epic in scale, it can be personal. In this world of infinite possibilities the only thing it can’t be is predictable.

And yet it is.

Story time: When pitching my Senior Project to a friend I told her it was a Fantasy Drama. I was elated when she gasped, wide eyed, at the possibilities my story could bring. The she asked me, “Oh! Is the protagonist some hunky knight trying to save a princess from a dragon in a castle?” Whether she was condescending or not I’ll never know, but I do know that her question left a bad taste in my mouth.

More so than the sheer “wrongness” of her summary, what vexed me the most about our interaction was how quick she was to assume my story could be fit into such a cut-and-paste explanation. And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized her simple query was quite valid.

Fantasy, for all its possibilities, is in a ghetto as of late. When Fantasy enthusiasts are portrayed, they often are depicted as some variation of this:

And while i’m all for people loving what they love, I can’t stand the notion that the things I love are so simply caricatured and defined. Like a bad joke, Fantasy gets stereotyped and often made as a joke for those who enjoy it. I mean, why else would they have to make “Adult Covers” of Harry Potter?
See Subject A ^

And yet, I suppose it’s time to ask ourselves: are we, Fantasy fans, partially responsible for this stereotyping? Do we write and read only books in that familiar Medieval England setting, not deigning to step out into the world of more original works of fiction? I’ll admit I too stick to the conventions of fantasy more than I should, and for that I feel as though I am partially responsible for this mess.

So what is to be done? Well, that begins with originality.

Originality, as it’s appropriately named, can breathe new life into even the most dying of tropes. After Airplane came out, no one took Disaster Movies, but when Independence Day came out the genre suddenly became enjoyable once more. Soon afterward we had a flood of disaster movies like Dante’s Peak and Titanic, both of which were enjoyable additions to the genre.

Innovation can revive interest and understanding but that only comes when one has the guts to try something on their own. George R.R. Martin in particular uses the Medieval England setting for his Song of Ice and Fire series. However, rather than focus on the Dragons and Chivalry tropes that have been done to death he focuses on the politics and problems such a society brings. It’s his willingness to try something entirely of his own invention that made Game of Thrones such a hit, and is why Fantasy is seen in a much more appropriate light now than it was ten years ago.

As Winston Churchill once said “Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” The same can be said of any genre, and while conventions exist for a reason, it is a major disservice to both the reader and the writer to stick to them in fear of the unknown.

Be like the protagonist of your story and dare to step into the unmarked territory, and be unafraid for the lessons that brought you to the Journey’s threshold will serve you well.

Sorry for the long post. I’ll be sure to keep my thoughts more concise next time.
Do you all have a favorite genre of your own? Do you ever feel like stories in said genre are stagnate? How would you overcome them? Any experiences in doing so?

If not, then farewell, until next time. Keep on trekking.


Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Fantasy, Uncategorized


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Fear of Writing – The Shitty First Draft


For those of you who know me, this might come as a shock but i’m usually hit with writer’s block every single day. I get up, pop open whatever canvas I plan to use, and smile wide with the “I’m gonna get down and dirty with you” look I usually have and… nothing.

Then comes the denial (Oh come on. I can totally get started. I’m just having trouble is all.)

Then comes anger (Why can’t I write? What the ****!)

Then comes the bargaining (Oh great and powerful writing gods, I will sacrifice twenty sheets of paper in your honor if you grant me the muse.)

Then comes the depression (Why *hits wall* am *hits wall* I *hits wall* doing *hits wall* this? *hits wall and stays there*).

This used to be where I would stop and turn on the tv instead. This cycle would stick with me every single day, and eventually I gave up writing. The struggle to put my thoughts on a page became to daunting, too frightening, that for a while I felt I was unworthy of the written word in all it’s forms.

This was two years ago, and it would probably be my reality now if it weren’t for some fantastic advice.

My creative writing Professor assigned us a book called Bird By Bird, a short novella in which Anne Lamott, the author, talks about the trials and tribulations of writing. In it she talks about writers block, and not being afraid of the “Shitty First Draft.”

Because the book is currently on loan, I shall attempt to paraphrase here: A Shitty First Draft is essentially that first draft you write. You may say “but not all first drafts suck,” and that might be true, but for me I’ve never written a first draft that didn’t make me cringe. That being said, Anne Lamott reminds us that it’s okay to write that first draft, and you know why? Because, like the foundation for an amazing building, your Shitty First Draft puts the ground work for all your thoughts and ideas. It’s kinda like admitting your faults in an argument so no one can use them against you.

Is it terrible? Probably. But that’s no reason to be ashamed. As writers it’s that first draft that’s the greatest hurdle; the proverbial “single step” on a journey of a thousand miles. It seems daunting but no one said writing was easy. Each day we write we regurgitate our souls into words and that can be pretty terrifying.

With this in mind, I finally manage to make it to the “Acceptance” stage of writing (Okay i’m scared, but let’s see what comes of this. I can always redo what I wrote.) Funny enough, I found that most of our Writer’s Block comes from the fear of not doing well the first time around. Once we realize this fear our ability to write and rewrite becomes that much more acceptable. Heck, sometimes it even pays to say “I’m going to write the first things that come to mind and nothing is going to stop me.”

It all might seem very daunting but trust me, once you take that leap of faith into your Shitty First Draft writing becomes a significantly more enjoyable process. Until you get to editing of course, but that’s a story for another time.

So, do any of you have a fear of writing your first draft? How do you get past it? What other things seem to gunk up your writing? Questions, comments, and discussions in the comments please.

Otherwise, happy writing my friends.


Posted by on May 28, 2013 in On Writng, Uncategorized


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First Contact – Hello from Zach

Hey everyone, this is Write-Minded Razo, a blog managed by a recent college grad with a degree in English Writing.


Typically I introduce myself to internet strangers by talking about my life and things I love. Seeing as I have an About page for that I suppose that won’t be entirely necessary. Still I feel it would be a complete waste of my reader’s time if all I did was ramble in circles about things I do or don’t want to do.

So let’s start afresh shall we? Ahem.

Writing is my passion. I know the phrase “X is my passion” get thrown around a lot but for me I can honestly say this is completely true. Last night I awoke about  2 in the morning simply to write down a sentence that came to me in my sleep. Nothing gets me going on a conversation like writing techniques or story telling. You could call it an obsession of sorts, but it hasn’t caused too many problems with my outside life. However, like a good book or a recent, mindblowing experience, writing is always at the forefront of my mind.

So that’s where this blog comes in. A friend of mine, who runs the blog, told me I should set this up as an online journal with which to share my ideas. She was but one person who encouraged me to make this blog, and as such I feel i’d be doing a great disservice to myself if I didn’t engage the writing community in some way. So that’s where we are now.

Now, i’m not conceited enough to think my ideas and thoughts are a godsend to the writing community (i’ve met enough of those people to know that). I am but one writer with opinions, thoughts, stories, and feelings in a sea of people. However, if my thoughts could inspire more people to pursue their passion, or intrigue others enough to learn more about this life, then I will be content.

I hope this was a satisfactory introduction. I will update every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday with my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and ideas. I hope it is as beneficial to you all as it is to me.

In closing: thank you for checking out my blog. I hope you stick around for the adventure.


Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Under Construction.

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Uncategorized



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