An open notebook that reads "THE PLOT" in large bold letters. The page is decorated with stickers of leaves. Two pens are set on top of it.

5 Free and Useful Tools for Writing Fantasy

All genres of writing come with unique challenges, but fantasy writing (and speculative fiction in general) usually involves a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Regardless of the subgenre you’re writing, there are plenty of times you need to rely entirely on your imagination. What are you going to call your squirrel-racoon-pigeon mutant hybrids that are terrorizing New York City?

Look, I’ve been there. Over the years that I’ve been working on Project Quest, I’ve found several useful online tools that have helped me generate ideas, visualize, and keep track of things in my fantasy universe. So whether you need a map of an alien planet, a timeline of world history, or you just need character names for your next D&D campaign, these tools can help you out.

In the interest of sharing things that are both useful and accessible, this list only includes tools that are either entirely free (ad-supported, etc.) or have a “free version” that allows use of all key features without additional payment.

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A large mug shaped like a pineapple sits on a bookshelf with several slips of paper sticking out of it. The pineapple is wearing sunglasses

Character Duel Tag

Full disclosure – I renamed this tag because apparently it was originally called the “You’re Not Good Enough Book Tag.” That title felt a little misleading, because honestly, this is all about characters fighting each other. Figuratively, at least.

This tag was originally created by Booktubers ReadLikeWildfire and Beccathebookreviewer, but the video is no longer available. I actually found it through another blogger, Dreamland Book Blog. The rules are simple: There are 15 questions (well, 14 in my version – I cut one out), you write various character names on slips of paper and draw names for each question. You have to pick between these two characters for each question and decide which one is better for the question.

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to explain, so I’m just gonna get into the questions!

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A smartphone sitting in the grass. On the screen it shows someone catching a Pikachu in Pokemon Go.

Which Pokémon Go Team Are Your Favorite Characters On? (+Quiz!)

Two years ago, a little app overtook the world. This app was Pokémon Go, a mobile game based on the popular video game franchise that used GPS and augmented reality technology to bring the cartoon creatures to the real world.

People everywhere grabbed their smartphones and left to explore their towns and neighborhoods. Even today, the game still brings people together regularly. I’ve made some great friends at my school through the game, and there were dozens of people at a local park for the most recent Community Day.

In Pokémon Go there are three teams: Team Valor, Team Mystic, and Team Instinct. Once players reach a certain level, they join one of these teams and then compete against the others.

The choice of team is arbitrary, but each one embodies a certain set of characteristics. Knowing this, it got me thinking – if fictional characters played Pokémon Go, what teams would they be on? I’ve decided to “sort” a handful of them and give a few reasons why. Plus, if you’ve always wanted to know what team you should be on, I have just the quiz for you!

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A stack of green books on a green background. From top to bottom, they are: Goliath, Liar, The Maze Runner, and Insurgent.

YA Character Tropes: Scrap or Save? (+Quiz)

If you handed me a young adult novel and gave me thirty seconds to look at it, I could probably tell you a bit about the cast of characters. There’s a pretty good chance the cast consists of a dark and mysterious guy, an insecure girl, and a vaguely attractive childhood friend.

Not all YA books would be like that, of course, but a majority of them do contain these basic character archetypes. They’re like pages in a coloring book – an outline for the writer to fill in with whatever colors or patterns they see fit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some of these archetypes have become tropes. In other words, all of the writers are coloring in the picture the exact same way.

These tropes make stories predictable, which gets boring for the audience. But are all tropes really that bad? Can any of them be salvaged? I’ve picked ten of the most common character tropes in YA fiction to try and answer which tropes are really worth saving (and how to save them), and which ones should be tossed aside.

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