“Hey.” Annabeth slid next to me on the bench. “Happy birthday.” She was holding a huge misshapen cupcake with blue icing. I stared at her. “What?” “It’s August 18th,” she said. “Your birthday, right?”
The Last Olympian (pg. 372)
This is my third time rewriting this introduction, and this time I’ve decided that I’m just gonna be as weird as I want because this is MY blog and I do what I want.
Anyway, last weekend, my friend Rachel came up to visit and we threw a birthday party for a fictional character.
Now to be clear, this wasn’t just any fictional character, but Percy Jackson, hero and protagonist of the The Lightning Thief (which was recently named as one of Time‘s 100 Best YA Books of All Time), its sequels, and many spinoffs. For longtime readers of Maggie’s Musings, it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series. I grew up with these books, and even now as an adult, I still love re-reading them. They hold a special place in my heart.
I usually don’t remember dates like this, but Percy’s birthday just so happens to be the day after my brother’s birthday (speaking of which: Paul, if you’re reading this, IOU one (1) birthday gift and a cake or other treat of your choice). And since Rachel was already coming to visit that weekend and she also happens to be a Percy Jackson fan, we thought, why not? Let’s live the lives our twelve-year-old selves would’ve wanted us to have.
Look, I didn’t want to be a blogger… alright who am I kidding, of course I did. But if you’ve ever read the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, that opening line might look familiar.
I recently re-read The Lightning Thief, the first book in the series, and I just saw the musical adaptation of the novel (which you should definitely check out if you have the chance), so I figured now was a good time to present to you the alphabet, according to the Percy Jackson series.
Have you ever played a video game, watched a movie, or read a book that made you want to live in that world? In all stories, no matter what the medium is, the setting plays an important role. Because of that, we often find ourselves wanting to visit that world – myself included. I’ve experienced a lot of stories, and while setting isn’t always a prominent factor, the best storytellers know how to utilize this element to their advantage.
Today, I’d like to dedicate some time to my favorite fictional worlds. Not only would I love to visit these universes myself (well, if they weren’t so dangerous), but they’ve also influenced my own writing in a number of ways.
A Good vs. Evil story is usually pretty straightforward. You have the Good Guys on one side, and the Bad Guys on the other side, and you’re almost always cheering for the Good Guys to win. It’s the type of story you see in children’s fairy tales, but that doesn’t make it childish.
Lately, I’ve noticed people tend to steer clear of these types of stories. The argument is that “Good vs. Evil” is too unrealistic – people and societies really aren’t that clear-cut when it comes to morality. In reality, there’s a lot more ambiguity. That’s how we end up with writing advice about giving our villains redeemable qualities and giving our heroes flaws.
And don’t get me wrong, that’s good advice – you do want to have fully developed characters on both sides of the equation, or it isn’t a very fair story. But in the process of giving this advice, we shun the typical good vs. evil stories, calling them cliche, predictable, overdone, and so on and so forth.
But here’s a secret: I’m actually okay with these kinds of stories.