Explore the prequel stories to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Welcome to Oz

Discover why L. Frank Baum was only half-correct when he devised "a modern fairy tale...where the heartaches and nightmares are left out."

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Who needs heroes? (I do)

Picture from Prince Caspian

In previous posts, we discussed villains and heroes. Now we come to a more personal question. Who needs heroes?

This question drives my writing and my explorations into character.

I am flawed. I struggle. I move forward a little bit, and then I fall. I get tired. It’s hard to get up and continue. What do I need to go on? Pretty much, I just need a hero to look to. Read the rest of this page »

What makes a Hero?

 

Aslan, from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Aslan, from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

A hero is someone that inspires hope. A hero stands in contrast to a villain, who inspires hopelessness. Villains are explored in a previous post.

Based on this simple definition, the hero type can be broken down into several categories. This post contains short videos that I believe demonstrate the aspects of heroism that I look for in my characters.

There are many real-life examples of heroes. This post is limited to fictional heroes and heroic qualities that I find inspiring.

Everyday hero

These everyday heroes may not change the world, but they can change your world.

Consider Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie (1978). Read the rest of this page »

What makes a villain?

Alien xenomorph vs. Darth Vader

Alien vs. Darth Vader. Image courtesy TheForce.net discussion boards.

A good villain is the embodiment of that which makes you feel helpless. 
With that in mind, three types of villains emerge:

Inhuman forces of nature

Shadows and hordes

Inhuman forces of nature that run rampant are always scary. A few examples include: Read the rest of this page »

The Colors of the Writing Rainbow

Tarl:

On the topic of writing, there are countless ways to do it right. There are lessons that speak to the individual, and there are lessons that guide the individual to become one of the faceless many. There are mythic lessons, and there are contemporary lessons. One of my favorite types of writing lessons is the acronym lesson. Where ROYGBIV denotes the colors of the rainbow, it also outlines the characteristics that a writer should embody. This remembered lesson from high school is a testament to the enduring power of a teacher’s passion.

Originally posted on Eye-Dancers:

As time pushes on, as the months and years pass by and life navigates its twists and turns, the things we learned in school sometimes blur into the trees and promontories of the background.

windingpath

We might remember our first date, our best friend from school, we may recall, painfully, feelings of rejection and loneliness, moments of ridicule.

But how many in-class lessons do we remember?  Can we remember anything pertinent our 8th-grade algebra teacher taught us?  (Well, surely, Marc Kuslanski can!)  How about 10th-grade history or chemistry?  Sadly, so much is lost, often irretrievably so.  But some lessons endure.  Some remain vibrant and alive, decades later.

lessonslearned

For me, one such lesson occurred one sunny spring day in English class when I was a freshman in high school.  The teacher, a large, balding man with a soft voice, was a writer at heart, and sometimes, seemingly at random, he would…

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Booktrack – a new way to listen to eBooks

I recently discovered a neat app that allows for audio tracks to be placed into the text of ebooks. This opened a new opportunity for me to share The Hidden History of Oz. The first two chapters of Book One: The Witch Queens are available to read free on booktrack.com, or jump directly to The Witch Queens.

These are just the first two chapters of this book. I may go as high as six chapters if there is good feedback (positive and constructive). I am enjoying the new toolset for bringing this story to life. Adding a little bit of sound makes a big difference in the feel and pacing of the story. Jump over to booktrack and listen for yourself.

 

Six-word Oz-capades

Can you tell a story in six words? This super-short storytelling has a history dating back to Ernest Hemmingway when he shared the following with a friend:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

iO9 has a couple of super-short science fiction writing contests here, and here. This got me thinking about how to tell a story in six words. You see it many times in newspaper and magazine headlines. The story needs to pull you in so that you buy their product – their product being both a magazine and a message. If you buy their message, you will most likely come back. You become their audience.

So how do you build an audience in six words? You find common beliefs that allow you to use shorthand to tell your story. You find double-meanings in words that give you more mileage. And you find a way to look at events or attitudes that allow people to think they know what is happening, and then surprise them.

The power of each word is multiplied when you can only use six of them. Here are three of my favorites from my six-word sci-fi brainstorming session:

  • Substitute time traveler wanted. Provide references.
  • Successfully removed cancerous microchip. Now lonely.
  • Vegetable uprising. Time travel. Primordial soup.

I thought even further – could this work for Oz stories?

Given only the limit of six words to tell an Oz story, can you do it? Can you rely on your audience’s understanding of Oz to share an entire story in scarcely a handful of words? I’m going to give it a try. 

Some of these may be actual story ideas for The Hidden History of Oz series. Time will tell. Distilling the essence of a story down to six words is quite an interesting exercise.

Why don’t you give it a try? In the comments below, leave your six-word Oz story.

Five songs that inspired Oz

Day after day the endless flow powers the clockwork machinery. Music flows through the gears of creativity, inspiring great stories. Picture courtesy of Pinterest (credit: The Time Machine, by Dmitriy Filippov)

Music goes hand in hand with creativity like applesauce goes with pancakes. Every author has their own music that they depend on when they build their worlds. Here is a glimpse into a few of the songs that inspired The Hidden History of Oz series, and what makes them so great. Read the rest of this page »

Three Witch Wars that Nearly Destroyed the Land of Oz

The Witches arrogantly abused their borrowed power and destroyed the seas in Oz.

The Hidden History of Oz is one of transplant colonization, expansion, trade, and war. In short, it is a history like any other land. The difference in Oz is that there are points in the history where the Witches – the keepers of knowledge – allow that power to corrupt their responsibility to protect. They betray that power to conquer and divide the land.

In the history of Oz, there have been two Witch Wars. The Third Witch War begins in The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens. What, exactly, are the Witch Wars? And how do they differ from other wars? Read the rest of this page »

Designing the future (games of 2020)

An origami dragon, folded out of red paper.

An origami dragon. Courtesy google image search.

While reviewing some of my past creative work today, I came across a game design document I wrote in 2009.

I was still a student, and the contest was a limited-time entry only. With just a few days before the deadline, I brainstormed what I thought would be a fascinating game and digital world. A large part of this document relies on technology that isn’t quite there yet. (Think back to how much less-there the technology was four years ago!)

In designing Paper Planes, a Massive Online Community of digital origami, I combined three things: digital technology just beyond our reach, the infinite creativity of the human mind, and origami, which fascinated me as a child. Consider the artistic landscape – if there were no limitations to digital folding or paper craftsmanship, what could you create? Read the rest of this page »

A Smashing Good Time – the Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West Few villains are as iconic as Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939). Is it the green skin, the archetypal witch’s nose, or the wide-brimmed black hat that makes her so memorable? Maybe her screeching voice is what sticks in your memory. The Wicked Witch of the West has had multiple incarnations in the 100+ years since L. Frank Baum first published his novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Many additional authors have written about this witch. We will explore the four primary versions of the Wicked Witch of the West. These versions are:

  • The Wicked Witch of the West, from The Wizard of Oz (film, MGM, 1939).
  • Elphaba, from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West.
    Note: This is the original version of the character made famous in the Broadway musical, Wicked.
  • The Wicked Witch of the West, from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Ondri-baba, from Tarl Telford’s Hidden History of Oz books.

What makes each of these versions different? Who is the Wicked Witch of the West, anyway? Read the rest of this page »

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