Making Myths and Magic

A Field Guide to Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels

By: Shelly Campbell and Allison Alexander

SFF Guide Cover - ebook


Beat Sheets

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones


Intro to Hero’s World (0% – 10%): Sophie works at a hat shop. She is the eldest of three sisters and doesn’t think much of herself. Though she’s bored with her job, she doesn’t believe she has it in her to do anything else. She also doesn’t have any friends or anyone to talk to. She lets herself be used by her stepmother, working at the shop without a wage.

Disturbance (10%): The Witch of the Waste comes into the shop and casts a spell on Sophie, turning her into an old woman. This is the harbinger of change, because Sophie can’t stay at the shop or her stepmother will “have a fit.”

Reaction to Disturbance (10% – 20%): After Sophie leaves home, she considers going back because it’s cold and miserable, but decides to press on. When Howl’s castle appears, she wants to go in.

Doorway #1 (20%): The locked doors of the castle only make Sophie more determined to get in. She finds the back door, gets inside, and her adventure really begins.


New World (20% – 50%): Three new characters are introduced after Sophie gets into the castle—Michael, Calcifer, and Howl. Notably, Calcifer can see that Sophie is cursed and makes a deal with her: if she breaks his contract so he can be free, he will break her curse.

Sophie explores the castle, becomes used to her aged body, and endears herself to the castle’s residents. She also butts heads with Howl and learns that he likes romancing women, but only until they fall for him. She has several adventures and tries to learn more about Calcifer’s contract.

Antagonist Flexes Muscles (40%): The Witch of the Waste doesn’t show up in-person in this section, but her name is mentioned often, and we’re constantly reminded of her presence when Sophie mentions her aches and pains. A sign of her power also shows up when the scarecrow appears at the castle. 

Midpoint (50%): Howl brings Sophie to his place of origin—a world that readers will find familiar. Howl reveals that he has to return to the Witch of the Waste when he’s ten thousand days old. The stakes are raised because Sophie needs to break Calcifer’s contract before that happens.

Hero Takes Action (50% – 80%): Sophie meddles in Howl’s life, pretends to be his mother when meeting the king, befriends a bespelled dog, and discovers secrets about Howl’s past and Calcifer’s identity. Sophie is curious and enjoys solving puzzles, but she’s in denial about her own magic and her growing feelings about Howl.

Antagonist Closes In (70%): Events that need to happen for the Witch of the Waste’s curse on Howl to take hold start to occur. Sophie has a run-in with the Witch, where she learns the Witch killed a friend of Howl’s. Howl has an epic battle with the Witch.

Hero’s Low Point (75%): Howl and his friends have to run from the Witch, because she now knows where he lives. He buys Sophie’s stepmother’s old hat shop and moves Calcifer there. Sophie is miserable. She still blames her problems on being the eldest daughter: “It may be the curse hovering to catch up with Howl… but I think it’s being the eldest, really. Look at me! I set out to seek my fortune and I end up exactly where I started, and old as the hills still!”(Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones)

Doorway #2 (80%): Sophie starts to realize that her problems may be more internal than external. She finds out several people have tried to take the spell off of her but can’t because she’s been unconsciously maintaining the curse herself. The Witch lures Sophie to her lair by kidnapping Miss Angorian.


Executing the Plan (80% – 95%): Sophie springs into action, grabbing the seven-league-boots, storming the Witch’s castle, and threatening her in the attempt to rescue Miss Angorian. Various character identities are revealed, including Miss Angorian’s; she turns out to be the Witch’s fire demon and steals Howl’s heart.

Climax (95%): Sophie tells her stick to beat Miss Angorian, finally believing that she has magic like others have constantly been telling her. Sophie tells her friends to stop Miss Angorian from getting away as she rescues Howl’s heart. She breaks Calcifer’s contract and frees him, returning Howl’s heart to his chest.

Resolution (99% – 100%): Sophie reverts to her younger self, it becomes obvious that Sophie and Howl care about each other, and Calcifer returns. The end!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Intro to Hero’s World (0% – 10%): Tolkien introduces us to hobbits in general and then to Bilbo, who is very comfortable living in his hobbit hole. Gandalf pops by for a visit and tells Bilbo he is looking for someone to join an adventure, but Bilbo refuses because adventures are horrid things that make you late for dinner.

Disturbance (10%): The next day, a dwarf arrives at Bilbo’s home. Then another. And another. Until his comfortable, quiet hole is quite full of them.

Reaction to Disturbance (10% – 20%): Bilbo is frustrated with the dwarves’ presence until they start to sing. “Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick” (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien). 

Doorway #1 (20%): Bilbo joins the dwarves on their adventure, leaving the Shire. 


New World (20% – 50%): Bilbo and the dwarves encounter trolls, visit Rivendell, have a run-in with goblins, and meet Beorn. Bilbo gets to know the dwarves he’s traveling with and discovers all manner of strange things in the unfamiliar world.

Antagonist Flexes Muscles (40%): Bilbo gets into a riddle-match in Gollum’s cave, where he finds the Ring. This event is much more significant than Bilbo realizes, because Gollum’s twisted nature is a symbol of the Ring’s destructive power. Though Sauron and the One Ring are not the main antagonists of this story, this event is a glimpse at the evil to come in The Lord of the Rings.

Midpoint (50%): When spiders attack the dwarves in their sleep, Bilbo wakes up and fights back. He kills the spider that had been tying him up, and something in him changes:

“Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath” (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien).

Hero Takes Action (50% – 80%): Bilbo goes on the offensive, searching out the other dwarves that had been captured and rescuing them. The Ring gives him the courage to do some adventurous things, including rescuing the dwarves (again) from being imprisoned by wood elves, and venturing into Smaug’s cave.

Antagonist Closes In (70%): Bilbo chats with Smaug to distract him while he steals some treasure and barely gets away, even though he’s invisible. Then, Smaug attacks the lake-town in retaliation. Bard, a man from the lake-town, defeats Smaug while the dwarves are holed up in the Mountain, and a human-elven alliance of armies approach the mountain to lay claim to its treasure.

Hero’s Low Point (75%): Bilbo and the dwarves become depressed when they cannot find the secret passageway into the Lonely Mountain, but they eventually figure it out.

Doorway #2 (80%): Bilbo thinks Thorin is being foolish for not sharing the Mountain’s wealth and trying to make a stand against two armies, so he sneaks out of the camp with the Arkenstone, the treasure that Thorin most desires, and gives it to Bard. 


Executing the Plan (80% – 95%): Thorin agrees to trade a percentage of the Mountain’s gold for the Arkenstone, but secretly plans on betraying the other races. Thorin gets word to an army of dwarves, who attempt to join their brethren in the Mountain, but Bard does not let them pass. Just as war seems about to break out between the three armies, an army of goblins show up. 

Climax (95%): Elves, humans, and dwarves join forces to fight against the goblin army. Things look dark until, in a climactic moment, Thorin and company burst out of the Mountain to help, and then the eagles show up to turn the tide.  

Resolution (99% – 100%): After the battle is over, Bilbo says goodbye to Thorin, who dies of his wounds. After many more goodbyes, Bilbo returns home to the Shire. Years later, Gandalf and Balin come to visit him and they reminisce.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson


Intro to Hero’s World (0% – 10%): Mistborn’s prologue introduces the plight of the skaa and the mysterious Kelsier. Kelsier’s goal is clear: he wants to save the slaves and change the status quo. Chapter one introduces us to Vin and her strange “luck.” Her goal is also clear: she wants to survive. Vin’s upbringing has been harsh—even her brother has abandoned her—and she’s learned to trust no one.

Disturbance (10%): Kelsier appears at the thieves hideout, an event that changes the direction of Vin’s life. She learns that her “luck” is something else entirely and gets sucked into the skaa rebellion.

Reaction to Disturbance (10% – 20%): Vin’s reaction is distrust. She immediately starts wondering what Kelsier wants from her, how he is going to use her, and what he will hold over her to keep her around. She slowly gets to know Kelsier and his crew and is surprised at the amount of trust they have in each other. She also starts learning about her powers as a Mistborn.

Doorway #1 (20%): Vin’s suspicion comes to a head during a carriage ride with Kelsier. He has taught her the basics of allomancy, and she asks him why and what’s to keep her from running away from him. He replies, “nothing,” offers her all the money he took from her old crew leader, and tells her she’s free to go. He even directs the carriage driver to turn around, because she doesn’t believe him. It is at this point that Vin makes the decision to stay, and so begins her new life as a Mistborn and part of Kelsier’s crew. 


New World (20% – 50%): In addition to being trained in her Mistborn abilities, Vin is instructed to act like a noble so she can infiltrate their society. As someone who grew up on the streets, attending balls and learning to dance really is a new world for her.

Antagonist Flexes Muscles (40%): Vin follows Kelsier out into the mist to see where he is going. He catches her following him, but lets her come with him to raid the Lord Ruler’s palace. Inquisitors are waiting for them, and the two barely escape with their lives. Vin is unconscious for two weeks as a result of her injuries, and it becomes clear how powerful the Lord Ruler and his minions are. 

Midpoint (50%): Vin attends another ball and is much more confident this time. She starts accepting requests to dance, prodding nobles for information, and looking into mysteries, such as why Elend Venture is reading a book that speaks out against the Lord Ruler.

Hero Takes Action (50% – 80%): Vin continues to attend balls, learn about allomancy, read the Lord Ruler’s journal, and falls in love with Elend Venture. Kelsier also takes action, spreading rumours and checking in on the rebellion’s army. 

Antagonist Closes In (70%): The rebellion’s army fights the city’s garrison without Kelsier’s knowledge. They are decimated and the Lord Ruler executes random skaa as punishment for the uprising. 

Hero’s Low Point (75%): The entire crew is dejected at the loss of the army, and everyone is ready to give up on the rebellion, except Kelsier. Vin attends a ball and learns a House war is about to start. Elend pushes her away, and she is devastated, because one of her main fears is people leaving her.

Vin learns that Elend is about to be assassinated. And even though Elend has spurned her and she’s hurt, she decides to stop the assassins. She kills another Mistborn, and may have been spotted by some guards. She is physically and emotionally wounded from these events.

Doorway #2 (80%): Kelsier’s death marks a turning point in the narrative. The crew is tempted to give up again, until they discover the plans Kelsier has left for them, and how he had planned his death to inspire an uprising of the city’s skaa.


Executing the Plan (80% – 95%): The crew begins to enact Kelsier’s instructions, and Vin decides to find out what’s in the guarded room in the palace that Kelsier had tried and failed twice to get into. She fights her way past Inquisitors and makes her way in, meeting the Lord Ruler himself and burning the eleventh metal, which reveals an image of the Lord Ruler’s past. She is captured. Sazed helps her escape and she decides to face the Lord Ruler again. 

Climax (95%): A vicious battle with the Lord Ruler ensues, during which Vin realizes his secret and how to defeat him. She succeeds with help from an ally.

Resolution (99% – 100%): During the epilogue, the crew reflects on the Lord Ruler’s secret and Elend’s new government. Vin goes to visit Elend, then almost leaves without seeing him because she’s scared. But she remembers that her brother had died trying to keep her safe—a truth she had learned during her capture. She had always thought he had left her, which had played into her fears of abandonment. The truth makes her willing to be vulnerable, and she ends up in Elend’s arms.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells


Intro to Hero’s World (0% – 10%): All Systems Red is a novella, so the pacing goes very quickly, and there aren’t any subplots. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Murderbot, a security A.I. that has hacked its own governor module and just wants to be left alone and watch TV, but it’s still doing its job guarding a small crew of scientists who are surveying a planet.

Disturbance (10%): A giant creature attacks, and Murderbot rescues the team and gets them back to HubSystem, their base on the planet, safely. The creature’s appearance was a complete surprise, because it hadn’t shown up in their hazard report for the region.

Reaction to Disturbance (10% – 20%): The team starts investigating why the map they’d been given has inaccurate data, including six missing sections. They’re not sure if the reason for the faulty info is because their survey package was cheap or if it was a deliberate hack.

Doorway #1 (20%): The team leader, Mensah, decides to investigate one of the missing areas to see if anything is there. 


New World (20% – 50%): Murderbot and some of the crew fly out to one of the missing sections from their map. The crew is awkward around Murderbot because they’ve realized it has emotions.

They are exploring a literal new world, but Murderbot also experiences “newness” in the way that the team treats it. It’s not used to people treating it kindly or caring about what happens to it.

Antagonist Flexes Muscles (40%): Murderbot receives a package update from HubSystem, but because it has hacked its own governor module, it doesn’t have to apply it. It files it away for later. Mensah calls Murderbot to let it know of a new problem: they can’t contact DeltFall, the other survey group on the planet. We learn later that these events are an antagonistic force revealing itself; though at this point, they are just suspicious occurrences.

Midpoint (50%): When they get to DeltFall’s habitat to check on them, Murderbot finds dead humans everywhere. It fights two other SecUnits and loses. Dr. Mensah saves it and they get back to the hopper. The SecUnits had installed a combat override module in Murderbot that would force it to kill all the humans. It shoots itself to prevent itself from hurting the crew.

Hero Takes Action (50% – 80%): The crew, after saving Murderbot and removing its combat override module, tries to figure out what the saboteurs want and who they are. They decide to leave the habitat because whoever it is will likely come to kill them, and they take refuge in a nearby jungle. Murderbot leaves some drones at the base to capture footage of whoever comes to investigate their camp, but some of the team have to return later to get it. 

Antagonist Closes In (70%): The crew determines the evil survey group is called GrayCris. In one of the drone’s recordings, the GrayCris leader speaks directly to them and tells them to come to a set of coordinates to talk. The team knows it’s a trap.

Hero’s Low Point (75%): The humans discover that Murderbot is “rogue” and cannot be controlled, but most of them are happy to keep it on their team because it sacrificed itself for them. However, the team’s knowledge of Murderbot’s secret makes it uncomfortable, and it even considers leaving them at one point.

Doorway #2 (80%): The crew decides that Murderbot and Mensah will go to the meeting with GrayCris as part of a plan to trigger a beacon and get rescued. 


Executing the Plan (80% – 95%): Murderbot goes ahead of Mensah to speak with GrayCris alone, telling them that it is rogue and is willing to betray Mensah, and that Mensah has sent a team to activate GrayCris’s beacon. GrayCris tells it to go capture Mensah and bring her back, and sends one of their SecUnits to help. Once out of sight, Murderbot destroys the other SecUnit and takes its armour. Mensah pretends to be its prisoner and they both travel with GrayCris to the beacon. 

Climax (95%): Gurathin and Pin-Lee, two of Mensah’s team, trigger the beacon from GrayCris’s HubSystem. Murderbot gets injured getting Mensah out of the blast radius.

Resolution (99% – 100%): Murderbot wakes up back in the company station. Ratthi comes in and informs it that Mensah has bought its contract, and it is coming home with them.

Murderbot struggles to come to terms with being freed. Murderbot leaves instead of going to Mensah’s home. It says, “I don’t want anyone to tell me what I want, or to make decisions for me” (All Systems Red by Martha Wells). The ending leaves an opening for the next installment in the series.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Intro to Hero’s World (0% – 10%): Katniss lives in poverty in District Twelve. She goes into the forest to hunt, which is an appropriate demonstration of what Katniss wants: to survive. We also get a glimpse of how much she cares about her sister, her friendship with Gale, and her role as the family’s provider.

Disturbance (10%): Katniss’s sister, Prim, is chosen as a Tribute for the Hunger Games, so Katniss volunteers to take her place. Her life will never be the same again, as she knows she has to kill twenty-three other kids if she wants to survive, including the male Tribute from her district, Peeta Mellark.

Reaction to Disturbance (10% – 20%): After she volunteers, Katniss says goodbye to her friends and family and spends the train ride to the Capitol with the District 12 mentor, Haymitch, trying to prepare herself for what is to come.

Doorway #1 (20%): Katniss and Peeta arrive at the Capitol, where the people are wealthy and privileged. There is no going back. 


New World (20% – 50%): Katniss is prepped by her stylists, participates in a televised interview, and starts training for the Games. In his interview, Peeta admits he’s in love with her, which throws her off balance. She doesn’t want to be friends with Peeta because she knows she’ll have to kill him in the Games. The Games themselves start in this section, and Katniss has to navigate an arena full of people trying to kill her. 

Antagonist Flexes Muscles (40%): The Career Tributes show up, and Peeta seems to have allied themselves with them. Katniss gets trapped up a tree.

Midpoint (50%): Katniss drops a nest of Tracker Jackers on the Careers, but she gets stung in the process and starts hallucinating. Peeta has the opportunity to kill her, but pushes her away and tells her to run, instead. The stakes are raised as Katniss realizes maybe Peeta really does care about her, but there’s no way they can both survive this.

Hero Takes Action (50% – 80%): Katniss allies herself with Rue, a Tribute who reminds her of Prim. They make a plan to destroy the Careers’ food

Antagonist Closes In (70%): Katniss witnesses Cato, one of the Careers, killing another Tribute. Then, Rue gets caught and killed by a District One boy before Katniss can get to her. Katniss promises her she’ll win and sings her a song as she dies.

Hero’s Low Point (75%): Rue’s death hits Katniss hard. She covers the girl in flowers and mourns her loss, then forces herself to focus on survival.

Doorway #2 (80%): A change of rules is announced: Tributes from the same District can team up and win together. Katniss involuntarily calls out Peeta’s name. Now she knows what she has to do: find Peeta and keep up the “star-crossed lovers” act so they can win together. She refuses to admit she might have real feelings for him and is focused on survival.


Executing the Plan (80% – 95%): Katniss finds Peeta, but he’s extremely sick. The Gamemakers announce that what each of the remaining Tributes needs is waiting for them in the centre of the arena, but this means Katniss has to leave the safety of the cave to get it.

She manages to retrieve the medicine and gets it back to Peeta, who heals quickly. Shortly, there are only three tributes left: Katniss, Peeta, and Cato. They are driven to the centre of the arena for a standoff, during which Cato dies.

Climax (95%): The Gamemakers announce that their earlier revision to the rules is revoked, hoping to force Katniss and Peeta into fighting each other. Katniss is angry at the injustice and comes up with a plan: they will both swallow poisonous berries at the same time, so there will be no victor.

This is a significant character moment, because Katniss sets aside her desire to survive in order to rebel. She is still mostly focused on survival; her plan is calculated—she knows they probably won’t let both Tributes die—but it’s risky.

Resolution (99% – 100%): Katniss and Peeta win the games and return home to District 12. Katniss is still unsure how she feels about Peeta, and their relationship is strained because he learns she was just pretending to be in love with him. She also knows the President is angry with her and is unlikely to let her get away with the stunt she pulled. The ending is left open for the next installment in the series.


Resources for Further Research



Chapter 1

1 Harmon, Dan. “Rick and Morty Dan Harmon Story Circle,” YouTube, uploaded by Ryan Bose, 23 Jun 2018,

Chapter 2

1 Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 1997.

Chapter 3

1 Sanderson, Brandon. Elantris. Tor Fantasy, 2006.

2 Palmer, Ada. Too Like the Lightning. Tor Books, 2016.

3 Palmer, Ada. Too Like the Lightning. Tor Books, 2016.

Chapter 4

1 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Directed by Irvin Kershner, Lucasfilm, 1980.

2 Demchick, Harrison. “The Best Way to use Conflict and Tension in your Narrative.” The Writer’s Ally, 24 Mar 2021,

3 “The Rains of Castamere” (Season 3, Episode 9). Game of Thrones. HBO, 2 Jun 2013.

Chapter 5

1 Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Penguin Books, 2006 (first published 1853).

2 Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury, 1997.

3 Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic, 2002 (first published 2000).

4 Pratchett, Terry. The Wee Free Men. HarperTrophy, 2004 (first published May 1st 2003).

5 Ondrušeková, Judtia. “Narrative Function of Language in Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men.” Constantine the Philosopher University,

6 “Family Ties” (Season 1, Episode 22). Farscape. Debmar-Mercury, 28 Jan 2000.

7 “Rhapsody in Blue” (Season 1, Episode 13). Farscape. Debmar-Mercury, 23 Jul 1999.

8 “Exodus from Genesis” (Season 1, Episode 3). Farscape. Debmar-Mercury, 14 May 1999.

9 Skrovon, Jon. “Guest Post: How to Build a Fantasy Language, from Slang to Swearing, by Jon Skovron.” Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, 28 Jun 2016,

10 Hansen, Essa. Nophek Gloss. Orbit, 2020.

11 Mass Effect 2, Windows PC version, BioWare, 2010.

12 Butcher, Jim. Storm Front. Penguin, 2000.

Chapter 6

1 Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages and victims develop emotional ties to their captors as a survival strategy. They develop loyalty and affection for their kidnapper, excuse abusive behaviour, and distrust authorities or potential rescuers; they even start to assimilate their captor’s beliefs and goals. Stockholm syndrome requires an uneven power relationship, that the captive is held under threat of death or injury, and that they are unable to take initiative to escape even if the opportunity comes up.

Chapter 7

1 Once known as the soul of Cape Town, District Six was home to a population of 55,000 predominantly coloured people who suffered displacement and the demolishment of their homes and businesses. This event culminated when District Six was declared a white-only area under the Group Areas Act in 1966.

2 “Jaynestown.” Firefly. Directed by Joss Whedon. 20th Television, 2002.

Chapter 8

1 Verne, Jules. The Mysterious Island. Modern Library, 2004 (first published 1865).

2 Not everyone agrees on the definitions of high and low fantasy. Some define high fantasy as having fantastical elements (like magic) and low fantasy as having minimal or no magic. By this definition, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones would be low fantasy, as magic doesn’t play a big part in the story. But by our definition, Game of Thrones would be high fantasy, because it takes place in another world. Due to this confusion, we recommend choosing one of the other, more specific subgenres to define your novel.

3 Side note: many female fantasy and sci-fi authors have their adult books automatically categorized as young adult, even though their books are written for an adult audience (this has to do with sexism in the publishing industry. See the article “Women write fantasy for grownups, too” listed in Appendix B for more info on this).

Chapter 9

1 Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Ballantine Books, 1973 (originally published 1954).

2 Brioux, Bil. “Firefly series ready for lift off.” Jam Showbiz, 15 Jul 2012,

Chapter 11

1 Butler, Octavia. “In 1980: Octavia Butler Asked, Why Is Science Fiction So White?” Garage Magazine, 4 Sep 2018,

2 @MaryRobinette. “It’s not about adding diversity for the sake of diversity, it’s about subtracting homogeneity for the sake of realism.” Twitter, 17 Dec 2014, 10:01 p.m.,

3 Szalavitz, Maia. “Why do we think poor people are poor because of their own bad choices?” The Guardian, 5 Jul 2017,

4 Johansson, Emil. “Middle-earth in Numbers.” LOTR PROJECT,

5 Tilley, Cristen. “Book week: Analysis of bestsellers suggests kids’ bookshelves are on a lean.” ABC, 21 August 2018,

6 Elliott, Kate. “Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas.” TOR, 23 Mar 2016,

7 Berlatsky, Noah. “In Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, gender isn’t just different, it’s irrelevant.” ABP Culture, 30 Nov 2017,

8 Shurrens, Skye. “Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Xiran Jay Zhao, Author of Iron Widow; On Feminist Fantasy, Giant Robots, & Diaspora Worldbuilding.” The Quiet Pond. 7 May 2020,

9 Handyman, Wren. “Diversity in Sci Fi Is Important. Here’s How We Write That Future.” We Need Diverse Books, 30 Jul 2020,

10 Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “Understanding the Difference Between Race and Ethnicity.” ThoughtCo., 13 Mar 2021,

11 @saladinahmed. “dear writers: your white characters have race and skin color too. write like you know that. otherwise you make them the default.” Twitter, 7 Dec 2017, 6:36 a.m.,

12 Ifueko, Jordan. Raybearer. Amulet Books, 2020.

13 Brown, Roseanne A. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. HarperCollins, 2020.

14 Badger, Darcie Little. Elatsoe. Levine Querido, 2020.

15 Benson, SF. “SF Benson: Writing Diverse Characters.” We Write Fantasy, 1 Jul 2020, 

16 Boyce, Michael. “The Uncomfortable Racism of C.S. Lewis.” Area of Effect Issue 10, Sep 2017.

17 Price, Fran and Halli Gomez. “WRITING FEATURE Neurodivergent Characters, Part 1.” Words & Pictures,

18 Author Unknown. “a guide to writing tourettic characters.” Tumblr, 18 Nov 2018, 

19 Bartmess, Elizabeth. “What Good Representation of Autistic Characters Looks Like, Part I: Interiority and Neurology.” Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, 28 Feb 2018, 

20 Hoffman, Ada. “Towards a Neurodiverse Future: Writing an Autistic Heroine.” TOR, 24 Jul 2019,

21 Neufeld, Kyla. “Monstrous Bodies: Fat Shaming in Geek Culture.” Never Split the Party (and Other Wisdom from Geek Culture That Changed My Life). Mythos & Ink, 2019.

22 Onyx, Fay. “How Do I Describe Fat Characters Respectfully?” Mythcreants, 15 Jun 2020, 

23 Anders, Charlie Jane. “Never Say You Can’t Survive: When Is It Okay To Write About Someone Else’s Culture or Experience?” TOR, 6 Oct 2020, 

24 Kirabo, Sincere. “Muggles’ Magical Thinking: Why J.K. Rowling’s Cultural Appropriation is a Problem.” The Humanist, 14 Mar 2016, 

25 Scalzi, John. “The Big Idea: N.K. Jemisin.” Whatever, 2 May 2012, 

26 Alderman, Naomi et al. “Whose life is it anyway? Novelists have their say on cultural appropriation.” The Guardian, 1 Oct 2016,

27 Garcia-Navarro, Lulu and Amélie Wen Zhao. “ Amélie Wen Zhao On ‘Blood Heir’.” NPR, 17 Nov 2019, 

28 Zutter, Natalie. “We Need Diverse Books Talks True, Political, Global Diversity in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.” TOR, 1 Jun 2015, 

Chapter 12

1 Saghir, Isra Aemen Saghir. “‘Torrent and Tempest and Flood.’ An Analysis of the Flood Myth Across Cultures.” Young Anthropology, 2019,

Chapter 13

1 Ambrosino, Brandon. “How and why did religion evolve?” BBC Future, 18 April 2019,

2 “The Global Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center, 18 Dec 2012,

3 de Waal, Frans. The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates. W. W. Norton Company, 2013.

4 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Lucasfilm, 2016.

Chapter 14

1 Sofia, Maddie, host, and Jessica Coon. “What Arrival Gest RIght — And Wrong — About Linguistics.” Science Movie Club, NPR, 21 August 2020,

2 Hoffman, Ada. “How Science Feels.” Substack, 21 Sep 2021,

Chapter 15

1 Sanderson, Brandon. “Sanderson’s First Law.” Brandon Sanderson, 20 Feb 2007,

2 Sanderson, Brandon. “Sanderson’s Second Law.” Brandon Sanderson, 16 Feb 2012,

3 Sanderson, Brandon. “Sanderson’s Third Law.” Brandon Sanderson, 25 Sep 2013,

Chapter 16

1 Watson, Galadriel. “Why solving puzzles feels so satisfying, especially during a quarantine,” The Washington Post, 4 May 2020,

2 Rodda, Emily. The Lake of Tears. Scholastic, 2001 (first published 2000).

3 Nix, Garth. Aenir. Scholastic, 2000.

4 Nix, Garth. Aenir.

5 Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. Houghton Mifflin, 2002 (first published 1937).

6 Thor: Ragnarok. Directed by Taika Waititi, Marvel Studios, 2017.

7 Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising Sequence (The Dark is Rising, #1-5). Simon & Schuster, 1986.

8 Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Ballantine Books, 1973 (originally published 1954).

9 Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Curse of Chalion. Voyager, 2003 (first published 2001).

10 Gaiman, Neil and Terry Pratchett. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. William Morrow, 2006 (first published 1990).

11 Kyla Neufeld, “How to Write a Poetic Prophecy, Mythos & Ink, 04 July 2019,

Chapter 17

1 Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Ballantine Books, 1973 (originally published 1954).

2 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Directed by Peter Jackson. New Line Cinema, 2001.

3 Collins, Suzanne. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Scholastic Press, 2020.

4 Ifueko, Jordan. Raybearer. Amulet Books, 2020.

5 Dragon Age: Inquisition. Windows PC version, Bioware, 2014.

6 Jordan, Robert. A Crown of Swords. TOR, 1997.

7 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Wii version, Nintendo, 2011.

8 Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear. DAW Books, 2011.

9 Valente, Catherynne M. Mass Effect Andromeda: Annihilation. Titan Books, 2018.

10 Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Fate. Spectra, 2004.

11 Star Wars: Republic Commando. Windows PC version, LucasArts, 2005.

Chapter 18

1 Lisa O’Kelly, “Philip Pullman: “My daemon is a raven, a bird that steals things’,” The Guardian, 22 Oct 2017,

2 Trout, Paul A. “Why We Invented Monsters,” Salon, 2 Dec 2011,

3 Athans, Philip. “Writing Monsters: What Makes a Monster Scary,” Writer’s Digest, 27 Oct 2017,

4 Albrecht, Karl. “The (Only) 5 Fears We All  Share.” Psychology Today, 22 Mar 2012,

Chapter 19

1 Jordan, Robert. The Dragon Reborn. TOR, 1991.

2 Koboldt, Dan. “Weapons and Tactics in Fantasy Warfare.” Dan Koboldt, 23 Jul 2015,

3 “Water War.” Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Season 4, Episode 1, Lucasfilm, 2011.

4 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Directed by George Lucas, Lucasfilm, 2002.

5 Breiding, Dirk H. “Arms and Armor—Common Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oct 2004,

Chapter 20

1 Radish, Christina. “Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Wes Bentley, The Hunger Games Interview.” Collider, 12 Mar 2012,

2 Holman, Ray. “Ray Holman – Costume Designer Q+A.” BBC, 11 October 2018,

Chapter 21

1  “How many languages are there in the world?” Ethnologue Languages of the World,

2 “Treehouse of Horror.” The Simpsons, created by Matt Croening, season 2, episode 16, Fox, 1990.

3 Polomoshnova, Olga. “On linguistic creation: what makes Tolkien’s invented languages special.” Middle-earth Reflections, 6 January 2019, 

4 Eldrige, Alison. “6 Fictional Languages You Can Really Learn.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.,

5 Goldfield, Anna. “The Neanderthal Throat—Did Neanderthals Speak?” Sapiens Anthropology Magazine, 12 June 2019,

Chapter 22

1 Wells, Martha. Network Effect. TOR, 2020.

2 Wells, Martha and Diana Rivera. “Surviving the Corporate Galaxy: An interview with Martha Wells.” Brookfield Institute. 2 July 2020,

Chapter 23

1 Christine Folch, “Why the West Loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy: A Cultural Explanation,” The Atlantic, 13 June 2013,

2 Wolf-Meyer, Matthew. “The Necessary Tension between Science Fiction and Anthropology.” Society for Cultural Anthropology,

3 “The Force is Strong: Amputee Controls Individual Prosthetic Fingers.” Georgia Tech, 12 Nov 2017,

4 Maria Diment, “Does the language we speak shape the way we think?” ALTA Language Services, Inc. 20 Nov 2019,

5 Aslanova, Amanova Roza. “Sacred Functions of Musical Instruments in the Creative Syncretism of Shamanistic Ritual,” ResearchGate, May 2018,

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