First off: How was summer camp? Mine was great, thanks for asking. I set the ambitious goal of writing at least one article to get my "new" setting going, the Freelands
. It is a concept I've been working on for a decade, but I've never really set anything in stone until now. I've even written a meta, and I suggest you go read it if you find the homepage interesting. But yes, one article to get going! Furthermore, I decided to only answer prompts I wanted
to answer, prompts I would enjoy
writing about. This was not the case last year when I went for diamond, where some articles felt a bit forced, filling my fantasy setting (this world) with stuff it didn't really need.
How wonderful then that the udans spewed out the wildcard prompts. A greater pool to choose from, not locked into the original eight per week. Less pressure on the ol' writing muscles. I took my time, and didn't submit any articles before the second week. The third wave came along, then the fourth, and I achieved copper on the thursday or friday before the deadline. Well tickle me sideways and call me silly billy, wouldn't you know the leprechauns of creativity decided to beat me half way to death the following weekend. I churned out article after article, even smacked some homegrown line art on a couple of them. Four hours before the deadline I had 24 articles ready to go, hot off the press, and I could smell that fine golden badge that's coming my way.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Not only did I write 24 summer camp articles, I composed in-world songs and hymns, established some basic universal laws, laid the foundations of – well – lot's of stuff I really enjoyed working on. I had a great time singing and playing those songs on my guitar, putting myself into the mindset of the characters in my setting. And the world comes alive! Some of these articles are still works in progress, but they'll show up in their own time.
If you're here to find some reading material yourself you can find my summer camp articles here
. There are a couple belonging to this world, but most belong to my Freelands setting. My own favorites, in no particular order, are Firewood
, and Ivar and the Silver bear
500 words in and I haven't stopped talking about myself yet. Let's take a look at some other folks.
A CHILDREN'S TALE OR SONG BASED ON A REAL EVENT
I'm ferociously consuming a tremendous amount of folklore in a feeble attempt to sate my ravenous hunger for a good story. A mere three tales or songs could never be enough. No! No! No! More! More! More!
I'm a sucker for folklore, and a nursery rhyme with an associated game takes me right back to the playground days of yore. What really pulled me in is how ECC combined the whimsical rhyme with with some very serious superstitions, leading to tragedy. Me having just read Alice in Wonderland, I asked him whether that was his inspiration. It wasn't. Regardless, it gave me AiW vibes, and maybe more so, American McGee's Alice vibes. It is a type of storytelling I admire very much, one that brings forth not necessarily memories of the past, but feelings of the past. Hard to describe exactly why and how, but it's part of what makes ECC a great writer.
A crucial part of every nursery rhyme is... well... the rhyme. In my journey through many a poem, I have come to realize that rhythm plays an equally, or even more important part than the rhyming itself. You don't see many rhymes in Paradise Lost, now do you? That said, I have a terrible or just weird sense of rhythm. I have to count syllables on my fingers while stomping my feet. But by doing so I am able to differentiate between consistent patterns with great flow, and something that's maybe not so great. Far be it from me to compare Feya's Glittering Eyes with the iambic pentameter of Milton's epic, but I did find an unusual pattern reminiscent of a double ballad meter that works surprisingly well. Yes, I am getting to the point. And the point is this nursery rhyme is well composed, which in turn makes it easier to remember. Important, as it is meant as a warning.
Another article that takes me back to the recess playground. I actually sort of remember playing something very similar to the game described here, and the nostalgia bias has kicked in for sure. The song that follows the game – ever changing and increasing in length – seems playful and nonsensical enough. But there are implications
. These are what makes me want to go on a reading binge of this world. I want to see what mysteries and secrets gave life to this innocent game. Alas, there's an in-world suggestion saying we may never know the song's true origin. I would say "too bad" if not for the fact that this is a classic element of folklore. Some things are far more interesting when left to speculation, and the journey from here is bound to be exciting!
A terrific little children's bedtime story. Very traditional in one sense, quite futuristic in another. Stories like these time and time again has a character with a certain desire or goal, then sets off on a journey to have their desires met. They usually end with a lesson to be learned by the children they're intended for. While I think you could easily make an example out of the monster without a name – be it a warning against greed or gluttony or mistrust – my interpretation is that there need not be a lesson here. It is simply enjoyable entertainment.
An original take on the prompt. Not a song for children, but from the perspective of a child. Err... former child? Written as a sort of space country song – which really is just a modern take on traditional folk songs – it takes on themes that reflect the human experience. Family, longing, journey of self discovery and personal growth. Doesn't matter if it mentions starships and galaxies, the emotions conveyed are timeless and relatable. I almost feel pleasantly homesick while going through it, despite doing all my reading in the comfort of my own home.
I've touched on rhyme, rhythm and mood, and common but effective techniques used in writing folklore. Seems I've yet to mention the importance of storytelling! Kit's song is a fairly straight forward story recounting a real event. No vague symbolism based on something that may have happened or not. I imagine this song in-world is a great way for children to learn about history, and to appreciate the higher powers sent by the Heavens. To me it serves as a light introduction to the world of Wizard's Peak's more complex reading material. Also, the drawings are adorable!
Now, this is an article that keeps on giving. Not only do we get the awesome tale of the mysterious Journeyman, we also get a rhyme AND
a song! AND THE SONG HAS CHORDS! I make an effort of at least trying to put chords on every song I come across so that I can sing it while reading. Here the writer did all the work for me. The author's name is "That's Boring" by the way, and it could have fooled me if not for the fun and engaging article. They break down the legend itself well, so I won't go into that. I pondered, is this an american inspired tale? Or does it have more of a slavic style? Or something else? I came to realize that some themes are of course universal, strangers on the road being one such theme. I hope to see more arts depicting the Journeyman, perhaps from different cultures' perspective as well?
This one's quite grim for a children's song, being about mass hangings and genocide. It's all good, though. There's this lovely little game of balance and counting involved, crucial to a child's development of motor function and cognitive abilities. I've mentioned before how some stories aim to teach a lesson, while some do not need to teach one. Well, this is a case where the rhyme maybe should have taught a lesson, its grisly origins lost to time and the ignorance – and innocence – of children. It strikes me as a very realistic thing that a child will see something horrendous, not understand what it is, and proceed to make a game of it. Gruesome. But realistic.
Let's finish off with a limerick, shall we? It's almost a limerick. Close enough. The kind spirits in this world may leave you gifts should you choose to climb to your roof early in the morning, and the people have taken to chanting this rhyme whilst ascending. I see this as the sort of folkloric, not quite as grim(m)
tales you find in Germanic countries, where some fairies or other magical creatures will have you do something arbitrary and nonsensical in exchange for a reward. Just a straightforth feel-good story. It's best read when accompanied by this this article
, solidifying the relevance of storytelling in this world.
There are so many more articles I could include, but it's getting crammed in here. Look for more myths and legends down in my miscellaneous section!
A DESTRUCTIVE NATURAL OR SUPERNATURAL EVENT
I didn't answer this prompt myself. Not that I didn't have anything to write about, just haven't established how I should go about writing these events. Thankfully, almost 400 people have, and here are some of them.
CB Ash is like the #1 showcaser of other people's worlds and articles, and so it feels right to showcase one of his articles. The Eclipse Storm. While reading about it I could see it. I heard the thunders as it scraped across the mountains, I felt the heavy rain upon my forehead. All of this without even considering the images, which were great by the way. But I didn't need them. I'm taking the risk of sounding pretentious by using big-boy-words here, but this is quintessential evocative writing.
See, given my grand hunger for tales, stories, and songs, it was inevitable that I would sniff out some folklore in other prompts. Or to this world I assume creation myths are more like historical events than folklore. And here we find three events, all destructive, none alike, yet all enjoyable reads. It is structured like something out of a scientific journal. I enjoyed the section on the origin of Cooking Pot Lake the most; Volcanic eruption as an act of mercy was a fresh take that somehow brought me to the author's last year's summer camp page to find out more.
Not much text in this article, but it really says a lot. Says a lot to me at least. Possibly because I have a knack for weather and climate in real life. An interplanar weather phenomenon caused by the material plane's position relative to the elemental planes. The planes move! Or "move". In far too many worlds they are static. Movement drives action, stories, the freaking calendar. And causes weather. I love to see someone breaking the status quo of fantasy at the cost of devastating tides and droughts in their world.
AN ICONIC BUILDING OR LANDMARK REPRESENTING A LOCATION
I've been known to create some buildings of my own. I've built houses for a living, standalone structures big and small. I've restored local landmarks. I even won a world building award for best building during world ember 2021 (yes, I'm still floating on that high). Shouldn't be that big of a surprise that I peruse this category for a bit.
I straight up love the concept of this. Well, one certain aspect of the table spoke to me more than any other. Mosquito-free dining. This table, originally a working man's lunch spot, magically keeps the bugs away. It also has a bunch of other cool magical features, yes, but as a former construction worker (and still doing a bit of outdoor constructing as a hobby) I would kill
to have this table.
This one's in French, and my French is a tad bit rusty. Thankfully my reading is far better than my speaking, and I think I got the gist of it. A palace dedicated to the fine arts of science, the article's main focus (or perhaps it was my main focus) seems to be on the looks of the building, which is great 'cause I know my adjectives! There's a concept in there about temperature regulation that I found very neat, and the description about its different colors and decorations created a beautiful image in my mind.
I imagine this is the brutalism to Isengard's maximalism. Smooth blocks of basalt creating the tower of Isola. The focus here is on the architecture, its structure. We even get some structural details in ways of shapes, height, width, all of which are aspects I would love to see more of in articles about buildings. I also appreciate the humorous approach to describe the tower's defenses, insofar as none are needed because of its resident.
I've already (but not really) broken the rules by picking more than nine articles, may as well disregard the three prompt limit too! Below you'll find some mighty fine articles from lesser known World Anvil members that I enjoyed this Summer Camp. There are so many hidden nuggets to find if you spend an extra minute of your reading time just browsing. There should also be a couple from well known community members that were just too good to ignore. I'll try to forego the commentary unless I have something really important to say; This article is long enough as it is.
Quick comment here, the world looks insanely good with well-established, riveting concepts, but the author's got barely any recognition. Please do check them out!
I've obviously read a lot of articles. Funny thing is, the ones you see in this article are a mere fraction of what I've read, and as of writing this I still intend to read a lot more. I do not
intend to include that many more here though. Unless they are absolutely groundbreaking that is, revolutionizing writing as we know it. Then I'll have to!
The Summer Camp 2023 Reading Challenge says we ought to write about what we've learned from all this reading. Awfully presumptuous to think I've learned anything. I am a "learning-by-doing"-kind of guy after all. Merely reading a few articles teaches me nothing. That said, I've seen many a technique out there I'd love to learn, and I'll try them out over time.
What I intend to learn/get better at:
- A lot of the articles I read really nailed setting a mood. I firmly believe not all articles need a mood, but I should try to establish some here and there.
- I like it when folklore is generic, and can be told and understood all over the world. What I like, however, is not necessarily what makes a good world. Connecting tales to each other, referring to specific events or people, it will make for better stories.
- Not a critique, but I've probably read over a hundred songs or poems with an aabb rhyming scheme. Individually they are fine, they are common. But it does make me realize that in the pursuit of creating something unique and interesting, something that stands out, you'll have to break some patterns and rules. I'll try to be bolder in my writings!
- So many good stories initially put me off due to bad formatting. I powered through and found some gems. A lesson for me to strive for readability and good format. A lesson for others to power through blocks of text like I did.
Where do we go from here?
For the next half year I'm gonna be a busy bee. I'm moving, I'm taking up studies again, and who knows what else might show up along the way. I hope to get some worldbuilding in regardless. I want to focus on both folks and their folklore for the Freelands setting, as well as my Freelands TTRPG. I want to at least have a simple prototype I can use to run a one-shot. Even if things need to slow down, I'll gear back up for december. World Ember is coming!
Alright, that's it from me and my first official reading challenge. GGs and happy reading!
I never do these. Sure I read an article here and there, sometimes dropping a like when I find something I really enjoyed reading. Not always though. I tend to interact very little with the community, and I put little to no effort into getting the community to interact with me. I'm much too busy frolicking in my garden, petting my local bumble bees, and speaking with the elder trees. I'd love to say "This changes today!" and maybe it will. Or maybe this is a one-off. In any case I'm taking on a this reading challenge, and we'll see where things go from here.