Free World Building Course–Back by popular demand

I’m happy to say, that my free world building course coupons were a hit. I made 500 hundred of them thinking that would be too many, but I was wrong. They were all gone in a matter of days.

So I’ve created 500 more coupons for my World Building course for fantasy writers. Take the course for free.

To take the course, just go to: https://www.udemy.com/world-building-for-fantasy-writers/?couponCode=worldbuilder1

If asked for a code, type in “worldbuilder1”.

Free Online World Building Course for Fantasy Writers

As you can probably imagine, there’s a lot of work that goes into writing a fantasy novel. One of the things I had to do for The Legender was invent an entirely new world. We fantasy nerds call the task “world building.”

For the last 20 years, I’ve been working on the craft of world building and fantasy writing. And a few months ago, I began taking what I learned from the process and formatting it into an online course on Udemy–a course I would like to offer to you for free.

This course is designed to teach you how to create a believable and compelling world for your fantasy story–a world your readers will want to get lost in again and again.

In the course you will learn how to:

  • Build a compelling and believable world for a fantasy novel
  • Establish rules for your world
  • Give a sense of depth to your world
  • Assign meaningful names to different parts of your world (i.e. landmarks and invented creatures)
  • Manage a healthy relationship between your world and your story

As I said before, since you have been supportive readers, I’d like to offer this course to you for free:

https://www.udemy.com/world-building-for-fantasy-writers/?couponCode=worldbuilder10

In return, I’d love to get some honest feedback from you.

Thanks for the support, and enjoy world building!

The Power of Fiction

Originally posted on my blog epicjason.com.

In 388 B.C. Plato urged the leaders of Athens to banish all storytellers because he saw them as some of the most dangerous people. Unlike politicians and philosophers who stood before the crowds and openly espoused their ideas, storytellers worked more subtly. Under the guise of an emotional narrative, they could shape and move their audiences without their listeners even realizing it.

Plato’s judgment of storytellers as dangerous is debatable, but his conclusion that stories are powerful is true.

We have all felt the power of stories.

I can recall countless times when stories have pushed me in the right direction. When my natural inclinations push me to despair and resignation, I remember the battle of Helm’s Deep in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers and I’m inspired to hope even when circumstances are grim. When I’m tempted to become bitter and unforgiving, I remember the gracious priest in Les Miserables who gave the convict Jean Val Jean a second chance at life.

Stories have power. I would argue that they are our greatest teachers. As story guru Robert McKee writes:

The world now consumes films, novels, theatre, and television in such quantities and with such ravenous hunger that the story arts have become humanity’s prime source of inspiration, as it seeks to order chaos and gain insight into life. Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the patterns of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience. In the words of playwright Jean Anouilh, ‘Fiction gives life its form.’

Since stories shape and reflect culture, I hope you can see the responsibility that storytellers bear. Our stories need to move our world towards something better.

But how can fantasy make the world better?

It is easy to see how nonfiction and realistic fiction writers can do this since the real world is where their stories take place. But how can fantasy authors (of which I’m one) make a difference in the real world? Is our genre nothing more than mere entertainment—an escape from what is real?

I posed this question to one of today’s fantasy greats, Brandon Sanderson, and he replied back, saying, “By removing distractions and creating something fresh, we can look at problems from a new angle. Fantasy books are about the real world seen through a different lens.”

Consider this portion of “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll: Continue reading

The Power of Words to Heal

(Originally posted on www.authorjasonlink.com)

Words can function like an x-ray machine. They can reveal what is inside of us—our thoughts and emotions—and identify what is broken.

In this way, words help us heal from our pain.

When we name the pain in our souls, we bring it out of the darkness and into the light. Then, seeing our pain for what it is, we can address it appropriately.

This is the amazing power of knowing the words.

Consider the story of the woman indebted to a crafty imp. It was only after she journeyed through the woods at night and learned the imp’s name—“Rumpelstiltskin”—that she was able to be freed from the debt she owed.

While this may be just a fairy tale, it holds a certain measure of truth. We need to journey deep into the dark recesses of ourselves if we are to learn the name of the pain that dwells there. And when we learn the name, we find freedom and healing.

Robert Juarez, a mentor at Homeboy Industries and a former gang member, has walked this journey. He is living proof of how putting pain into words can bring healing to a broken and bloodied past.

Neglected by parents and growing up in a rough neighborhood, it was only a matter of time before Robert fell into gang life. As a witness to excessive death and violence, he didn’t expect to live past his 25th birthday. Therefore he gave himself over to sex and drugs and waited to die.

It wasn’t until he went to Homeboy Industries for rehabilitation that his life took a change for the better.

He speaks about that change:

I was able to see myself again. I started breaking down that façade and breaking through those layers and started to see the child that was hurt….My first class [at Homeboy Industries] was a creative writing class. And that creative writing class—it showed me words….And from then I was able to define my pain.

And just like an inmate when he serves a sentence and he’s released to the public, once I served that sentence and put that period on it, I was able to release it to the public. And a little bit of my pain was gone. And the more I did it, the less I felt that pain. It took me many years, and the journey doesn’t stop.

So it is with all of us. Many times we are at a loss for words when it comes to naming our pain. Yet the poetry and stories are inside us. It is only a matter of journeying within and pulling the words out.

The work may be difficult and many of us might not consider ourselves to be poets and storytellers. But this is why we undertake the journey in community.

Others have gone before us and learned the language of the soul. They lend us the words when we struggle to find them ourselves.

We rely on poets and storytellers to “see the despair and heartache as well as the beauty and miracle that lie just beneath the thin veneer of the ordinary, and they describe this in ways that are recognized not only in the mind, but more profoundly in the soul.”[1]

In this way, we learn the words together and hold power over the pain.

Can you think of a time when someone helped you put your pain into words? What was that experience like? Please share in the comments.

[1] M. Craig Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 17.

The Legender — free today and tomorrow

Just wanted to let everyone know that my ebook The Legender will be free to download today (7/27/2015) and tomorrow (7/28/2015). Connect to The Legender on Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s a quick description of the book…

“The pacing is brisk…the action is fun” – Publishers Weekly
“At last, a great fantasy novel!” – Vine Reiwer
“A brilliantly conceived page-turner that intelligently reveals the story” – Amazon Reviewer
“A celebration of those who are faithful at great personal cost” – Amazon Reviewer
“Fantasy at its best!” –Amazon Reviewer

Arkos, a reclusive artisan, bides the long age of peace carving animal bones and remembering his days of adventure. In the ancient city of Tierrion where he dwells, no one suspects he is one of the legenders—those forces of nature clad in human form who spoke with the elements and shaped them into mighty beasts. After the legenders fought in the bygone war against the Living Shadow, they faded into myth and have remained in historical obscurity. That is, until a great evil strikes Tierrion and Arkos saves the city with his power over the elements. This grand revelation of his true identity comes at a cost, however, for there are kings and politicians who would use a legender for their own purposes. Bound by an oath of service, Arkos must obey their commands—dire consequences descend upon legenders unfaithful to their vows.

Fearful that Tierrion’s catastrophe portends war, the kingdoms order Arkos to the uncharted wastelands of the north to discover if the Living Shadow and his legions are preparing to mount an attack once again. Arkos’ journey takes him over perilous mountains and through hostile terrain where he must use his elemental abilities to overcome dangers fatal to man. As he travels onward, a sinister and mysterious figure watches from afar, awaiting his dreadful schemes to unfold. When Arkos reaches the dark unknown and finds secrets lost in history, an unexpected choice confronts him: to take his long-awaited freedom or save the kingdoms that would enslave him.

A thoughtful page-turner, The Legender draws the audience into a fantastical new world of rich characters. Beyond the excitement invoked by adventure and political intrigue, the story at its core resounds with identities redeemed and courage found, arguing that there is more to us than we ourselves would believe.

If you’d like to learn more about The Legender or me (the author), visit my site at www.authorjasonlink.com. Thanks! Looking forward to hear what you think about this epic adventure.

-Jason Link