Wednesday, June 10, 2015

GUEST POST: How To Write a Splatter-Elf Story by Philip Overby

Today I'm turning the ol'blog over to The Godfather of Grimmer-than-Grimdark Fantasy, Mister Philip Overby. Phil is in the middle of rolling out a fantastic new darkly comic fantasy world called SPLATTER-ELF that is taking the world by storm, and he's here today to tell you how he writes these grotesquely hilarious tales.

Full disclosure, I've been a fan of Phil and Splatter-Elf from the beginning - I even designed a role-playing game based on his ideas. I'm extremely excited that his stories are now available for the consumption of the general population, as well as to have him here on the blog today. Take it away, Mr the Drill...

Splatter Elf is one of those names like Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms that evokes adventure. Right? Or does it just make you think of an elf splattered against a wall? Maybe dumped off a cliff? Perhaps even crushed by a rampaging giant? In any case, Splatter Elf is my "action-adventure" world that focuses a bit more on foul language, bloody over-the-topness (a la 80s action movies), and weirdness that could only come from someone who grew up in the Deep South but moved to Japan in his late 20s. 

So in an effort to educate all of the fine people that frequent Mr. King's blog space, I've decided to create a list of how I create a Splatter Elf story, piece by piece. And if you want to see it all come together, I have a short story for sale called "The Unicorn-Eater" here: Amazon Kindle Explosion.

1. Think of What I Can Kill
You can't have a Splatter Elf tale without lots of killing, correct? Correct. Therefore, I have to decide who or what I'm going to kill throughout my story. With a story like "The Unicorn-Eater" it's quite obvious: goblins! I kid. Unicorns, of course. Lots of them. Why would I have unicorns getting killed in a story, you may ask? Well, because I like them and they always seem to be these majestic, rare, untouchable creatures. Having a bunch of them eaten seemed to take away some of the mystique. And I'm all about taking away mystique!

2. Which Character Will Curse the Most
Many writers may decide, "How can I make sure my main character has a good arc?" Yeah, that's important, too, but I need to decide early on, who is going to swear the most. In most of my stories, Katzia of Clovenhoof would be the main culprit. She's a half-elf, a sword-collector, and a bounty hunter. As such, she tends to speak plainly and with lots of extra salt. People on low sodium diets may beware. Once I've decided, "OK, she's going to curse a lot" then I can make sure others characters curse less in order to impact Katzia's tapestry of obscenities (always liked that line from "A Christmas Story.")

3. What's the Plot?
Important stuff. In most Splatter Elf tales the plots involve (SPOILERS):
a. Dead things are found
b. Researching dead things
c. Finding a monster
d. Fighting the monster
e. Maybe killing the monster or some other weird shit happens
f. ?

Being that I'm trying to write stories in the vein of sword and sorcery tales (easily read in one or two sittings, fast paced, stuff killed), I try to have plots that are relatively simplistic but often with some kind of slight twist. For example in my Breadhammer flash (on my website Philip Overby's Fantasy Free-For-All here.) there is a warrior that fights with a hammer made of bread. When he goes to find soft bread in the world, he encounters a bread golem. So, surprise, he can't fight bread with bread. He's got to get creative. Or I have to. Whatever.

4. Balancing Grotesqueness with Heart
While I do love the splatter that comes with Splatter Elf, I do want my characters to be more than caricatures hacking limbs and releasing arterial spray. This means I have to add depth to the characters in some capacity. Sigh. Really? Depth in a schlocky adventure story with blood waterfalls? Yes. I attempt to do so anyway. I want readers to walk away thinking, "That was funny and/or gross/weird" but to also feel some connection with the characters in some capacity. That's tough. But I attempt to do so. Maybe I'm flailing my arms wildly.

5. Figuring Out "Who the Hell Wants to Read This?"
I've always heard that "If you can't find some of the kind of stories you want to read, write your own." That's what I've done with Splatter Elf. Not to say these are the only kind of stories I'd like to read, but I feel like that fantasy can be a genre that can be explored in so many different facets. It can be deadly serious, full of whimsy, or just silly fun. I try to do all of these things in Splatter Elf. Which may be like trying to make a Kobe hamburger with string cheese and bologna. I don't know. But I figured, "Hell, why not try something different?"

There you have it! My magical list of Splatter Elf alchemy. If you're interested in something that doesn't take itself too seriously, has action, weird characters, tons of blood, and general weirdness, you may very well be interested in the world of Splatter Elf!

If you're interested in connecting with me (I'm not crazy, I promise) I'm all over the internet in various places:

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