Monday, September 26, 2011

Tough Guide to Fantasyland: by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones' book, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, is a must for the Fantasy writer working on avoiding cliche stories and creating whole new worlds that don't rely on standard formulae.

Unlike many "how-to" books, the TOUGH GUIDE is more of a handbook for the hardcore Tourist making his/her way through Fantasyland. It's set up to give you definitions of certain elements of Fantasyland while providing you with insight in how not to make your story same-old, same-old.

You open to the first official page, and you are greeted by a map. This is Fantasyland. It's a completely useless map but you are advised to keep it and peruse it at intervals, for it is the only map you'll get. Next comes a couple pages of Rules provided by the MANAGEMENT, after which you come across a page of identification elements. These are simply sign-post drawings that inform you whether or not the definition given pertains to something MAGICAL, PERSON, ANIMAL, BATTLE and/or FIGHTING. Of course, there are more categories than that, but these are some of the more important few.

Next, you can turn to the section labeled Toughpick, and here, arranged alphabetically and tidily from A to Z, you can peruse the main elements of Fantasy writing. Here you'll discover fascinating tidbits. For example, for some inexplicable reason, the further North and snowy you go, the scantier people dress, wearing only loincloths and armbands. Vice versa, the further South and sunny you travel, you meet the DESERT NOMADS wrapped to the eyeballs in robes and veils. Also you discover that, despite the shocking lack of sheep, everyone seems to wear clothing made of wool, and though no cow ever graces the pages of Fantasyland folk somehow manage to find leather boots.

In addition you'll learn about:

  • Apostrophes (their cunning placement and use of in Fantasyland)
  • Capital Letters (and their liberal use amongst the folk of Fantasyland)
  • Colour Coding (and how to pay attention to people's eyes, hair, and clothing in order to discern if they are good or evil)
  • Ecology (or lack thereof)
  • Hares (and how often they are mistaken for Rabbit)
  • Horses (and their amazing abilities unique to Fantasyland)
  • Management (and how they assist you through your Tour)
  • Official Management Terms (and how they help you understand your Tough Guide better)
  • Reek of Wrongness (provided to never, ever, ever let you confuse your bad guys with your good guys)
  • Swords (magical, non-magical, and the use of such a weapon)
  • Stew (the only Food you'll get in Fantasyland, aside from Bread)
  • Water (and how untainted it is throughout Fantasyland)
  • and Zombies.
Throughout the book certain words will be italicized with the official OMT trademark beside it, to show this is an Official Management Term and not a mere phrase only.

Also for your enjoyment, at the top of each alphabetical index is a Gnomic Utterance for you to read and absorb. Have a nice Tour through Fantasyland!


  1. Wow! This sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing, Cat. I love a good fantasy. :)

  2. Cool! As a fantasy reader and writer, I may have to pick up a copy of this book.

  3. It was a really fun read. I had a blast reading it. I kept snortling over each chapter.


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