Story Characters: all of the characters in novels, short stories, plays, or films fall into seven types of character roles. A story can have several dispatchers, princesses, villains, heroes, donors, magical helpers, and false heroes, but there’s no law that says you have to use all of the roles. Two are unacceptable, three are fine, four is better, five is very good, six is excellent. Seven means you’re serious.

Dispatcher – The dispatcher, usually an older person in authority, quite often a parent, warns the hero or princess not to do something or commands them to do something. Warnings are always violated; commands are always carried out. If there’s a princess involved at the beginning of the story, then the princess(prince) must be villainized. The dispatcher finds out about the villainy (either the dispatcher witnesses it or a bystander or police dispatcher gives a call) and must then call up the hero and send the hero out. If the hero gets villainized at the beginning, there’s usually a "good Samaritan"


This is an introductory course in creative writing, mostly devoted to fantasy. In the books I've assigned for the course, we'll explore the nature and conventions of the genre and determine what elements we need to build a consistent fantasy world. Then each of us will build a fantasy world.

Assigned Books
1)Patrica McKillip, "Riddle-Master,"
2)Ursula Le Guin, "Worlds of Exile and Illusion," 3)Edgar Allen Poe, "Complete Tales and Poems."
4)Theodore Sturgeon, "More Than Human."
5)J.D. Salinger, "Nine Stories,"
6) Alfred Bester, "The Stars Our Destination,"
7) Alfred Bester, "The Demolished Man," and
8) Angela Carter, "The Bloody Chamber."

Don't be intimidated by this list. I'll be using these books to illustrate various principles, but this is primarily a writing course, not a reading course. I won't test to find out if you've read the books.

usually a "good Samaritan" minor character who helps him or her out. The dispatcher also plays a crucial role much later in the tale. He or she is the person who sets up the difficult task and punishes the false hero. In terms of the whole epic story structure, the dispatcher embodies social stability. In terms of the Bible as pure story, God is the dispatcher.

Princess(Prince) –The princess can also be a child or a precious object. If this character (or object) appears at the beginning of the tale, then the villain steals or despoils or seduces or bewitches the character and carries him or her or it off. If the princess appears only later in the tale, then he or she is connected to the villain and the hero rescues or wins her or him. If the princess only appears at the end of the tale, then she or he is the one who (with the dispatcher) sets up the difficult task, recognizes the hero, exposes the false hero, and marries the hero. In terms of epic story structure, the Princess(Prince) is