More World-Building Resources

Need more help with world-building? Have a look at World Building Projects for some inspiration.

For fantasy, I’ve actually found this Fantastic Armies article to be helpful and not just for battles. It lets you know when your population dedicating to fighting and other pursuits, is reasonable and when it’s off-base.

For religions, I like to hit up my personal favourite: The Writing Cafe for help.

Linguistic help? The Language Construction Kit is the best I’ve ever found.

I’d better not overwhelm. Hehe. Let’s just say, technology is wonderful! Literally thousands of resources right at one’s fingertips!

World Building Exercise – The Three P.O.V.’s

We had a very successful writers’ meeting this past Saturday and I’d like to share with you the exercise we did. The exercise was crafted to hone our ability to create fictional worlds in which to set our stories and, just as importantly, how to describe those worlds so as not to bore the reader to tears.

First, I’d like you to consider that there are two points of attacking the problem of world building: Top-Down and Bottom-Up. To put it very simply, you can build your world, decide on the geography, history, geology, cultures, religions, population, biology, technology, linguistics, etc and then write a story set in this world. Or, you can begin writing straight away and come up with the details of the world as you go.

I advocate for using both methods by turns. I largely let my mood determine which I am going to work on on any given day. Some days, I’m in a really good flow, the characters are coming alive right off the page, the plot is moving along smoothly, interesting things are happening. Some days, my writing is clunky and forced and I just don’t feel like it so, instead of abandoning my work for the day, I take care of other necessary tasks that come with producing a work of fiction. I do some research, I flesh out a character by filling out a character sheet, I seek out music that reminds me of a character or would be appropriate for a scene, or I work out some points about the setting by drawing maps, diagrams, writing lists, etc.

Here is an excellent post by Writing Questions Answered to help you determine when some world-building is in order and when you can safely proceed with putting pen to paper (or pixels to screen.)

Continue reading “World Building Exercise – The Three P.O.V.’s”

Writing Engaging Descriptions

Tomorrow, my Writers’ Circle is having a meeting. Which reminds me, I should probably do the exercise … Anyway! Tomorrow, my Writers’ Circle is having a meeting and the subject is world-building. In writing, world-building is more than simply deciding on the details of how your fantasy world is made up and how it works: it’s conveying those details in an engaging manner so the reader’s eyes don’t gloss over.

Here is a great article that my friend Gretar shared on that very subject: How to Write Descriptive Passages Without Boring the Reader or Yourself.

Enjoy! And remember: make good art!

Done with NaNoWriMo – Now What?

While I wait for the arrival of my printed proof, I’m spending some time in reflection of this past year, determining what I did well and what needs improvement. I stumbled on a writing challenge and felt it was a perfect follow-up to NaNoWriMo. It’s called the Renew and Review Writing Challenge.

Once a day, for all of December, an exercise appears in my inbox and I do it. The exercises are pretty intensive, but they’ve been immensely helpful so far. What the challenge does for the participant is help them take stock of all of 2013 in terms of writing in order to formulate a game-plan for the upcoming year. I highly recommend getting in on the action.

Children’s Book Writing Exercise

Okay, who wants to watch me step waaay outside my comfort zone? … Well don’t everybody jump up and down at once.

The fact is, I’m not that great at writing child characters. In Blood of Midnight, the male protagonists’ younger sister, Rebecca is as low as I’ll go with confidence. She’s 14. Naturally, I was petrified when my buddy Lofn’s Bard brought some children’s story writing exercises to Writers’ Circle. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and managed to make some improvements in the way I write kids and, perhaps, write for kids. I’ve still got a long way to go, but this has been a good start and I’d like to share one of those exercises with you.

The chief reason I find it so hard to write in a child’s voice is that I really can’t remember my childhood except for a few incidents here and there. I don’t know why. That’s just how it is. So, naturally, an exercise that helps squeeze more details out of a given memory is really helpful!

Filling in the Blanks

Take this sample phrase and fill in the blanks:

When I was __ years old, my favourite _____________ was ___________________.

I remember the time when ____________________________________.

For example: When I was 10 years old, my favourite toy was a Power Rangers action figure.

I remember the time when one of mum’s babysitting kids broke his head off and I was so angry that I didn’t talk to him for a week.

But don’t stop there. Keep writing everything you can remember on the subject. Write for about ten minutes even if you have to drift into other topics. Anything you can dredge forth from the fog of memory is good material.

Now, have a look at your finished product. Look at the age you described and at the scribbles under it. Does it sound like it is being spoken by a person of that age? Why or why not? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably written it mostly, or entirely in your adult voice. Don’t despair. The discrepancies are telling and you can learn from them.

Rewrite the piece now, paying close attention to things like word choice (children have small vocabularies), abstract ideas (children are very literal), and sentence length and structure (keep it simple). For a really good workout, try a year or two younger and a year or two older and explore what the maturation process does to the writing.

Hope this helps you and, as always, thanks for stopping by. Make good art!

Character Cue Card

Character Cue Card

Larger image HERE.

Discovered today on my friend herbaldream ‘s tumblr. I keep big long character sheets on all my major characters but sometimes this is cumbersome! Here is a much quicker reference sheet. For a guide on how to fill it out, please visit rpg.ashami.com. Enjoy!

Sculpting a Soul: Emotions That Define a Character

Here is a writing exercise to help you get to know your characters better and give them more depth:

Perhaps you know your character well. Perhaps you don’t. Either way, our emotions and our reactions to them say a lot about who we are especially when those feelings are particularly potent. Take this list of strong emotions and consider what could possibly trigger each of them in your character:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sorrow
  • Pain (Physical or emotional)
  • Desire (Sexual or otherwise. It could be greed or a strong craving.)
  • Love
  • Elation

Write a short scene for each of these emotions. What makes your character feel this way? How do they react? What happens to their body? To their thoughts? Remember that emotions tend to be complex things and are often linked together. Does a particular feeling lead to another? (Example: Does the character get angry when they feel frightened?) What do they decide to do? If it’s a negative emotion, how do they cope?

Can you think of any other emotions that might be provocative? Feel free to leave comments and, as always, make good art!