Category Archives: World Building

Concealing Your Awesomes

fantasy mountains“And there among the lofty peaks of the Sanandrin Mountains were the tombs of the Founding Kings carved into the living rock. The angels guard their entrances as they guarded their lives, and shield their bodies from the churning rot of time. When the winter passes into spring, the fresh melt carries the blessing of light and is said to heal any affliction of the body. So, blah blah blah…”

I know, it’s tough to refrain from sharing with the world your awesome piece of worldbuilding. You want them to appreciate your creativity, to validate the many months you’ve gnawed over the minor details of your awesome. The unfortunate truth is no one cares about your worldbuilding. Continue Reading

Small Sparks of Life – Making Your World Feel Alive

spark of lifeAs a fantasy writer, you’re likely to create new and fascinating worlds for your stories to take place in. You have entirely new races, and their cultures and histories date back thousands of years.

You have gods and religions, dragons and monsters, heroes and villains. You have magic.

In short, you have a world.

Now it’s time to bring it to life.

Sure, the story is the important bit, but having your story take place in a living, breathing world just adds to the magic – and isn’t that part of the allure of reading and writing fantasy? Continue Reading

The Obsessive Worldbuilder Quiz

quizDo you spend weeks and weeks designing the ceremonial cloaks that your orcs wear for their Annual Wereboar BBQ?

Do you sketch maps of obscure villages that haven’t existed in your world for thousands of years on napkins?

Do you lie awake before bed and think, “I really should figure out how the ogres in Fazbaath take care of their teeth.”

If you even thought for a split second, “This sounds like me,” then you might be an Obsessive Worldbuilder.

Now let me start out by saying, this isn’t a bad thing. You have a certain eye for detail that some of us can only dream of having. However, it might be important to factor in the “Story-Worldbuilding Ratio.” Continue Reading

3 Easy Steps to Crafting a Language for Your Fantasy Novel

This article is by Daniel Adorno.

fantasy languageHave you read an epic fantasy novel recently?

Ever notice how every race in a fantasy world must have a unique culture, history, and language?

It’s almost unheard of to not include each of these aspects in the genre. It’s become a convention fantasy readers have expected since the days of Tolkien. If you leave any of these out in your story, you’ll probably pay a heavy price in readership.

That’s why savvy fantasy authors include them. Not just to meet the conventions mind you, but also to create an engaging world. Continue Reading

Defining Human

elfAfter a recent break from writing, I’m back in the chair and am assessing my unfinished stories and the world I’ve forged around them.

One story in particular, The Rage Within, was written to explore a race called the Dagorans. They are a gray-skinned folk afflicted with a berserk-like rage. Sifting through my notes revealed the possibility of them interbreeding with eight out of nine physical races.

This fact conflicted with my original intent of having a diversity of races. Were all my races really humans with differing physical traits? Continue Reading

How to Write a Compelling Story Using a Familiar Setting

This article is by Daniel Adorno.

fantasy planetAs a fantasy and scifi geek, the settings I choose for my stories are always quite imaginative. I want to transport the reader to some distant planet outside of our galaxy. Or to a magical realm with a deep history and interesting creatures like centaurs or wyverns flying around. It’s the fun stuff that comes with being a speculative author: worldbuilding.

Unlike realistic genres like thrillers, crime, and romance, the environments in fantasy and science fiction novels are very important. They’re almost another character in the story. Continue Reading

Producing Developed Worlds in Cross-Genre Fiction

american godsThis article is by Selah Janel.

There are a lot of reasons to write cross-genre books. While many stories thrive on rigid classification, many authors find that their potential readership increases by incorporating different genre elements.

Cross-genre fiction is a way to stretch boundaries and challenge yourself. In a world where these plots are embraced in television and movies, where titles like the Sookie Stackhouse books, Sandman, and American Vampire get shelf space with more traditional horror and fantasy, producing interesting cross-genre worlds is not only possible and acceptable, but a lot of fun. Continue Reading

‘Soft’ Magic Systems Still Have a Place

This article is by Ashley Capes.

soft magicThe idea that magic in fiction might possess or need a ‘system’ was nonexistent to me when I first read my favourites as a boy in the early 1990s.

Magic was but a component to the awe and wonder within the stories. I didn’t need to know how magic worked, only that magic worked. I never questioned it and certainly wouldn’t have wanted to. Gandalf, for instance, simply wouldn’t have been the same figure of mystery and power if I knew the way his magic functioned. Continue Reading

Surviving Grimdark Fantasy for the Squeamish

grimdarkWhile there is still some debate about whether it’s a legit sub-genre or not, grimdark has become part of the fantasy lexicon in recent years.

I actually like a lot of the authors that some label as grimdark, so I’m a bit torn on if it’s a good or bad thing. The term can be used to define fantasy with more realistic grit, where morals are gray and blood is bright red. Sounds cool to me.

However, on the flip side, it’s also used as a pejorative term for fiction that is perceived as too bleak, dark, and soul-sucking. This being the opposite of the good vs. evil type of conflicts that may be more familiar for fans of fantasy.

Well, I’m here to show you that grimdark doesn’t have to be unpleasant at all. Continue Reading

Using Role-Playing to Rein in Your WIP

D&D DiceSo, you’ve been busy writing, I see. That work in progress (WIP) is coming along pretty well. But you just don’t know how your audience will feel about it. Or perhaps you’re ready to throw a new element into your story, but you’re not certain that your world is ready for it. So, you pace to and fro, sipping on a cup of coffee while you think it over. Suddenly an idea pops into your head:

“Hey, maybe I can get someone to be a beta reader!”

Suddenly, a knock sounds at your front door. But isn’t it, like, midnight? You open it, startled, and a bit confused to see a group of people clad in mail crafted from pop-can tabs and dresses woven from bedsheets. And there’s a guy in the back wearing sweats. But it’s okay, he has Cheetos. Continue Reading