Writing Fantasy || World Mapping

Writing Fantasy || World Mapping

 

Mapping Your Fantasy World

When we write fantasy stories we need to decide where the story takes place. This is called ‘mapping’ and can be an artistic rendering of the world where your story lives, or it can be a topography of the terrain drawn like an actual map with all the hills, valleys, rivers, roads and towns. I prefer to collect Pinterest pins, but at some point, I need to discover what components make up my fantasy world and literally how long it would take a Dwarf to get to the Castle Keep. So, a drawn or written map is essential to the span of time for him on his travels.

10 things you need to know about your fantasy world before you begin writing your novel.

If it takes a few days for the journey, then I know to add an adventure, altercation or meeting with someone along the way, because let’s face it, a journey without an event is just plain boring and not at all interesting to your reader. In real life we couldn’t travel three days without meeting a fellow traveller, missing a bus connection or experiencing bad weather. So it is with other worlds. That’s where the storyline unfolds, in the in-between times.If you’ve already decided on a rough outline for your story (more on this later if you haven’t already started one), now is the time to decide how big your fantasy world needs to be in order to incorporate all the events you have planned. Even if you don’t have an outline written down, you’ve probably envisioned an encounter with an enemy, a chance meeting with someone, and a plot twist somewhere. What kind of backdrop needs to be in your world for these events to happen? Walk around in your world a while.

Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold”, from The Lord Of The Rings (you can see it on YouTube), describes the terrain beautifully and sets the scene for the Dwarves’ backstory and imminent adventure.

Your Hero’s Lifestyle

 “…using real places as a springboard can help you frame elements consistently and with a more grounded result” – Ammi-Joan Paquette, author and literary agent explaining mapping in Writer’s Digest, March/April edition 2016.

Look around your real world. Do you see the potential for mapping your fantasy world based on reality?

I often draw from my childhood memories of the hills and dales of England, where the Bronte sisters gathered most of their inspiration. You can find some of those places on my Pinterest board, West Yorkshire England

10 more things to consider before you write your fantasy story.

Fantasy Inspiration

Who were the authors who shaped your childhood memories of fantasy and make-believe? These are the writers we tend to remember the rest of our lives. My childhood memories of magical and fanciful tales come from four well-known children’s books:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Magic Faraway Tree and Noddy by Enid Blyton

Rupert The Bear by Alfred Bestall (originally created as a comic strip by Mary Tourtel)

 

Your Next Step

Draw or describe your own fantasy map and copy to your secret Pinterest inspiration board if you’re not ready to share it with the world yet. Here’s a link to my Fantasy Inspiration board which is public, but I have a secret board I’ll share once my novel is published. Or pin your inspiration to a board you’ve created to share your work with your followers. I’ve done this with my Dwarf Book I’m Writing. Another way is to cut out pictures from magazines and actually pin them to your office bulletin wall or stick them to your fridge with a crazy magnet.

Comment on how you were inspired for your creation and where you post/pin/stick your inspirational images/words. I’d love to hear about the world you’ve created.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image and gave us this beautiful world to live in.

Lynne

 

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Writing Speculative Fiction || Christian Worldview

Writing Speculative Fiction || Christian Worldview

Do you find it challenging to write fantasy as a Christian? When I first set out to write in this genre I wasn’t sure what was ‘ok’ for me to add to my stories. Could I write about wizards and magic, vampires who live forever because they suck the blood out of people, zombies who are the walking dead not anywhere close to embodying the resurrection? And what about trying to convey a scriptural message? How was I going to do that with this imagination of mine?

Holy Bible, God's Word, Living Water.

A. K. Preston comes pretty close to summing it up for me when he writes, “The Christian worldview is, in fact, the most creatively inspiring of all. You need only take a glance through Isaiah, Daniel or Ezekiel to see that God inspired the biblical writers with truly vivid and fantastical imagery to communicate His message to the world. This makes the speculative genre, to me, one of the richest possible from a Christian viewpoint. Here we have a place where both writer and reader step completely outside of everyday experience to consider things from a radically new perspective – a forum for ideas to be sketched out to their logical conclusion and for the hypothetical to be explored.

When it comes to sharing the truth, the question we ask ourselves usually goes “How can I answer this argument?” In my own vocation, I rephrase it thus: “What kind of story can I tell about this?” For the latter is the most truly enduring argument of all.”

Read the entire post here A.K. Preston on Worldview As Story.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image and gave you such a beautiful imagination.

Lynne

 

Resources

https://www.pinterest.ca/lynnecollieraut/writing-christian-speculative-fiction/

https://www.pinterest.ca/lynnecollieraut/writing-christian-fantasy/

http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/

 

 

Writing Fantasy || ‘Design Your Own Flag’ by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Writing Fantasy || ‘Design Your Own Flag’ by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

 

Design Your Own Flag

I had a lot of fun with The Dwarf Name Generator, how about you? I have names for all the characters in my ebook now!

Ready to have more fun? This week I’m sharing an excerpt from a blog a friend of mine wrote. She’s a talented artist and her heart is to help people discover their creativity. Here’s why I’m sharing this with you; she blogged about creating a personal (or group) flag. I thought, seeing as most of you are writers of fantasy like me, you’d love knowing how to add that creative element to your books. You could even create a flag for your fantasy world and use it on your book cover.

On her blog, Ann-Margret digs deeper and gives you links to resource further. Cool, huh? Here’s part of her blog post:

 

Ann-Margret Hovsepian

“This activity is perfect for a family, youth group, classroom or any themed club. It would make a great ice breaker for a big event, too. 

I want you to imagine that you (or your group) are a country. What would your flag look like?

There are endless ways to design a flag because you have these options to consider:

  • Shape (most flags are rectangular but there are a few exceptions)
  • Pattern (stripes, cross, quadrisections, canton, etc.)
  • Colours
  • Symbols

Vexillology

According to the North American Vexillological Association (vexillology is the study of flags), here are five basic principles for designing a flag:

  1. Keep It Simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory…
  2. Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes…
  3. Use 2 or 3 Basic Colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to three which contrast well and come from the standard color set…
  4. No Lettering or Seals. Never use writing on any kind or an organization’s seal…
  5. Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections…

 

Create your own flag by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

(Ann-Margret adds a link here on her post to a flag creator)

If you want a more old-school approach to designing your flag, you can print out this simple template and then colour it in. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

flag

 

–Ann-Margret

Follow the rest of Ann-Margret’s post with fun ideas for completing your flag design at    annhovsepian.com  (and PS–she has freebies!)

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.

Lynne

Writing Fantasy || Character Casting

Writing Fantasy || Character Casting

If Steven Spielberg called you for advice on casting the main character for your movie, who would you choose?

As I was doing research on creating characters for my stories, I came across an intriguing idea for character profiling. If you think of a famous person and keep them in mind as you write, it helps when you write dialogue and body language. This is actually very helpful when considering how your characters will respond to events with their mannerisms, quirks and personalities. I tried that and it works!

And what if your novel is so epic that a hugely famous producer wants to make it into a movie? Hopefully, some of us will be able to do that one day. How awesome would that be? Have you already been daydreaming about who you’d cast in your movie? Let’s face it, most of us envision our stories on the screen even before we put fingers to keyboard.

Casting characters

Which famous person reminds you of your character?

Is your story a swashbuckling adventure with a shot of rum humour? Maybe Jonny Depp is who you have in mind for your protagonist. Or do you see the dashingly romantic Orlando Bloom as your hero?

Are you writing a sci-fi novel? Do you see Leonard Nimoy as your strange wise man, or perhaps he fits the role of a High-Elf wizard in your fantasy novel?

Who would you love to cast?

Who would be perfect in the role of your main Protagonist?

Your main Antagonist?

Your Protagonist’s Love Interest?

Your Protagonist’s Mentor?

Your Protagonist’s Sidekick?

Your Protagonist’s 4 Main Followers?

Your Antagonist’s Sidekick?

Pinterest For Role Call

By now most of you know how much I love to play around on Pinterest and create boards for my writing projects.  I have boards for my characters, costume ideas, writing tips for the genre I’m currently writing in and so on. I find this casting exercise very helpful and inspiring. There’s freedom in ‘hiring’ professionals to play around in your imagination. And it’s so much fun!

I ‘hired’ a famous actor to play the role of my hero in the Dwarf story I’m currently writing. You can check out my Dwarf storyboard with sections about my protagonists, antagonists, mountains, caves, armour and more here.

If you missed my other blogs on writing characters, you can catch up here:

Character Personalities

Character Races

Character Occupations

Character Names

Character Backstory

I hope you have fun casting famous people in your movie. If you can’t think of a famous person you can always cast someone you know. My advice here would be to not be too obvious!

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.

Lynne

 

Writing Fantasy || Character Backstory

Writing Fantasy || Character Backstory

If you’ve been writing your story along with me, you probably have a pretty good idea of who your hero protagonist, their main sidekick, and the evil antagonist and his henchmen are and what they’re doing when your story starts, but how did they become who they are? Why is your protagonist a charming young female who loves to wander the forests of a mystical land on horseback? Why is her companion an outcast from a faraway land? What led your antagonist to despise all Elves?

What’s the story behind your story?

How do you find out the backstory of your story? As you know, I’m learning this whole process as I go along – like most of you too, I expect, as I write my Dwarf story. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

In my research, I discovered that the best information to start with is the character’s birth. (Duh.)

Sleeping Baby in feathers nest
Sleeping Baby by Tawny Nina on pixabay

I also found as I wrote my first NaNoWriMo novel draft in 2015, it really does help to plot all this before you start writing your novel. I wasted many hours going back to a previous chapter to correct something I didn’t realize about my character until halfway through. Did I mention I switched my focus halfway through the story? Yep, the first half was a superhero and the second half was – well, I’m not exactly sure but it wasn’t a superhero. Something I learned from a fellow NaNo writer was to write all the main characters on sticky notes or in a journal with their own page, then add anything you discover about them as you write so you don’t lose track of information. Scrivener is another, more technical, way to organize your work. (The link goes to their page for a discount).

Let’s start with the protagonist

Where they were born and were there any unusual circumstances surrounding their birth?

  • Was it an easy birth?
  • Was the father present?
  • Were they delivered by a doctor or a travelling healer?
  • Maybe in their realm, they were delivered by supernatural means.
  • How many siblings did they have?

Write as much as you know about the birth of your protagonist.

Then go on to childhood.

  • Did they go to school?
  • Who was their best friend?
  • What was their favourite subject?
  • Did they excel at anything?
  • Did their experiences as a child influence their career choice?
  • Were they homeschooled or sent away at a young age to apprentice with someone?
  • Were they born with all the knowledge they would need in life?
  • How did that happen?

Your protagonist as an adult.

  • What drove them to be in the situation they’re in now?
  • Did they suffer prejudice, health issues or a failed relationship?
  • Write as many life events as you can think of and delete each one as you write.
  • Be open to adding new things you discover about your protagonist as your story unfolds.
  • Let the story evolve and delete any notes that no longer apply.

Then do the same for your major antagonist.

  • Ask why they’re angry, mean, and vicious.
  • People don’t start out that way as a newborn baby so what happened in their past to steer them down that path?
  • Is the antagonist driven by fear, guilt or jealousy?
  • Why do they have metal teeth or wear a mask?

Do the same for a few minor characters. Write only what’s important for your reader to know, not their entire life story.

Take a look at The Watcher by Sara Davison as a great example of backstory for her protagonist,  Kathryn Ellison.  Check out The Watcher on Amazon.

and Great Expectations as a wonderfully written backstory for the antagonist, the embittered Miss Havisham. Check out Great Expectations on Amazon

 

And check out my blog interview with the protagonist, Colin, from the sc-fi novel Singularity.

Check out Singularity on Amazon

 

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.

Lynne

Writing Fantasy || Character Personalities

Writing Fantasy || Character Personalities

 

How well do you know your characters?

  • Do you know the personalities of these people who live in your head?
  • Have you spent enough time with them to know how they’d feel about what’s going on in their story?
  • Would their reactions to certain events or a flippant statement lead to a fight scene?
  • If they saw a mouse in the kitchen would they scream and jump up on the couch?
Writing Character Personality Types
How would your character react?

 

How to get to know your characters

Knowing your characters well enough to be able to use their personality traits to your advantage as you write your novel will make the writing flow easier and create logical and organic story arcs.

  • For example, who is your protagonist likely to befriend?
  • Who may hate your protagonist?
  • What drives your protagonist’s passion?
  • What may drive a particular character crazy?
  • How would your antagonist behave in an argument?

As I study the next steps in writing my novel, I realize I can’t answer some of the questions I need to ask to plot my story. The reason being, I don’t know what my character would do in any given situation. So, I need to take the time to get to know who these people are and what their responses would be to the events I want in my story. I need to be able to walk through this story with my characters and see, hear, touch, smell and taste what they experience and how they respond to the circumstances I set before them.

 

Personality Types

We need to take time to get to know everyone in our story. It’s fascinating and fruitful. Once we know our main characters well we’ll be better able to write an accurate and believable story. It may come in handy with a few of those friends who’re giving us a hard time. If we understand people better we may just be able to get along better.

 

What’s Your Personality?

How about you? If you’d like to dig a little deeper or find your own personality type, you can check out a blog post I wrote for my mini-course, Your Write Voice For His Kingdom.

Once we know our characters’ personalities we can go on to discovering their backstories and why they responded to events in their past based on those personality traits.

Have fun discovering the ways we were all made so differently by our Heavenly Father.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.

Lynne

 

Resources for digging deeper:

There are several personality tests online but, in my opinion, these three are the best. Each one brings a different perspective to a developing character.

Writing Fantasy || Character Names

Writing Fantasy || Character Names

What’s In a Character’s Name?

When we write fantasy or any other genre of fictional story we need to name our characters. We get to create the people and creatures and then give them a name, so they come ‘alive’ to us as we write and to the reader who’s going to be blown away by our stories. Cool, huh?

Writing Fantasy - Names. Male Nord Paladin
Writing Fantasy Names – Male Nord Paladin from ‘The Fellowship Of The King’

Art by Kirstie Shanks Brand & Web Design

 

3 Ways to Create Fantasy Names

Reading and researching old books from the countries or regions which have influenced your setting can be a big help. Consider the character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Heath means ‘an area of land covered in heather or similar low dense shrubbery’, and Cliff is ‘a high steep rock or precipice’. Heathcliff is a perfect name for the dishevelled and tortured romantic hero living on the English moors. (Dear to my heart as I was born there–not on the moors, down the road a bit).

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, on Writing Character Names
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Other characters have more obscure names such as Mark Twain, the renowned author and humourist. He was born Samuel Clemens but used the pen-name Mark Twain, which means the second line on the side of the riverboat where Twain worked as a young man. The second line (mark) was 12’ and the safe depth mark for the boat.

How do you go about choosing, or inventing, a name for your fantasy characters? If I want to quickly write a short story or an ebook, I find it easier to use a name that fits with the occupation of the character.

 

First Name + Occupational Surname

Penelope Donkeyrider (Courier)

Dugan Bagsnatcher (Thief)

Ventrice Shoemaker (Cobbler)

Tola Axegrinder (Blacksmith)

Roland Brewmaster (Winemaker)

First Name + Setting Surname

Fantasy characters can also be named for the place where they live:

Jon Greenwood

Alex Steephill

Lara Pigstye

Beulah Wortbog

Lolita Lakebottom

 

First Name + Race

How about naming your character as easy as using their race as a descriptor?

Kreg Cave Dwarf

Felicia Fairy Princess

Harry Halfling

Trevor Troll

Eleander High Elf

 

You get the idea. I’ve come up with a few hilarious names doing this. I’ve also found watching the credits from shows and movies to be inspiring, especially if the show was filmed in a place similar to my story world. There are name generators that can help too. Here’s a site I go to for inspiration – Name Generator

And here’s a Dwarf Name Generator for you.

 

Authors and Pinterest

Giving my main characters names helped me to organize my files on my Pinterest boards where I stash every image I can find that looks at all like I envision my character to be as well as my story settings and other features. Now that Pinterest allows me to add ‘sections’ to my boards I have one for my hero, minor protagonists, the main villain, minor antagonists and one for settings. Also, I feel a closer connection to my characters when I talk to them if they have names (admit it, you do this too, right?) Check out my published books on Pinterest and the new novel I’m writing. I also use these images for my social media gems (unless they’re repinned and have copyright).

By naming my darlings, I feel them take on a personality, and it’s easier to write their story, how they would respond to situations and their mannerisms. Do you feel this way about your characters?

A brainstorming session with friends could generate a lot of names for you – and a lot of beverages snorting out of the nose (always a good party trick). What else could influence your characters’ names?

So, have fun with naming your characters.

 

What name would you give the character in the title picture?

Leave a comment. I’d love to know what name you came up with.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.

Lynne