Posted at 9:00 am
Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on creating a master worldbuilding worksheet. It’s taken so long because the list is so extensive – I hope to have it ready for both you and me in the coming weeks, but it occurred to me this morning as I began worldbuilding for a new story that an abbreviated checklist might be useful. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you sit down to write and realize you have to build a world from the ground up. Where do you start? How detailed do you need to be? Where should you focus your attention initially? Are you writing a story or an encyclopedia?
There’s no need to go all Tolkien with worldbuilding, at least not at the first stage. So, here are the things that I develop first:
Draw a rough map. I’m really bad at drawing. Like, really bad. But there’s something gratifying and unbelievably helpful about having a map on hand as you write. So take a deep breath, look up some tutorials and sketch out your world. No one except you ever has to see it, and it doesn’t have to have anything except the barest of geographical features and markers for towns and cities. Even if your mountains and forests and cities are all just shapes. You need a map. Trust me on this one. Continue reading
Posted at 9:00 am
Last week at my Saturday writer’s group, we had a discussion about character names. One of our people is taking her first crack at fantasy, and one of the questions I had for her was whether or not she intended to change the plain Jane names she was using in her drafts. She was, she said, but was unsure of how to go about choosing fantasy names. This lead to a discussion on the different techniques for choosing character names, and how consistency within each universe is important.
Here are some naming themes you could use for your next story.
- Real World Alternatives. These types of names are pretty straight forward, change a few letters around, add a suffix or prefix or mesh two names together. These names are perfect for a fictional world that resembles our own, or in worlds where you don’t want the fantasy focus to be in the typical places. An added bonus is that these types of names will have a fresh feel while not being tongue twisters.
- Anagrams. Creating an anagram of a name or character quality (or even both) is another way to go, especially if you want the name to have certain sounds. You might try this online anagram creator. Although I plugged several names in and didn’t get anything, I tried several phrases or two-word names with better results. Taking the letters to actual paper is another alternative.
- Using Dead Languages. This is my preferred method, primarily because a lot of my fantasy takes place in a spin of a previous era. Languages like ancient Greek and Latin are quite beautiful, and when you go this route you have the added bonus of some word roots being familiar to your readers, which could translate into less exposition.
Even if following a theme doesn’t float your boat, there are some additional conventions to consider when creating names. Continue reading