A Bit of World Building: Resources

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Today I thought I’d a little about world building and how deciding on a certain climate and landscape combined with the society’s values that live there can vastly influence influence your story, even if only in the background. I also thought that since I’ve been talking more about my current writing recently that I’d continue on that theme.

In A Cursed Blessing for nine months out of the year it is snowy and cold, the other three months have comparatively mild weather. This makes agriculture more difficult but the society is not a hunting and gathering one that follows an animal’s migration. As for the landscape there is a large forest in the south and a few smaller ones scattered throughout the country. The rest of the landscape is more hilly and the whole country is surrounded by mountains. Because, of the society’s fear of their goddess, however, they rarely cut down the trees for fuel or to make things. The cold climate has also caused them to put extra significance on fire and they’ll heat brands with it to mark themselves with symbolic symbols.

All this, I hope, creates an interesting background for my story, but it has also raised some questions that I didn’t have when I first started writing it. Issues such as what do they make their houses and furniture and writing implements out of if they don’t use wood? How do they feed themselves and what do they eat? What animals and plants can survive under such conditions? How does the climate affect the society and religion? Some of these questions I don’t have answers to yet, but I’ll need to know them to fully flesh out the world my characters are living in and make sure there are no logistical errors that will break readers’ suspension of disbelief. Of course, not all the questions always need to be answered but the big ones do such as the problem of food. Everything still has to be believable. Also, you don’t need to worry about the questions right away, but as you write and the world is created it can be good to consider them. Sometimes they can lend a whole new depth to the world and influence the plot in ways you couldn’t have imagined before exploring them.

Resources are important; survival depends upon some of them and wars can be fought over both necessary and luxury resources. Climate, landscape, and society’s values all affect both the availability of resources and the lack of them. They will affect your story, even if only in the background, so they are important to consider once you’ve made decent headway into your story or during the editing process.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a great week!

Drinking Age in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Since I turned 21 today and now am legally allowed to drink, it got me thinking about drinking age in fiction. It’s not a big thing, but I realized in a lot of fiction novels it’s something that never really gets brought up. Either everyone is drinking, just having a beer in a bar, or it’s not even mentioned. Everyone gets treated as an adult or child, it seems like, and if you’re not a child it seems like you’re drinking to some extent without anyone having much to say on the subject.

I just thought it’s be nice having a few quick scenes, either in a bar or character’s home or elsewhere, where the characters talk about the drinking age and how it affected them. How they abstained from drinking alcohol, but have some hilarious stories about what their friends got into while they were drinking, or how they approve/disapprove of the drinking age. How they circumvented the rule or what happened when they got caught. Or even, perhaps, about the fact that they don’t have a drinking age and they feel sorry for the people in the next country over who do. It could also be interesting having a place where no one drinks.

Really, I think, I just want a few more scenes learning about characters as they talk about smaller things that affect them or they grew up with, instead of the high stakes of whatever the story is about. I want to see them as existing outside the current story line and talking about smaller things such as the drinking age that the reader can relate to can help with that. That’s not to say that’s how all your dialogue should be, or talking about the current plot is bad, but sprinkling in comments or small conversations about other things can be nice as well.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

Pets in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Many people I know–as do I–love animals and benefit from the companionship a pet offers. The moments when the cat actually deigns to use your lap as a pillow, or the dog greets you with such enthusiasm that you think you must of been gone for ten years instead of ten minutes, really help make the day go from bad to good or from good to perfect. Knowing this, it makes the distinct lack of pets in fiction disappointing. They can add so much to the story and yet often writers don’t spare the words to add them in. Pets can help the characters by giving them support, providing them with motivation to keep going and comfort when things are bad, and being just enough of a lovable nuisance to keep things interesting. Pets aren’t perfect, just like people, but that’s just what makes them more fun.

The great thing about having pets in fiction is that they don’t have to be a dog or a cat or a fish as well. A wizard could have a dragon or a nightmare as a pet, a warrior could have their trusty stead (which could be a horse as easily as it could be a camel or rhino), a cyborg could have a sentient animal-like robot or a monkey. Truly, your imagination is the limit. The pets in question wouldn’t have to been actual animals from here on Earth unless the story takes place on Earth as we know it (and even then you could come up with an explanation about how having a fictional creature for a pet would work for that story).

This isn’t to say that every story needs to have a pet added to it. There are some stories were having a pet involved would be out of place and not  good for the characters or the pet, but having pets added to at least a few stories could help them along.

So just as there are many pets looking for adoption in the real world, I’m sure there are more than a few looking for their life long companions in fiction. I wish you luck with finding the perfect one for your story!

Feel free to post any examples of great pets you’ve read in fiction down in the comments and let me know if you have any questions. I hope you all have a great week!

Fantastical Settings

Hello Fiction Lovers!

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about the settings in many of the books I’ve read lately. All of them featured the classic European-esque setting full of fields, castles, and lords/ladies, or the normal urban fantasy setting of a Western city. Even though I like those settings as much as the next person sometimes I think we forget that in fantasy we can do anything as long as it makes sense in the story (and sometimes, depending on the style of what’s being written, it doesn’t even need that qualification).

I think it would help the genre if more authors branched out and drew from other parts of our world to influence the world they are writing or truly made up a new one that has little likeness to what we know. Doing so could make some of the classic storylines interesting again and possibly create new storylines that weren’t even possible before. After all, who wouldn’t want to read a story that takes place in a society whose morality is influenced by the moon and that has never experienced a day without snow? Or perhaps a group of reptilian-like people who live in a forest of giant mushrooms?

It would be a fun exercise I think to come up with 5-10 different settings that are different from the ones I mentioned in the beginning of this post and then start the same storyline in each setting and see how it changes/how the setting influences it. Keep in mind though that usually the best settings make sense for why they are the way they are. While you don’t have to throw all the reasoning at the reader at once it can be good for you, as the writer, to at least have a basic idea even if that idea in the beginning is only “becuase magic/the god(s) made it that way”. You could also take the route where even if the setting isn’t anything like we have on earth the society or societies that interact with that setting make sense becuase of the setting. Geograpghy has a powerful influence on culture.

I hope this post was thought provoking! Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post anything in the comments that this post inspired.

Holidays in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

This week I thought I’d talk about including ceremonies and holidays in fiction becuase of Memorial Day. Whenever I see a ceremony/holiday included in a story–whether in a passing comment or actually making an impact on the plot–it always seems to make the world the story is set in more immersive.

People celebrate, they mourn, and usually at some point during the year in an actual culture both things are recognized in the form of a holiday. Whether that means celebrating a new year or remembering the dead cultures set aside times to let people break away from their daily lives. How that gets manifested and what gets deemed important enough to get a holiday can provide great insight into a culture and the people belonging to it. They can also help show the divides between people if different cultures are mixed together and don’t celebrate the same things or different ways. Holidays also help show the passing of time in a story and that the story isn’t being told in a vacuum–there is a larger world that this story is a part of and is affected by.

Ceremonies can also be good to include or mention, becuase they can also help show what is important to a culture and add more depth to worldbuilding. They help mark things that don’t always happen annually but are still important to a society such as becoming an adult, getting married, and reaching a certian point in education or religion. Depending on what is emphasized during a ceremony will also reveal things that culture values, which could be anything from honor to cunning to being a certain gender.

Holidays and ceremonies give something for characters to look forward to and talk about as well as showing their values and how well they might know a culture. It makes the worldbuilding more believable and immersive. Though that isn’t to say that you should just include a holiday/ceremony without any rhyme or reason. Both are shaped by culture and so they must fit into the culture to make sense and add to the world.

Feel free to post any comments if you have anything to add or think I missed something, and let me know if you have any questions! I wish you all happy reading and writing. 🙂