How to Create Your Own Fantasy Creature

In the fantasy genre, we often come across all kinds of magical creatures. Probably the best example in literature that I’m aware of is the Harry Potter books, since there’re hundreds of fantastic beasts in that world. There’s so many of them, in fact, that I can’t name them all.

One thing I can do, however, is say that if you’re writing fantasy, one way to avoid being cliché is to avoid using only the generic fantastical creatures. Today, I’m going to discuss how to create creatures that are truly unique to your world. But before we get into that, we must first understand that there are two types of creatures: sentient and non-sentient.

Sentient creatures are easily more complex than non-sentient creatures. Sentient creatures likely have their own societies or tribes, and because of this, they are in some way going to have their own culture. For instance, Lord of the Rings has different cultures for each of its races. The elves tend to live in the woods and are more deeply tied to magic and things like that, while the dwarves are in their caves digging for gold or other riches. The point is, if you’re creating a fantasy race, you have to give them something that defines them. Also, make sure they have features that are unique from humans. If a humanoid creature has blue hair and red eyes, I’m going to assume they aren’t human.

Non-sentient creatures, on the other hand, are basically your big, bad monster. What you need to consider, however, is what are they most like in the real world? Do they live in the mountains or the water? How are they born? In my novel, I created a creature that is basically a shade-like dragon that is born when a necromancer revives the corpse of a dragon. In a nutshell, it is important to remember how the creature is born and how it behaves in order to fully comprehend everything about your fantasy critter.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2018

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Writing for Yourself

Sometimes people act as if writers must automatically want to publish their work, just because that person’s a writer. But to be entirely honest, I didn’t always want to publish my work and get paid for it. It started out as something personal, yet society seems to think writers MUST get published in order to validate their desire to make their art.

I reject the notion that all writers have to publish their work.

The truth is, it’s okay if you want to write just for yourself. In fact, some published writers already write for themselves (myself included), and simply publish the work they happen to put out. The truth is, there is a difference between writing a product and writing for yourself. The best books happen to be stories that the author wrote because that’s the story they wanted to tell. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter because it’s the story she wanted to write, not because she thought it would be a bestseller.

The point I’m trying to make is, write what you want to write, and don’t worry if it gets published. You can always worry about that later. And at the end of the day, if your work doesn’t become a bestseller, at least you enjoyed writing it!

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Limits in Magic Systems

In fantasy, you tend to have magic all over the place. Often times, it is used by elves and wizards, while regular people don’t tend to use it unless there’s some kind of magical object. But in a story, what kind of magic system works best? How do you know the magic isn’t too overwhelming but at the same time know it has a purpose in the fantasy world. Well, today I’d like to answer that.

One of my favorite authors has developed a set of rules for how he makes his magic work. One of these rules is fundamental to my writing, and that is that your magic system should provide the character with some kind of power, but it should have limitations, costs, and weaknesses.

In my novel Kingslayer, the main villain possesses a ring that grants immortality and prevents all injury, with one exception. There is also a magic sword that can cut through any object, including the flesh of immortals. This means that the magic ring has a fatal flaw: the one who owns this sword can still kill them. This is a weakness and a limitation to the magic that works quite well in my opinion (though I’m biased).

Another example of how this works is in Lord of the Rings. The Ring of Power can do all kinds of crazy things, but there’s a terrible cost involved. Eventually, the person who owns the ring goes mad and becomes addicted to the intoxicating power. If that’s not a cost, I don’t know what is.

The bottom line is that, when making a magic system, you have to create some kind of balance or your readers won’t be able to suspend their believe in your fantasy.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Setting

In writing, one of the key elements to making a story great is determining where your story takes place. The location, the culture, and the people in that culture are key when figuring out what happens in your story.

The setting is, in a lot of ways, the most important thing in your story. In a lot of ways, it impacts your characters more than even the plot itself. Without setting, what is to determine how your characters feel about religion and politics? Setting can also define how the characters in question dress. Do they wear cloaks? A turban?

I say all of this because knowing where your story is set is an important thing for you to know even before you write the first word. If you’re setting your story in the real world, it’s key to figure out where. If it’s fantasy, do you have two parallel worlds set in the same place like Harry Potter, or do you have a single world set apart from our own like in Lord of the Rings? In both those cases, some world building is required, but in Harry Potter, some knowledge of the real world is also required.

When it comes to world building, you make everything up from the culture to the religion. But if you incorporate real world settings in the mix, research is mandatory.  The bottom line is that if you want a setting for your world, you need to know everything you can about that setting before you even type the first word.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Finding Time to Write

Sometimes as writers, we struggle to find time to write. Everyone, unless they’re a retired old fart who doesn’t get out of the house, has a social life and a job and other things that get in the way. The bottom line is, we all have to deal with struggles that come hand in hand with being a writer. One of the biggest struggles, however, is finding the time we need to sit down and write that dang book.

But the dirty little secret is, it’s actually not that hard to do.

If you’re stuck in a rut and you’re having trouble writing whatever project you’re working on, then you need to evaluate what is going on in your life. For years, I’ve been trying to publish a second book, and I’m just now learning to focus onto how to get my words down when I’m struggling. Some of that involves writing detailed outlines, which has nothing to do with finding time to write, but one thing that does relate to it is the idea that you need to schedule your writing time.

Recently, I went to Walmart and bought a weekly planner. That allows me to plan every single day and write down tasks I need to fulfill during the day in question. This means that I can set in stone every day’s tasks and write during my writing time and carry out other tasks that have to be done that day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s taught me how important it is to focus and be consistent. Truth be told, you don’t need a weekly planner if you can learn to focus on when to write without one, but it certainly does help. It’s the best tool I’ve invested in.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Is a Lack of Profanity in Fiction a Sign of Weak Writing?

Earlier today, I had an experience in one of my Creative Writing classes that I have chosen to share. It was in playwriting class, and it was my turn to be workshopped. While the majority of the class took no notice to the fact that my play had zero profanity in it (rude words yes, profanity no), one student felt it was odd that my play’s cast swore none of the time at all. To be honest, she even seemed bothered by it. So, I’ve chosen to use this experience as a means to talk about profanity in fiction.

Is it poor writing when your fiction has little to no profanity?

I don’t think so. I can only speak for myself, but the worst words I’ll use are “crap,” “heck,” and “darn.” That’s verbally, though. Occasionally, I’ll slip a real dirty one in there, but I’d be lying if I said that’s how I talk in real life. My mouth is as clean as a whistle. But that being said, I don’t think it’s a poor choice of diction to exclude certain words when you’re writing fiction or some other form of Creative Writing. I think often times, people rely far too much on profanity to get the point across.

The point is simple. If you choose to include characters that cuss, make sure every word out of their mouth counts. Too much of that stuff can reflect poorly on you as a writer. And please, don’t be so narrow-minded that you catch yourself thinking that a lack of profanity is weak writing. It’s frankly a stupid mindset, and there are plenty of writers out there (myself included) that don’t generally use language like that in their books. I won’t judge if you do it, but for Zeus’s sake, make sure every word counts.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

The Future of Kingslayer

As everyone has probably noticed, I’ve been juggling several ideas for books for awhile now. One thing that I will say is that I’ve been guilty of this thing called “Shiny New Idea Syndrome.” Basically, when I have a brand spanking new idea, I want to see where it takes me.

But nonetheless, I’ve mentioned on Twitter and on here that I’m working on an anthology with stories tied to my novel Kingslayer (the working title being The Kingslayer Anthology), as well as an epistolary novel that centers around the main villain’s first cousin, Vensyr D’Artanian. Both of these projects are things I still want to work on, but it should be noted that with how my brain works and operates, I have to jump from one project to another on a semi-regular basis.

Rest assured, both of these projects will be finished, though it’s unlikely they’ll be out before 2019. But just know that I am a very ambitious writer, which is part of the reason it takes so long; sometimes, I bite off way more than I can chew.

Now to expand on what the future of the “Kingslayer Universe” might look like. I’m done writing typical prose novels in that universe. That is to say, I’ve got two epistolary novels (not just one) that I’d like to see in print. Epistolary, meaning written in the form of letters, journal entries, and other written documents. I did say I was ambitious, didn’t I? To my knowledge, high fantasy and epistolary don’t typically mix. Well, I’ve chosen to try it, but not until I get my anthology out.

So this is what it’s going to look like. As you know, Kingslayer is already out. My next project that I’ll probably release is the anthology; then I’ll release my two epistolary novels (books that cover much of the same events from totally different perspectives) at the exact same time. At least, it’s my goal to do that.

We’ll see if this all turns out the way I hope it will. Just know that once all these books are out, the Kingslayer series will have four very different books.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017