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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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

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

Description for Non-Characters

In the real world, we see things. It could be anything: cars, houses, trees, the sun, the moon, birds in the sky, or dogs on the ground. For us writers, it is imperative to find a way to describe those things.

This is different than describing characters, since eye color/hair color and slightly less important features cannot be used to describe the thing. For example, a car is not a person. It has a color to its paint job, which is similar to eye/hair color, but it goes far deeper than that. What is the make and model of the car? What kind of tires are on the car? Are there dents on the frame?

You get what I’m saying? The point is, there are a lot of things to point out if you’re going to do your job properly. The most important thing to remember, however, is that there is a such thing as too much description. The car example may work if it’s from the POV of someone who knows about cars, but that same person may not be as savvy on the various sub-genres of fantasy fiction.

A book lover would know those things like the back of their hand, but a car salesman would go in and see books about magic, knights, wizards, and elves, while a book lover knows there’s a lot more to it than that.

In a nutshell, your POV character (or your narrator) will describe things to the reader as they know things. Always keep that in mind.

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

–N.L., 2017

Update: Summer 2017

I know I haven’t been making my regular posts, but I assure you I’m not chillin’ with Tolkien, Poe, Twain, and other dead writers. I have, on the other hand, been very busy. I’ve been taking a senior-level playwriting class, after all. And before that, I was visiting my brother and his girlfriend out in the boonies of Angleton, Texas.

Several projects in a row have fallen apart–including the epistolary novel I spoke about on Twitter–but I did manage to get something else done. I managed to fully draft a piece of flash fiction, which will be published as bonus content in the back of Kingslayer with a simple update to my files (perks of self-publishing). This story actually stems from the failed prequel for my novel that never got finished, but I digress. I’m also going to be publishing an appendix in the back of the book to further explain some of the magical items in my created universe.

Something else I’ve been working on is a new cover for Kingslayer. The current one just isn’t working or getting the book noticed, so I figured a change is in order. It’ll be up soon.

Right now, novels just aren’t working for me. I’m starting to think that short fiction and flash fiction are where I need to focus my attention, until I can readjust my attention to novels again. That’s why I’m considering doing a collection of fantasy flash fiction (some of which will be from the world of Kingslayer, while others will be from entirely new worlds).

All in all, I wanted to update everyone on what I am doing so they can get a bigger picture for why I’ve been absent from the blog scene.

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

–N.L., 2017

Excerpt: Seeds of Resistance

This is a bit of a surprise post. I wasn’t going to say it until later, but I’ve chosen to go ahead to reveal that I’m working on bonus content to add to the print edition of Kingslayer. This is an excerpt, and the full first chapter. Any feedback is welcome, but I’m mainly posting for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

***

Since leaving Liverpool, Jocelyn and I watched as the rolling hills of the Gililands passed by our compartment window. We were aboard The Runaway Express, which was fitting since we were fugitives from the Empire. If we were seen, we were as good as dead. But we wouldn’t stay on the train long; after all, we were nearing the industrial city of Issylot.

“There’s been a riot in Saxony,” Jocelyn said, turning the pages of the daily newspaper.

Of course, this wasn’t a surprise. Tiberius ruled the Isobellian territories with an iron fist. If there was a riot (like Jocelyn said), then all it meant was that people were getting tired of the Black King and his Imperial Knights.

After a moment, I looked over at Jocelyn.

Slender body, hazel eyes, red curls. Throw that together with a pair of rosy cheeks, and you’ve got one heck of a beautiful wife. To be honest, Jocelyn looked upset by the news of another riot, and I couldn’t blame her. I just wish there was something I could’ve done.

“How many were killed this time?” I asked, biting into a half-eaten apple from the night before.

“Thirty-seven,” Jocelyn replied. “That’s the worst one to date.”

True, I thought.

“I just wish there was somethin’ we could do,” Jocelyn said. “Don’t you agree, Vensyr?”

I didn’t give a verbal answer. I finished the apple and tossed the remains out the nearby, opened window; then I gave my wife a nod of the head.

When we arrived in Issylot, Jocelyn and I left the train station as quickly as possible; then we moved into the nearest alleyway. The city was a bustling metropolis, with airships and skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. It was good to be back in Jocelyn’s hometown. After all, it had been years since our last visit, plus there were lots of places where we could hide from the Empire.

“Where you want to go?” I asked, looking at Jocelyn.

“How about the tavern in the Business District?” she replied, pointing down the alley with one finger.

This was a natural choice, since the local tavern belonged to Jocelyn’s cousin. Whenever we came to visit, he always let us eat for free. Once we arrived and took our seats inside the bar, we both received a plate of dragonloaf with a choice of our favorite beverage. Jocelyn went with a glass of wine, while I settled on a chocolate, peanut butter milkshake.

Not a single Imperial Knight was present. And since we were covered in darkness (with nothing but a light to cover our faces), Jocelyn and I felt safe lowering the hoods of our cloaks.

Clearly, Jocelyn was starving. She practically inhaled her dragonloaf the moment it touched her lips.

I tried not to laugh. It was quite the sight to behold.

“That looks yummy,” Jocelyn said after a moment, eyeing my milkshake.

“It is,” I said simply, taking a small sip.

“Can I have a sippy-whippy?”

I grinned. “You have your own drink,” I said, looking over at Jocelyn’s wine.

“Pwease!?” she asked in a babyish tone of voice, crossing her arms and puckering her lips.

I rolled my eyes. “Jocelyn, knock it off.”

“You hate me….”

She’s acting like a five-year-old, I thought, shocked by my wife’s behavior. Still, she was a cute little thing, which is why I chose to give in.

“Here,” I said while handing her my glass. “You owe me one,” I added with another roll of the eyes.

“Thank you!” she told me after taking a sip. “I wuv you forever an’ ever!”

“Love you too,” I said, amused.

After we finished our meals, Jocelyn pulled out her newspaper and started to read. She was fixated on the paper for the better part of fifteen minutes, occasionally turning the pages with circular photographs.

“Hey Vensyr?” she said, looking up from the paper.

I looked at her, not saying a word.

“Sara Willington’s been sighted,” Jocelyn continued. Right then, a group of Imperial Knights entered the tavern.

I stared at Jocelyn. The Sara Willington—daughter and heir of the late King Michael Willington—sighted? This was a big deal, and not because the Black King wanted her dead. Rather, it was a huge deal because the princess hadn’t been seen or heard of in nearly thirteen years: not since her parents were killed.

“Sighted!?” I said in a whisper. “Where?”

“Alma Defa,” Jocelyn replied, passing the paper to me. I blew out the candle between us so the Imperial Knights who just came in couldn’t see our faces in the dark corner of the bar. It wasn’t easy, reading without the light of a candle, but the task seemed manageable nonetheless.

And so, I read the paper aloud:

Princess Sara Willington (age 15) was sighted in Alma Defa last night. She should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information leading to Her Majesty’s arrest will be awarded 50,000 gold shillings.

I reread the article several times. It was short, yet Sara’s mugshot covered half the front page. After a moment, Jocelyn took up the newspaper and stuffed it in a pouch beneath her cloak.

“It’s interesting. Isn’t it, Vensyr?” Jocelyn said.

“What’s interesting?” I asked.

“The location, more than anything. It is Alma Defa, after all. The Empire’s Supreme Court is there. But why would she go there of all places, when the Emperor himself wants her dead?”

Jocelyn’s guess was as good as mine.

I looked at the tavern’s front door. At the moment, the owner of the bar was servicing a couple whores and a half-drunk midget. Each of them seemed to be getting their fair share of wine, yet the Imperial Knights that just came in were as sober as a priest before mass. In fact, to tell the truth, the gentlemen standing in the doorway looked as if they were looking for something.

Or someone.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but then as they made their way through the bar, I knew better. They weren’t just looking for someone. They acted as if they’d seen someone, namely me and Jocelyn. Do I even have to say it? They must have seen us enter the freakin’ building! Why did we have to lower the hoods of our cloaks? I thought, but now wasn’t the time to complain. I had to warn Jocelyn, and together we had to escape.

“Hey Jocelyn, does this place have a back door?” I asked, trying to remain calm.

Jocelyn pointed to her left. “Why you askin’?” she replied. I cleared my throat and motioned toward the approaching knights. Jocelyn looked to see them and immediately understood. “I’d say our welcome here is officially worn out,” she said.

And less than a minute later, we were out the back door.

 

About My Second Novel

As some of you know, I’ve been working on an epistolary novel for a few weeks. Well, for today’s post, I wanted to give an update and let everyone know what the book is basically about.

As I revealed in a Tweet a few days ago, this epistolary novel is very much related to my novel Kingslayer. What I didn’t reveal, however, is that this new book chronicles the events in one of the main character’s life. This is basically the story of Vensyr D’Artanian, who is very much important to the villain’s backstory in Kingslayer.

I won’t say any more about the character as a person, since it would spoil. However, I can say that the novel is from mainly his POV, and another character who he’s sending letters back and forth while he’s away fighting in war. It will talk way more about his backstory, as well as the backstory of Tiberius (the main villain from Kingslayer). It will also talk about the main events in the war that lead into the final chapter and epilogue (which cover some events from Kingslayer, plus a surprise).

At the moment, I’m not certain what the title will be. I have one that I really like, but it gives away the ending. I also have another title in mind, but it’s underwhelming from my point of view (I’m calling it Scribbler). Perhaps a better one will come to mind, but time will tell.

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

–N.L., 2017