Writing Endings

Alright, it’s time for me to get back to writing about fantasy writing! One of the most important elements of a novel that you have to nail is your ending. Your beginning pulls readers in, and your plot and your characters keep the reader engaged for the subsequent book. But your ending has got to bring everything home. A bad ending on a great book will leave a sour taste in the reader’s mouth. Trust me, I’ve been there. Even if you love the book, there’s something about a poor ending that can erase part of that happiness.

So, the ending is pretty important. Today, I want to talk about what it means to finish a book well and a few tips that I’ve picked up while writing Chasing Fae.

Finish Your Plot.

This seems like it should be obvious, but it warrants saying anyway for several reasons. Your ending has to wrap up the main storyline. You have to finish the main plot arc of the book regardless of whether you are continuing on the storyline in a sequel. A definitive end must be visible for your reader, or you may leave them wanting. You should also consider your subplots. If it’s a standalone story, everything must end. If you plan on having a sequel or several sequels, then in my personal opinion, subplots should come to a natural stopping place. It doesn’t have to be a positive place; for example, you can end a relationship in a tumultuous position. But I think that it’s important for readers to feel like there’s a clear pause.

Make sure your ending makes sense.

Your ending should feel natural. It’s perfectly acceptable to wrap up the main plot and then have a scene or two afterwards that allows the characters to simmer down to normalcy or the new normal after the climax. Let’s see the aftermath of the character’s decisions over the course of the book. What has to change in order for the world around them to stabilize? Does the world stabilize, or is this the beginning of a new conflict? If your main character’s world calms down, write about how they feel now that the adventure is over. Who is in their life now to stay? Who has disappeared? If your ending is going to lead into a new conflict in a subsequent book, your readers want to see the inklings of that rising. Offer some hints into what is to come, even super vague ones. One of my favorite books of all time, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, has an amazing ending that was a little strange and intriguing reading it the first time. And then when you read the second book, about midway through, I suddenly went “OH! EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE NOW! THIS IS AMAZING!” *subsequent reader screaming*. Experiment with your ending. Write it a few different ways and see what you like best. Get other writers’ or readers’ opinions.

Show Your Protagonist In All Their Glory.

Your ending does not have to showcase a triumphant moment. Your protagonist could be suffering after a horrible loss. The most important role of your ending is to show how your main character has grown internally over the course of the novel. Whether you are depicting victory and resolution or defeat and the construction of a new plan, your character’s emotions will show up on the page. In a victory situation, you will see happiness or you may see them step into a new role in their lives. There may be an aura of calm about them that is totally different from what the reader has seen over the course of the novel. In a defeat situation, there’s a lot of anger and sadness and fear, and you have a real opportunity to lay out your character’s innermost thoughts. You can attest to their stubbornness and their determination and as a writer, strongly convey that pivotal decision to get up and try again in the next book. I personally love both kinds of endings, but especially the latter. You want to know if the protagonist will get what they deserve out of life. As a reader, I crave it; I absolutely have to know. And that’s what keeps me reading and keeps me buying the next book in a series.

Happy writing, everyone.

Preliminary Thoughts on Marketing for Chasing Fae

After posting my big news, I really didn’t know what to post next. I’ve got two more days until my big anniversary post, and everything I was thinking of seemed anticlimactic. Maybe on Sunday, I will go back to a post about fantasy writing, or maybe not. I may ride this out a little bit and switch back to fantasy writing posts on Saturdays.

So today, I thought I would share some of the thoughts that I’ve come up with today on how I want to begin marketing for Chasing Fae. I would really love for writers and readers alike to comment their opinions and any ideas that you have for places and people I should reach out to. Please please please share! All of the input I can get is very valued.

Email Newsletter for Chasing Fae

I desperately need to create an email newsletter. I know that it is one of the best ways to connect with fans and share up-to-date news about your books and your writing life. I have just never been able to find the right time or the right way to go about it. The last time I tried to create a newsletter, I started a really cool template on MailChimp. I really liked that platform, but when I went to send a test email to myself, I realized my home address was printed at the bottom of the newsletter. I was a bit horrified, so I tried to turn that off. It turns out that because of international spam law, a mailing address has to be printed. I thought about using my William and Mary PO box, but I haven’t made a solid decision about that yet. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Revamping My Facebook Profiles

Fluff About Fantasy currently has a Facebook page, and frankly, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic at the moment. I want to spend some time making some unique posts on that platform outside of posting links to every Fluff About Fantasy post. Closer to the release date, I’d like to host a live video Q&A session! I’ve never done one before, and I would love to try it out. I’m also toying with the idea of creating a Facebook author profile that focuses on my work as an author and/or a Facebook group specifically for Chasing Fae. I don’t know if I need all that just on Facebook, but I think each type of Facebook profile has its own merits.

Who To Reach Out To In Anticipation Of The Book Release

I have a lot of people to reach out to!

I’ve spoken briefly to my high school back home so far about promotion for my book, and they are excited about my work! I’m really happy to be able to share this with my former classmates and the current student body. I haven’t reached out to the right people at my college yet, but it is only day one. These will be my first places to promote my book through newsletters, any public announcements, and hopefully, communicating with librarians to potentially house my book.

Regional newspapers would be a good place to send a press release to if I can find the courage to make the connection. I’m looking at three cities right now: Charlotte, Williamsburg, and Richmond (the biggest city close to me). I also want to find websites and magazines devoted to young adult books and/or the fantasy genre who may have a place for me to submit a guest post with my bio or welcome authors to promote their work. Still working on that research! If you have any good names or websites, please comment below!

That’s the bulk of what I have so far. Thank you so much for all your support in this journey so far. I can’t believe I’m finally kicking off the publishing journey! I’m going to have so much to share with you over the next coming months, so stay tuned!

Happy writing, everyone!

The Biggest News Of All Time

Setting it up big here with the title, huh?

I am so happy to announce that New Degree Press is going to be publishing my fantasy novel, Chasing Fae, in July 2020!!!

This is absolutely huge, and to be honest, several hours later it still hasn’t set in yet. I’ve been working on this book for two years now, and my dreams are finally coming to fruition. And don’t worry: I will still be working on my history book through the Book Creator Program and release that book later in the year after this one.

Let me walk you through how this came about.

The Beginning

So, I have been working with New Degree Press for a while in partnership with the Book Creator Program. In late November, I was sitting in on a seminar with Professor Koester about the process of hybrid publishing. I was intrigued when I realized that using their pre-sale model (which uses the sales from preorders to generate the cost of publishing the book and has a 99% success rate) while retaining full rights and full creative control of the novel sounded like a great deal. It seemed like a viable option outside of traditional publishing that didn’t fall into the vanity publishing category, which I would NEVER want to enter into.

Out of curiosity, I messaged Professor Koester after the seminar and asked him if New Degree Press took outside submissions. To my surprise, not only did they read submissions from authors outside the program, but he could introduce me to the head of the publishing board the next week and get the process started. I was kind of taken aback! I hadn’t expected things to move so quickly, especially right before exams. But I decided to take the ride and see where this went.

The Conversation

I set some time aside during my exam week for a video chat with the head of the publishing board at New Degree Press, Brian Bies. We talked about the publishing process a bit and what my goals were for my book and my vision. I really felt listened to. He treated me with respect and answered all of my questions. And I asked a lot of questions. I think somewhere in the ballpark of 20-25. None of my questions phased him; he answered all of them completely and with plenty of detail. I felt like a professional rather than the confused young writer that I think I am.

I decided that I needed to submit to them. I just needed to try. I knew only about 8% of submissions would make it to publication, but I needed to try.

The Submission

I went home for Christmas break and dove into revisions. I wanted to make a few revisions from my original manuscript sent to literary agents because I had some new ideas to improve the novel. I revised heavily for about a week. Then I sent off the draft to be read at the end of December.

Then came the waiting. I waited for almost four weeks until…..

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I’m going to have a fantastic “how did you find out your book was going to be published?” story.

That morning, I woke up groggy and just not feeling well. I had a bad headache, congestion, and a slight fever. I was thinking “Really? On the second day of classes? I hate the cold.” I rested as much as I could during the morning, missing my German class, so that I could go to my first Field School in Material Culture class in the afternoon. This was a class that only met once a week, so I didn’t want to miss one right off the bat! Getting sick at the beginning of the semester sucks because I feel like teachers may think you’re trying to skip out. I’m not! I’m a good student! I just don’t function while ill.

Anyway, I went to this class, and I snuck a peek at the messaging platform that I was communication with New Degree Press on. To my surprise, I had messages! After I quickly scrolled up to the top of the thread, and I realized what it said: New Degree Press green-lit Chasing Fae for publication this summer.

It didn’t hit me. It didn’t hit me at all initially. I couldn’t think, and I couldn’t process this information. And then I had to wait THREE HOURS for my class to be over in order to communicate to other people what happened!!!

When I got out of class, I called my family and my friends, and I told them what I had learned. I posted the announcement all over social media. And suddenly, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t stop smiling. Love was pouring in from everywhere, and I just did my best to absorb it all.

This is REAL now. Chasing Fae is going to be in print and in people’s hands. I cannot wait to share this book with the world. And I want to thank every single person reading this post right now for being involved in my journey. For listening to what I’ve shared about my book, coming to my website to learn and be invested in the journey, and thanks in advance for checking out my book when it releases!

Subscribe to Fluff About Fantasy to keep up with all the latest news about Chasing Fae!

Middle Realm

Summary: The mortal Middle Realm has its high and low points. The atmosphere isn’t quite as spectacular and awe-inspiring as the Upper Realm, but it has its own unique modest beauty. This beauty can be found particularly on the coast and in the farmland. Cities, however, tend to be tiny and thick with people. They end up with high rise gray buildings with stacks upon stacks of apartments. Food is bought in small city marketplaces that hide under smoke and dimness. The richest people leave outside the cities in manors where musicians like Grace and her mom travel to to play. The outskirts and the poorest towns are filled with peasants and farmers who are just trying to survive. Some areas are facing extreme poverty and famine.

Flag: Deep purple flag with a circle of thirty white stars in the center.

Potency of Magic: 1/10

Main Exports: Copper, Mineral Resources, Salt, Farm Animals

Government: The Middle Realm government is a farce. It is a parliamentary government overseen by a puppet prime minister appointed by the Upper Realm. Speculation says he could be Fae himself. Each town and city elects two representatives to the main body of government which congregates in Clinton nine out of the twelve months in a year (30 places, 60 representatives total).

Lisden: Lisden has never been a city of glamour. The people do their best to make it one, but they have never had the means to be more than what they are: a factory city. The streets are filled with thick, pale grey smoke from dawn to dusk with little reprieve. The only spots to get away are high above the city. The factory whistles blow at 7 am sharp every morning although the smoke starts earlier. It’s that stand out sound that wakes you up in the morning and reminds you to get going. Lisden’s buildings are varied. You’ve got your silver skyscrapers that house the richest among the people as well as the most lucrative businesses. But most of the buildings in the city are brick and stocky and old. Doesn’t matter whether they house a factory or an apartment complex; they’re just old. The whole city is also crawling with tight alleyways. They’re really kinda sketchy. But they work very well when needed for discreet matters, especially for matters concerning the black market. Grace’s hometown.

Bay Point: Bay Point is an ocean city closest to the border. Leo used to spend time stationed there. With its proximity to the Upper Realm, it is a frequent center of black market smuggling from the Fae side. It’s a fairly quiet town. Most of the jobs are based down by the docks in fishing, canning, and trading by ship. Because of this, during most of the day, the town appears like it sleeps all day. Cobblestone streets wind through aimlessly around small cottage-like buildings. The city centers around a series of fountains, located at different circles throughout the land. The beach lays at the bottom of a hill that cacades outside the city down to the water.

Lorraine: Lorraine is the town on the Middle Realm/Lower Realm border. It’s a very dusty town, reminds me of a ghost town. It can really only be considered a town due to its size, not its activity level. Lorraine is a mining town, and most of its citizens spend their time in the home or underground. When night passes over Lorraine, the air is very still and the buildings are very silent. The people seem forlorn and almost forgotten even as they move through their daily lives.

Upper Realm/Middle Realm border: The border wall seems only as tall as the largest skyscraper in the Middle Realm, but there’s a visible shimmering force field that fills in the space from the top of the wall up to the sky. The border is heavily guarded every day on the Middle Realm side by Fae soldiers. Nothing goes in or gets out without their say-so.

Middle Realm/Lower Realm border: The border wall looms large, a mass of solid rock that extends to the sky as far as the eye can see. The dark grey rock is jagged and rough with no easily viewable gaps or holes in which to pass through to the other side.

Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

Every story that I have ever started has drawn upon inspiration from my world, whether that be my family, my friends, or events that have happened in my life. The first book I ever wrote was actually about a fictional version of my family and their adventures in a strange, slightly fantastical land (but cut me some slack, I was only ten). Big moments and important people in my life do eventually manifest themselves as book characters, albeit with some significant modifications. Today, I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces of Chasing Fae that have been created from significant elements of my life.

Grace

Grace is a strong, independent woman who has found herself in a situation that she has no idea how to remedy. She is taking care of her mother and their home by working full time, and she’s planning this grand adventure to find out how her older brother died. She has this indomitable stubbornness that just radiates throughout everything she does. She’s honestly my favorite character that I have ever written.

Grace started out as the person that I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to take charge of my own life and stand up for everything I believed in with confidence. When I started Chasing Fae midway through my senior year, I was still very much hiding in the shadows. I had a lot to say, but no real way to say it without feeling shut out from my peers. I never seemed to say or do the right things, so there was a long period of time that I just stopped trying. Grace wouldn’t have stopped trying. She said what she thought without any care for the consequences, and although she does have an introverted side to her, she had no problem being bold when necessary.

But as I continued to develop and work on Grace, she took on a whole new life. She was a living, breathing character with rough edges and an emotional side that I had never anticipated her having. Her sadness manifests as anger and frustration, and when she keeps it tampered down for so long, she is bound to break. That emotional rawness that’s hiding behind this stubborn surface is something that I really admire about this character. I’m very proud to have written her into existence.

Leo

Leo is Grace’s older brother who has just died at the beginning of the book. I’ve touched a lot on where the inspiration for him came from in Sibling Bonds, but I want to dive in a bit more into what the character means to me.

The friend who acted as an older brother to me has been in and out of my life over the last year and a half, and it hasn’t been the prettiest. Every time I try to walk away and let it go, there is always that emotional side that ties me to answer one more text, send one more message. There’s this love and appreciation that just seems to override my instincts sometimes, to my benefit or detriment depending on the situation. I know that he is anxious to read the book when it does finally get published, and I do wonder sometimes how he will view the character, whether he will see any of his past self in him.

Leo, for me, is the closure that I needed. It is very critical that he is dead initially. Grace and Leo’s relationship has had its ups and downs, luckily more ups than otherwise. But she takes away this purely good, strong, and loving memory of him that she carries with her throughout the trilogy. In the first book, she’s chasing his memory, chasing whatever brought around his death. But readers are going to see her really connect with that grief and be able to open up as a person eventually.

The Upper Realm

The Three Realms was actually my first real attempt at worldbuilding, and the universe definitely has taken on a life of its own.

I’m going to focus on the Upper Realm because of its depth and richness in detail. I spent nearly four months on the Upper Realm alone as I was formulating my ideas about where the book was going to go. The Twelve Houses are based off of the twelve signs of the zodiac; I’m a intermittent fan of reading my horoscope and attributing zodiac traits to book characters. I never saw myself creating any less than twelve. Once the idea was there, it stuck, and I couldn’t do anything else. I liked the idea of incorporating opposing elements to create this perfect balance. Those elements became incorporated into the main alliances as well. Elemental magic has always been one of my favorite types of magic to read about in a fantasy novel, so I wanted to incorporate as much of that as possible.

The logical ones came first: Fire, Water, Wind (as a substitute for air), and Earth. Then light and darkness followed by day and evening, sun and moon. Then I was up to ten. I had to think for a while about what the last two elements would be. I finally came up with peace and war because I wanted to create two societies that would truly represent the balance. The House of Peace would not possess a standing army and would focus on education and the arts. It would be a universal trading partner. The House of War would be situated in a place with natural defenses (the mountains and the river) and be primarily cut off from the other eleven Houses. They would be entirely self-sufficient in a desire not to rely on anyone for assistance, and their soldiers would be the strongest in all the Realms.

The Upper Realm is what made me realize how much I LOVE worldbuilding.

I’d love to hear about what elements from your story draw from your experiences in real life. Please share in the comments below!

An Interview with Faolan

What is your full name? – Faolan Alon Infernos.

Where do you call home? – The streets of Dorchan, the palace city of the House of Darkness.

How close are you to your family? – My family isn’t… the close type. We don’t do affection very well. The person I’m closest to is my twin sister, Cary. She’s a badass woman, not as cool as me, but decent. She runs in a completely different circle than I do. She’s sexy and bold; She’ll tease everyone and then not give them even a chance to touch. She’s manipulative (she gets that from our father) and uses all the skills she’s got to get what she wants.

Who is the person you respect the most and why? – Myself. Duh. I don’t respect a lot of people’s authority. Perhaps my father’s, but that respect is aided with a little… violence. 

Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who and why? – I protect myself. I don’t expect anyone else to do it for me. I am responsible for myself and no one else.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? – Running the black market on my own. Putting it together, finding the connections, making the communication work. Hell, suggesting mortal runners.

Describe a normal day for you. – I usually wake up with a beautiful woman by my side. I’ll usually take her to breakfast before sending her on her way. Then it’s off to either meetings with my father or I’m out on the town working with the black market. In the afternoon, it’s the same thing. In the evenings, I usually go out to dinner unless my presence is requested for a palace dinner. Then it’s to one of the local clubs to dance and pick up someone for a good time.

What is your greatest strength as a person? – My tactical knowledge and my ability to read people. 

What is your greatest weakness? – Probably my need to be in charge of shit.

What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death? – The black market that lived and died with me.

Should I Hire A Developmental Editor?

There is a lot of discussion among the Writing Community as to whether or not hiring a developmental editor would be beneficial for your book before going through edits yourself. Some say that it can be very beneficial especially if you’re not sure where to begin. Others say that you should be doing all of the developmental editing yourself. I found myself on the fence in the debate until I had the opportunity to work with a developmental editor through the Book Creator Program I am working with on my history book. And what I have discovered is it may come down to the type of writer that you are. So let’s weigh the pros and cons of working with a developmental editor.

Pro #1: Feedback

The most important and beneficial role that a developmental editor plays is giving you solid feedback about where you are going with your book and how to get there better. My developmental editor is fantastic at telling me what I’m doing right and giving me specific ways to improve a certain section or a certain chapter. It’s the specificity that I so desperately need. When I was working on Chasing Fae, I always worried about whether my chapters had a logical progression or whether my characters were strong enough or whether I was even in the league of the great writers I grew up reading. Understanding where your writing works and where it can be improved can be extremely boosting for your morale and help continue to motivate you to get your book finished.

Pro #2: Helping You Stay Committed

While not all developmental editors work like this, through the Book Creator Program my editor gives me specific deadlines when to have new material to her finished by. With my busy school schedule, I wasn’t able to work during the semester as much as I wanted to. By setting firm deadlines over the holidays, I started feeling a lot better about where I was and where I was headed. However, even if your developmental editor is only going to look at one lump sum of what you’ve got at the time of submission, it can still be a great motivator. Think about it this way: you submit your material to see where it’s at. Even if it comes back slashed up with red pen and with a lot of leading questions about where you may want to go, you can use that to further your writing. You will have real feedback that you can use to transform your book into a better version of the story. You will have a better idea of where the book is at and how much farther you have to go.

Con #1: If You Are A Writer Who Enjoys Working Independently, You May Have A Hard Time.

This has nothing to do with whether you’re receptive to criticism or not. Instead, I’m talking about how much control you enjoy having over your own book. In my time with the Book Creator program, I’ve realized that I enjoy working on my book independently for the most part. I love receiving the feedback and having deadlines, but there’s a little part of me that likes to be able to write whenever I choose and submit things in one large batch. Now of course, I need to learn how to work with smaller pieces in specific deadlines, and I am. But if you are a writer who enjoys working independently, you may be better off taking some time away from your book and then coming back with fresh eyes to do your own developmental work.

Con #2: Price

If a developmental editor is not in your budget, don’t do it. Hiring a professional editor of any kind can be quite expensive. Do not try to stretch yourself to pay for an editor if you don’t have the funds. Not having a developmental editor will not harm you in the long run. Will it make things easier for you? Perhaps. But there’s no guarantee that your book will be any better off with or without one.

So What Is The Best Option?

I think it all depends on the type of writer that you are. If you’re a writer who needs to have direct professional feedback to know if you’re on the right track in order to continue on, then absolutely find yourself a developmental editor and go from there. If you’re a more independent author who prefers to do their own revision work, go ahead and do your own editing. If you lie somewhere in the middle, weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that is best for you.

Happy writing!

How To Create A Good Pitch

Hey everybody! I hope everyone’s been having a wonderful week of writing. I’ve been working on my history book nonstop for the last week, and I’m making some great progress. I’m seeing chapters start to take form, and I’m liking how it sounds so far. Writing nonfiction is such a different process than writing fiction; there is SO much research that is involved. It’s a more focused style of writing. I want to make sure the text is informative and engaging at the same time. Progress is being made!

Today, I want to talk about how to create a good pitch that will get agents to listen to you. Query letters won’t always be your sole means of communication to literary agents. At some point in your writing career, you may have the opportunity to speak to a literary agent face to face and make your case about your book verbally. Now if you’re an introvert like me, that might make you panic. But don’t worry, this article’s going to give you some pointers about how to write a good pitch and execute it well.

Writing A Good Pitch

Luckily, the first step creating a good pitch involves writing! We’re writers! That’s what we’re supposed to be good at, right? Let’s use that to get us started on the right foot.

Your pitch has got to be concise, but informative. When you’ve got the attention of an agent for such a short period of time such as during a writing conference or in an elevator. Hence the name ‘elevator pitches’. As an author, you have to be able to sell your book in the first sentence. What is the heart of your story? Find the most compelling piece that makes your book unique and sum it up in about twenty words or less. For me, it’s a young mortal woman taking on the Fae world and its dangers to find answers about her brother’s death. 19 words, and I’ve shared my main character, her motivations, and the reason that readers should keep turning the page. Agents are in the business of selling books. Convince them you can motivate readers.

Once you’ve hooked them, then you can get into some of the details. Give a few sentences about your book. Elaborate on the motivations, the events, the intrigue. Don’t forget to mention the world a little bit. But keep it snappy. Let the agent decide if they want to hear more from you. Don’t forget to mention your target audience.

I would suggest writing your pitch down so that you can refer back to it whenever you need to.

Practicing Your Pitch

Pitching to agents requires a certain amount of preparedness. I’m not the most confident person in the world, but with enough practice, I was able to pitch to a literary agent and wow her enough for her to request a submission from me. Here are my best tips to prepare:

Practice, practice, practice: If you do not know this pitch backwards and forwards before you step into that room, you are not going to get anywhere no matter how well you think you know your story. Agents can tell when you’re putting something together on the fly. That’s not to say that you have to be a rigid script reader. Instead, you want to know your pitch well enough to start with it and then add a little more finesse as the meeting goes on. You’ll know if you get nervous, you can always revert back to the structure you already have in place. Remember, keep it concise.

Act the part: If you’re having face to face time with an agent, nine times out of ten, it’s going to be a pre-planned affair. So act like it. Business casual will show that you are serious about what you are putting forward without coming across as too formal. Walk with confidence. Stand tall, but don’t let it feel forced. Speak with authority, but not with forcefulness. Make sure your volume is at the right level. One of the things I learned in high school as an actress is that if you act confident, you will feel confident. Again, this will all come with practice. Watch yourself practice your pitch in a mirror. Take note of how you look and sound. It might feel silly at first, but trust me, it helps.

Be prepared to answer questions… and be prepared to ask them: Knowing your own book well enough to answer questions an agent throws your way should be expected. But something that I did not expect during my first conference was the agent to ask me if I had any questions. I had only one question in mind prepared, and we still had nearly five minutes to go in our session after that. Now, I think my age may have garnered me some sympathy in that department, but young people, don’t make the same mistake that I did. Have several questions prepared, more than you think you will need. Better to have more than you have time for than to sit in awkward silence.

Now I know this is a lot of information to take in, and it can feel a little daunting. Especially if you’re an introverted writer. But I promise you, you have the ability to make it happen. I believe in you!

I’d love to hear your pitches! Comment your pitches below, and I would love to help you out and maybe even offer some pointers. Happy writing, everybody!

Constructing War

Hey everyone! We’re a little over three weeks away from Fluff About Fantasy’s one year anniversary! Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been running this website for almost a year now. I am so lucky to have readers like you who have kept me going all this time. Without further ado, let’s get to today’s subject: building fantastical war.

War will play a significant role in my trilogy, but Chasing Fae only brings the underlying hints of the impending conflict. I’ve always loved reading war in fantasy, but only when it’s done right. I’m not the kind of reader who needs to see a play-by-play of every minor battle and conflict that moves the war forward, but I also don’t want to only see one or two major battles and that’s it. I want to construct the series in such a way that the war arc is clearly a large component, but not so large that it dominates the characters and their journey. I’ve done a bit of research into what that looks like, and I want to share that research with you. Please keep in mind that these points aim for that nice middle ground.

Find Your Purpose.

War happens for a reason. Whether it’s a major reason or whether everything got started because someone wore the wrong color shirt, you have to give your conflict a starting place. More often than not, that reason will have to do with something political. Think about it: resources, morality, religion, love – everything can be take a political stance on a large scale or a small scale like family politics. But the reason has to be big enough and strong enough for people to want to fight in horrific battles and lose their lives for.

War Affects Everyone.

War is going to affect your universe’s people from the top down. It doesn’t matter what the economical and political dynamics are; everyone plays a role and everyone will be impacted by the events. Are some of your people rich enough to pay their way out of having to fight? Who do they send? Will their land get seized? What about the poor? Do they have the resources needed to outfit their men and women for the fight, and will they be forced to provide anyway even if they don’t? The allocation of resources will change as well. There will be a lot of agricultural resources as well as technological resources that will be transferred from the general populous to the military. How much effect will that have on the people?

Your characters will be affected the most prominently in your story because that is who will drive the plot forward. Make sure you understand how war affects your main character and your secondary characters as you are constructing this conflict.

Battle Vs. Siege

It is important to know the difference between the two of these scenes because you will find both throughout the war you’re building. It’s important to know what to use when.

Battle: Use sparingly. Save it for the most charged moments. These are extremely costly, not just monetarily but also with life. Both sides have to agree that the potential gain would outweigh the loss of life that will occur. When writing these, understand that battles, even small skirmishes, will be chaotic and confusing. Many well laid plans go awry on the battlefield.

Siege: These occur the most often during a war. One side falls back to a stronghold, and the other surrounds it to cut the stronghold off from essential supplies to tempt a surrender. Resources will be scarce, and if there are any citizens inside the stronghold town or city with the military, all sorts of things can happen. Will citizens try to flee? Will they be fighting with their own soldiers over food? How well do the citizens trust the people protecting them?

Consider The Aftermath.

What does the end of the war look like? Which side surrenders to the other? Is there ever a formal surrender? Are there any skirmishes that occur before news of the surrender reaches all of the corners of the universe? And after the war is over, you have to consider how each side puts their states and their lives back together. It won’t happen overnight. There will be governments to put back together, cities and towns to be rebuilt, and people to be rehabilitated. Don’t skimp on this if you mention it at all. The end is just as important as the beginning.

I hope this gives you some good ideas and some direction on constructing war in your fantasy novel. Happy writing!

Names: Naming Characters and Places in Fantasy Writing

One of the first hurdles that comes up in writing fantasy can pop up before you even dive into worldbuilding and character building: picking names. I have heard of writers who use a placeholder name while they brainstorm other elements and then change the name once the right one reveals itself. But I can’t even imagine beginning my story without having a few names down to begin with.

This is one of my favorite parts of the pre-drafting stage. Names ground me in where I am and who I’m working with, and in some cases, give me ideas for setting aspects or personality traits for characters. When your book is out there in the world, your fans are going to know your characters by name. If you’re lucky enough to have international fame, your names can become a household phrase. Think of the Harry Potter series. Instant brand recognition. A true fan knows countless spells and can recite to you every Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts and which book they came from. Names are important.

Character Names

When I start with a book idea, I often start with an idea for a character. Usually, a personality trait or a specific conviction for the character comes first. From there, I move on to picking a name. Sometimes I’ve already got the perfect name picked out, but more often than not, I’ll head over to a baby names website or a name generator. If I know a meaning I want, I’ll search for that. If I have a letter in mind, I’ll sort alphabetically.

Make sure to craft first, middle, and last names. The whole package can be incredibly satisfying. I like to say my full names aloud to hear how the different pieces flow together. I would highly recommend using this technique; you’ll find that the right name just clicks in your head and on your lips at the same time.

Here are a couple links that I find useful:

Fantasy Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/

Random Name Generator: https://randomwordgenerator.com/name.php

Baby Name Generator: https://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/baby-names/baby-name-generator

Baby Name Genie (one of my favorites!): https://www.babynamegenie.com/baby-name-generator

World Names

Your universe is going to be made up of a lot of names across every level: universe, world, realm, state, city, town, village, etc. And not all of them are going to need to be come up with before you start drafting. But you do need a few basic place names down in order to start.

Now, I’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether you should try for simple names or super fantastical, difficult to pronounce names to make your story unique. While I think having names that have a little fantastical element to them is important, I think hard to pronounce names leave your readers guessing and posting on Reddit trying to figure out how to say them. I like a healthy mix of the two in a fantasy novel. Enough names that I can say out loud and then a few where I’m just like “how in the world did they come up with that, that’s so cool!”.

My world’s names are very simple. All of the noble houses pull their names from the elements and the day and the evening and war and peace and then just insert “House of” or “House of the”, depending on which one. I did that purposefully because I like the duality of contrasting houses. Day vs. Evening, Water vs. Fire, Light vs. Darkness. I want to play off of what you think those noble houses should be all about and then flip some of them on their heads.

Once I have the main names down, I usually come up with the main geographical features names. Mountain ranges, oceans, rivers, and the like. I tend to do all of the main ones up front. Then I come up with my city and town names as my characters travel to them. Eventually, I’ll fill all of them in, but it isn’t necessary before I start writing.

Here are a few links to get you started:

Realm Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/realm-names.php

Mountain Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/mountain-names.php

River Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/river-names.php

Water Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/water-names.php

Fantasy Kingdom Name Generator: https://springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/fantasykingdomnames.htm

Place Name Generator: https://www.namegenerator.biz/place-name-generator.php

Happy brainstorming, everyone!