Worldbuilding Questions: Post #8 – People and Customs, Part Two

Continuing from last week’s post, I would like to continue delving into worldbuilding on a societal scale and focus on a few areas of customs today: meeting and greeting, gestures, visits, and language. I’m keeping it light today because this Saturday, we’re going to be focusing on two of the most controversial topics in general: ethics and religion. Buckle up, everybody!

PSA: As always, another link!

Greeting and Meeting

Greeting fellow citizens can be as influential or as mundane as you would like it to be. Will a handshake suffice for the common man as well as the wealthy? Do nobles require a bow or some sort of elaborate movement? Or do you throw tradition to the wind and reverse the two types of greeting and make greeting common folk elaborate and noblemen simple? That’s actually a pretty interesting idea; I may have to use that in a different story…. Hmm…

Now, of course, there can be various customs surrounding greeting someone you have never met before. When your people are introduced to someone for the first time, who introduces them? Is it general or specific? Is there an order that people should be introduced in based on age or sex or status if it is a larger group? If it is a grand introduction, like perhaps at a ceremony, is there a way their name is said to give it more emphasis or stature? What about the differences between your given name and perhaps a “true name”, as some fantasy books like to include? How many people know a person’s “true name”? How many are allowed to know? Don’t forget to note how family members or significant others may greet each other as it could be different!

Gestures

This category really gets into semantics. Think about the way the average person moves in our world. Everyone has their own body language. Some people move their hands when they speak. Some tend to shift from side to side. Others still have habitual movement that comes up when they’re sitting or standing still. Take notice of that in other people that you interact with every day, and apply the same concept to your society.

What gestures are meant as insults? What’s the equivalent of the middle finger in your fantasy world? What gestures are taken kindly, like the “V” for peace? What gestures are signs of respect, like a salute or a bow? These details can add a little spice to your characters.

Visits

What topics should be avoided when you have guests over, particularly family? Politics? Religion? Family affairs? Can you imagine a scene where someone does bring up one of these topics?

How seriously does your world take the responsibilities of host and guest? Is it considered polite to offer food or drink or a place to stay for the night? Do these apply to everyday situations or only to special guests or circumstances? On the flip side, are guests obligated to accept any and all offers regardless of their personal preference? Or are they given the option to choose?

Language

One should exercise caution when deciding what to do about language in your world. Many wonderful fantasy books communicate solely in English with no interesting new words added to the mix. However, a select few manage to create a whole new engaging language to slip in throughout their plot. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with one. Make sure you’re up for the challenge!

Languages can come in all shapes and forms. Some societies have a trade language that helps to facilitate trade between groups or countries that don’t speak the same language. Are there languages only known by a certain group of people such as priests or wizards? Building slang can also be a fun way to incorporate a new language into a story. Slang phrases can really portray a character’s voice and style of speaking. You can also create an entirely new language for magic for the communication of spells and incantations.

Hope you all enjoyed today’s post! See you on Saturday!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #7- People and Customs, Part One

I could not figure out what to post today! I sat in front of my computer, looking at my list of ideas for a half hour, and could not for the life of me figure out what I wanted to write. So I decided to bring y’all another worldbuilding post to continue this saga.

We’ve been focusing at worldbuilding on a larger scale for the most part so far in this series. Geography, natural resources, magic: we’ve built up a strong frame for your world to stand on. Now, I would like us to delve into your individual society or societies and the way that those function in their day-to-day lives. This is an incredibly detail oriented part of the worldbuilding process, so take care in your creating. You may gain whole new ideas from this section of the questionnaire!

Again, here’s the link to today’s questions!

Customs

I’m going to go ahead and skip over the first three questions in the “General” section because I believe they are in the wrong place and aren’t general at all!

This first question is going to draw on pieces that we discussed back when we were building your world. Does the weather or climate create any habits or customs for your society? I want to take that one step further and also include celestial bodies’ effects. For example, maybe your moon rises during what you consider the day, and the sun rises in the evening. That would affect what times people may wake up or farm or use artificial light sources.

Now, we’re going to go very small scale and talk about the family unit. What does the average family look like? How many people are included traditionally? Does this include or exclude extended family? (Note: we’re talking about trends here, not a homogenous end-all be-all detail. Remember not to make your societies one-noted!) Are there any sort of traditional family responsibilities or customs that are undertaken by the people? This can range from a society where the male is the head of the household or a society where a concept of Mother’s Day is a three week long festival celebrating mothers everywhere. Don’t be afraid to invent whatever you want, even if your book may never mention it. These details create depth that may pop up in other places.

Rites of passage can also be important to the understanding of society. In our world, these include events like a bat mitzvah or something even simpler like obtaining your first driver’s license. In a fantastical realm, these can include things like a knighting ceremony or a naming ceremony after birth.

Speaking of birth, what kind of customs and rituals surround the birth of a child? Who is present at the birth? Does the father stay with the mother or is he kicked out? What about the grandmother? Is there a midwife or a doctor present? How is a newborn introduced to the rest of the family? Is there a formal celebration? How about the rest of the community?

As these children grow up, who raises them? Is it a joint parent responsibility, or does one take over more than the other? How do children dress differently than adults, or do they dress any differently? What year do they begin their education? How long does that education last?

Finally, death. What customs surround death and the burial process? Is there a special group of people who takes over the ceremony of death, or does the family take on that responsibility? I really like this last question: are the dead feared, revered, or ignored? This could shape all kinds of other legends and lore.

Eating

Every society has their customs surrounding food. Food has always been something that brings us and bonds us together. So your fantasy world should be no different!

How do people eat together? Do families sit together at the dinner table, or is there a separation between adults and children? What about servants? Do they eat with the family or separate from view?

What dishes are considered holiday or special occasion meals? (Don’t worry, we’ll touch on holidays later in this series.) Are there any foods associated with events like births and burials? What about drinks? Do people only drink alcohol on certain days?

This questionnaire does a great job distinguishing between the average person and the upper class citizen. It asks pointed questions on both formal habits and customs as well as special arrangements that need to be made for important guests visiting. It even encourages you to think about how dining tables are set up and where the guests of honor or heads of household usually sit in relative to the other people.

I think I’ve given you a lot to think about, so I’ll stop here and continue with people and customs in a following post! I hope you all enjoyed. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #6 – Magic and Magicians, Part Two

Welcome back, creators! It’s been a while since I posted an article on worldbuilding, so today, I want to finish up talking about building your magic system. This is going to be another complicated one, so hang in there! By the end of this, you should have a fleshed out magic system that will support your story as it moves along.

Remember: we’re using this link! If you’re looking for part one of this section on magic, please follow this link to start your magical system.

How does magic fit into the overall universe? Is it considered a profession or an art form? How are magic users viewed in society? Is there a stereotype that surrounds them? How does organized religion view magic, if applicable?

One thing to consider is whether magic users are organized politically or as a society and how that organization is structured. In my book, the entire Upper Realm is made up of Fae, and the nobility are the only overarching hierarchy above the average man. However, in your story, you may have various magical races that may all be organized differently. It’s really entirely up to you; the possibilities are endless. But do consider how magic factors into politics because wow, can that get messy! (In a good way!)

I’m going to skip ahead a bit because I believe that this section of the questionnaire is fairly self explanatory. A lot of it goes over subsets of the points I mentioned above or were included in the previous worldbuilding post. So now, we’re going to confront magic’s relationship with technology. This area of worldbuilding is a really great spot to embellish. Starting with magic transportation, everyone’s favorite concept. Flying brooms, magic carpets, dragons, teleportation spells, the world is wide open for you, really. While I didn’t include any of these forms in my story (at the moment), I agree that it is one of my favorite things to imagine about. Don’t forget to consider the negative side effects of magical travel!

How are weapons affected by magic? Can they be fused with magic, or does some property of the weapon impact its ability to utilize magical properties? Does warfare include the use of magical spells in battle? What does that look like? I’m still exploring this area myself. I’ve always enjoyed reading books that include high-stakes battles, but writing one with magic swirling about feels way too complex to tackle at the moment.

How does magic replace what we know in our world as modern technology? What can magic improve on in everyday objects? This is a little nitpicky, so feel free to only elaborate slightly or moderately.

This last section is a bunch of miscellaneous questions that don’t fall under the categories above, but may be useful to you shaping your world. These questions include points about the legality of magic, magical research, magical artifacts, and healing, to name a few. They also, oddly enough, delve into more detail about magic’s role in politics. The last question is one of my favorites: magic’s relationship with the art. I’m a big proponent of the arts and to think of how perhaps emotional magic could set into a song or painting is an incredibly inspiring thought.

I hope you all enjoyed today’s article. Stay tuned for more from this worldbuilding series!

How To Turn A First Draft Into A Second Draft

Hey guys! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy on this fine Saturday. I’ve been up for hours volunteering at the local farmer’s market and finishing up some homework. I’m really looking forward to writing today; I’m on my second round of revisions moving towards a third completed draft.

So today, I want to talk about how to take the first draft of your novel and turn it into a second draft. Since I’ve just recently finished this process, I thought it would be a good idea to show you some of the steps of moving forward with your story. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to more first drafting and researching processes again!

The Second Draft: The Creation Stage

I read in an article somewhere, though I can’t remember which one right now, that the first draft is to get everything down on paper and the second draft is to make the story look like you knew what you were doing all along. I think that this is a very powerful and very useful way to approach drafting, especially in the early stages. Your second draft is a great time to fix all of those places, large and small, where you knew what you wanted to happen, but didn’t know what to say. This is where your story is really going to come to life.

Step Zero: Take Time Away.

Before you can even think about touching your first draft again, you have to put it away. The minimum time recommended is two weeks. Many authors like to have at least a month away from a draft before they come back. Others say it’s fine to come back whenever you start itching to write again. Regardless of your timeframe, time away from your novel will allow you to look at it with fresh eyes and catch mistakes much more comprehensively. Personally, I put mine aside for two weeks and distracted myself with Christmastime and spending time with family.

Step One: The Readthrough

The first step is to confront your first draft with a reader’s eyes. For this step, you’ll need a pen, a highlighter, your draft, and a comfy place to sit. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to read! Read your entire draft start to finish with as little interruptions as possible. It helps if you’re a fast reader. If you read slowly, try to finish the book in as little time as possible. Don’t leave long gaps in between readings (i.e. a full day or more).

As you read, take notes. This isn’t really a place to fix typos, though if you’re a nitpicky reviser, it’s okay to make note of them. Mainly, you’re going to be focusing on big and small changes. Larger ones include items like a whole chapter needing to be reworked or you may find you need a whole new chapter! Smaller ones can be word choice, phrasing, or a new passage that would improve description or worldbuilding. Any and all questions you have about your own work or new ideas you want to incorporate should be noted down.

Leave no stone unturned. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. If it doesn’t work, even if you love it, get rid of it.

Step Two: The Revision Phase

Once you’ve read through your draft and made all the notes you want to make, you should have a good indication of how much work is ahead of you. Now onto revising. There are many revision methods that authors take to complete their next drafts. I’m going to go over a few options.

1. Chronologically: This is the method that I used. I worked through my changes one chapter at a time, starting from the prologue and ending with the last chapter. Any changes that crossed multiple chapters, I made notes of and made sure to incorporate elements when I got there. I felt like I could see myself progressing much more clearly, and it made me feel closer to the end with each step.

2. Major vs. Minor: Many authors like to focus on making their largest changes first. Plot holes, weak characterization: issues like that are confronted first. These tend to span multiple chapters or even the entire novel. Once major changes are made, then writers confront the smaller issues. These changes usually include items on a chapter by chapter basis.

3. Rewriting: This method is the most time consuming, in my opinion, but some authors find this to be very useful. This method of revision is a conscious choice to start over from the beginning. This is an entire rewrite of your novel. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But some people do find it easier to incorporate their changes through the natural writing process rather than inserting changes in here and there. Hey, once you’ve done it once, the next one is easier!

Once you’ve finished making all of your changes, big and small, you’ve got yourself a second draft! Isn’t that exciting?!

House of War

Inspiration for the House of War

The House of the War is a unique self-sufficient community. They have enough resources to nearly fully sustain themselves without assistance from any of the other Houses. They keep to themselves mostly because they can afford to. They have the largest army out of all of the Houses and keep their people well trained, ready to move on a moment’s notice. There aren’t many weak links in their system.

Flag: A dark gray flag with a red border and a stone hammer crossed with an iron sword in the center

Lay of the Land: A valley/river kingdom: one city, two large towns, six villages.

Potency of Magic: 7/10

Main Exports: Iron/iron ore, nuts

Royal Family: High Lord Brandon Electus Caddell, High Lady Cahira Helen Caddell (Kelley), Lord Duncan Malin Caddell, Lord Gideon Lewis Caddell, Lord Lachlan Marshall Caddell

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Lily, intermittently

House of Peace

The House of Peace is a serene utopia filled to the brim with the best intellectuals and artists that the Twelve Houses has to offer. Its main creed is to protect nature, knowledge, and innocence throughout the Three Realms as best they can. The river flows through the center of the lorddom similar to the canals in Venice. Heavy Greek influences throughout.

Flag: A white flag with a blue border and a dove with an olive branch in the center.

Lay of the Land: A river lorddom: one city, one town, five villages.

Potency of Magic: 8/10

Main Exports: Protective charms, clothing, silk, figs, fish

Royal Family: High Lord Gabriel Engel DiAngelo, High Lady Sarah Angela DiAngelo (Davis), Lady Seraphina Cindy DiAngelo, Lady Kiara Lucille DiAngelo, Lady Lara Daniella DiAngelo

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Rose

House of Light

Inspiration for the House of Light

My inspiration for the House of Light came from Disney’s Tangled and the kingdom of Corona. I enjoy the brightness and animated atmosphere and wanted to translate that into this House. Due to an abundance of fertile farmland, this community is mainly based in farming villages with one large market town as pictured above.

Flag: A pale yellow flag with a red border and a sunburst outline in the center.

Lay of the Land: A valley lorddom: one town, four villages

Potency of Magic: 6/10

Main Exports: Animals, animal products (eggs, milk, beef, etc), sugarcane

Royal Family: High Lord Aaron William Blake, High Lady Maria Deliana Blake (Swanson), Lady Alena Dawn Blake, Lady Aurora Meira Blake

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Rose

House of Fire

The House of Fire feels like what you would imagine a medieval kingdom that’s heavily reliant on masonry and blacksmithing. The architecture is heavily reliant on stonework; the palace is constructed entirely from stone. The towns contain open air markets where multiple forgers line the covered areas. The streets are fairly crowded between the hordes of people and black horses pulling items up and down the streets. The House of Fire also boasts a very well trained full-time army, ready for a fight whenever one might begin.

Flag: A red flag with a black border and red-orange flames in the center.

Lay of the Land: A valley lorddom: two towns, six villages.

Potency of Magic: 6/10

Main Exports: Iron/iron ore, coal, oil, citrus fruit

Royal Family: High Lord Thomas Orion Halden, High Lady Samantha Louise Halden (Boron), Lord Kay Rory Halden, Lord Hayden Alexander Halden, Lady Ariel Elizabeth Halden

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Lily

House of Darkness

The House of the Darkness is a very curious House. The area is rich in population, magic and incredibly modern, but very weak in resources. They are obsessed with time and moving forward, hence the modernity. The leaders of the House of Darkness recognize the importance that the Middle Realm has placed on technology and manage to blend both technology and magic in a way that no other House has accomplished. They have a technological advantage, but their lack of fertile farmland has caused them to become incredibly dependent on other Houses to feed their staggering populace.

Flag: A black flag with a red border and devil horns in the center.

Lay of the Land: A valley lorddom: one city, two towns, three villages.

Potency of Magic: 7/10

Main Exports: Metal, machinery, watches. Center of Black Market trade.

Royal Family: High Lord Carron Hepti Infernos, High Lady Katherine Anna Infernos (Finite), Lord Faolan Alon Infernos, Lady Cary Elipse

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Lily

House of Earth

The House of the Earth reminds me of a series of quaint medieval villages. Although the lorddom is very tiny, it manages to generate most of the food in the Upper Realm. The kingdom is very humble, mostly agriculturally driven. The villages provide for themselves and no more; extravagance is not really a concept in this area. The largest exporter of any of the Twelve Houses.

Flag: A brown flag with a green border and a tiny sapling in the center.

Lay of the Land: A valley lorddom: seven villages, lots of farming country.

Potency of Magic: 4/10

Main Exports: Grain, animal products, vegetables, nuts

Royal Family: High Lord Adam Davis Jameson, High Lady Haley Katherine Jameson (Winson), Lord Demetrius Paul Jameson

Political Alliance: Alliance of the Rose