Hello fantasy lovers! I am so excited to share something special with you. Recently, I decided to add three maps of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Realm to the front of my paperback book. I had originally wanted to work this idea into my hardcover as a special insert, but when I heard I could do it for the paperback, I just had to jump in. I have been absolutely swamped with exams and exam studying for the past week or so (which is part of why I missed last Saturday’s post). My amazing boyfriend offered to take over the mapmaking process for me to relieve some of my stress. And boy, am I glad he did! He took my ideas and my mockup map from over two years ago and created something truly spectacular with them. He spent hours working with Inkarnate’s map-making software. I hope you all love them as much as I do!
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 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 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!
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.
There are two major political alliances in the Upper Realm: the Alliance of the Rose and the Alliance of the Lily. Within these alliances, trade flows relatively smoothly, and each lorddom comes to each other’s aid when called in case of war or extreme conflict. While trade does occur outside of alliances, it is limited in scope.
Alliance of the Rose:
- House of the Day
- House of the Sun
- House of Light
- House of Water
- House of Earth
- House of Peace
Alliance of the Lily:
- House of the Evening
- House of the Moon
- House of Darkness
- House of Wind
- House of Fire
- House of War (note: The House of War does operate primarily independently from the other Houses. However, when it does trade, it is with these Houses and there are legends of past administrations coming to the Alliance of the Lily’s aid. Although that hasn’t occurred in generations)
When I started working on this world, I knew I wanted to understand how trade flowed between lorddoms and between realms. So I did something a little crazy. I wrote down a multitude of crops, magical items, and other goods that might come up at some point in the story. I made an intense trading list of who produced what, who was importing it, and which producers were exporting. Although it sounds complicated, it actually reads well. It allowed me to summarize a lorddom’s best crops and exports in a separate document which then would be used to understand the individual cultures of the Twelves Houses.
Take a look of this overview of key items!
Magical items/artifacts: Produced by the most magically potent areas of the Upper Realm. Imported by the House of Fire, the House of Earth, and the House of the War. Few items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Amulets: Usually produced in areas with gemstone mines. Half of the houses produce, and the other half important. Items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Protective charms: Produced by the House of the Moon, House of Light, House of Peace, House of War, and House of Fire. Imported by the remaining houses. Few items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Clothing and Materials: Cotton, cotton fabric, and cotton clothing can be found across all twelve Houses as well as the Middle Realm. Silk is only produced by the House of Peace and the House of the Moon and is very expensive, reserved for the upper echelon.
Wheat: A main staple of a Three Realms diet. The only House that does not have the acreage to produce their own wheat crops is the House of Darkness. They have no choice but to import. This puts a great strain on their economy and their people.
Fruit: Most fruit is produced in the House of the Day and the House of the Sun. Their climates and geography are best suited for growing fruit, hence the bountiful harvests often showcased at local markets. These fruits drive their economies: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, and tomatoes. The House of Fire also produces a decent amount of fruit, from plums, to oranges, and peaches.
Vegetables: Another staple of the Upper Realm diet are potatoes, produced mainly in the northern half of the realm. Other vegetables such as peas, carrots, and corn can be primarily found in the House of the Sun and the House of Earth.
Furs: The best winter furs are found in the mountain regions: the House of the Evening, the House of the Moon, and the House of the Wind.
Coal and Oil: Possessed by the House of Earth, the House of Fire, and the House of War as well as select regions of the Middle Realm.
Salt: Salt is a key resource to a society thriving. Yet only two of the Upper Realm Houses (House of Wind and House of Water) have access to a consistent salt mine. This is where the Middle Realm comes in. Not only do they have a multitude of salt mines, but they have enough to supply their people and the Upper Realm on their own. This is what keeps the trade relationship between the Upper Realm and the Middle Realm alive.
I hope you found this as interesting as I do! Let me know in the comments below what you think!
Note: This is, of course, still a work in progress especially because I’m not as well versed in politics and economics as I would ideally be. I’m always open to hearing constructive criticism on my worldbuilding!
When you’re worldbuilding, creating a map for your world can be helpful in seeing how kingdoms, cities, and towns fit together. Especially if your novel involves some sort of journey, a map can show you the logical paths to take to your characters’ destinations. A map adds an element of reality to your world and will absolutely make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Now, you can get into all types of mapmaking software that will allow you to customize every detail to your desire. But why get into spending money and learning how a software works with complicated instruction manuals that will take you at least a few days to learn the basics? My recommendation is getting a pen and paper or if you prefer, opening up a PowerPoint document and going to town.
Step 1: Understand the regions of your world.
Before you start mapping your universe, you need to understand how the world is broken up. Do you have multiple realms that you need to take into account? How many kingdoms or states do you have? How are those divided up: cities, towns, villages? You also want to make note of main geographical features that may divide up your land as well. Mountains, rivers, and forests can divide land or encircle it in such ways that can be important notes in your book. Go back to your notes from my Worldbuilding Questions series for help.
Step 2: Decide how to represent each place.
If you’re a fantastic artist who can draw beautiful buildings and detailed trees and mountain sides, you can skip over this section. If you’re like me and can’t really draw to save your life, you’re going to want to come up with some simple icons to represent your regions whether you’re drawing by hand or creating by computer. In terms of my PowerPoint, I used clipart of small houses to represent villages, a town hall to represent towns, and a group of skyscrapers to represent cities. Triangles became mountains, and blue lines became rivers. Make sure you write down your key so you’ll know what your icons stand for when you go back to edit your manuscript six months later.
Step 3: Create.
Once you’ve got all the logistical brainstorming out of the way, it’s time to create! Plan on spending at least an hour or two on your map even if you’re working with simple icons. This is a real opportunity to ground yourself in your world before you write your story. Really enjoy the process of creating your map. It’s fun!
Examples: The Three Realms
Previously, in my worldbuilding series, I talked to you about the importance of building rules and structure for your magic system. I thought it might be a great addition if I was to show off how magic works in my own world. I absolutely love the way this system works, and I hope you do too.
Magic power in the Three Realms comes from the energy in a Fae or demon’s soul. A magic user feeds the spells with his or her willpower. While the magic that is present in the general world is inexhaustible, the magic present in an individual person is exhaustible. It can usually be recharged with rest, sleep, or certain potions if exhausted. If used up too quickly or too strongly, the magic user will fall into an unconscious state, whether temporary or in extreme cases, permanent. If magic continues to be used to the limit consistently, death is inevitable.
Limits of Magic
Fae are born with a certain small number of inherent magical gifts, or specific types of magic that they have a greater affinity for. This type is called inherent magic. However, noble Fae are born with a greater number of inherent gifts because of their bloodline.
Fae can also learn other types of magic that they do not have a natural affinity for. However, it takes years and years of study to perfect their talents, and even then, some people cannot achieve other types of magic effectively. There are a handful of mages who have power nearly equal to that of a noble Fae because of their propensity to learn. They spend their whole lives studying and usually teaching magic.
Some spells are limited by the time they can be cast. An example of this is a spell that depends on the position of the sun or moon.
Casting A Spell
Casting a spell requires up to three distinct pieces. The first and most general one is intent. The intention of the spell must be focused on intently in order for it to work. In the beginning, Fae must focus for an extended period of time to get a spell to work. More advanced magic users only need a few seconds. The second one is the correct wording. Some spells require a recitation of words coupled with the intent to complete it. This usually starts out as a verbal command and then eventually, with time and practice, can become a non-verbal command. The third one is the correct materials. Certain protection spells or soul-seeking magic must occur at specific times with specific items handy. This can consist of anything from ordinary plants to magical artifacts. These items can usually be obtained from magical craftsmen or magical merchants. However, occasionally, it takes a far rarer type of item that can only be found in certain geographic locations or in certain centers.
Some spells can be stored in charms or amulets for later use.
Some spells require long drawn out rituals, usually ones involving elements of nature (sun, moon, ocean, etc.).
Two or more magic users can combine their power to amplify a spell. However, it is extremely taxing on the both of them and usually not worth the energy loss. It is only used in dire situations.
A mage’s powers often grows stronger over time with age. The level of power in a Fae is measured by:
- Presence of noble blood.
- Number of inherent gifts.
- Execution of non-inherent magic.
Types of Magic: Levels and Tiers
My magic system is broken up into three levels, each with five tiers. At each tier, you step up the strength of each type of magic. At each level, you also increase the strength. Using this method offered me a clear path of seeing how strong an individual character was, how others measured up against one another. It’s been incredibly useful. I have tables and everything. I started typing those, but they would make this article about twenty pages long. Let me know if you’d like to see that in a PDF in the comments below!
Here are the types of magic that exist in the Three Realms:
- Animation Magic: The ability to bring in animate objects to life
- Disintegration Magic: The ability to disintegrate matter
- Elemental Magic: The ability to control or manipulate the elements of nature (water, fire, wind, earth).
- Absorption Magic: The ability to absorb energy and convert it into something else like physical strength.
- Augmentation Magic: The ability to enhance or weaken someone else’s powers.
- Conversion Magic: The ability to absorb one form of energy and convert it into another form of energy.
- Energy Manipulation Magic: The ability to manipulate another person’s powers into something else.
- Force Field Generation Magic: The ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy that often act as shields.
- Negation Magic: The ability to mute the powers of another person.
- Sacrificial Magic: The ability to draw power from the death of another.
- Sensing Magic: The ability to sense or recognize magical power.
- Sourcing Magic: The ability to draw magical power from energy sources.
- Flight Magic: The ability to levitate oneself or to fly.
- Forensic Magic: The ability to backtrace a spell for the purpose of tracking down people who commit crimes.
- Glamour Magic: The ability to disguise oneself.
- Healing Magic: The ability to heal or heal from any injury.
- Illusion Magic: The ability to disguise something as something else.
- Divination: The ability to foresee or foretell future events.
- Invisibility: The ability to be invisible.
- Shapeshifting Magic: The ability to turn one’s form into that of an animal.
- Gravity Magic: The ability to manipulate gravity and its effects.
- Light Magic: The ability to generate or extinguish light.
- Quantum Tunneling Magic: The ability to move through walls.
- Medium Magic: The ability to see and communicate with the dead.
- Necromancy: the ability to reanimate and/or control the dead.
- Poison Magic: The ability to work with poisons more adeptly and/or possess poisonous abilities.
- Possession Magic: The ability to occupy, dominate, and/or control another person from within.
- Psionic Magic: The ability to communicate or perceive beyond the five physical senses, including empathetic magic, memory manipulation, mind control, telekinesis, and telepathy.
- Sound Manipulation Magic: The ability to alter sound.
- Durability Magic: The ability to have a higher resistance to injury than an average person.
- Reflex Amplification Magic: The ability react faster than an average person.
- Senses Magic: The magnified ability to see, hear, feel, smell, and/or taste.
- Speed Magic: The ability to move faster than an average person.
- Strength Magic: The ability to have more strength than an average person.
- Water Breathing Magic: The ability to breathe underwater.
- Herb Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various herbs.
- Plant Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various plants.
- Weapons Amplification Magic: The ability to strengthen the impact, defense abilities, and durability or weapons.
Wow, that’s a mouthful, huh? It’s fairly complex, but I really enjoy the way it all fits together. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Happy writing!
1. House of the Sun: Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran
2. House of the Moon: Mirror Haus by Lindsey Stirling
3. House of the Day: The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
4. House of the Evening: A Night Like This by Caro Emerald
5. House of Fire: Radioactive by Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling
6. House of Water: Fleet of Hope by Indigo Girls
7. House of Earth: Fairytale by Alexander Rybak
8. House of Wind: Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust by Owl City
9. House of Light: Some Kind of Beautiful by Tyler Ward and Lindsey Stirling
10. House of Darkness: No Place Like Home by Todrick Hall
11. House of Peace: Gavi’s Song by Lindsey Stirling
12. House of War: Born for Greatness by Papa Roach
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.
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!
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
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