Category Archives: World-building

Love in a fantasy world

Creating a fantasy world means coming up with your own set of cultural norms. When it comes to love, what does it look like? Does age matter? Does gender matter? Does social class matter? What’s expected? Do people always meet those expectations?

For my fantasy setting, I started with a western medieval culture, and then made changes to suit my characters and my personal style.

In medieval times, people married very young. The legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy. It just didn’t sit right with me to have my characters married off while they were still practically babies, so I bumped it up closer to twenty in my world. In medieval times, marriages were arranged for political reasons based on monetary worth. So people rarely married outside of their own social class, and never really married for love. In my world, arranged marriages based on social class is the norm, but the couple would likely know each other ahead of time and would probably have a say in whom they were to wed. I wanted romantic love to have a place in my world.

One of the things I did to break free from the medieval box was to have a culture on the “other side of the mountains” that was more advanced than most of the kingdoms in my world. So one could assume that even the less advanced kingdoms have been influenced by the advanced culture. This gave me just the right amount of wiggle room to work with. For instance, if someone chose a different path than monogamy or heterosexuality, they could do so without fear of getting put to death for it.

So in the end, love in my fantasy world is very relatable and recognizable to the modern reader. It’s just that in my world, people might have to conquer evil empires, slay a dragon, or save the world from doomsday prophecies before they can be together.




Filed under Audra's World, Love, World-building

Hello, my name is Dori

I have the short-term memory of Dori. I have trouble keeping my own kids’ names straight. How on Earth did I manage to write two fantasy novels? Seriously, I’m asking.

Think about it – with a fantasy novel, you have to create a whole new world with a history, cultures, geography, government. And all this is just the setting, you also have to keep characters and story arcs straight.

I have talked to other fantasy writers, seen interviews. Many keep binders with detailed maps, character profiles, history and legend outlines. Yeah, I should do that.

In real life I’m a planner. I like to have goals. I like to make lists and cross things off as I accomplish them. I like to know what’s in store. But in my writing life – it doesn’t work that way. I can make all the plot plans I want, in the end my characters run the show. I’ve learned it’s best to go where they lead rather than try to fight them.

So how are all these characters, story arcs, history, geography, and cultures all fitting together in a cohesive story? The universal search function in Word certainly helps. Can’t remember if the soldier, Duncan, has a beard or not? Run his name & I can find his every reference in my manuscript. Best function ever.

And I do keep notes, sketch maps. They’re scribbled in chicken scratch on old envelopes and various other scraps of paper, crammed into a dilapidated journal, but they’re there if I ever need to refer to them.

But mostly I think my characters must know what they’re doing. The pictures in my head play out, the pieces fit together, and the result is an entertaining story that takes the reader to a whole new world. The magic of imagination.



Filed under Audra's World, World-building

Creative Insults

Recently, I found this list floating on the internet. I think if you write fantasy and you wish your heroes to curse creatively, it could be very useful to you.  It’s called Shakespeare Insult Kit but it could be used for any quasi-medieval society cursing.
Combine one word from each column to create a colorful insult
artless            base-court         apple-john
bawdy             bat-fowling         baggage
beslubbering  beef-witted         barnacle
bootless         beetle-headed    bladder
churlish          boil-brained         boar-pig
cockered       clapper-clawed    bugbear
clouted         clay-brained         bum-bailey
craven         common-kissing    canker-blossom
currish         crook-pated          clack-dish
dunkish        dismal-dreaming   clotpole
dissembling   dizzy-eyed           coxcomb
droning         dog-hearted         codpiece
errant           dread-bolted         death-token
fawning         earth-vexing         dewberry
fobbing         elf-skinned           flap-dragon
forward         fat-kidneyed         flax-wench
frothy            fen-sucked           flirt-gill
gleeking       flap-mouthed         foot-licker
goatish         fly-bitten                fustilarian
gorbellied     folly-fallen             giglet
impertinent    fool-born             gudgeon
infectious      full-gorged           haggard
jarring           guts-griping         harpy
loggerheaded     half-faced      hedge-pig
lumpish         hasty-witted         horn-beast
mammering   hedge-born         hugger-mugger
mangled        hell-hated            joithead
mewling         idle-headed         lewdster
paunchy        ill-breeding           lout
pribbling        ill-nurtured           maggot-pie
puking           knotty-pated        malt-worm
puny              milk-livered          mammet
qualling          motley-minded    measle
rank               onion-eyed          minnow
reeky             plume-plucked    miscreant
roguish          pottle-deep         moldwarp
ruttish            pox-marked         mumble-news
saucy             reeling-ripe         nut-hook
spleeny          rough-hewn        pigeon-egg
spongy          rude-growing       pignut
surly              rump-fed              puttock
tottering        shard-borne         pumpion
unmuzzled     sheep-biting         ratsbane
vain                spur-galled         scut
venomed       swag-bellied         skainsmate
villainous        tardy-gaited        strumpet
warped          tickle-brained       varlot
wayward         toad-spotted        vassal
weedy            unchin-snouted    whey-face
yeasty            weather-bitten      wagtail


Filed under Olga's World, Olga's writing tips, Style, World-building

World Building, by guest author Michael L. Brachman

A little known secret about the world of Rome’s Revolution is just how the whole 35th century, mind-connected Vuduri element came about. The answer is lengthy but at its core, the truth is, I just wanted to have a dramatic scene where my 21st century hero Rei (pronounced Ray, not rye) was all alone on the surface of a moon, in a spacesuit with no radio. But who the hell would build a spacesuit without a radio? Why, people who were mind-connected, of course. They wouldn’t need radios. With that simple realization, I was off to the races.

I had to postulate a 24th chromosome which imbued my people of the future, the Vuduri, with such an ability. I further realized that if everybody could read everybody else’s mind, there was no privacy, not even of thought. This would cause people to suppress their natural creativity to point of being deadly dull. When Rei first meets my heroine, Rome, she has almost no personality. It wasn’t until she is isolated from the Overmind, the group consciousness that was a byproduct of the Vuduri mind connections, that her soul was revealed. Even though they were born centuries apart, they could not help but fall in love.

With regard to the rest of the Vuduri culture and technology, I wanted to “reboot” mankind so I introduced The Great Dying in the year 2081 AD. Over nine billion people died causing mankind to become nearly extinct. Who was behind this terrible tragedy is at the core of the sequel to Rome’s Revolution entitled The Ark Lords. The remaining handful of humans were knocked back to the Dark Ages so by the time Rei is thawed in the 35th century, the Vuduri have finally created a world which was just past our level of technology but having taken a complete left turn.

Much of the Vuduri creed was to not do things the way people did them in the past so as to avoid the catastrophe that hit the Earth just after Rei left on his Ark. Their power sources are infinite and sustainable. They have an FTL star-drive based on principles known today. They have a healthy fear of sentient computers. And crucial to the central conflict in the novel, they hold us, the people of the 21st century, responsible for the devastation of The Great Dying. They regard us with such disdain that Rome is ejected from the mass-mind (a process called Cesdiud in Vuduri), just for consorting with Rei.

After the initial shock wears off, it takes Rome a little while to learn to think for herself. Eventually she realizes how crucial this is to the survival of mankind and ends up transforming her society into something which is a hybrid of the two cultures. And that is why the trilogy is entitled Rome’s Revolution.

For more details on what it takes to build an entire universe, see my blog entitled Tales of the Vuduri. It is 250 articles to date and I’m just getting started! If you like hard science fiction, there is lots of juicy stuff waiting for you.

RR_Paperback_CoverYou can find out more about Michael on the websites for his books:

Rome’s Revolution:

The Ark Lords:

Rome’s Evolution:

(View a book trailer for Rome’s Revolution here)

You might also enjoy my wiki, entitled “The Science Behind the Science Fiction” –

Twitter: @mlbphd1


Filed under World-building