link for writers / gamers – medieval demographics

This is perhaps one of the most useful fantasy tools I’ve run across in a long time. I’m just sorry that I didn’t have it for last year’s ‘World Building Month’ event.

Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross.
“Numbers for Fantasy Worlds.”

Basically, this page discusses how many people can fit onto so much land– medieval population density, how big a town must be to support certain occupations, and how this all pertains to world building and specifically, gaming or writing in a fantasy setting. For anyone who ever wanted to add realism in an economical set-up, this is for you.

introducing a group, part ii

After my last post, about how to introduce several characters, and the distinctions between character and setting, I thought that I’d go visit Gav Thorp’s blog ‘Mechanical Hamster‘ and ask him if he would be willing to say a few words on the subject. I really love Gav’s advice– he writes some really excellent articles on writing tips and craft. Anyone interested in advanced creative writing should stop by and browse through the archives.

Much to my delight, Gav obliged me and wrote a long, detailed post on how to handle secondary characters that really addressed some of the problems I was having. You can find it here, and I think it’s well worth a read.

Thanks, Gav!

world building showcase, part ii

Here’s round two of the world-building showcase. We’ll have two more after this, on Monday if all goes according to schedule.


Eliza Wyatt found some pictures that resembled Vastii, and wrote a long post on her novel’s magic system (before getting ill last Thursday).


Merrilee Faber posted some maps she’d created.


RG Sanders has been posting on his project, Arbiture.


Nils has been posting on his world, Arnâron. Thus far he’s passed by most of the terrain-building and moved to people, animals, cultures, ect.


Nymeria posted pictures and maps for her project.


Cirellio has written more on divination, and the creatures in his world.


AC Gaughen has been posting about Shalia.


Natania Barron has been working on her story’s setting, the Aldersgate Cycle.


Agarithia has neatly collected each of her current posts (of which she has eight) into one page (here). We have three new topics this week.


Writer has added a post detailing the Beat Hotel.


SMD wrote about magic and geography.


Goldirocks wrote about government and religion.


JanVanHove is working on a sci fi setting.


M.C. Williams has written on Mythania, as well as an essay on magic in world building.


Jenniedee started with mythology.


Storytellingofravens has made two posts.


And that’s it for this week! I’ll post again next Monday with the third part of this series, and the final showcase will be displayed early September.

showcase of villainy, part iv

Villain Month

As promised, here is the last showcase of the month-long villain series.

This ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be. Just spending time thinking about the antagonists was useful, and it was fantastic seeing other people join in. Thanks to everyone participating!

I spent the week focusing on my last villain of the four I meant to go over, Sorche du Remerdii. I also wrote a closing message and introduced a bonus villain-type, the king’s secret police, nicknamed after the silver masks that they wear.


Saint Know-All finished a few more drawings, and bid farewell to the month.


Nilah wrote a short article about human predators, in regards to the villain month project.


Aldersgatecycle focused on her last villain, Sally Din.


Nymeria wrote about Orion Novak, Dahlia Laras, and posted a gallery of her villain portraits.


And, last, even though she wasn’t actually participating, Worderella was kind enough to write up a few posts on villains on her blog as a kind of villain-month-tribute.


Closing links:

A list of participants
Showcase of villainy, part i
Showcase of villainy, part ii
Showcase of villainy, part iii

Thoughts? Comments? Shall we do this again someday? 🙂

A ‘hero month’ idea has already been put out, and I wouldn’t mind spending some time dedicated to world building as a future project…

villainous links, and a fun text tool

Browsing the internet yesterday and today, I’ve found a few fun links that I thought to share.

But Seriously, Villainy, taken from Steve Malley’s blog. A pictoral list of villains, most in the style of despair.com, and a hilarious read.

Developing Villainous Characters, part 1, on Belinda’s blog (Worderella Writes). Only half of my villains fit in with the beginning stereotype on the links listed, but still link-worthy.

And then, I found wordle.net. Enter in a bunch of text, and it makes a pretty spiffy looking word cloud based on the most common words (excepting and, the, was, and the like). So far, I know for a fact that it can take at least 65 thousand words.

Here’s the word cloud for ‘Blue Crystal’:

🙂 Highly fun to play with.

showcase of villainy, part iii

Villain Month

Here’s the weekly showcase for the third week in June. We’ve got one more week before the end of Villain Month!

I worked on my bully, Redaechyl, and wrote about what I think makes a good villain.


Saint Know-All started on her second villain: Darren Hare.


Aldersgatecycle has been working on Sir Sylvan DeLoire.


Nymeria spent this week focusing on Dawnelle Nymeron.


Ashley made a post on her villain’s setting.


That’s it for this week! I’ll post the final character showcase on July 1st!

showcase of villainy, part ii

This wraps up week two (this post is two days late– small children terrorized our house this weekend) of Villain Month. 🙂

I had hoped to do more for my villain Tarren Kanichende, but didn’t quite manage it.


Saint Know-All finished her study on Richard Khiro, and has just started on her second villain, Darren Hare.


Karma Girl posted a profile for her next villain, Dinah Renoir.


Seanchaí posted some thoughts about the Underutilization of Villains.


Aldersgatecycle spent the week working on her second villain, Sir Gregory Ander.


Nymeria wrote about her villain, Sirius Nymeron, and discussed what she liked to see in an antagonist.


Rachel Russell posted a character sheet for her villain Keledreth.


Ashley Mill writes a bit about what she’s going to be doing for her villain, B.M. Lamora.


Olivia posted a character sheet for her villain Roseanne Baker.


Asustadizo drew a picture of his villain’s hands.


And that wraps up this week! I’ll do the third update next weekend!

rewrite goals (spit and polish)

I recently came across a website titled Limyaael’s Rants, in which an English grad student studying for a Ph.D. writes some very good articles about what can make or break a fantasy novel (though I suspect a number of her points could also transcend into other genres). She covers everything from abused characters to world building, nearly 350 articles. Some are lessons that I’ve learned a long time ago… and some are points that I haven’t considered yet.

I don’t have very long before I start up my second rewrite, and the topics on this rant page have got me thinking about what goals I’ll make before going through the novel again. I started this project thinking ‘form and composition first, then scenes, then prose’, and I still think it’s a good way to work with it (though it makes ‘eh’ excerpts at present).

To do, between the drafts:
– Minor characters. If they have an impact on the scene, figure out who they are, where they live, what they do.
– Mapping. Everything in my book all occurs in the same city. There are some notable features of this city, even in the low-end districts where caves are the norm. Refine them, name them.
– Art. I know the style of the noblemen’s art. Not the commoners. I also don’t know who the heroes that the statues between the university and palace are made for. Explore this further.
– Rewrite much of the palace events from Wyrren’s point of view. Make the intrigue intrigue-y, probably add two subplots to contrast with the simplicity of Rylan’s tasks to the complexity of Wyrren’s place. Also, this will serve to disguise Kione’s initial importance. Hide a leaf in a forest.
– Exposition. I actually added no exposition in the first draft. I wanted to write the story first and see what needed to be explained. Now I know: the magic system, the harshness of the surface, and the use of assassins in war rather than armies due to the climate. Those are the biggies. Everything else? By implication.
– Finalize the plot. After breaking my outline several dozen times in this draft, I’m at least hopeful that my characters will be satisfied with their actions. I’m going to rewrite a plot synopsis and rake through it for plot holes. (Die, circular logic, die!! … ahem.)

Anyway, if you have a free hour, take a look at her articles.

evil resolution list

176. I will add indelible dye to the moat. It won’t stop anyone from swimming across, but even dim-witted guards should be able to figure out when someone has entered in this fashion.

I’m almost certain that this has been seen by most writers, but on the off-chance someone has not, take a look at the Evil Overlord’s resolution list. It’s a hysterical read. 🙂

great query link

I found a community on livejournal that posts and critiques other people’s query letters (have a link) late yesterday afternoon. Since my query letter didn’t get put up on Query Shark, I thought that I’d try that.

I’m really impressed! The community is helpful, and when I reread my query I realized that they were absolutely right about its flaws, which my local writing group and in-person test readers didn’t point out. I’m adding them to my blog links, under ‘resources’.

(Also, I think I’ll go rewrite my query letter. 😉 )