Archive for fantasy novel

My New Writing Project

Posted in The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Spaceship in Space

Want to read a space opera?

I’m going to do something a little different with my writing. It’s obvious I haven’t written in some time. I promised to work on Guardian of Destiny, but lost interest. The tediousness of watching my grammar and punctuation along with trying to create an engaging setting has made writing a chore. So my new idea is just to write.

I have a new tale to tell. This one is science fiction. If you’ve read my fantasy novels, The Dukarian Legacy trilogy, then you may notice that the main character in this sci-fi story is similar in a lot of ways. What can I say? His character inspires me. I haven’t exactly duplicated him. The two characters are distinct enough to be different, but they share many parallels. I won’t tell you what those are. I don’t want to spoil the story.

So besides being sci-fi, what am I doing differently (as indicated above)? Many things. For one, I’m going to post most of the story here. I’m going to post it bit by bit. For another, I’m not going to worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation, or anything. I’m just going to write.

This isn’t about writing the perfect story or novel. This is simply about getting the story in my head out and into a tangible format. Call it a space opera, if you will, which is just basically a story set in space with little regard to the science of living or traveling in space. (Star Wars is an example of a space opera.)

So if you’re just looking for a fun read, sign up for my blog and come along for a space ride.

(Feel free to comment on posts with constructive criticism, ideas for a better story, to point out errors, or even compliments!)

Do Research for Your Fantasy Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2014 by Dawn Ross

Just because you’re writing a fantasy novel where everything is make-believe doesn’t mean you won’t have any research to do. There is more to a story than just the action and the dialog. There are certain things you will need to know in order to get your ideas across properly.

Aimee's Horses

For example, if your fantasy world takes in a medieval setting, you will probably need to know a little bit about horses. It might be a good idea to research the kind of trappings used. You wouldn’t want to get the use of a halter mixed up with the use of the bridle. You may also want to know that male horses were not generally used for riding unless they were war horses or gelded. And what is the difference in speed for a cantering horse versus a trotting horse? Even if you don’t have horses in your fantasy novel, you may have other animals that people used for transportation. Camels? Giant birds, perhaps? They need saddles and stirrups too.

A Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference

Knowing a little about horses is just a fraction of all the things you need to research for your fantasy novel. “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference” can give you some ideas where to start. But it doesn’t give you everything. Think about what you might need to know about, and then put together a reference binder for your information. My reference binder includes the following:

Map of Ungal

Tab A – Maps and Charts
This tab has a map of my make-believe world, a family tree for the most notable characters, and a generic layout of a castle. The map is probably the most important for any fantasy novel because people are living in a world that doesn’t exist. You don’t want to mistakenly tell your readers that a particular town is to the south of a particular city in one chapter, but then state it is to the east in another. Mapping it out helps you keep things straight and provides your reader a visual reference.

Karl Urban - Eomer de Lord Of The Rings trilogy

Tab B: Character Descriptions
Every single character I mention in my novel is kept in this section of my reference. It helps me build a detailed description of my main characters and keep track of minor characters. This way I don’t accidentally state a character had brown hair in one section and sandy-blond in another. I also use this section to describe basic physical characteristics of different races of people.

And I’ve also put clothing descriptions under this tab. What did people wear? Did they wear pants, breaches, or leggings? What kind of cloth were clothes made of? What were the different styles of a woman’s dress or headdress? What about shoes? If you are writing about people of different races, they probably had different styles of clothing too. It’s best to decide this in advance before you start writing. It makes visualizing and describing your characters much easier.

saruman, gandalf, radagast blue wizard lord of the rings hobbit

Tab C: Magic and Religion
If people use magic or special skills in your fantasy novel, you need to make up a set of rules. Anything goes with magic, but if you don’t set rules then your reader will wonder why your character didn’t simply use magic to get out of trouble. Decide how magic works in your novel, who can use this magic, and what its limitations are.

Every culture has some form of worship. Do people worship at home with little shrines next to the hearth or does their king require human sacrifices? Is there a religious order or do people simply worship the gods of their ancestors? And let’s say you do have an organized religion. What is the head of this religion called? Is he the Father, the Pope, the Archbishop? Don’t forget to research the different kinds of religious garments. What is an amice, a cassock, a chasuble, for example?

Tab D: Place and People Names
So that I didn’t have to make up a name every time I introduced a new character or place, I made up names in advance. I also grouped these names into different styles. For example, the Menkharan’s have Egyptian-sounding names. The Outlanders have Nordic-sounding names. And the Miyashi have Oriental-sounding names. I got the ideas for names and places by searching through history books and changing them a bit to suit my own tastes.

Knight in Shining Armor

Tab E: Arms and Armor
Swords, knives, and bows and arrows were not the only weapons used by people in medieval times. There were halberds, lances, cudgels, spears, and more. And let’s not forget there are many different kinds of swords, knives, and bows. A sword could be short, it could require the use of two hands or one, it could have a curved blade like a scimitar, or perhaps long and thin one like a Samuri sword.

Armor is something else to think about. Most regular foot soldiers did not wear metal armor. Their armor was made of leather or thick wool. If one did have metal armor, it was generally just the helmet and a simple breastplate. The nobility could get fancy, though. Helmets could be plumed, egg-shaped bascinets, pot helms, and more. Different parts of armor have different names and these could all vary by region and style.

Also under this tab is information on siege engines, battle strategies, military ranks, and more.

Blue Fantasy Dragon

Tab F: Mythical Creatures
What are your dragons like? Are they wise creatures or simply vicious animals? Can they fly? Are there different kinds of dragons? What about made-up creatures? What are their qualities? It helps to know the details of your mythical creatures before you write your story. Make-believe creatures are going to require a lot more detail in description than a horse or a dog.

At the Heart of Winter, Nick Deligaris (2D)

Tab G: Miscellaneous
This tab covers a little bit of everything – business entities in a city, kinds of rock or materials used to build with, architectural terms, farming seasons and equipment, different kinds of foods, kinds of trees a forest might have, common medieval diseases and medicines, horses, medieval furniture, kind of money used, musical instruments, governmental structures from scribes to kings, law courts, taxes, travel means, board games and outdoor contests held, about hunting with dogs or falcons, seafaring terminology, different kinds of boats, titles of the nobility, marriage customs, etc.

As you can see, there is a lot more to think about when writing a fantasy novel than just the story. If you don’t organize it in advance, you may find yourself having to stop your flow of writing so you can figure something out. This can be disruptive, especially if you’re like me and can only write under certain motivating conditions.

Research can be boring, but knowing what you are talking about will keep your readers from being distracted by mistakes. Can you think of something you’ve read that could have used more research? Have you tried to write something only to find there were a lot of things you didn’t know anything about?

Building the Storyline to my Fantasy Novel

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

Last week I talked about how I came up with the character for my new fantasy novel, “The Guardian of Destiny”. Now let me tell you how I came up with the other characters and with the story itself.

Although I daydreamed Galavan’s childhood, this was not the story I wanted to write. I wanted an adult hero. So despite having his childhood in my head, not much of that childhood will be written in “The Guardian of Destiny”. I needed story ideas. This is where I could have perused through my journal or did some creative writing exercises. But I don’t think that is what I did to come up with this storyline. In fact, I don’t really remember where I got the idea from. I do know this:

I’ve noticed a trend with the characters in my daydreams. I’ve always developed my characters from childhood. It helps me define who they are as adults. It gives me their backstory and their motivations. So I knew I wanted a child in this book. What if instead of a boy, like Tomis in my Dukarian Legacy series, it was a girl? And what if she was half god? I think I got the idea of half-god from watching “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys“. Such a child would have extraordinary skills. But as a child, she would be vulnerable and she would need guidance. She would need a guardian.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys

Hercules and Iolaus from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” TV series, starring Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst.

There it was! Galavan would be the hero and the guardian of this girl-child half-god. And “The Guardian of Destiny” would be the title of the book. The title alone inspired the rest of the tale.

Now I had the hero and some of the supporting characters. Who is my antagonist? What is the setting? And most importantly, what is the plot?

Supporting Animal Characters
I was watching an old favorite movie, “The Beastmaster”, and thought it would be great if my character could communicate to animals somehow. I love animals and it sometimes surprises me on how much characters in fantasy novels take animals for granted. Horses are overworked. They perform amazing feats by doing whatever their rider says and carrying their riders wherever they want to go no matter how far or how fast. This is wholly unrealistic. Horses have personalities. They won’t always do what you want them to. And they can’t carry a rider forever. That is where I came up with the idea for Brute, a big flea-bitten gray warhorse with attitude and yet devotion to his master.

Flea Bitten Horse with Armor

Please forgive my photoshop skills. I copied and pasted horse armor onto a flea bitten gray horse.

After some deliberation, I decided there was another animal that could be of use to a soldier. A falcon would be great at scouting surrounding territory. A falcon could see an enemy before they arrive and could alert to dangers ahead. Such a creature would be very beneficial to a soldier who was able communicate with animals.

White Falcon

Wouldnt this falcon make a great assistant to a soldier who needs to scout ahead for the enemy?

The Setting
It’s not enough to know my character is a soldier. I needed to know what he was a soldier for and why. Was he a simple castle guard? Did he work for a particular lord? Was he a soldier for a religious sect? Did he defend against a particular enemy? Did he defend a border or territory? I eventually settled on a soldier guarding a border. The need to defend a border meant there were enemies to protect it from, and therefore, antagonists.

Developing the Antagonist
If one of my heroes is a half-god, then it would stand to reason that her enemy is either another half-god, or even a god. Biblical stories came to mind where fallen angels came to live on earth amongst men. The angels were envious of the lives of mankind. We appeared to be free to do whatever we wanted whereas they were directly subservient to God. And this is where I developed Dorovan. He is the son of a god that had chosen to live among men because he disagreed with his father and craved worship and domination.

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze – Copied from http://hangaroundtheweb.com/2012/07/enchanting-dark-fantasy-digitalart-by-ramses-melendeze/ Bing free to share and use.

Developing the Plot
It seems now, that I have everything I need to write a story… that is, everything but a plot. If I have a hero who protects a half-god child from a full god/fallen angel, I need to consider how this child is a threat to a god. I needed to consider the god himself, too, the extent of his powers and his motivations.

How can a half-god be a threat to a full god? What could possibly limit a full god from being able to completely annihilate a mere mortal and half-breed with just the force of his will? Obviously, Dorovan had to have limitations. By choosing to live among mortals, he lost some, but not all, of his godly power. His motivation is that he wants his power back while at the same time keeping his status on earth as a corporeal being. Somehow this half-god child, I named her Adella, is the key to his ambitions.

Child Woman Silhouette

This girl-child half-god needs a guardian in order to help her survive while she learns to control her enormous powers.

Continuing to daydream on the plot, I finally developed the story in full. My journal and writing exercises played a key part in coming up with more ideas for this story, as did external stimuli of movies, books, and music. More characters came into the story and the setting came alive. The plot developed and stabilized. I’m not going to tell you that now. You will just have to wait to read the book. Perhaps I will share parts of the story with you later.

Tips for Writing Fictional Characters

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by Dawn Ross

MP900178865-Knight

I’m still reading the Gotham Writers’ Workshop book titled, “Writing Fiction” and it has been exceedingly helpful so far. I am on chapter two now and learning about writing fictional characters. Before reading this chapter, I thought to myself that my book has great characters. But after reading this chapter I realize that my characters could use a lot more development. Here is some of the information I have learned from this chapter:

Get to Know Your Character
Or perhaps I should say characters instead of character. The more prominent your character, the better you should know them. Ask yourself a lot of questions about your primary and secondary characters. What do they look like, what is their background, what is their personality, and how do they define themselves? Then put the characters in certain situations and determine how they should act. Here are some questions I might ask about the characters in a fantasy novel:

  • If visiting a new city or town, where would your character want to go first? A tavern, an apothecary shop, the shipping docks, or the palace, for example?
  • What would your character do if confronted in a fight? Run, try to reason with the other person, pull out a choice weapon?
  • If your character had to leave their small village would they be excited, nervous, or reluctant?
  • What class do your characters view themselves and how do they view other people in different classes?
  • If your character suddenly came into a lot of money, what would they do with it? Save it, buy some needed items, spend it all at once on extravagant items?

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Show, Not Tell
Don’t just describe your character. Show the reader what they are like in four different ways.

  1. Action – Show your character doing something that reflects their personality. For example, if a drunk man is passed out in a tavern and his purse is visible and easy to take, will your character take it, try to wake the drunk man up to warn him, or ignore it and decide if the man gets his purse stolen it is his own fault.
  2. Speech – What your character says can reflect a lot about them. Do they prattle, do they speak intelligently, do they boast, or do they sound naive and gullible?
  3. Appearance – What does your character prefer to wear? Describe their posture and facial expressions.
  4. Thought – What does your character think about their surroundings? When your character watches other people do they pay more attention to the clothes they wear or to the weapons they might be carrying? Does your character walk into a tavern and pay more attention to how the barmaids look, how nice or rough the atmosphere is, if the tavern has decent entertainment, or if there are some gambling tables? Does what your character think conflict with how they act? For example, does your character hate nobility but behave reverently towards them?

The more I learn, the better I think my writing will be. “Writing Fiction” from Gotham Writers’ Workshop has a lot of helpful information and some great writing exercises to try. Asking questions about your characters is just one of many fun writing exercises to try. How much can you show about your primary character in just a paragraph or two? Remember, show, not tell.

The Dragon and the Lion Prologue Revision

Posted in Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels with tags , , on December 8, 2012 by Dawn Ross

DragonLion

Back in November I introduced a portion of the prolog to the third fantasy novel of the Dukarian Legacy: The Dragon and the Lion. I said I had trouble making the scenes more vivid. Well, I have done a bit of a revision, but I’m not sure it is enough. Read the following and tell me what you think:

            Death lingered over the land.  Black withered leaves clung precariously to the twisted limbs of old trees.  The ground, littered with decay, struggled to hold on to what little was left of the fading plant life.  But it was a fight that would soon be lost.  The war of man was over for a season, but the coming winter brought its own battle of death.

            Prince Tristan Belanus of Trusca headed home with a feeling of uncertainty.  He thought he was on the path to peace, but everything around him looked ugly and violent.  A vast army of battle-worn and tired men followed in his wake.  Blood and dirt stained their armor and weapons.  Gloominess was borne on their faces.  Although the soldiers were heading home, war would begin anew in the spring.  It seemed the cycle of death would never end.  When, Tristan wondered, would the promised peace come?

            The cold gray sky brought a bitter wind and a biting chill to his bones.  The leather of his gauntlets were stiff with the cold.  If, for some reason, his horse decided to break from his slow plodding and bold, Tristan would not be able to grasp the reins to control him.  But nothing could bring the horse’s head up from its melancholy saunter any more than it could the soldiers.

            Tristan knew King Haban Dukar would not stop until all of Ungal was under his control.  This ruler of Lower Ungal rode beside Tristan on a black Hunarian stallion.  Even while the rest of the soldiers were dirty and tired, King Haban clothing was immaculate right down to his polished black leather boots, and he sat tall and proud in his saddle.  The angular features of his face held a constant scowl. His dark brown hair and trimmed beard framed his face, emphasizing his sharp nose and the dangerous fervor burning in his eyes.  Tristan was reminded of a bird of prey on a lethal hunt.  But he was no bird.  He was a beast, descendant of the ancient Duridian clan of the Dragon.

            King Haban was a man to be feared and Tristan greatly feared him.  The man was a tyrant with a cruel hand and an infinite greed for power.  But fear was not the reason why Tristan had sworn allegiance to him.  He was truly interested in the King’s two sons.

            Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan not only had their father’s blood of the Dragon; but through their mother, they also carried the blood of the legendary King Mitas Renlo of the Lion clan.  These two young men were the sons spoken of in the Prophecy of Peace.

 

The ancient land will heal

When the blood of Dragon and the blood of Lion freely combine.

Two sons will be born to continue the family line.

            Their legacy will live on,

As these descendants of the Duridians grow into power.

The new blood will rule in peace and their kingdom will flower.

 

            Useni, Tristan’s trusted companion, told him the Prophecy of Peace was invoked by the red moon and the eclipse of the sun several years ago.  Even though Tristan believed Useni at the time, he was now finding it difficult to keep his faith in this Prophecy.  It was hard to believe Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan were the ones it spoke of.

            The brutality and bloodshed of the past several moons lingered in Tristan’s thoughts.  He reluctantly recalled how he had watched with horror as the two sons ruthlessly slaughtered helpless peasants and even innocent children.  Out of simple anger, the brawny Prince Kamil once beat one of his own men to death with his bare hands.  The terrible grin he wore on his chubby face at the time made Tristan’s skin crawl.

            Lord Jofan was worse.  Although physically weaker than his brother, Lord Jofan was truly the stronger of the two.  Men did not fear him for his brutality; they feared him for his absolute wickedness.  Tristan felt a wave of nausea whenever he looked at him.  The young man had the sharp facial features of his father, but his hair was red, his face pale and freckled, and his eyes were full of cunning.  Those dark eyes held a deathly darkness even deeper than those of the King’s.  Lord Jofan killed just as mercilessly as his elder brother, but he seemed to particularly enjoy torturing his victims before allowing them to die.  Tristan shuddered at the memory of the young lord licking the sticky blood from his fingertips after he had butchered his last victim.

            Tristan broke from his thoughts as a group of soldiers rode up from the rear.  Nothing about their dirty traveling clothes identified them as soldiers or even men of the house of Dukar.  But they had the hard, fierce faces of men who knew how to kill.

            “My King!” one of the larger, more muscular men in the approaching group called.

            Tristan gritted his teeth in revulsion towards this man who spoke.  It was Gavin, the King’s most sadistic tool of war; the same man who had tortured and killed Tristan’s father, Prince Nolan Belanus.  Horrible scars from fire warped Gavin’s face.  One particular scar above his right eyebrow turned a deep red whenever the man was filled with blood-lust, which was much too often.  No one deserved to die as much as this man did.

            “Gavin,” the King replied.  “Did you find him?”

            “No, my King,” Gavin responded with a hint reluctance.  “I even went into the city of Nagad, but I heard no news of him.”

            King Haban’s face turned red with rage but it was Prince Kamil who spoke.  “Perhaps if you hadn’t spent all my father’s money carousing at local taverns, you would’ve found out something useful,” he said contemptuously; the pointed nose, out of place on his round face and head, wrinkled into a snarl..  Tristan was actually pleased with the Prince’s tone this time.  Perhaps when Prince Kamil took his father’s place, he would rid himself of this dangerous man.

            Gavin’s lips curled in a sneer and his eyes glittered darkly.  King Haban appeared not to notice but Prince Kamil did. He responded with a smirk, glad that his goading had an effect.

            “You are supposed to be a great hunter, Gavin,” King Haban said bitterly.  “Surely, if you were as good as you say you are, you would have found some trace or heard some word of him.  I don’t pay you to fulfill your own selfish pleasures.”

            “I swear, my King.  I have spent the entire time looking,” Gavin replied roughly, trying hard to mask the ire from his voice.

            “Then why haven’t you found him?” King Haban challenged with a growl, raising his voice as he continued, “Do you have any idea how important it is that you find him?  He must be stopped.”

            “I am quite aware of how crucial my task is, my King,” Gavin said with a nearly imperious tone.  “I will find him.  I swear it by my own blood; I will find the boy and I will kill him.”

            Even though Tristan did not know whom Gavin and the King spoke of, he heard the conviction in Gavin’s words and it frightened him.  Who was this ‘boy’ and why was it so important that he be killed?

Getting Help Writing Vivid Scenes

Posted in Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels, Writing with tags , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dawn Ross

When I close my eyes and daydream, I can see, feel, hear, and sometimes even taste the story as it unfolds. But when I write it down, it is flat and boring. Why? Because when I write, I am sometimes so caught up in the narrow view of the action and the dialogue that I forget to write down the other sensations.

I am in the process of revising my third fantasy novel, “The Dragon and the Lion: Book Three of the Dukarian Legacy”. Before I send it off to be edited, the revision requires that I add more meaningful and vivid scenes. As soon as I finish my fall semester, I plan on engrossing myself in working on my book. In the meantime, read the unrevised version of the prologue of “The Dragon and the Lion”. As you read it, feel free to provide me with tips on where the story could use more depth. I could also use some writing tips on creating better scenes in general. When I finish the fall semester and begin working on this, I will take your feedback into consideration and hopefully transform this one small passage as well as the rest of the story.

*****

            Death lingered over the land.  Black withered leaves clung precariously to the twisted limbs of old trees.  The ground, littered with decay, struggled to hold on to what little was left of the fading plant life.  But it was a fight which would soon be lost.  The war of man was over for a season, but the coming winter brought its own battle of death.

            Prince Tristan Belanus of Trusca headed home with a feeling of uncertainty.  He thought he was on the path to peace, but everything around him looked ugly and violent.  A vast army of battle-worn and tired men followed in his wake.  Blood and dirt stained their armor and weapons.  Gloominess was borne on their faces.  Although the soldiers were heading home, war would begin anew in the spring.  It seemed the cycle of death would never end.  When, Tristan wondered, would the promised peace come?

            The cold gray sky brought a bitter wind and a biting chill to his bones.  Tristan knew King Haban Dukar would not stop until all of Ungal was under his control.  This ruler of Lower Ungal rode beside Tristan on a black Hunarian stallion.  A look of dangerous fervor burned in his eyes.  The King’s sharp nose and furious scowl reminded Tristan of a bird of prey on a lethal hunt.  But he was no bird.  He was a beast, descendant of the ancient Duridian clan of the Dragon.

            King Haban was a man to be feared and Tristan greatly feared him.  The man was a tyrant with a cruel hand and an infinite greed for power.  But fear was not the reason why Tristan had sworn allegiance to him.  It was the King’s two sons he was truly interested in.

            Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan not only had their father’s blood of the Dragon; but through their mother, they also carried the blood of the legendary King Mitas Renlo of the Lion clan.  These two young men were the sons spoken of in the Prophecy of Peace.

 

The ancient land will heal

When the blood of Dragon and blood of Lion freely combine.

Two sons will be born to continue the family line.

Their legacy will live on,

As these descendants of the Duridians grow into power.

The new blood will rule in peace and their kingdom will flower.

 

            Useni, Tristan’s trusted companion, said the Prophecy of Peace had been invoked by the red moon and eclipse of the sun several years ago.  Even though Tristan believed Useni at the time, he was now finding it difficult to keep his faith in this Prophecy.  It was hard to believe Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan were the ones it spoke of.

            The brutality and bloodshed of the past several moons lingered in Tristan’s thoughts.  He reluctantly recalled how he watched with horror as the two sons ruthlessly slaughtered helpless peasants and even innocent children.  Out of simple anger, the brawny Prince Kamil once beat one of his own men to death with his bare hands.  The terrible grin he wore on his face at the time made Tristan’s skin crawl.

            Lord Jofan was worse.  Although much smaller and physically weaker than his brother, Lord Jofan was truly the stronger of the two.  Men did not fear him for his brutality, they feared him for his absolute wickedness.  Tristan felt a wave of nausea whenever he looked at him.  The young man had the sharp facial features of his father, but his eyes were full of cunning and they held a deathly darkness even deeper than those of the King’s.  Lord Jofan killed just as mercilessly as his elder brother, but he seemed to particularly enjoy torturing his victims before allowing them to die.  Even now, he was licking the dried blood of his last victim from his fingertips.

            Tristan broke from his thoughts as a group of soldiers rode up from the rear.  Nothing about their dusty traveling clothes identified them as warriors or even men of the house of Dukar.  But they had the hard, fierce faces of men who knew how to kill.

            “My King!” one of the soldiers called.

            Tristan gritted his teeth in revulsion towards this man who spoke.  It was Gavin, the King’s most sadistic tool of war; the same man who had tortured and killed Tristan’s father, Prince Nolan Belanus.  Scars from fire warped Gavin’s face.  One particular scar above his right eyebrow turned a deep red whenever the man was filled with blood-lust, which was much too often.  No one deserved to die as much as this man did.

            “Gavin,” the King replied.  “Did you find him?”

            “No, my King,” Gavin responded with reluctance.  “I even went into the city of Nagad, but I heard no news of him.”

            King Haban’s face turned red with rage but it was Prince Kamil who spoke.  “Perhaps if you hadn’t spent all my father’s money carousing at local taverns, you would’ve found out something useful,” he said contemptuously.  Tristan was pleased with the Prince’s tone.  When King Haban was gone, perhaps Prince Kamil would rid himself of this dangerous man.

            “You are supposed to be a great hunter, Gavin,” King Haban said bitterly.  “Surely, if you were as good as you say you are, you would have found some trace or heard some word of him.  I don’t pay you to fulfill your own selfish pleasures.”

            “I swear, my King.  I have spent the entire time looking,” Gavin replied defensively.

            “Then why haven’t you found him?” King Haban yelled.  “Do you have any idea how important it is that you find him?  He must be stopped.”

            “I am quite aware of how crucial my task is, my King,” Gavin said with a deadly calm tone.  “I will find him.  I swear it by my own blood; I will find the boy and I will kill him.”

            Even though Tristan did not know who Gavin and the King spoke of, he heard the conviction in Gavin’s words and it frightened him.

*****

I realize there are a few spelling and grammatical errors. I also already know what some of those errors are. But feel free to point those out too for in case I missed something. Thanks!

The Political Environment of Your Fantasy Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , on October 6, 2012 by Dawn Ross

No, I’m not talking about modern politics where candidates debate over the various issues of the day (although your fantasy world could have these elements). I’m talking about the way people live in society. Even though fantasy is whatever your imagination makes it, it has to be grounded in concepts which we understand. It helps to research various societies, both historical and modern. Here are some questions you should consider when you are creating your make-believe world.

Who Rules?
Is your fantasy world run by a king, a tyrant, a council of nobles, an elected council, the church, a clan chief, a god, etc.? How are kings, nobles, or chiefs made? Is your king or chief a direct descendant of other rulers or is he/she determined by their military prowess? Are councils elected by the nobility or the people? Does the church have more control or the king?

Who Controls the Land?
Do people work as serfs under a lord or do they own it outright? How static or dynamic are your world’s borders? Are there disputes over certain territories or is it generally stable? How widespread or close together are the people in the land?

How does Commerce Work?
Are certain occupations controlled by guilds? Do people have the freedom to make and sell whatever they want or are enterprises controlled by the nobility or church? For example, do they have to get permission from the local ruler to run an inn or a smithy? What about taxes? Is there corruption? Are there groups akin to gangs or mob bosses of whom the people have to pay “protection”? Do people barter and trade or is there an established money system? How stable is that money system?

What are the Various Occupations of your People?
Consider various occupations such as fishermen, soldiers, mercenaries, farmers, smiths, farriers, teachers, innkeepers, wagoners, stablemen, postmen, prostitutes, musicians, sailors, merchants, traders, etc. How does each member of society interact with other members? For example, how do farmers perceive soldiers and vice versa? How do land dwellers perceive sailors? Are merchants generally perceived as fair or do they tend to trick and deceive? Does society appreciate art performers such as bards or musicians or are they seen as beggars and thieves?

Who gets Educated?
Is education open to everyone or limited to the upper classes of society? Are there formal educational institutions such as universities, schools for soldiers, or schools for magic? How accessible are books or scrolls? Are there libraries? Who runs the libraries, the nobles or the church? How much of society knows how to read?

Who Administers the Law?
There are generally differences between town guards and soldiers. What are those differences and what are their objectives? Who are these law enforcers or soldiers controlled by? Are they corrupted? Does the king control all the soldiers and law enforcement or does each town have their own? Don’t forget about the justice system. Is there a formal court system? How difficult is it for an ordinary person to get justice? Is there corruption here as well? How strict is the law? How harsh are punishments?

Are there Foreign Interactions?
Is there a particular land in which your world has to deal with, either amicably or not? How pervasive are these foreigners? Does your land have foreign invaders? How commonplace is trade with these foreigners? What exotic wares do your foreigners bring? What special skills? How tolerant is your society of foreigners? What is the political environment of these foreigners?

These are just a few of the political questions I could think of. I’m sure as you write your fantasy novel more will occur to you. Doing the research for your political environment can be a boring chore but it can also be intriguing. It might even help you come up with some conflict ideas in your story. For example, perhaps your character hates sailors but finds that he has to travel on a ship. Or your character needs to seek justice but administrators require a bribe before they will even bother to hear your complaint. The possibilities are endless!

Click HERE for a list of books that might help you in your research.