confessionsofalitgeek asked: Do you have any articles about writing fantasy races? I’m trying to come up with societies for them but also making their appearances more unique so I don’t just have regular Lord of the Rings type characters.
Sometimes the most obvious things in the world are the hardest to figure out. Like a basic understanding of what is needed in a town.
This is going to be strictly talking about the base physical make-up of a town. Things like the necessities, and basic building-blocks, so you can have some kind of foundation or idea to build off of, for your fictional town.
Step one: Have a basic understanding of three things:
- Time Period of the story.
- Size of the town.
- Location of the town.
Step two: Have a basic understanding of civilization necessities:
- Food. Grocery store or Market(s). Restaurants.
- Education. School(s) and/or Universities. Libraries or Archives.
- Law Enforcement. Police Station. Jails.
- Emergency Help. ie- Fire Station.
- Laws. City Hall or other government buildings. Lawyer’s offices.
- Medical. Doctor offices or buildings. Hospital(s). Veterinary offices. Clinics.
- Post Office.
- Shelter. Houses, apartments, condos, mobile homes, mansions etc.
- Energy Source (Unless your town is on the grid or whatever it’s called, you could look into solar powered generators for completely remote locations or wind based energy, things like that.) Gas stations.
- Cemetery. Or some other kind of burial grounds.
Step three: Entertainment & Lifestyle:
- Parks (theme or national or local)
- Shopping Malls/Shopping Centers
- Night Clubs/Bars
- Swimming Pool/Rec Center
- Places of Worship
- Businesses (factories, farms, auto mechanic, boutiques, real estate, small insurance companies, antiques, pawn shops, bakery, butcher, specialty shops, record store, comic book store… etc.)
Step four: Misc Natural and Architectural/Man-Made Landmarks.
- Architectural/Man-Made Landmarks -statues, shelter-like structure, memorials, bridges, sport stadium, railways… etc.
- Natural Landmarks -mountains, fields, types of trees, some kind of protected park, waterfall, lake… etc
Step five: Draw out a map of your town -it really just makes things easier to have something to look at and reference, especially if characters live in certain parts of town or are otherwise separated.
Things to Remember:
- Towns need a ‘hub’ or a ‘center’ of where everything is going on, where most of the businesses are, where all the action is. Towns are usually built up around this center, and fan-out in some sort of fashion. (Side note: usually, the closer to the center of town you are, the more “money” is… usually.)
- Everything needs a route. Don’t forget streets and back-roads and alleyways and stop signs and stop lights -ways to get around.
- Does your town have a “historical” section where the houses and buildings are older? Look into different architectural styles that fit your towns historical era.
- Is this pre or post-apocalyptic? Generally, post-apocalyptic settings focus more on the basic necessities. So while those “step three buildings” will be present, there would (depending on how post-apocalyptic your story is set) be no use for them (or they will be reused in some other fashion).
- Abandoned buildings/structures like factories, hospitals, and schools are always fun to play with.
- Where is your town located? Does the architectural style fit in with the time period or region?
Hope this helped! I tired to get everything I could think of!
"7 Questions to Make Sure Your Plot Has Believable Consequences" by Joan Y. Edwards A great plot in your fiction novel must have believable consequences in the world you create there. Otherwise, yo…
Vogue Spain October 2006 - “Retrato de una dama” (Portrait of a Lady) - Photography by Juan Gotti
This diagram could save someone’s life!
Ten Women I Have Been Warned Against Becoming:
1. The Girl Who Takes Up Too Much Space, always, her shoulders too wide in stairwells, her hips too big in doorways, her voice too loud in classes. This woman does not understand the art of crumbling, of curling herself tight like the spiral of a fern, soft, delicate, unwilling to reach out the ivy of her fingers to grasp onto what should rightfully be hers. This is a beast, an elephant, a moving mountain and she is capable of flattening you, she is capable of ruining you, she is capable of making you feel as small and insignificant in her life as she is supposed to be. You are this woman’s footnote to history, you are her side note in song lyrics, you are constantly interrupted by her with a witty joke you wish you thought of. I asked what the problem was with being a steamroller instead of a sunflower and I was laughed down.
2. The Beautiful One, the long hair or the slim waist or the pretty eyes or the lips like bowstrings. This woman looks good in everything because she’s confident in whatever you put her in. She’ll cut her hair short on you no matter how you like it, she’ll wear high heels and step on your opinions, she’ll look hot as hell no matter what size she is. See, the reason you can’t trust her is because women like this don’t need your permission, they’ll do as they please and get away with it. They’ll say no to you, over and over. Teach your daughters that beautiful means dangerous, teach them to distrust women who love themselves. Equate beautiful with vapid, equate pretty with stupid, take their power from them. Say they’re vain for their makeup, refuse to see them without it. These women are snakes, they are serpents. I said maybe the problem lies with you being unable to control yourself and was told to get off my pedestal.
3. A Bitch. Women are supposed to be ladies in the street but will tear skin under sheets. I’m told: Never raise your voice. Speak gently. Submit. Hold your opinion against your lips and when you admit to it, make sure it comes out as a butterfly wing suggestion. Don’t disagree. Don’t undermine someone else’s authority, regardless of whether or not they deserve your respect. Someone touches you, just move away from them. Don’t hit. Don’t talk back. Be like the ruins of Rome, only beautiful if you can’t hear your quiet death.
4. The Needy One. I have heard how others spit when they talk about how she gave you everything and you shoved it back down her throat until she choked on it, until she came back crawling and asked you what she did, until her palms and knees were scraped for want of just a little affection - never be this woman, I’m told, because she’s a joke and the joke is that she dared to have more emotion than you did. The truth is, I’m told, the one who cares less in a partnership is the one who wins. I didn’t know this was a competition.
5. The Cock Tease, certified stripper, how dare that girl look like that and not want me to sleep with her. Lust is always personified as a lady in red with a dress slit up her thigh. Lust is sinful because it’s power, it’s not asking for attention - it’s demanding it. I’m told she is the worst kind of woman, that looking good is supposed to be some kind of shame on her kin. I’m told not to leave the house in such a short skirt, not with a shirt so low, not with a lace back, not with high heels, not dressed like that. My lipstick can’t be too red, my hair can’t be too mussed, I can’t just “turn someone on like that and then leave them wanting.” I mentioned that instant gratification actually ruins our psyche and was told that being led on was “exhausting.” I said that there was a difference between purposefully tricking someone into liking you and just being attractive or friendly. I was told there’s also a difference between coffee and tea but both result in caffeine. I said, “I’ve been turned on in class by the girls I talk to but I didn’t expect anything from them,” and they said, “It’s different, you’re not a man,” but couldn’t explain where that difference was.
6. A Slut, obviously ruined by another person’s touch. It doesn’t matter how many people she’s actually been with, it’s all about the rumors she carries with her. Easy. Harlot. You’ll still try to get with her, you’ll still take her into your bed and kiss her and say things you don’t mean - but you’ll defame her name when you talk to your buddies. My father used to say “A slut is fine for the night, but the virgin is who you take home and marry.” Maybe he didn’t know he was teaching his daughter to hate her sexuality. Maybe he didn’t know that every time she’d be kissed, her whole system would shake until she felt ready to combust, shame and self-hatred shivering against her spine. Maybe he didn’t know she’d disconnect emotions and sex because he always told her, “Boys are different, they won’t care about you.” Nobody said to her that it was okay to experiment. See, the funny thing is, I’m a dancer so I know exactly where my center of gravity is. I know how hard I’ll fall in each direction. Yet out of fear of getting hurt, I won’t let a single person inside of my bed.
7. The Soulmate. Never love romance more than you love being cynical. Never show weakness, never like pink, never think maybe you might find someone nice and settle down with them. Someone will find you, I was told, And if you’re lucky, he’ll put up with you when you start getting old. Never be the woman who believes in happily ever after, never be dumb enough to think maybe someone could love you after all of your mistakes. It has nothing to do with whether or not a family is important to you and you’re in a good place where a relationship would make your life better - you’re not a princess. You don’t get married, you settle.
8. The Girl With Strength, who can outrun everyone and who is stronger than her boyfriend. “See the thing about boys,” says my daddy, “Is that you have to let them win.” I sat at home and read stories about Artemis and wanted to become the huntress, too. I wanted to howl at the moon, I wanted to slay the beasts that bested me, I wanted to rule my kingdom with bloody fists. But girls are never athletes, never supposed to be “built,” regardless of the fact civilizations were constructed on our spines and we made homes in war by the steel of our ribs. Never be strong. We are supposed to wilt.
9. The Lady CEO: because if you choose work over family, are you really a girl? How dare you fight your way to the top through every pair of eyes that bore through your blouse, through every meeting where you were hushed by the sound of someone else talking, through every time someone called you “sweetie,” how dare you yearn for something. Is your husband the stay-at-home one? I can’t imagine how that is going. He’s not a real man, after all. I don’t give it long before the divorce. How dare you decide you’re happy being single. Don’t you know you’re supposed to bear children. Where is your honor? Where is your wisdom? Who cares if you are the leader, the best suited for your position, the quickest-thinking, the one who makes the hardest clients come back again. Don’t you see? Across history, women have been terrible at success. They always lose their man in the end. (When I said, “I would rather be a famous author than a mediocre mother,” I was told, “No, don’t worry, you’ll be a fine mommy.”)
10. THE GIRL I AM: FIRECRACKER AND DON’T YOU FUCKING FORGET IT I’LL RIP YOU TO SHREDS AND I WON’T FUCKING REGRET IT I’M NOT YOUR PRETTY GIRL I’M NOT YOUR ANYTHING I’M PERFECT, MOTHERFUCKER, AND I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE UP WHAT I’M DOING. I DON’T WANT TO BE “LADYLIKE” THAT LITERALLY MEANS NOTHING I’M NOT GOING TO STOP STANDING UP AND DEMANDING WHAT’S COMING TO ME. I’M GONNA BE SOMEBODY. I’M GONNA MAKE THEM REMEMBER ME. I REFUSE TO BE OVERSHADOWED IN HISTORY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CREATE BUT YOU MADE ME A DRAGON YOU PUT ME IN THE FIRE AND WHEN I STOPPED BURNING I LEARNED HOW TO GLOW DON’T THINK YOU CAN STOP ME YOU CAN’T TAME A TORNADO.
|—||In respectful response to a poem tilted, “Ten men women have warned me against becoming." /// r.i.d (via inkskinned)|
Writing Other Languages and Dialects
I’d say treat the use of other languages and dialects like seasoning; don’t “over-spice” the dialogue lest you overpower us, yet don’t deprive us completely.
First things first: Research.
As with learning any language, it takes practice, so to actually write in this language, you’ll need to study it well and feel it from the inside out before you’ll be able to communicate it truthfully and effectively. If you just browse a couple vids and things here and there then try to mimic that, or go on just the knowledge that you think you have, you’ll likely end up with something contrived and indecipherable.
To be honest, if something is dipped entirely in a dialect or language I don’t really understand, I start skimming over it until I place the book down completely. My attention-span just won’t let me keep working at on something I know i’m not gonna decipher. I think most readers are like that.
I mean i’ve read books that took place in different countries, and while it’s obviously written in English, it can be assumed the characters of the book aren’t actually speaking in English, and though there were some declarations of words in the story’s language, the book was written an English because that’s what the author wrote it or had it interpreted to. It’s a different matter when it’s just a character or two who speak a different language and/or dialect, though.
I personally wouldn’t recommend a book be written entirely in dialect or any language that isn’t yours. If we don’t know the dialect, we’re sure not gonna understand it either. I do think there’s a balance to achieve here, though. Enough to illustrate how the words are being spoken, which may not be exactly as they appear on the page, and enough where you’re not totally erasing the authenticity of said words spoken.
It’s the difference between saying “Ya’ll gunna be leavin’ soon?” vs. “ya’ll gonna be leaving soon?”
The sentence might surely sound more like the former aloud, but as readers, we can fill that in. (Note an abundance of phonetic spellings isn’t required. It’s also a bit othering.)
It’s alright to use the correct grammar the speaker would use, as well as word choices that they’d likely use. We can get a lot out of context from surrounding words, as well, especially when encountering a word we might not understand. As a kid watching Hey Arnold, I never knew exactly what “criminy!” meant, something one of the characters would say in exasperation, but I got the message just from her tone and apparent frustration from whatever the situation was.
Noting that the character is speaking Creole, a regional dialect and so on may be helpful as well.
- Writing Dialect
- Writing Accents and Dialects
- How to Give Your Character an Authentic Dialect
- Most Common Writing Mistakes: The Do’s and Dont’s of Dialect
234 College Level Synonyms for “Said”
Okay but seriously this can be really distracting.
"Something really important," he remonstrated.
"Something really important," he said.
In the first one you’re going all “remonstrated??” and in the second one, you don’t even notice the word said because it’s so bland and common, and you focus instead on what the actual dialogue is.
Just keep that in mind.
Also, half of these things would just be awkward, even if they technically work.
"Wow, that was silly," he brought forth.
Grinned isn’t a word for said. Grinning is a method of communication, but it doesn’t mean to make words come out of your mouth. You can do “Wow, that was great!” She grinned. But don’t use things like grin instead of said.
Petitioned? Uttered? Reciprocated? Don’t use this in normal dialogue or I will put your manuscript away and never pick it up unless I’m bored and desperate. If your character is a lobbyist, maybe. This is confusing as well as distracting, because the ambiguous meanings just make it seem awkward and wrong, not to mention it’s obvious you’re trying way too hard.
Obviously, there are exceptions. If your character/narrator/etc is meant to be pretentious, then go ahead, and some things only apply to specific situations and characters.
For god’s sake, don’t just toss these in willy nilly. At least look up what they mean first.
Hi. I’m writing a militaristic spy against the government and I was wanting to know what simply HAS to be in it. Like what is psychologically done to create a spy or what kind of spy work should there is. I don’t want this to be a James Bond lets shoot and blow stuff up, so I’m 100% trying to approach this realistically.
Hello there, Savannah! Let me first thank you for your continued support, it really does mean the world to me~ ♥︎
Now, as for your question(s) I absolutely get where you are coming from. Ironically, this is the funny thing about Spies (and any sort of shady underworld themes). You can do research, but can one really trust that? And even so— how successful can it be? After all, what are the odds that all Spies are trained the same way? Not very high if you ask me.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations in which ‘realism’ is more a burden than anything else. Spies in the ‘real’ world are not as we perceive them in fiction— or maybe they are, this is the funny thing. There is no way to know for certain. After all, the best Spy Network should be entirely unknown to us, right?
I think that the way to approach this is to create *your* own Spy Network. I mean it. There is no way to get it ‘wrong’ since Spies in our culture might as well be supernatural creatures. Thus, you have the freedom to create *your* own version of Spies— the trick here is to make it authentic (or, bluntly put, it has to make sense).
Really, when people say something is ‘realistic’ it simply boils down to them being able to ‘understand it’ and ‘agreeing that it could happen.’ This is why some disaster movies really affect people, because it shows them how probable something is— no matter how silly it may seem from the surface.
Keeping that in mind, let’s look over how ‘PROBABLE’ we can make your Spy Network, okay?
First you need the founder(s). Who made this Spy Network? What is the purpose of it? Is there disagreement amongst the founders? What do they disagree on? Is killing civilians okay? What about torture? Now, what do they all agree on? What are values of this organization? Spy Networks are some of the best-run businesses, because the last thing they want is their own people launching a hostile take-over. This is why power needs to be split carefully. Who runs the show? Who makes the choices? Is there a council, or a single mastermind?
Remember, a spy network is about CONTROL. This can be done in many ways (one of which is shooting things and blowing this up, of course). Control can be obtained through Information (using blackmail as leverage), Terror (using violence as leverage), and Resources (using supply and demand as leverage).
If a country is growing too strong, you can find out what the lead officials do behind closed doors, and blackmail them. You can steal their money— or worse, their cache of weapons. And, of course, you can just have a sniper blow the brains of the Señor Presidente on national television.
Control. It’s all about control.
Now, what goes into the training of one such Spy? That will depend on your Spy Network. What you need to keep in mind that the Network is looking for people they can’t buy (because otherwise the enemy may end up offering more money), or people who disagree with their morals (again, hostile takeovers are bad for Spy Networks). This is why the ‘training’ is really nothing more that a systematic way to weed out everyone who is not fit for the task. Ask yourself what your Spy Network needs, what they want, and then put yourself in their shoes.
“How can we weed out the weak and the unfit?”
There is an interesting story about a secret service trainee who was asked to shoot his own wife in order to pass the next test. They locked both in a room and gave him a gun. (Spoilers: the gun had nothing but blanks, but neither wife nor agent knew that. Also, no, he did not pass the test). Is this brutal? Is this bad? Maybe, but you can’t say that test wouldn’t guarantee a soldier willing to do anything for your cause c;
Remember. It’s all about control— control over your minions, your foes, and the entire populace.
I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions~ ♥︎ I had tons of fun answering this!
Thank you for the question, Savannah! And doubly-thank you for pledging to my Patreon page! Thank you for directly supporting me, my books, and the awesome posts that you see on this blog everyday~ ♥︎
Interested in becoming a Patron? Head over to my Patreon Page where you will find information on the sweet perks that can be yours from as little as $1 dollar a month, least of which is my gratitude! ♥︎
High heels are like bikini battle armor. In the realm of fashion, they are helpful because of the way they draw the eye and shape the visual impression of the leg. High heels lengthen the leg, draw the eye up, and highlight the shape of the butt (and more). However, with long term use, they are very hard on the joints (ankles, knees, and hips) and can lead to long term damage.
I know there are people out there who will argue that catsuits, spandex, bikinis, and high heels are practical combat gear for women. Some of them are very well-meaning, some of them are women who buy into it. You’ve probably seen some of them on this site. They’re the ones who take the stock photographs of female martial artists doing (slightly awkward looking) high kicks in high heels as “YES GIRLY GIRLS CAN FIGHT TOO!”. Well, they certainly can but not in high heels. (I applaud the women who can do full extension sidekicks in high heels though! What flexibility! Much balance! Incredible skill! A woman who can do a high kick in high heels is a badass. It’s a testament to their mastery of their body though, not high heel combat viability.)
High heels tip the body forward, putting all the weight on the balls of the feet. If you’ve ever walked around in high heels, then you know finding your balance can be tricky (especially on slick surfaces) and running is mostly out. (You can, it’s just awkward.) The original design for high heels was 14th/15th riding boots when they were a men’s fashion choice. They were never designed for walking on land.
My personal problem with the emphasis on high heels and women’s fashion for female combat oriented characters is the emphasis on visual beauty over practicality and professionalism or any respect for the problems created by reality whatsoever
When it comes to clothing, how you dress your character does actually matter. If a creator or artist approaches their female character with the belief that women don’t fight anyway, so further sexualization of them through their clothing doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things then they are actively contributing to the dehumanization of that character and upholding that ideal that women fighting at all (much less on an even plane with men) is a fantasy. (The reality is women all over the world do fight, do take on dangerous jobs in various shapes, sizes, and personalities.)
Why? Because it prioritizes emphasis on their appearance to the outside observer over the concerns of the reality they are facing. Whoever put together their outfit was thinking primarily about how they’d be perceived not on practical choices of what they’d choose to wear for traipsing through a sewer. When I think about sewers, peep toe shoes, skinny jeans, and spaghetti straps don’t exactly come to mind first as preferred spelunking wear. Galoshes, raincoats, and pants that repel moisture, yeah. Clothes from the $5 bin I don’t mind throwing out after, sure. My Coach bag and (if I owned any) $400 Jimmy Choos? Hell, no.
A character doesn’t become more badass by ignoring the physical constraints and dangers of the world around them. They just look more stupid. The required level of suspension of disbelief is higher for these characters than their male counterparts.
Now, male artists do this for male characters too. The problem is, of course, that you can actually make a case for fighting in biker boots, a loose leather jacket, and jeans. That’s actually practical street combat wear. Leather jackets work as makeshift armor, they can absorb a fair amount of impact. Biker boots are thick, made of leather, protect the shins, and they’re designed to take impact. They armor the foot. Loose men’s jeans are practical, provide freedom of movement, and they’re durable against friction burns. They survive longer and they’re thicker than other kinds of pants. So, when Steven Stallone turns to the camera in a goofy 80s action movie and says “You don’t need to get fancy, lady.” He’s actually right. You don’t.
However, if you have Black Widow do the same in a catsuit, high heels, or even just skinny jeans, a tight fitting leather jacket, a very nice red satin shirt that exposes her breasts, and heavy makeup, it’s not exactly comparable in impact. (One of the nice things about The Winter Soldier was how practically they had her dressed when wearing civvies.) 1) Because she already is dressed fancy and 2) her clothing isn’t any more practical to the situation than the person she’s bitching out.
Plenty of Urban Fantasy protagonists, super heroines, and movie characters do this. I’m not picking on Black Widow, but she’s getting passed around a lot. Buffy did this all the time and it’s part of why I couldn’t take her seriously (especially in the early seasons). Going down into the sewers in a satin pink spaghetti strap, a mini skirt, and matching sandals. Why? Because she likes sacrificing $100 to $200 in clothing every day. Single parent home, pushing minimal income, constantly complaining about her allowance, while burning a metric shit ton on clothing every single week. How is she affording that? The answer is she’s not. The clothing just pops out of the snow, like daisies. The same can be said of the female protagonists on The Vampire Diaries.
On the other hand, I give Charmed a pass because they constantly acknowledge how hard demon fighting is on their clothing. They try to fix their clothes with magic, they have to come up with money to repair the manor, they have to buy new clothes, they think about trading in their old styles for more practical ones and decide against it. The daily rigor, the stress on their wallets, the general mundane realities of every day life are expressed in the choices and habits the characters make and maintain. If they have time before facing a given crisis, you’ll even see them go run to change. Their clothing isn’t practical, but the show at least acknowledges that and uses it to humanize their struggles with being women and demon hunting witches.
The big problem with style and fashion is they help contribute to the idea that women primarily exist in fiction (and in real life) to be looked at. They’re decorative first, even when they’re dangerous. If you remove that aspect, men and women will in fact complain.
Yes, both of them.
Women are presented with a cultural idealization of beauty day in and day out, the stereotypes we’re presented with become a part of what we expect to see and may even idealize in ourselves. Recognition of beauty, being admired, is presented as a goal all women (whether or not they can even achieve the standard) should aspire to. Not appearing beautiful is presented as bad by media, unworthy, unable to be loved. Conform to be worthy. For many people, they want both. To fit the cultural ideal of female sexualization while simultaneously rejecting it. It’s wish fulfillment and there’s no shame in it, media has told you you’re entire life that this is what you should want to be.
It doesn’t exist, but you’ll see plenty of people try to make it so anyway like the girls I knew in gym who’d cake on makeup before going out to play basketball or run the mile.
To challenge the stereotypes, you have to recognize them and that may require changing how you see women in media. It’s insidious and, more importantly, not necessarily evil. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be wanted, to be beautiful, to be recognized. But how a character looks and what they wear should always, always come second to what they need to get their job done.
I try to beat this by thinking about the situation first, instead of character. I construct a character to deal with a situation. With this set up, practicality usually prevails.
I challenge you followers. When you think of a powerful woman, or a dangerous female, what do you think of first?