Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fantasy Name Generators

I don't know how I haven't stumbled across it before, but today I found and I'm immensely impressed with what it has to offer. The options are almost overwhelming and nearly limitless.

And a very cool feature is that on the off chance you can't find something to inspire you, you can easily drop suggestions to the site author.

There is even a feature for artistically-inclined visitors to submit artwork for use with the multitude of generators.

Do yourself a favor and check it out. From one nerd to another, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Once Upon A Time

Feeling stuck, stumped, blocked, and/or utterly lost? Don't worry. It happens to all of us from time to time.

Try this. Here is a fill-in-the-blank lead in.

"Long ago and far away in a place called _name_ there was a _thing/person_ named _name_ who was _emotion/state of being_ because _cause_.

In order to _action: change, make, undo, etc_ the _thing/person_ had to _action_. But where to begin?
This _thing/person_ named _name_ had very little _possession: strength, knowledge, etc_ and even less/no _possession: money, friends, time, etc_. What _name_ did have was _possession: ingenuity, courage, etc_. And so it was, with _pronoun_ _possesion_, _name_ set out to _action_."

And you're off and running.

I would love to hear what you do with it, so add a comment below and let's see what you came up with.

Of course my mind naturally goes to a fantasy setting, but you can substitute a ship (Icarus) or planet (Helion) for sci-fi, a town (Pennyford) or county (East Humblewick) for steampunk, really whatever suits your fancy. The subject can be a boy, girl, dragon, droid, or other sentient object.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Play to Your Strengths, Strengthen Your Weaknesses

I've recently traded a few emails with Nate, host of the WorldBuilding School, and perhaps I might be writing a guest post in the near future.

I've posted about the amazing tutorials of his before, and guess what, here they are again!

Tonight as I flipped through other posts and links I found the 7 Key Skills to Build Your World. Up until reading them I considered myself rather versed in various realms of worldbuilding. Now I kinda question that :)

My degree is a blend of social science and history, and I was no slouch in geography and earth science. But I'm a far cry from knowing all there is to know.

Economy and [physical] science are by far my weakest points. I get the general concepts of cartography, but I don't practice the skill itself nearly as much as I'd like to. I know next to nothing about zoology. I can tell you that predatory animals typically have binocular vision and some form of taking down their prey - fangs, claws, venom, etc. Prey animals usually have their eyes on the side, rather than the front of the head, to provide a wider view of things that could creep up on them. They employ escape measures of escape, like speed or burrowing, or camouflage and mimicry to trick and confuse predators. That's it! I have scraped the bottom of my zoological knowledge.

My point is, polish the things you know you don't know so well. But don't completely ignore the things you think you know because studying them further is still bound to yield surprises.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Man About Town

Back in September I posted about Cityographer and the city and village generators on Inkwell Ideas, which provide great visuals. Then today I found these other city generators:

Crystal Ball city generator - this gives a great deal of detail and allows a lot of customization. 

Red Dragon Inn town generator  - a text based generator that includes a calculator for the populace, tradecraft, and even inn names.

Chaotic Shiny medieval city generator and map generator - these are a little sparse, as they're text based, but what it lacks in visuals it makes up for in description. There are several other place generators from terrain to market and tavern.

Myth Weavers town generator - specifically geared towards D&D 3.5 this gives half a dozen options to customize size, military presence, and form of government as well as a few others.

Greyscalegorilla City Kit - this goes well beyond the medieval hamlet with an immensely powerful and customizable cityscape generator. For the price, it certainly delivers on an urban oasis that Godzilla would love to stomp flat.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

LTUE 2014 Review

[picture me making the explosion gestures next to my head]
Yeah, it's like that.

I cannot show enough appreciation to my mentor Jason King for including me on such a spectacular event. As I understand with cons, the last day is a haphazard quagmire of people trying to get stuff in at the last minute and all the good panelists are gone. Not so in this case.

Arrival consisted of Jason, Jon, and I munching chocolate donuts and staring at our 8.5 x 11 schedules trying to decide which panels we wanted to hit. It was not an easy decision. Eventually I ended up going to a couple myself as the other fellas stood in line for book signing and/or manned the publisher's table. It reminded me of being a gung-ho college freshman perusing the course catalog and deciding which classes were worthy enough of cutting into eating/sleeping/studying time. It really was a "kid in a candy store" moment, but in this case the candy was free (to me) and it was going to teach me secrets to making my own candy and getting paid to do so.

Rather than take the easy route of sitting in on things I already thought I knew, I decided to make it worth the free pass and actually learn something. The panels I went to were: Writing Solid Dialogue, Keynote with Orson Scott Card, Writing Hard Science Fiction, Writing Without an Outline, and Why You Should Write Short Fiction and How It Can Help Launch You as a Novelist. I would love to include the names of all panelists involved, but that's as of yet not loaded on the LTUE website.

Suffice it to say, I learned a lot, met some great folks, formed a very viable new contact in the publishing world (I'm talking about you James Wymore), and overall made wonderful use of a Saturday I otherwise would have wasted.

So to any and all others out there, DON'T get discouraged and quit, DON'T say to yourself "this will never work. Who am I, one among millions?" DO make contacts and friends. GO. TO. CONS! Even if you don't get face time with authors - such was not the case for me, I chatted with 5 - it is worth the gas, time, and everything else.


One of the panels I sat in on involved a discussion of profiling/interviewing/getting to know your characters deeply and intimately. They will essentially be your family for many many months. The only downfall of the panel was that the speaker couldn't name a character profile to use. That's not to say that there is only one out there. Her advice was "Google it." It works. I have posted before several such links.
I am hoping to organize a smattering of world and character building posts for Tune in next time for whatever my imagination happens to spit out. Be sure to write.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chronology: It's About Time

As I continue scrawling page after page of my first book, I can't help but think that I have enough material planned for four or maybe even five books. The reason it stretches beyond a trilogy, with one book for each generation, is that there are significant events that transpire which will fit well as the climax for each tale.

Thinking about this leads me to draw comparisons with other movies and books.

Forrest Gump - the run time of the movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes, but covers Forrest's life from the ages of around 7 to 38. The movie itself isn't what I would consider overly long, but it feels so by the end due to how much time is covered within the story.

Legends of the Fall - 2 hours and 13 minutes isn't long for the 60+ years that are covered in the telling.

Lord of the Rings - The Hobbit and the trilogy cover some
Bilbo is 50 when Gandalf draws him into the quest with the dwarves, during which he finds the One Ring. He was 131 when he boarded the ship for the Grey Havens. Frodo was 33 when Bilbo left him the ring after their shared birthday (that's right, both were born Sept 22) party. He was 53 when he accompanied Bilbo to the Grey Havens. The main line of the quest to destroy the ring is one month short of a year. Yes, I know, the movies and the books differ. In the book it takes 17 years for the Ring to leave the Shire, that's a long time to hold onto a really crappy birthday present!

The Wheel of Time series covers ages of repeating history, but only follows the main character of Rand al'Thor from the age of 20 to around 22.

And last, but by far not the least, the Time of Legends trilogy follows the hero Sigmar from the eve prior to his first battle to his abdication, ages 15 to 80.

I am by no means comparing my as-yet-to-be-finished, first book to these favorites of mine. I am merely illustrating that great tales can be told in a few hours to thousands of pages.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Join Us in a Cold Embrace

My blogger buddy Nils invited me to join February's blog carnival: The Icy Embrace of Winter

I have thus done so. And I sequentially invite any and all others to gang in on the frosty fracas.

I'm not participating via this blog (Realmwright) but rather through One Walker's Journal because the current theme of that blog just suits the subject better.