Like many writers, I have a full life in which I juggle many duties and joys. I love to cook, garden, and play with my twins. As a mother to toddlers, I write whenever I am not helping them navigate their day--which typically means in the early mornings and early afternoons when they sleep, and sometimes when Grandma comes to visit.
I was twenty-two when writing became a passion of mine. I've been doing it in one form or another ever since. But it took me a very long time to follow my heart's desire to tell stories.
For years, I simply journaled. I delved into writing articles for newsletters and grant proposals. I settled into technical writing, often finding myself a one-person writing, editing, design, app development, and publication team. I learned the basics of journalism, and finally, when on maternity leave with my twins, I turned to writing fiction.
BUILDING ENNARA'S WORLD
World-building: it’s essential for every fantasy writer.
While true that the fantasy writer spends significant time creating the world in which their adventures take place, world building is not an exclusive domain of the fantasy writer. It is important to every fiction author. The suspense writer creates a world of espionage. The historical romance writer builds the world as it was, complete with period language, society, politics, and economics. What we write ends in very different stories, but we are all world building.
Building Ennara’s world began with the seeds of the story I wanted to tell. I wanted a story about a child with real-world magical abilities—those based on historic folklore. I learned about caul children years ago and decided to use them as a jumping-off point for this story. Because of the lore around the caul (it protects against drowning), I knew that the child’s planet must be mostly water. I also wanted to present an alternate future in which humanity returns to a way of living that is more connected to the natural world. Not utopian, but not dystopian either. So I knew that I would not be creating a new world, but modifying ours and setting it thousands of years ahead of our time.
Then my research began. Being a visual person, I searched for maps. I found projections of what the earth would look like if the polar caps melted away entirely. It was shocking. One day, I found a website in France that went beyond projections for icecaps—it showed what our planet would look like if the seas rose as much as 500 meters, or around 1600 feet. Now that changed the world completely. With a map, the people and societies of Lan fell into place and the history that caused the massive flood came easily. It felt as though I had one foot solidly planted in a real world—just not ours!
Magic is essential to fantasies and must be defined from the beginning. The author must decide how the magic works, what it can and cannot do, and what the consequences of its use are. And the story needs to stick to those rules to maintain its realism.
Dividing magic into three different “flavors”, I created a structure that would define what magic could and could not be practiced in Lan. I limited it further by giving consequences to the use of magic—in this case, the depletion of the caster’s mental energy. Finally, I added one last definition: magic in Ennara’s world would be tied to the words used. The more powerful the spell, the older the language must be. Thus, the most powerful spells are limited to words in the IndoEuropean language. Of course, other languages are used for magic craft in Ennara’s world—as demonstrated with the life pod Ennara makes for Tork—but they aren’t as powerful. While these may be viewed as common definitions to magic in storytelling, it was essential to lay them out and follow the rules.
The beings that populate Ennara’s world came later—they were the result of plotting the story. In outlining Ennara’s journey as a hero, the creatures, settings, and people were drawn out to provide needed conflict and personal growth for the main characters. I then built them into her world by incorporating their backstories. For example, I outlined a history that explained a splitting of humanity into new “races” in which they called themselves traditional fantasy names. Thus a tribe-nation of rough, gigantic, and violent mountain men are called trolls. Goblins, dryads, nymphs, and humans also populate the world of Lan. Some of these races interact with Ennara and her friends, while others provide personal backstories for major characters. The rewards to Ennara’s journey were similarly built into the world in the plotting phase.
Building a realistic fantasy world starts from the first thoughts that inspire a story and continue through research, plotting, drafting, and revision. In the end, by addressing elements of plot, genre, theme, and character growth, you will have created a world that feels just as real as the one you write in.
Eleven year-old Ennara Gaern has a serious grudge against the dragon on her right hand.
Born with a caul—a mask that foretold magical powers—she was immediately inked with the fiendish, fire-breathing tattoo that forces her to study boring texts, cover her hand continuously, and worst of all, keeps her from visiting the beautiful capital city, Dordonne. But her quiet life changes when one night she is attacked by a shadowy demon.
Tork, an old friend and wizard, is enlisted to help. But when he arrives, he informs Ennara’s parents that she is her world’s only hope of finding the legendary Sword of Gisilfrid, which is needed to destroy the curse that is creating the demons. Ennara doesn’t want to leave on the dangerous quest, but when she learns the curse threatens her world, she reluctantly agrees.
Ennara and the wizard begin a perilous journey to the Sunken City, pitting them against dangerous oceans and pirates intent on claiming Ennara’s magic as their own. With only her friends at her side, including the intelligent, aquatic cat Smoos, Ennara must defeat monsters guarding the sword and servants of the Fallen Druid. When her world is covered in darkness, will she know how to dispel the curse?
Ennara shuffled to the rear of the cheese vendor’s stall, crouched low, and aimed. “Mag gwihuwo!”
A fine finger of black smoke curled toward the meat shop. As the ashy spell landed on the animal parts, they twitched. A woman walking by the stand shrieked. The butcher looked up, his eyes bigger than eggs and his mouth in an “O.” Several shoppers shouted in astonishment. Others yelled and ran.
A passing monk cried, “The devil is among us!” as six headless hens wriggled their way off the hooks and scrambled on the ground, flapping their featherless wings.
Then the lamb legs got free, and there they were, bouncing round the empty area in front of the butcher’s stall. The crowd parted. Some ran home. Others ran inside stores and shut the doors, but many stayed to see what would happen. The center of the plaza was clear except for the butcher, who hid in his stall clutching a cleaver, the city sentinel, still holding Kithe, Mr. Dulfsnark, a dozen reanimated chickens, five dancing legs of lamb, and a menacing zombie hog.
The watchman spun around as the gathering dispersed and saw the reanimated meat. “What the…?”
A chicken bolted for the man’s leg. He released his grip on Kithe and punted the creature away. The chicken flapped its wings as it whizzed through the air and smashed into a vegetable cart.
Mr. Dulfsnark made a mad grasp at a bouncing leg of lamb and struggled to hang on to it.
“Hey!” the butcher called, “You’ll be paying for the lamb, Dulfsnark!”
CONTACT THE AUTHOR - AND WIN A GIFT!
Angela will be awarding to a randomly drawn commenter during each week on the tour, a wall calendar print from http://www.cafepress.com/ennaraswag (Items can be exchanged for other equal or lesser value items from Ennara Swag on Cafepress.), and will award a t-shirt from http://www.cafepress.com/ennaraswag to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY). Also, a $20 Amazon GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn host.
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