Category Archives: Writer’s Wednesday

World Building Wednesday


Here is the map of Cencher – the land of All Things Scary.

I’ve named the countries and have begun to fill in some of the details. The map will become more detailed as I write. I know there is a vapor swamp in Granli – where the witch lives.


Crencher - the home of All Things Scary

Crencher – the home of All Things Scary

I did something a little different with this map. I use a lot – I mean A LOT – of index cards in my writing. Sometimes I punch a hole in the corner and put them on a ring or I make a board to attach them to, etc.

For All Things Scary, I’m going to keep my world building ‘key’ on index cards attached to the map. Like this….



The cards are attached with tape across the top. As you can see I flip them upside down but this is just personal thing. The ‘tricky’ thing about using index cards like this is taping them. The tape has to be run the full length of the card (I use the top line as my guide which is the reason I flip them upside down) and each one taped separately. Once you have figured out your spacing and taped all of the cards into place, you have two options to get them to flip smoothly.

(1)  This is what I do. You’ll need to cut the tape on each side of the card so flip up. JUST cut the top of the card not all the way through.

(2)  Make a crease in the card where the tape line is.

As always, I welcome all tips/hints or suggestions.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂



World Building – All Things Scary


I always start my world building with a map. Be it a fantasy world I’m creating or a ‘real’ place. Cursing map outlines on the internet, I tossed around several ideas for different basic landscapes and decided to go with an island. Below is the island outland I’m going to use. I added Halloween stickers and some plastic spiders to give it the ‘scary’ feel.

The beginning of the world...

The beginning of the world…

The ‘heart’ of my story is going to take place in the section in the far right. I haven’t started labeling it because I’m still ‘brewing’ the setting. I picked this section for my witch’s hamlet because of the two bodies of water. Creepy things are going to hang out in there  I’m sure there will forest and a giant spider colony. I’ve also decided my headless horsewomen are going to bounder guards.

I’ve also started making a playlist for this WIP… This is a classical selection. Since I don’t really have the characters formed it’s hard to pick songs with words. But this has a the feel for my world. 

World Building – What did you say?


Determining what language(s) will be spoken in your world. This can be tricky.  Will each of your individual countries speak a different language? And if so how will you convey that to the reader.


Look beautiful but I don't have a clue to what it says...

Look beautiful but I don’t have a clue to what it says…

JRR Tolkien created languages for his books that he used mainly for names and an occasional poem.  This brought an element of ‘reality’ to the world he created.  But here is where the slippery slope comes into play.  Many years ago, I read a book where the author had gone to great lengths to create a language for his book.  He had entire conversations written in the ‘native’ tongue and I had to keep flipping to be back glossary to translate it…for ME this drastically took away from the book.


Now this doesn’t mean you can’t use a created language but do it to add to the story NOT to impress the reader with your ability to create words. For example, if two characters are having a conversation in their ‘native’ tongue and the heroine can’t understand it but knows they are discussing something important this could add to the element of suspense. AGAIN a warning – in my opinion this should be used only occasionally. Twenty overheard conversations that no one understands may cross the line from interesting to annoying. And no writer wants to annoy his reader.


In most cases making up a word for river isn’t going to benefit your story or add dimension to your world.  As in the following…

Jilla stood at the river’s edge. The water shimmered in the moonlight. It seemed so peaceful, an illusion she knew to be wrong.

Jilla stood at the xicev’s edge. The water shimmered ….

Calling a river a xicev doesn’t enhance anything and would probably confuse my reader unless I introduced the term earlier. But why?


So in my opinion in world building languages can and are often better left to a minimum.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on made up languages as a writer and a reader.


World Building ~ Week 4 – It’s a jungle out there or is it?


Now that we have the maps and basic feel for the land now it’s time for non-human details – remember I’m a pantser so your details could be much more vivid at this point.  I’m talking animals, plants, and creatures.

Now I can’t imagine even the most die-hard plotter cataloging every species of plant or animal in your world.  My suggestion is to focus on the ‘big’ stuff and add things as you go along.

Looking at your map and thinking about your storyline what types of plants/animals/creatures are you going to need?

Start with the very basic ~ now these do NOT have to be the same as ours. Remember you are BUILDING a world.

What plants are used for healing? For food? For baskets/ropes/ect? What plants are dangerous?

What animals are herded for food? For clothing? For burden beasts (aka donkeys)?

Now let’s add from your imagination ~

1)      Here are a few  ‘prompts’ for developing your flora and fauna…

Are their predatory plants? (the Venus Fly Trap on steroids) Where are they located? Are your characters going to have to fight their way through?

What is it called?

What color is it?

How big is it?

Where does it grow?

2)      What kind of ‘non’ Earth animals populate your world? This is where you can have fun! Dragons everyone knows so while you can have them this isn’t a thing you’ve created. In my series Night of the Gryphon and in my current WIP, I have at least ten creatures I’ve ‘created.’

What is it called?

Is it deadly?

What does it look like?

Where does it live?

If you need some ‘help’ in creating animals/creatures/plants for your world feel free to raid the world of extinct things. Here is a great site to start –

While you’re developing these things of your world make sure you toss around plot hooks and ideas that will involve these elements. Remember the more of your world that you can incorporate into the actual storyline versus just using as detail will make it much more ‘real’ for your reader (a good thing!)

Here are a few pictures I used as ‘fodder’ in developing different creatures ~

Enchantedforest1-LRmonster #2salt plains beast


Writer’s Wednesday


World Building Part III–

Now that we have discussed maps, it’s time to populate them and detail the terrain. As I’ve stated before I’m a die-hard pantser. The thought of plotting sends my muse in some deep dark corner of my mind never to be seen again BUT world building is different in ‘my’ logic. And I don’t work out every detail at this point; I do enough so I can layer in setting details. I add things as I go…where a fight happened… where someone is kidnapped, etc. Because I’m a pantser and not a plotter I don’t know where these things are going to happen or that they are even going to happen J

I have a ‘form’ that I use for this step of world building. For me, it’s more about thinking about the locations than actually filling in the blanks. And as I said above, I added to this all the time while writing.

For each country, I’d fill out a “landscape” form.

Country Name

  1. Culture/Mood/Personality
    1. Is the population mostly warriors, farmers, tradesman, or a mixture?  Is there civil wars or do they live peacefully with each other
    2. What is the religion make-up (this may need entire sheet of it’s own depending if you are writing a fantasy where Gods/Goddesses have a role)
    3. Economics – is the wealth evenly disturbed or only a select few
    4. Is there Magic

-Who can use it

-Does the magic have a source or an ability that a person is born with

-Are those who use magic trusted/liked

  1. Folklore

-how do these ‘stories’ effect the communities

  1. Do secret societies exist

-If so for what reason

-Why are they secret

-How long have existed

  1. Populations
    1. Is there a common physical feature (IE – everyone has purple eyes and dark skin)
    2. What are the roles of females and males
    3. What is the dress
    4. How are they educated
    5. What is the common food dishes
  2. Ruler
    1. Is he/she liked
    2. Elected or a born into title
    3. Where do they reside in the country (a single castle or several different ones)
    4. Who makes the ‘elite’ inner circle – (think of King Arthur’s roundtable)
  3. Terrain

I usually insert pictures here of various things I want but this would be where you detail the forest, deserts, and rivers, etc.

  1. Weather
    1. Average temp
    2. Rainy season
    3. Major storms – Hurricanes, blizzards
    4. What effects the weather – moons cycles, etc
    5. What are the seasons

I’d love to hear any suggestions or comments you have.

World Building Wednesday


World Building – Maps part 2

Last week we discussed the importance of making map making. Today let’s chat about what to put on your maps. Detail is good but be careful, it’s sort of like adding garlic to the bread. A little is okay, a little more is great, a little more and yuck! Too much detail and your map becomes a convoluted mess rendering them useless.

One thing I do suggest using are colored pencils – markers even the fine tip are too wide for my personal taste.
Like with the number of maps you make the details you include will be based a lot on personal needs BUT remember maps are quick glance references. Here are few suggestions on what I include…

(1) All terrain features (ie – rivers, lakes, forest, country boundaries, etc.) so you have them at a glance BUT NOT
 Detailed features (ie Blue River has three waterfalls. A troll lives in the cave under waterfall #2) these will be included in your location fact sheets (to be discussed next week)
 Scene locations – I know authors who have tried to keep mark on their maps where each scene of importance happened – this will clutter your map. It’s much better to do scene sheets if you need notes to reference to exactly where something happened.

(2) Where each MAIN character is from – This should be some form of a mark (*,@, – a different one for each character) with an legend of whose mark it is. If my hero is represented by a green * and he lived in different places as a child learning about his magic, I may use *a, *b, *c, ect to mark where each of these places are and the letter so I know the order at a quick glance.

(3) Modes of transportation. In the Night of the Gryphon series there were ‘portals’ the characters could use to move from one spot to another. I marked where these were on my main map with a blue ‘x’. I used blue and ‘x’ only for these.
 Does your world have trains? If so where are the tracks?
 Does your world have space shuttles? If so where do they land and take off from?

For my current young adult fantasy I needed a star map...

For my current young adult fantasy I needed a star map…

Decided our constellations didn't work for me...

Decided our constellations didn’t work for me…

Sooo I'm working on making my own :p

Sooo I’m working on making my own :p

These are the three things I general mark on my main map. I decided on my color and symbols before I start marking. I pick things that make sense to me… so while blue wiggle line as a river might work for you, I prefer to make all my terrain features in purple. Each MAIN character is assigned a color also so if I decide I want to mark his/her journey it makes for easier reference. And that is key to world building –easy reference. Glancing at your map should be easier then scouring chapters looking for the reference of where something is.

I’d love to hear what you put on your maps and how you mark them.

Next week is location fact sheets. I’ll have several different types for you to download.

World Building Wednesday


Where the heck are you?

All world building starts with a map. If you are using a real location – buy one. If you are creating a world – draw it. Now I can hear the moans and I understand I struggle to make a stick person, these aren’t drawings for an art gallery but for your personal use alone.

I prefer to start with a ‘wide’ view and then narrow down my building so that is the way these posts will flow.

Below is the map I created for my current WIP.


Why draw a map??? Ohhhhh the heartaches a map would have saved me in writing the Night of Gryphon series. Were the mountains to the left of the Oracle Valley or to the right??? Had mentioned a river along the way??? Etc. Please please learn from my pain and draw a map.

For real locations, you would need:

a)      State map (so you can see the neighboring cities and land marks – believe me this saves time to get it now )

b)      City map

If a large city – I.e. – Chicago then a suburb one of your close setting.  (For my current romance suspense under my other name I have one of the state, one of the city,  one of the college, and one of the local mass transit routes).

For fantasy/sci-fi writers then I suggest drawing several.

a)      A general overview of your world. One like the picture above. This overview map could even be more wide scope if you are doing a sci-fi or fantasy that includes planets. Then you could have several before you’re ready to break it down to step b.

b)      Then I have 7 individual maps – one for each of the countries –

Next week we’ll discuss the details of your maps… Sometimes too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

I’d love to hear about any basic map making tricks you have. This is always a growing learning area for me.