Worldbuilding

Using Your Conlang Without Ruining Your Story

Octavia Blake from the 100 sits before a fire.

Years back, I wrote some rules for using fake words. Some people grumbled that it banned writers from using conlangs (constructed languages) altogether, and that’s not far from the truth. The bottom line is that your conlang won’t give your audience the same joy it … read more »

Five Essentials of Historical Fantasy

A knight and a witch teaming up to battle a dragon.

Historical fantasy is all about the freedom of fantasy and the unique atmosphere only a past era can provide. Works like Maplecroft and Shades of Milk and Honey let us reimagine history with a fantastical bent. But combining the real with the surreal can be … read more »

Designing Your Fantasy Empire

Roman army besieging a city.

The empire is a staple of fantasy fiction, and it’s not hard to see why. Much of human history has been shaped by empires, so authors have a lot of fodder for inspiration. But empires, evil or otherwise, are extremely complex. If you’re planning to … read more »

The Epidemic of Worlds That Don’t Move Forward

An idyllic fashioned village.

We all know these stories: “We don’t know how to destroy the ancient evil that arrived to our land! Thankfully, once upon a time there was a great nation with more powerful and efficient technomagic. They had flying cities and huge laser weapons, but somehow … read more »

Five Ways the Honorverse Builds an Immersive World

Honor saluting before a field of warships.

Worldbuilding is the act of creating context for the actions your characters take. Not every book needs to invest heavily in worldbuilding – no one asked about the geopolitical situation in the Very Hungry Caterpillar – but as your story gets more complex, your audience will … read more »

How to Create an Eclectic Magic System

A magic system is rational if it follows a consistent set of metaphysical laws. This consistency prevents plot holes, reduces the need for foreshadowing, and makes magic feel less contrived. Unfortunately, some magic systems are easier to rationalize than others. Read more »

Six Tips for Taking Inspiration From History

A black and white image of San Francisco harbor in 1851. The bay is full of sailing ships.

Building the history of your setting is a tricky business. It’s something even great authors struggle with, from Rowling to Tolkien. So it’s no surprise that Adrienne asked us this question: How do you create interesting histories for fictional worlds, whether they be fantasy or … read more »

Five Plausible Scenarios for Planetary Evacuation

We scifi authors love to write stories about abandoning Earth and colonizing space. We also love to write scientifically plausible stories. This is a problem, because most stories about evacuating our home planet are wildly implausible. Most planetary evacuation scenarios don’t work for two main reasons. The … read more »

Five Anachronisms That Fantasy Needs

While the fantasy genre is rapidly growing beyond the limitations of medieval Europe, it is still historical almost by definition. Sometimes fantasy stories are literally set in our own world’s history, and sometimes they use history as inspiration. Either way, authors spend a lot of … read more »