Category Archives: Imaginary Worlds

Writing for Comfort

By Debbie Delvaux

Writing for comfort.

When I was a young girl, I never had the opportunity to really be one of the gang as I was always feeling left behind. Being the second of two daughters and very shy at times.

I would try to keep up with my sister and her friends. You know like the story goes of the second left behind or the tag along. Sigh!!

Well anyway, when I would be finding myself alone and no one to play with, I would either swing and drift to another world or walk the neighborhood and imagine myself as a member of their family.

The older daughter or just a secret agent disguised as one of their own members.
So many lives to pretend to be and yet so little time to be them when you would hear your mother call to supper and then to bed.

But as a day would go on, I would still try to live that life and be off somewhere when the television got too boring or the weekend too long with nothing to do.

To this day I can see myself in one of those many secret lives and that has given me the chance to now sit at my laptop, make that life come true and with no interruptions except when the telephone rings or one of the cats grabs my leg for attention.

Many of the lives spent elsewhere have given me comfort when I had hard times, bad times, or even silly times to say I will try that in a story someday.

So in retrospect, I have been given a gift of imaginary lives and way to live my own life the way I wanted it to be.

Writing Perspective – Day 24 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 24 – Show vs. Tell

Showing versus telling has been one of those areas that always confused me. However, when I did the research on it, I can say with certainty that yes, yesterday’s example from New Horizon’s – Predators and Blue Fire was a perfect example of Showing.

Not only was I giving you an example of how not to give too much information at once, but also showing you the action instead of telling you what was going on.

When you watch a movie, you don’t need anyone to show you what’s going on in the scene, it’s evident. However, how do you make that same scene come alive in a book so the reader can see the scene in their head as they read? You do it through showing.

Show the reader a person is cold with stamping feet, shivering, blowing on mitten-less, glove-less hands, fog in the air as the character breathes. Those are clear images of showing. Don’t just say your character is cold. You’ve done nothing to show your reader.

Dress your reader in layers – a heavy knit sweater, wool knit hat, large overcoat. What time of year is it? Sweat dripped from his brow and clung in cloying stickiness to his skin. Snow crunched underfoot. He had to crack the ice in order to get water from the well. Humidity hung in the air and took the breath away as she stepped outside. Her nostrils felt like they would freeze together as she stepped into the windless starry night. Color flooded the landscape and crunched underfoot as she walked in the countryside. The air was soft and gentle, the trees budded with new life. Green tongues poked their way through the earth after a fiercely cold winter.

Can you see it? Can you feel it? That’s showing and that’s what you want your reader to see and feel when you write your stories. There are times when you need to tell. Keep the telling to a minimum.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Avoid Shortcuts

Writing Perspective – Day 20 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 20 – Magic

I hope some of you look forward to these tips and I’m glad I can help. I’m not an expert. This is what I’ve gleaned in my time as a writer and now author.

I’m still going through the world-building points. There are six of them. This one is the fifth—magic.

Magic is a broad field. It can come from any direction. Through science, through the supernatural, through technology.

Consider what you know today and where you are technologically. Now place this same knowledge in a different by-gone era and people would accuse you of witchcraft. We know the supernatural exists. All religions have some basis in the supernatural. It isn’t a far stretch of the imagination to tap into the supernatural.

You also don’t need to use the supernatural or magic in science fiction alone. Consider the best-selling book of all time, the Bible. God presents His people with signs and wonders throughout the Old Testament with the plagues of Egypt, and Elijah calling down fire from heaven and going to heaven in the whirlwind. In the New Testament, you have Jesus’ resurrection, and signs and wonders done by the apostles. These are factual representations of a mighty God.

As a Christian author, I showed God’s mighty power with the supernatural in two of my published books, Manifest Destiny and Freedom’s Cry. Magic can be presented in different ways. Consider JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Not everyone had magic and not all magic was good, some were bad.

How you present magic will bring your reader into your world or leave him or her standing at the door. It must be done in such a way that it’s natural to the story.

Is magic something your characters dabble in and learn, fearful that anything will happen and what happens when something does? Is magic a way of life for the people of your world and everyone has magic, some more than others? Is magic a magicians’ conjuring trick? Admit it, you enjoy a good magician’s trick. You’ve even tried it yourself.

When considering magic as the main topic of your story, you need to present it at the beginning. Even if your main character is unaware of his or her ability with magic, it must be shown at the onset of your story. Then your audience will be waiting for it to manifest in your character or will wonder how he or she will use their magic.

You can also use magic as a surprise element for your character. Again, it must be a natural outcome for the character, even if it is a surprising one. Once presented, your audience will wonder what’s going to happen next. Don’t disappoint them.

There’s also magic in the world around you. Watch nature and see how it fits together. It’s an amazing world we live in. Use it in your writing to help develop your characters. You never know where you’ll find a bit of magic.

Have you tried using magic in your writing?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Culture

Writing Perspective – Day 19 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 19 – Religions

Thank you for your interest in writing tips for novels, short stories, and blogs. It doesn’t matter what you write, it helps to know how to write. I hope I have helped you.

I am still discussing science fiction and world-building. Today I will focus on religion. Every culture has a religion of some type.

When creating your world, you need to know what fuels the hearts and minds of the people in your story. What do they believe? Do they believe in one god or many? Do they believe in the true God or no god? How do people interact with their gods? Do they have religious leaders to tell them what their gods want from them? What kinds of gods are they? Are they benevolent, malevolent, or manipulative? Do they make demands of the people or do they take care of the people?

Religion plays as much a part of your story as any other part. Your reader will want to know, even if they don’t realize it, what the people believe in the story you create. They want to know how it all fits together. It’s your story. Tell it in such a way that your reader will want to be part of the world you create.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Magic

Writing Perspective – Day 18 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 18: World History

Welcome to today’s writing tips. I’m still on world-building as there is so much to it that can also apply to other genres, not only science fiction.

One of the things you need to concern yourself with in your world is the history of the world your characters live in. What took place to put them in the position they’re in? Is it the result of peace, or is there a war going on?

History is important to every genre. To learn the history of what you’re writing you need to do research. In science fiction, you’re making up the history of your planet or world. What will your characters face? Will they be accepted or not? Was there war? How was peace achieved? Is it an uneasy peace in which war could break out again with little provocation?

Aside from wars, how did the planet come to exist? Was it part of creative design? Was a god responsible for the planet or the solar system? What kind of technology does the world have or not have? What about different societies or classes of people?

No matter what genre you write, you need to consider all the factors that make up your story. In science fiction, you can set your creative imagination free to roam. What obstacles do you face in your writing? Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Religions

Writing Perspective – Day 17 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 17 – Inhabitants

Today in world-building, I will discuss the inhabitants of your world. Are your inhabitants a completely different alien race? Are they human or non-human? Are they mythological or magical? Are they monsters? Are they on earth or another planet?

There is a lot you can do with your story. You can base your mythological, magical, and monster stories on earth or create another planet for your story or don’t name the planet or place of origin as was done with Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. All you have is a map of Middle Earth, you don’t know where it’s located.

In the Star Wars universe, George Lucas introduced you to a myriad of creatures, supposedly human in nature, some looking half animal and half human. In the wizarding world of Harry Potter, you know you’re on earth, particularly the UK in an unseen magical world only seen by wizards. Any human, muggle, who came in contact with wizards either have their memories wiped of all knowledge or are sworn to secrecy about wizards, as Harry Potter’s muggle family was.

Where do you start with your story? First, determine where it is. Are you on earth or in another galaxy? Next, determine your inhabitants. Are they humanoid, or extraterrestrial? Then you need to determine how they are the same as or different from humans. Do you have a combination of humans and extraterrestrial species? What are their life spans?

Once you determine your characters, you need to consider where they live and how they live? What are the main biomes of the planet? Are the plants and animals friendly or dangerous? Will they kill you or can you live side by side with them? Even on earth, we have deadly plants and animals. We have deserts and rain forests, and every ecological system living together to make the earth a living breathing planet. You need to determine the amount of land to water. Do your inhabitants dwell on land or in the water? What makes your inhabitants unique to what we’ve already seen from other authors? What makes your inhabitants stand out? Remember, if you thought of it, someone else has too, so how different can you make them to what we’ve already seen in books and movies?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: World History

Writing Perspective – Day 16 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 16: Environments

Welcome to today’s writing tips. Today’s tips come from the recent UntitledTown event held in Green Bay April 25th to 28th. I attended ten sessions and have a wealth of notes and information handouts. One such is on World-Building.

If you’ve ever read anything in the science fiction or fantasy genre or watched such movies as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, you were immediately immersed in a world unlike and like our own. One thing I keep running into as I research one of my favorite genres is that your world must look real to the characters and it will be real to you the reader. Orcs were known to every character in Middle Earth. Hobbits were three foot plus tall but not four feet. And Harry Potter was a wizard. Everybody knew it but him, but only wizards knew cars could fly.

So, how do you create a world you can take for granted? It depends on how involved your story is. My interest in science fiction began when Star Trek came on the scene, but I didn’t know it was science fiction back then. I only knew it was a good show with aliens who had a different skin color, and some of them had green blood and pointed ears.

I began writing science fiction approximately ten years ago. I have a few starts, one finished, and one almost finished novel I’m hoping to finish soon.

When world building you need to consider six different areas: Environment, Inhabitants, History, Religion, Magic, and Culture. Let’s look at Environment and in the coming days, I’ll look at the other elements of world-building or this would be a very long post.

When considering the environment of your planet you need to know if you’re on a different planet in a different galaxy or are on earth. If you’re on a different planet are you dealing with only that planet or is there a whole galaxy of planets, what are their names? How big is the planet in relationship to the earth? Size matters. What about gravity or the lack thereof? Are there other inhabitants? Are they indigenous to the planet or transplanted there from earth or elsewhere in the universe?

When I started naming planets and people in my New Horizons series, I found a wonderful site called fantasynamegenerators.com. With it, I was able to give names to aliens, planets, and cities. I created a whole universe separate from Earth. I was able to let my imagination run freely, but not so freely there weren’t any rules and laws the inhabitants needed to abide by.

If you are creating another planet or universe, don’t forget to create a map of your planet and universe. It will give your reader a point of reference as he or she begins to read and immerse into the world of your imagination. The environment is the life of the planet. Creating life in science fiction and making it real to your reader is exhilarating. As a writer, don’t forget to research. You can’t forget the simple laws of physics that govern everything. Even in science fiction, you need to present the facts. Do you read or write science fiction or fantasy? Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Inhabitants