How to Use Fashion to Build Your Fantasy World

Hi, guys!

We all know that fantasy worlds tend to have their own unique fashions. But they’re not all about beauty and appearances.

The styles and fashions in books can be used for some major world building.

What your characters value (or don’t value) says a lot about their society.

The trends in any world are likely going to be set by those in power, i. e. those who have the means to do what they want. Those who don’t have the means are just… stuck trying to keep up.

Which is unfortunate.

But usually true.

A society with rulers who don’t have to work the land or fight battles opens up the door for highly impractical fashions such as corsets or massive jeweled head-pieces.

A hunter-gatherer society might value durable clothing more than crowns with pretty rocks fastened to them.

A highly capitalistic society will likely revere brands over craftsmanship.

A warrior society will likely value clothes that keep their armor from pinching them or items that show their physiques to advantage.

So if you show me your character eyeing a gemstone-encrusted doublet, I’m going to assume that wealth is important in their country. Those in power likely sit on their asses making decrees, going to pompous parties that the rest of the realm could never afford, and wearing things just like that doublet.

If you show me your MC getting jealous over someone else’s brand new sash (They got one with 20 pockets?!), without further context, it tells me that your character lives in a gatherer society of some sort. Whether they’re gathering berries for food while on the run or spell ingredients, having the ability to keep things close at hand is clearly important.

Which tells me that people need to be somewhat mobile and very prepared.

These are all important world building details that can be worked into the story through fashion.

And then there are the gender roles that can be conveyed with fashion. If every woman in your book wears a long dress at all times, it implies a certain level of gender inequality.

Dresses, by their very nature, are less practical than pants. Forcing a certain gender to wear them limits some of the things they can reasonably do.

They catch on things. They drag the ground. They wrap around your legs (making it harder to run, thus also implying that the society sees little open conflict on the home front or that the men of the society are using cheap tricks and deeply embedded oppression to keep the women of the society in check).

Requiring long dresses of women also implies that a level of “restraint” is required from the women of that society. After all, long dresses (unless worn with a slit up the side) are notoriously known as modest clothing items in reserved patriarchal societies.

And this “fashion used for world building” thing doesn’t even apply strictly to clothing. Fashionable body types, i.e. what’s seen as desirable in a mate, depends heavily on the society, as well.

If your characters just survived a famine, they might find a well-fed/softer body more attractive than if they live in times of plenty. Because clearly, that person has a good food supply.

By contrast, warrior societies will prize strong, fit bodies.

Maybe certain tattoos mean certain things (I’ve done this in The Regonia Chronicles).

Maybe a certain hairstyle means they’re grieving (I’ve done this in Allmother Rising).

At the end of the day, this is fiction, and you can make up whatever you want. If your warrior society wants to run into battle with diamond encrusted armor because diamonds are super plentiful there and they’re super hard to cut… Go for it.

It’s gonna be heavy.

They would literally have a bunch of rocks hanging on their armor.

But you do you.

I’m just saying that looking into some sociology and using fashion to full advantage might be a good way to convey the world your characters live in without wasting page after page after page on exposition.

As for my own writing efforts last week, I wrote about 4,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles and made some major headway on the new cover for Soul Bearer.

I also edited about 7500 words on Where Darkness Leads. I had hoped to have this round of edits done by the end of August, but it’s turned out to be way more labor intensive than expected. I’m just over a third of the way through and have already cut 4,000 words. I cut about 7,000 words in the last round of edits.

This was a really old manuscript though. I used to be pretty long winded, apparently.

Anyway.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Character like a Coloring Book

Hello, all!

So, first I want to tell you to get your butts over to my social platforms! I’m talking about my (soon to be released) fantasy romance, Soul Bearer, in a July challenge for the next couple weeks, and you should check it out. 🙂 Also, check out World Indie Warriors (the group hosting the challenge) if you want to participate. There will be a giveaway at the end.

Now, with the plug behind me, I want to talk about the work that goes into building a character. Because there’s a lot of work involved.

You don’t just come up with a name, their appearance and favorite color, and then that’s it. That would make for some shitty characters, and an even shittier book.

So, here we go. Because no one wants to read a half ass book full of characters as vivid as the pages of a brand new coloring book.

Okay, first (and most obvious thing) is their personality. Snippy? Compassionate? Ice queen?

Pick one per character, and fucking stick to it. Unless a plot point catalyzes a personality change. If someone is super kind and sweet and optimistic and soft spoken, and they have everything ripped away from them, don’t fucking tell me they won’t ever question the point of caring.

Life changes us. Why wouldn’t it change the characters? We need to see how they develop, what they learn, what they struggle with…

Now, you have to figure out why they’re that way. You don’t get to just say, “Because I want them to be that way.”

Nah. That’s some bullshit.

So, this is where their past comes into play. Some people are naturally shy, yes, but has their life intensified that? Or maybe it taught them to come out of their shell.

Or maybe they pushed through all sorts of hardship, through sheer force of will, because they don’t see any option but to keep going.

You have to plot out a past that helps to shape them into the person they are, and makes sense.

Keep in mind, it has to make sense. Unlike real life, people expect fiction to be believable. If I threw every shitty experience I’ve ever had at one character, people would throw the book away.

“Oh, of course she walks out on the front porch, first thing in the fucking morning, and finds a dead kitten, in pieces. Of fucking course.”

(Side story, but yeah, that actually happened. One mama cat had her baby, her first litter, and it didn’t make it. My husband and I couldn’t get to it to bury it, because we’re not cat size. Another mama wanted the spot a couple weeks later, got the dead kitten out, and promptly deposited it on the front porch for us to see. Not a good day.)

So, you have to meter the trauma. Spread it out a bit, make it believable. Look at statistics. Study psychology to see how shit affects people. Make it believable.

Give them quirks and habits and odd behaviors to make them real and relatable.

Now, there’s the issue of friends. If your MC likes who they are, they’ll probably seek out people with at least some similarities. If they dislike themselves, they might have friends who are their opposite.

People seek out friends and significant others who embody traits they find desirable. That’s why there are so many books and movies where shy girls befriend super outgoing party girls, and vice versa.

Or, maybe they want to be around people like themselves for the sake of common ground, even if they don’t like their own personality. Because then they can be miserable together.

My point is, there needs to be a reason (aside from convenience for your plot) for them to willingly surround themselves with these people.

And then there’s family life to consider. Good childhood vs. bad, and what made it that way. What influenced their thinking as they grew and developed?

Chances are, since they’re your MC, their childhood was probably shit. Or maybe it was fantastic, until they reached adulthood, and then everything went to shit, making them the equivalent of a 90s kid. A bitter, nostalgic adult wishing the world looked like the one they were promised as a child.

Oof. That may have been too real.

We’re talking about fiction here…lmao.

Anyway…Making people is incredibly complicated.

Read up on psychology. It helps. This wasn’t what I intended to use my bachelor’s degree for (I planned to go to grad school, and become a therapist), but I like this use of it better. This career path is for me.

Becoming a therapist was just so people wouldn’t question my career choice. Because no one questions that. They just say they know a few people who need to come see you, and offer to send you clients. Lol.

Though…it is ironic. I didn’t want to spend hour after hour hunched over a desk or worrying about whether people would hurt themselves or others because of something I said wrong. Now, I’m trying to make a career out of spending hour after hour…working away at my computer…worrying over which people will hurt others or themselves…because of things I say…Lmao.

But it’s fictional people. And that makes it okay. Lol.

Alright. I’ve rambled long enough.

I’m more than halfway through this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, with a possible cover. I’m a quarter of the way through the final edits of Soul Bearer, and am introducing it on IG and FB.

Forward progress. 🙂

I’m pretty excited.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Making Up Words

Hello, all!

Today, we’re talking about world building! Specifically, language creation.

Over on Facebook, I’m part of a very large (89,000 members) writing group called Fiction Writing. (If you’re a writer, regardless of experience level, seeking to learn about writing fiction or just looking for a writing community, go join.) Members can post questions or helpful advice, and basically drink from the knowledge of the group.

Here lately, I’ve seen several posts asking for advice on creating a language.

They get responses ranging anywhere from “study linguistics” to “don’t” to all manner of genuinely helpful tips.

Now, I’ve only created a language for one of my WIPs (sci-fi series), but I do have some tips. If you’re going to tackle this beast, keep these in mind.

1. Identify the sounds you want them to use, and formulate an alphabet based on that.

Not every species is going to use the same convoluted alphabet we do. I think only 4 letters in the English alphabet make one sound, no matter what letters are next to them, or what word they’re in, or whether they want to be silent that day, or whatever.

English is a bit of a monstrosity like that.

Since I got to decide, Regonian is phonetic. Their letters have one sound each. They always make that sound, and they’re never silent.

2. Numbers! How do they count?

Please, for the love of God, don’t have them count like the French. Or do. It’s up to you.

But…that shit’s a mess. (I’ll put a link at the bottom for a video about French numbers.)

3. Come up with grammar rules. (Verb tense, showing possession, plural vs. singular nouns, punctuation, etc.)

Again, English is a fucking monstrosity. Your language doesn’t have to be. Mine isn’t. Because I didn’t want to deal with that shit.

4. Figure out how the words interact with/modify each other.

For instance, in Regonian, the word for smile is literally the words “lips” and “wide” smooshed together with a syllable dropped, because that’s how I decided nouns and adjectives interact.

Maybe your verbs join with the noun to illustrate the action framed by the actor. Who fucking knows? You. You know.

5. Decide the word order sentences will follow.

Do you want the noun to be the beginning of the sentence every time? Okay. That’s how it is. Do you want the adjectives to come after the noun (like in Spanish)? Got it.

For mine, for the sake of simplicity in writing the stuff, I stuck with the sentence structure that I’m most familiar with (English). But you don’t have to do that.

6. Identify key elements in their culture, and shape phrases around them.

For the Regonians, sound is a very important, almost religious aspect of their lives. It ties into their views of the afterlife. They’re a very musical people, using a multitude of instruments, singing, and even aspects of beat boxing in all important aspects of their lives. So sound influenced how they reference emotion and how they show their love.

Thus, I centered a lot of phrases around words pertaining to sound.

Do they have any neighbors? Most civilizations don’t develop in a petri dish. (The one in The Gem of Meruna developed without outside influence, but that’s explained in The Regonia Chronicles. Yes, there’s a tie in, which I’m pretty excited about.) How has that other culture shaped them? Because that’ll affect their language. Maybe they borrowed a few phrases or words.

7. Build a word database.

You never know what word you’re going to need. Believe me. Lol.

This part can kinda be done as you go along, just be sure to reference everything you came up with for numbers 1 through 6, so you don’t accidentally contradict yourself.
It’s not easy or quick. Lol. No advice in the world will make it simple. You’re literally trying to do something that took millennia to evolve naturally, in the course of, what, a few months? A year?

And it has to appear to have evolved naturally, changing over time. Certain phrases have to have been abandoned because they were too antiquated. New slang will erupt. Disdain for said slang may or may not be whispered amongst the older members of the community. Maybe your new race embraces the fluidity of language. If so, you’ve got your work cut out for you, because that means a lot more change is going to happen over time.

To a degree, creating a language an exercise in masochism. In all likelihood, only a few tidbits will actually be written in this new language. A quote here, a thought there…maybe a passage that a character sees written out before them.

So, for the most part, the readers will never know that you built a 2,000 words dictionary. But for the sake of doing it right, for the sake of continuity and feeling like a real language…you almost have to.

So, good luck.

I’m glad to have that part behind me. Lol. I have no intention of ever doing it again.

But I wouldn’t take it back, either. It really enriched The Regonia Chronicles.

Anyway, I’m about a fourth of the way through the edit for The Gem of Meruna, but…it may need another round after that. So, I may do the final edits on Soul Bearer or After (pending the feedback from final beta reads), and release one of those, first.

Man…you’d think all this planning would wear me out. Lol. Jk. I barely plan anything. Until I get one fully edited and ready for formatting, I’m pretty much just flying by the seat of my pants, for which…I apologize.

It makes sense, though. That’s how I write, so why wouldn’t it be how I edit?

Once I get one ready for formatting and ARC readers (thus setting in stone which one will be out next), I’ll set dates. Then, I’ll start posting about it, and telling you guys more about the story and the characters.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Journey of the Mind

For those of you who don’t know me, I thought I’d take a moment to tell you a little about myself.

Writing is something I’ve enjoyed for a long time, and though I’ve only recently garnered the confidence to pursue it professionally. Throughout my life, I’ve come across so many stumbling blocks, that even the thought of counting them up is exhausting. Now, I’m determined to use all hardships, funneling them into my books.

When not writing, I indulge in a great many hobbies. Everything from reading to archery, from video games and Dungeons and Dragons to learning survival tactics. I even have my very own project car, though I still need a great deal of help doing anything with it. By and large, I have more hobbies than I have time for, especially since I also work full time in a factory.

My husband and I have an abundance of pets, some indoor, some outdoor. While I love our dog like a son, I find that, when it comes to any other animal, I am definitely a cat person. (A fact which, I’m sure, will be greeted with mixed reviews.) I prefer tea over coffee, any day of the week, another controversial fact, and I have an unbelievably insatiable sweet tooth.

Now, to bring it back around to the whole point of this website: my writing.

I LOVE writing. I genuinely enjoy getting to know my characters, and building the worlds they live in. I even sometimes feel guilty for the great tragedies I inflict upon them, of which there are many. For added realism, I tend to pick qualities I possess or experiences from my own life to build characters around. (I’ll let you all try to determine which are from my personal experience.) It’s fun for me to exaggerate these traits, and set them up against each other on the page. 

More importantly, it pulls the words off the page, shaping them into actual people. It makes the world I build with two-dimensional words that much more real for me, and, hopefully, for you, too.