Category Archives: Writing Tips

Creating Fantasy Languages – my own attempts

In my last post on this blog I wrote about the difficulties of finding a suitable language for an Elvish culture and the pitfalls of copyright infringement. There was some good comments on a Facebook group I belong about the pros and cons of that and also in the comments section of the blog post as well.

So I thought some readers might be interested in how I have approached constructing fantasy languages or conlangs in the past.

The largest bit of world-building is to create a world called Ladmas and a continent called Neriador. This has gone through a few incarnations and in one form or another has provided the setting for my novel The Return of the Free, and also the short stories, Two Lives for the Sea God, Demon River and Forged in Blood.

Here’s a map of the latest version of the world – the place names have been created using the languages I created.

ladmas-currentI’ll just give details of one of the main languages for now and maybe post about some of the others in the future. The dominant culture of the continent is the Lurar.

Lurar Language background

Used in the countries around Sea of Akdeniz

Source of true Lurar language hotly disputed – each nation exhibits a variation on the language – spelling and pronunciation, but most cosmopolitan natives can understand other foreigners – backwoods would have more impenetrable accents though.

Language is fairly flexible and allows for complexity of meaning and subtleties – as benefits a language well used for trade, diplomacy, politics, thought and bureaucracy. However, also fairly static as developed early – resistance in some quarters to innovations. Some nations more open to outside influence – so Nukush has the tribal influence of the desert for instance.

Ironically the most pure form of Lurar is found in the 100 princes where due to the excessive degree of legalism, diplomatic treaty writing and cultural exchange the language has remained stable – also the common exile of different political parties to other countries has meant that this form of the language has often been exported. Freedom of thought – philosophy, poetry and drama has also been popular in the 100 princes so culturally the rest of the Lurar-speaking countries tend to follow their lead.

Lurar Vocabulary

I created a word list for basic things in Lurar, so for example:

cat gres
cattle mersh
charm beryok
chief meith
child shuiv
citizen konsh
city kon

And then used that to create place and personal names:

Lurar Place Names (just a few examples):

Name Meaning Notes
Luranivs People of beauty An original tribal name from 100 princes area
Arumlu Mountain land Country to north of Bachyanrik in mountains
Phaengep Meat market City name
Narkon Camp city City name
Lepakon City on the Lepad river City name
Turedkon Factory city City name
Vrekon Faith city City name

Lurar Personal Names (just a few examples):

Name Gender Meaning
Eut Male True
Euta Female True
Kainek Male Dedicated to Kainopeon
Aeva Female derived from star
Drol Male derived from servant
Drola Female derived from servant

Conclusion

Although I could have delved much deeper into creating a language, I think the process of creating a vocabulary that seems consistent gives the language a uniqueness and also something that seems like it could be real.

Writing 1000 words of Fiction in 30 Minutes – is it Possible?

Bigger, Better, Faster, More!
Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes it is! I usually get about 30 minutes a day at the moment only to do writing. Usually that means that I get into the mindset that probably I can only do about 500 words or a bit more if I’m trying – because as we all know a 1000 words takes an hour doesn’t it?

But ideally I’d like to be writing the writer’s goal of 1000 words a day. So what to do about it? Find an extra 30 minutes – possible, but I’d have to sacrifice time spent doing other things, which I don’t want to – I need some time at the moment to do editing and other projects.

So instead the other day I challenged myself to try to do 1000 words in my allotted 30 minute time. And guess what? It happened. I had to change the way I worked a bit, but I don’t think any of it what detrimental to the quality of the writing. Here’s a few tips on how to achieve 1000 words of fiction in 30 minutes:

  1. I found it helpful to know what I was going to write about – I’d already spent time outlining the chapter I was working on. But even if you’re a pantser I think you could still do it.
  2. Instead of pausing to gaze into the distance occasionally before writing the next sentence – commonly known as getting inspiration – just keep thumping the keys – you don’t have time to waste.
  3. Think of it as a deadline – you have to get the story in before the paper goes to press – that kind of thing. It’s amazing how having a set time and a goal motivates you.
  4. Remember that’s its possible. In fact I am sure that its possible to write even more than 1000 words in 30 minutes.
  5. Think about how satisfying it will be to get your 1000 words done so quickly and how that will enable you to do other things – maybe that’s to write 2000 words in an hour or to spend time editing and outlining – things I always find it hard to do if I’ve set myself the goals of 1000 words in a day.

Good luck – and let me know how many words you can write!

What to do when your writing gets stuck

Writing
Writing (Photo credit: pedrosimoes7)

It happens to all writers, I am sure, but for a beginning writer like me it’s probably the main problem I face. I get into a project, start off with enthusiasm, but then at some stage I hit a wall. It tends not to be a “Writer’s Block”, whatever that means, but more a waning of enthusiasm, or a feeling that I would rather be writing about something else. Perhaps I should ditch what I am currently writing and start on another project that might be more interesting?

I think the problem here is just being able to stick at something for the long haul and not give up. Even if you feel like what you are writing is not the best thing ever, it is probably going to help you more as a writer to actually finish the damn thing rather than to stop a third or half of the way through. After all you can always go back and revise your first draft.

So how can you keep motivated and kick start your writing project again. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Remember Heinlein’s Rules – #2 of which is to Finish What You Start. A professional writer finishes stuff and then makes it better afterwards.
  2. Revise your outline for the rest of the book – if you’re an outliner. Perhaps the reason that you are losing enthusiasm is that what you have to write doesn’t excite you any more. Freshen up the plot and get back your enthusiasm.
  3. If you’re a pantser then consider getting an outline to see you through to the end. This is my problem when writing without an outline – the initial part of the book goes well but then I have no idea where it is going and I despair. A brief outline can provide motivation by giving you a possible ending. You can always change it as you write and come up with better ideas – in true pantsing style!
  4. Read what you have already written. You might find that its not half bad and it will also give you a reminder of why you started writing it in the first place.
  5. Keep putting words down and don’t switch your focus to something else. Your new baby will suddenly take all your attention and you’ll end up where you started from.

I am going to try all of the above right now!

 

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5 Ways to Make Sure You Write Every Day

every day is a struggle and i want to give in,

I think that writing every day is one of the best ways to stay motivated if you are a writer. But that’s a hard thing to do and the demand to write every day could weigh you down.

Here’s five tips that I find useful for making sure you do write every day:

  1. Have a regular writing time. In the morning is great because then you know you have definitely done some writing during the day. You can always do a bit more writing later if you have time. If you just can’t write in the morning then choose another time when you won’t have too many distractions.
  2. Remember that you write because you enjoy it. Dean Wesley Smith has an excellent post about this – we write because we enjoy don’t we? So try not to forget that and have fun with it. Don’t think of it as a chore – although some days it may feel like it!
  3. Don’t worry about what you actually write. Neil Gaiman says that he thinks of everything he writes as a really rough draft so he just gets on and puts the words down without worrying too much about them. If you’re not stressed about quality the words will

    come easier and you’ll end up being able to start writing and write more.

  4. Don’t take time off for the holidays! Just because its the weekend, you’re travelling etc doesn’t mean you can’t spend twenty minutes or more doing a little writing. Learn to write in a notebook, tablet or even a smartphone. Don’t break the habit. Once you do you may lose track of the story you’re telling or forget how much you enjoy writing.
  5. Don’t despair you miss a day! It happens. You get ill or there’s a crisis. Just try to write again as soon as you can, even if it’s just a few words so that you get back into the habit.

Hope these tips help someone – I’m always trying to remember them myself!

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How to Stay Motivated as a Writer

Keep calm and write it down!

I write fiction. I am not a bestselling author. My work is mostly self-published at the moment and the work I have available sells modest amounts. I write because I love writing, but also because I would like my work to be read by others and I would like to be successful. So I am probably like many other writers starting out on a career in writing. I have had some good feedback and reviews, which is nice, but I also feel that I could reach more people with my work.

How do you stay motivated when success and fulfillment as a writer seems a long way off?

I am not going to offer a secret bullet, a magic cure, but there are some strategies that you can employ to keep yourself going – which I need to keep myself going. Here’s some ideas that are working for me at the moment:

Write Every Day

This really is important, I think. Like anything – exercise, brushing your teeth etc – if you do something on a daily basis it becomes habit forming. If writing becomes something you do every day then you will keep doing no matter how you feel your career is going. You could choose a certain time of day, but it could just be squeezed in during the day in an odd moment in the same way you might check out Twitter for ten minutes!

Keep Going With Projects

What I mean here is don’t give up on stuff just because you’re having a few bad days with writing it and you think its no good. Sometimes you can be writing good stuff and its still a real struggle. You can always take the attitude (used by Neil Gaiman no less) that whatever you write is just a really rough first draft and therefore doesn’t matter – you can always go back and fix it. If there seems to be something fundamentally flawed in what you’re writing then yes maybe stop, but if you can think of a way to rewrite it so that it is what you want to write.

Multitask Writing Projects

This is something that works for me, but may not work for others and I know goes against some other writing advice out there. I know from experience that I get pretty distracted if I’m writing a novel or other long piece of writing. I am also keen to write short stories and develop that part of my career, so instead of trying to fit those in between novel-length projects, I actually write novels and short stories concurrently. I always prioritize the novel-length work, but if I have a second writing session available in a day then I will use that to do some short story writing. I find that it keeps me fresh and also gives me the satisfaction of finishing a piece of fiction every week or two, which I can then send out to editors.

Don’t Worry About Sales and Promotion or Rejection

This is the one that is really difficult to come to terms with as a newbie writer – and after nine years trying to write I still class myself as a newbie! It can feel like you put a lot of effort into writing with very little gain either financially or from praise of readers or editors. The best way to handle that I think is to remember that you are just learning still. I haven’t written a million words of fiction, but I will do one day if I keep writing every day. And I know that I will get better and that the small number of readers who like my work will start to grow and then hopefully my career will begin to grow too.

Cherish the Positive Feedback

When you’re feeling bad go back and read the good reviews or comments you have – don’t use them as an excuse to ignore criticism, but do remind yourself that you have skills and talent as a writer that you can develop and that readers enjoy. Build on that. Spread the love!

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