Saturday, 26 August 2017

Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Histories

    History. Some people love it, others stare at the textbooks thicker than their necks and whimper. Me? I fall in the middle. While I certainly wouldn't spend hours pouring over said textbook, I do think having an understanding of history, if not the world's, then your story's, is super important!

    Which brings us to today's post! This is the latest installment in my "Questions to Ask When..." blog series, and you can check out my previous posts on religions, magic, and cities, if you so please.

    Today the theme of my questions revolves around developing a particular country's history, from the beginning to its current year. While they apply more to fantasy works, don't shy away completely! My aim is to give you questions to guide you or inspire you throughout the phase of your world-building, no matter what genre you write in.



    Now, onto the questions!

1) What was the first people group to claim the land? Why did they migrate to the area; for new farming ground, exploration, resources, etc.? Are they still in control?

    In my WIP, Splintered Crown, a group of several hundred slaves fled from the country that had kept them captive, into the land now known as Cynnica. They climbed over a range of mountains into what was deemed "unreachable" land, desperation for freedom driving their steps, and then they forged a country from the soil they stepped on.

2) What is the country's geography like? Has this limited communication with other people groups, or encouraged trade and exchange of ideas? Has this led to the primary culture staying the same or adapting?

3) What was the first settlement? Is that the current capital, or does it no longer exist?



4) What kinds of governments have reigned over the land; monarchies, democracies, republics, etc.? Is is the same or different from the current one? If different, what led to this shift? Was there dissatisfaction within the people, or another cause?

5) What are its founding principles or values? Were these grounded in religious theology, or something else?

6) Who are the legends that exist in the land's history? Are they famous warriors, kings and queens, criminals, etc.? Were they once living figures, or is it all fiction?

    The largest legend in Cynnica is King Nikias and Queen Zenias, of whom were the leaders of the fleeing group of slaves. They became the first king and queen, and though much of their legend is true, there is a lot of speculation about whether or not Zenais was a slave at all.



7) How many wars has this land been engaged in? Were they the instigators of these wars, or were they defending themselves from other powers? What were the outcome of these wars; did they win, lose, or declare a truce?

8) Have there been any civil wars? Who was the winner, and how has this affected the people on both sides?

9) Has the land's borders ever shifted? Is this a result of conflict, conquest, or both?

10) What was considered the country's "peak" period? Is it called this because of an economic boom, visionary leader, great architectural feats, military conquests, or something else? 

11) Has the country been welcoming to foreigners, do they bar them from entering, or do they isolate them within their communities? How has this affected their economy, exposure to cultures, and religious beliefs?



12) How is history passed on; is it written down in documents, or is it passed on orally? What are the problems with passing on their history this way?

13) Are there any other countries that have been long time enemies or allies with this one? What is the reason for this relationship? 

     Cynnica's relationship with the Mistan Empire, where their ancestors were held captive, is also fraught with tension. This is because the Mistan Empire still uses slave labour, and for Cynnicans this is deplorable. Some tense trade negotiations have been made, but inhabitants of both countries are constantly in fear of being in a war with each other.

14) What are children taught about the country's history? Are they taught everything, an altered version, or only its glorious moments? How does this affect the child's perspective of their country?

15) What is the age of this country? Is it divided into eras; if so, what are they?

16) Are there any ruins? Were they destroyed, or abandoned, and why?



17) Has the country been hit by any epidemics or plagues? How much life was lost as a result?

18) Are there any festivals that celebrate its history, or victorious moments? Are there are times of silences or periods of remembrance to honour less victorious times?

19) Do any statues or memorials exist to honour historical figures or those killed in particular battles? How are these viewed by the community; are they cared for with respect, or neglected?

    Within Cynnica's capital palace's gardens, a maze of yellow roses with a memorial in its center, honours those who lost their lives in the recent civil war. Once a year, on the day the war was won, citizens make the trip through the maze to lay a rose down beside the memorial.

20) If you could pinpoint one particular event that shaped the country the most, what would it be, and why?




    And that wraps up this post! I really hope that these questions can be of help to you in your world-building process!
Are you a big fan of history, or do you shy away from it? What's one key event of your world's history? Did any real world historical moment inspire it?
Best of luck with your writing, and have a great day! <3

Saturday, 19 August 2017

100th Post! // My Writing Journey

     Can you believe the post you're reading right now is my hundredth one? I'm finding it a bit hard to believe. But wow, we made it! I thought it was a pretty big deal when I reached my fiftieth post, but now I've officially doubled that!



     So in celebration of having made it this far, I launched a poll on Twitter asking what I should do for this very post. The options were as below:

    As you can see, "My writing journey" won by a mile, and though I may do the others some time, that's what I'm going to be sharing about today. I've broken it down into my key steps/moments, otherwise known as milestones. It's a long post, so buckle up!

A Little Clay World

   I was bored. It was one of those typical afternoons, when I was still in that blissful period of not getting much homework from school, and I had lots of spare time. So I decided to rummage through my house's craft cupboard. Within it was bits and pieces of scrapbook materials, paints, paddle pop sticks, and to my delight, a big hunk of brown clay and a fake sapphire.

   Always the fan of fantastical worlds, I began crafting a palace from the clay, homes, walls, and a tiny city. Then I pressed the fake sapphire into its center and made it a lake. In winter, I claimed, the waters froze into a massive sapphire that would only thaw when spring came.

   It was the real kick-starter for my love of world-building. My world expanded in every colour of clay I could find, and for each building and forest there was a story. My sister and I crafted documents and lists of residents for the cities. We created maps, schools, businesses, everything.

   Even now that the clay world is gone, I still have world-building deep in my veins.

Sorry for the blurry/bad lighting of these photos, everyone! My phone decided to rebel against me...
Anyway, these are some of earliest journals ever that I wrote in!
"Sharissa's Story"

    Original name for a story, I know. This was my first novel, even though it is to date unfinished. To sum it up and spare you from cringe-worthy details, Sharissa was the world's best girl thief. The story started in my aged red notebook, then moved into the family computer. As I wrote it, I shared what happened in the story with my friends. A friend (*hugs if you're reading this*) even named one of her water-bottles after my love interest!

    Please note I use the term "love interest" loosely. 

    Sharing about my story with others, and having them respond positively, sparked a fire inside me. I loved it; I loved sharing stories. I wanted to keep going, to keep continuing to share the people and worlds inside me.



Shadow and Sun

    I was blessed with the most amazing group of friends when I was growing up. They weren't afraid of playing imaginary games even in Year 6/6th Grade, and we created kingdoms! (Or shall I say, queendoms?) We crafted a world that was vibrant and unique, and of course, we were all queens. Not only did this time of my life make us closer as friends, it also inspired me to write the first novel I did finish.

    The Royal Academy came to a magical total of over 75,000 words. Guess I was always doomed to write long novels, huh?


A map of the Shadow land, where I was Queen Shelissa
First NaNoWriMo

    After hearing about the crazy thing that is NaNoWriMo on the internet, I decided to take the plunge. Did I world-build for my story? Nope! Plan characters and plot? 

    Hahahaha. No. 

    Nevertheless, I finished The Heiring and reached the 50,000 words and another 20,000 in the following months! It was rip-off of practically every dystopian ever, but it featured Australia under a dictatorship, so I guess it was original...? (Barely.) Still, achieving such a huge goal in a month pushed me on to keep writing. And keep writing. And keep writing!



"Draped in Deception"

    Ah yes, my old frenemy. I have been on a crazzzyyy ride with this story. Though it and its trilogy is still listed on 'My Writing' page, I'm currently no longer working on it. Yet for a good solid year and a half or so, this project was my darling. I was extremely passionate about it, dedicated months for drafting and revision but...

    The story wasn't there. It still isn't there. After revisions and receiving critique from a few people, I knew that it was time to move on. Though I felt frustrated and angry with myself and my writing for weeks after that, Draped in Deception was a huge stepping stone in my journey. It provided invaluable lessons on editing, and how to handle critiques.

     Who knows, I might return to it at some stage...


A language from Draped in Deception...
Quill Pen Writer

     Then we get to this blog! Over a year ago, I published my first (and horrible) post. I can't explain how much Quill Pen Writer means to me, and more importantly, all of you! You're an amazing, super talented bunch of writers and readers, and I've found the most wonderful writing community with all of you. 

    Thank you so much!

     Not only have I found my fabulous critique partner through my blog (*hugs*), but I became part of the team at Rebellious Writing, and so much more! I don't think I would have been the same writer I am today without this little blog.


"Golden Revenge" and Today...

    I'll keep this brief, as I could ramble about this book forever. All you have to know is that I think this story will take me far. It's even older than my blog, but I've put it here because it's one I'm working so hard at editing at the moment. I have other projects going on as well but Golden Revenge... I love it. This story has a piece of my soul inside it.

    And that's where I am today. I've learnt from every single word I've written, whether it be rubbish or gold, and it's shaped me into the writer I am. I know I'll keep changing, keep growing, but for now I want to celebrate the trials and joys that have brought me here. 

    Finally, thank you for being here, for reading this mammoth post. You're all so incredibly special to me, and I love watching where your journeys take you!


Let's chat about your journey! What have you learned about yourself and writing over the years, months, weeks? What are some of your milestones or key steps?
Thank you once again, and have a beautiful day! <3

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Beautiful People - August Edition

     Wow, has this month been a crazy one or what? And we're not even half-way through August! If yours was anything like mine, it was crammed full of various writing projects, reading, and time-consuming life commitments.

     One of the writing projects I'm working on at present is Of Traitors and Tricksters. For this month's Beautiful People, I'll be using one of the main POVs, Bakari, to answer the questions. If you're not sure what Beautiful People is, it's a monthly link-up/blog meme hosted by the amazing Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. It never fails to help me get to know my characters better!


     Here's a quick blurb about Of Traitors and Tricksters, my latest YA Fantasy, in case you missed its introductory post:

Bakari is a traitor. Promised to be healed of a condition that makes even walking difficult, he kills the prince, his master. When he's betrayed and caught with a bloody knife, the royal family sentences him to execution by magic at dawn. Yet as the sun rises, the magicians discover he may be harder to kill than they thought. 

Ebonee is an entertainer. Having fled from a rogue magician gang with her younger sister, she now dances for their food in the palace. But old friends and enemies are not finished with her yet, and want one last favour... A favour that could free her from their clutches forever. All she has to do is perform one tiny trick. 

How harmful could it be?


    Onto the questions!

1) What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

    Bakari couldn't live without his thyme, poppy, and coriander (cilantro for all you Americans) oil. It comes in a vial, and when his muscles seize, rubbing the oil on them makes moving the affected muscle more bearable.

2) Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

Positives: He will do anything to protect his father, he knows how to give people space when they need it, and he can crack jokes so randomly in awkward situations you can't help but laugh.

Negatives: He will do anything to protect his father (that's right, I'm using it in both sections), he tends not to speak up for himself, he's often too trusting.

3) Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

    His old life and self, before he killed the prince. He keeps trying to be the old Bakari without realizing they're not the same anymore. He's changed.


4) If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

    A ten. He's a very organised person.

5) What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

    There is no current cure for his condition, which makes his muscles seize in repetitive motions at random times, as well as making his mouth repeat syllables over and over again with no warning. It's often a source of great embarrassment and frustration for him, so he prefers to be alone and silent most of the time to avoid explaining.

6) How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

    It would be the same, in or out. Bakari might put on a light extra layer if it were late at night, but it's always fairly warm in his country.

7) How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

    Only one pair, like most of his people. Sandals are a sign of great wealth, and most people are barefoot for the majority of the time. Bakari has purchased a pair of used, almost broken sandals for long travels though.

This is a pair of Ancient Egyptian sandals made from reeds and other fibers, so it's similar to what Bakari owns!
8) Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

    Nope, he has none, and is fine like that. He's afraid that the animals will hate him too, like everyone else.

9) Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

    Well, hello there spoilers!

10) What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

    Bakari's meals come from the palace kitchen, and most of the food he and the other servants eat is lots of bread and fish, occasionally poultry, lentils, figs, onions, radishes, beans, and dates. Very rarely do they eat meat, but Bakari would fill a pantry with it for himself if he could!


Did you participate in Beautiful People? Link me to your post in the comments! What are your thoughts on Bakari or Of Traitors and Tricksters? How's your writing going this month?
Good luck with your writing, and have a lovely day! <3

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Rebellious Writing Website is UP!

    Today is a very special day for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I'm posting on a Wednesday. (Now that doesn't happen too often!) Secondly, because the Rebellious Writing website is UP and LIVE!

    You can go check it out here!



    Here's what we're all about:


We believe
In light 
In truth
In goodness
We believe in tomorrow's generation
In creating a better world
Through words
Through books
We believe in fighting for what we believe
We believe in high expectations
That we are capable of anything we set our minds to
We the youth...
Believe in Rebellion
Rebellion for Righteousness
For light
For verity in a world of lies
For beauty in a world of darkness

    I can't tell you how hard our team has been working behind the scenes setting up social media accounts, designing, creating graphics, coding, writing, organising, everything! The passion held by my team-mates is simply incredible. Speaking of them, here they are below:











    We would love it if you also have a look at our social media accounts:










    Thank you to all who have supported the movement. You're all amazing! We have a lot of big things planned for Rebellious Writing, and are so excited to see it growing. Please head on over to the website if you haven't already; it would mean so much to us!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Why You Should Record Your Writing Progress

     A few months ago, I probably wouldn't have even considered writing this post. But I've discovered lately that trying new writing strategies and techniques, is not a bad thing at all! It's incredibly important to stretch yourself to find what you excel at, and what you can work on.

    So what's the latest trick I've picked up? Recording my writing progress!


    Maybe some of you do this already, or maybe you don't. Almost four months ago, when I found myself in a shop's stationery aisle (admit it, your feet take you there without your knowledge; it's a writer's curse), I had to, of course, buy a journal. In my collection of journals, each has a purpose. Some are for drawing and world-building, others for random ideas, etc. So of course, this journal had to have one!

    I decided to take a wild leap into the unknown and start recording my writing progress each day. And to cut out the rest of the boring details, I'm loving it! So here are a few reasons you might want to record your progress as well:

1) It Motivates You

    I make an entry in my journal every night before I go to sleep, about any writing/blogging things I've done that day. (Occasionally I add bits about reading or life too, but shush, that's not what this post is about.) Knowing that I'm going to write something down--if I wrote/edited or not--pushes me to do at least something. Even if I can't write "wrote 3,000 words", I can at least write "started working on the fire scene". 

    I like to think about it as a kind of accountability. Some people have friends that check up on them to make sure they've done a task, and this journal is like that friend for me. It pushes me to write as much as I can, no matter how insignificant it seems at first. Some words are always better than no words!

Admit it; we all know we're going to have this many journals one day...
2) You Can See How Far You've Come

    As I date every entry, it makes it easy to flip back a month or two, and see what I was working on then. Sometimes I'm disappointed that I haven't moved as far along as I would have liked, but other times my eyes go wide. It's incredible how much you can do in a short period of time!

    Whenever I'm feeling a bit down about my writing, I'll flip back to the beginning pages of my journal, and tell myself: "You see how far you've come? You can do this! You've done it before, and you can do it again."

3) Dates Can Come in Handy

    I can't tell you how many times I've wondered how old my story ideas are. Very intelligently (not) I decided not to date entries in my past idea journals. As my current journal sometimes doubles up as a place to scribble down plot bunnies, I now have dates for when I came up with my latest WIPs. Of Traitors and Tricksters, for example, was thought up on the 4th of July. (That makes it a month old when I'm writing this!)

   Knowing when you finished editing a draft can also be great if you're like me. I have a strict rule where I don't touch a first draft for at least six weeks after completion, and if I forget to write it down...I have a general idea when, but I've never been good at keeping track of time. Writing down the exact finishing date has really helped me structure out when I'm able to take those next steps with my WIPs!



What about you, do you record your writing progress? If you do, how? If not, do you think you'll start soon? Do you ever find yourself in a stationery aisle with no memory of walking over there???
Best of luck with your writing, and have a lovely day! <3