Fiction is full of fantastical creatures. From dragons, to giant worms, to griffins, creatures we can't see at our local zoo have always...

Fiction is full of fantastical creatures. From dragons, to giant worms, to griffins, creatures we can't see at our local zoo have always fascinated us. After all, who doesn't love animals, especially if they have unique abilities?

In my early writing years, I kept my made-up creatures very basic -- copies of Earth animals, with the ability to breathe fire, or heightened senses of smell. But there are so many more things to consider, not just about the animals themselves, but their interactions with people, and other animals.

To try and help you break down what that means, here are some questions to ask when creating fictional creatures!

1) What is their basic appearance? What are the first features that would be spied (eg. a long tail, wings, a slithering tongue, claws)? What colours do they appear in? What covers their outside (eg. feathers, scales, fur, a mix)?

2) What would they be classified on Earth as: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, etc?

3) How do they communicate with each other? Are they verbal or non-verbal? If verbal, do they rely on pitch, pattern, or sound to represent different meanings? If non-verbal, what parts of the body do they use to communicate?

4) Are they mostly seen in packs, in herds, or alone? What is the reason for this (eg. travel in herds so if hunted, they're less likely to be targeted)?

5) Are they herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores? What plants/meat specifically do they eat? How does their unique form enable them to eat this food? Do they store it? If so, where/how?

6) How long can they last between eating and drinking? Do they get their moisture from bodies of water, from eating leaves, drinking dew, or something else?

7) What environment can they typically be found in (eg. desert, forest, ocean, tundra, plains)? How has this limited or expanded their food sources, or method of drinking?

8) Are they tameable? What features/behaviour make them appealing to be tamed by humans (eg. can be ridden, or do strenuous labour)? What features/behaviour might make them not appealing?

9) Are they capable of killing? What method is this done in (eg. poison/venom, choking, mauling)? What defense mechanisms do they have?

10) After being born, how long does it take for them to be able to stand? How long do they remain with their mothers? Are they born in a litter, group, or alone?

11) What name are they known by, in different cultures? How is their representation different or similar between cultures? Are they commonly seen in art, or stories? (Bonus: what sounds do different cultures associate with them? For example, the Western sheep sound is "baaaa" but the Thai sheep sound is "maaaa".)

What is their history with people? Are they friends, enemies, or neutral? How rare are they? 

13) Are their products eaten by people? If so, is it their milk, meat, eggs, fat, or other parts? What foods are their products seen in? Are they killed/their products harvested in the wild or are they put in farms? How are they treated in this process?

14) Where in the food chain are they located? What fellow creatures do they fear, if any? Are there any animals they have a symbiotic relationship?

15) How has an increase in human population (or decrease) affected their food sources, hunting skills, and nesting/resting places? Have they taken residence among human settlements, or retreated further back into the wilderness?

16) Are there any human sports/games associated with them, eg. hunting? How has this affected their numbers, and what they teach their young about humans?

17) How do they communicate with humans? Are they able to easily sense human emotions and feelings? Do they try and bring comfort, or do they hide when they sense something is wrong?

18) How do their senses compare to humans' and other animals'? Which sense do they rely the most on? Can they see in the dark, smell prey from miles away, regrow their limbs, or something else?

19) Are there any other parts of them that are used by people, such as fur for blankets, claws as necklaces, or fat for lighting, that don't center around food? What uses do they have, and how expensive are they?

20) Do they only have one mate for life, or multiple mates? Are there family/pack loyalties, or once grown up, are these loyalties dead?

More in the Questions to Ask When... series!

Cities      History      Celebrations      Magic
Characters (Backstory, and Interview)
Schools      Monarchies      Religions     Ethnicities

What's your favourite fictional creature (I love griffins!)? Any topic you'd like me to cover in the next Questions to Ask When... series? What creatures are in your story-worlds?
Have a wonderful day! <3

It's sad to write this may be the last ever Beautiful People post I write. I've been participating in this link up (hosted by the lo...

It's sad to write this may be the last ever Beautiful People post I write. I've been participating in this link up (hosted by the lovely Cait and Sky) since I started my blog two years ago, and it's helped me develop my characters and stories so much! I've also met so many wonderful bloggers through it.

This edition is a farewell as well as a favourites edition, which is a bitter-sweet feeling. For all the character questions, I'm going to be answering them about Zeki, from my sequel to Golden Revenge, Silver Storm. Zeki is one of the major POVs, and for those of you who have read GR, Sefika's child. But for those of you who have no idea what that means, here's the start of Zeki's opening chapter, for some insight:

Zeki had more nicknames than friends. 

First, the unoriginal Straight Nose, then Tiny, then Slave, then as fists struck and shoved him daily, Blood Boy. There were a number of references to body parts when they itched their greasy scalps for ideas, and for a miserable four hours, he was known as Stu-peed. And, of course, there was his personal favourite, Ze-Key-to-Ugliness. 

Then he learned to control his magic.

Now, to the questions!

Favourite genre to write in?

Fantasy! Though I have dabbled in contemporary, dystopian, and sci-fi, fantasy always draws me back in. I think I love the world-building the most, especially how I can weave in the fantastical with the real.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Definitely The Bible. Zeki goes through a lot of struggles morally, as he's had to become a different person in order to ensure both he and his mother aren't killed or made slaves. And by 'different', I mean he's made awful decisions.

Favourite piece of dialogue you’ve written?

For the sake of simplicity, I'll look through Silver Storm to find the dialogue I like best from there. This snippet will probably not make any sense/not be amusing at all out of context, but here it is:

He shoved him, not hard enough to move a leaf. “You’re awful.”
“You smell like old bull and damp weeds.”
“You run at the speed of a rock.”
“Your nose could be used to shovel dung.”
“I hate you.”
“Same here.”
They started off on their next lap, pounding limbs, churned dirt underneath.
Adem glanced over, traces of a grin sneaking up. “Bite to eat tonight?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”

What did your character want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Zeki always wanted to be a baker; he loves the smooth, relaxing motion of kneading. But for (spoiler reasons) he is now a member of a slave-trading gang.

Favourite character name(s)?

Of my own characters, my favourite names are:
Mida     Damla    Zeki     Talih    Taylan    Elisia    Koray

What makes your character feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

His mother is the only person who shows love to Zeki. She does this by listening to him, spending time with him, and making him feel safe to show the boy behind the mask of sneers and scowls.

Favourite character you’ve ever written?

You're asking me to choose between my babies? I refuse; I loved writing all of them for different reasons. (Though I have to say, the Second Prince, Silver Storm's antagonist, is slowly winning over my heart. I alternate between wanting to punch him, and wanting to have tea with him.)

If your character were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)

Zeki would be able to throw away everything. He holds onto people (or one person) not objects. Considering how often his clothes get bloody or ripped, that would seem to be a good thing. But if he had to choose one thing to keep, it would be his sewing box. After all, he has to keep practicing his magic.

Favourite tropes to write!

Evil queens, characters with traumatic pasts, group of misfits.

Which story has your heart and won’t let go?

At this point I would have to say Golden Revenge (and its sequel, as it's in the same world). Even though I have my ups and downs with it, it still manages to conquer a large part of my time, and my thoughts. I have cried reading it (I never cry when reading) and the characters are my close friends.

Favourite relationship between characters you’ve written?

I love(d) writing Taylan and Feriha; they're devoted to each other, challenge each other, and are steadfast. 

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I think there's a hole in the literary world for fantasy that builds castles and worlds in your head as you read, that is vibrant and jumps off the pages, but is without what you might call 'filth'. I have read several books whose world-building I ADORE but due to content and explicit scenes, I have had to stop reading the series, and can no longer recommend them.

Favourite pinterest board / aesthetic for a book?

*shuffles awkwardly* Um, I kind of don't make aesthetics? (Apart from very old collages we will not talk about). I know, I know, practically everyone does, but I can never find pictures that match what I see in my head. 

Favourite time periods & settings to work with?

I love late middle ages, with some 1700s influences. It's an odd mash, but I often find myself writing in it. Setting-wise, I prefer mysterious, winding cities and sprawling forests of green and grey.

When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

A feeling of hope, with some sadness mixed in. And if I'm really wishing hard, they'll feel a little breathless too!

What story has your heart and won't let go? What is your favourite time period to write in? Are you sad to see Beautiful People go?
Thanks for your support in all my BP posts, and have a wonderful day! <3

I can't believe it's already Quill Pen Writer 's second birthday! It's been quite a journey, and trying to comprehend all th...

I can't believe it's already Quill Pen Writer's second birthday! It's been quite a journey, and trying to comprehend all that has happened both on the blog, and off the blog, is crazy! I started this blog living in Thailand, and I'm now living in Australia. I was writing a story, with the end-goal of publication, during my first blog posts, and that story has now been shelved. 

I would like to think, and hope, I have grown as a person since I started blogging. One thing I can say for certain, is that it's been such a blessing to know all of you! You are all fantastic, encouraging, and wonderful souls!

Last week I asked you all for some questions for my Q & A, and you replied with some great ones, so let's get to them! (Psst, the giveaway is at the end!)

Ivie asks...
How did you come up with the name for your blog?

A few years ago, two dear friends gave me a quill pen as a birthday present. It was my favourite pen for a loonnnggg time, and it made me look like a writer from the past, which was fun! Sadly, during my international move, I had to leave it behind, but it will always be my blog's mascot (the quill pens on my home page's header image are drawings of that pen)!

What is your favorite book? >yes, I am that evil to ask that< XD

You cruel woman.

Honestly, it changes every few years. There are so many books I love! Each of them holds a special place in my heart. But right now I would have to say "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, simply because the writing style is gorgeous, I have never read a book so fast, and as I read the last few pages...

Let's just say the last page made me hold my breath like no other book has before. It's a masterpiece.

How long have you known you wanted to be a writer?

Almost around six years now. That was the first time I said to myself, and others, "I want to be a writer". I'd written stories, and drawn dozens of maps before that, but six years ago is when I started to take it seriously.

Favorite NF song(s)?

- Oh Lord
- Can You Hold Me
- If You Want Love
- Intro III
- Mansion

Skye asks...
Favorite book this year? 

Same as above, "The Cruel Prince", since I read it this year! (Though "The Language of Thorns" by Leigh Bardugo is a close second.)

Favorite movie?

Oooh tricky one. But I think it would have to be "Prince of Egypt"!

Favorite time of day to write?

I like writing either very early in the morning, or in the late evening/night. For some reason my writing brain focuses best at those times.

Catherine Hawthorn asks...
What was your first story? 

*Ahem* This is my kindergarten 'genius':
Once upon a time, there was a magic rose.
The rose became a bus.
The End

What made you decide to write? 

I don't think I can put it down to one reason, or two. It's more of a collection of always loving different worlds, and books. I used to make clay models of fantasy worlds, and spend hours developing their governments, culture, and the people in it. I fell in love with world-building first, and then I combined that with my love of reading, by writing. 

And most of all, I decided to write because I had my own stories and worlds I wanted to share!

Lila asks...
Do you have any creative outlets besides writing (such as drawing, needlework, playing an instrument, etc.)?

I draw, actually! I'm not very good at it, but I like to sketch maps, doodle, or create artwork for my books. Please don't ask me to draw people, hands, or fire though -- it will be a mess. (I also used to play the trumpet at school, but half the time I sounded like a dying cow, so.)

Photography is also a good creative outlet for me. (All photos used so far, are ones that I took.) I love playing with colour!

What is your favorite classic book?

Pride and Prejudice! I have the most gorgeous copy I hope to pass down one day...

Are you more of a morning person or a night owl?

I'm an afternoon kookaburra. So, neither. xD

What is one of your absolute favorite verses or passages in the Bible?

It's a bit of a little-known one, but:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines...
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord."
Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Gray Marie asks...
Ranger Cookies or Raspberry Poundcake?

...I actually have no idea what either of those are, sorry! (*Aussie alert*)

Victoria asks...
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to travel to either Petra, or Riga, the capital of Latvia, since I have Latvian heritage!

(Photo not mine)
Anonymous asks...
Is it true that Australia has abnormally large insects? If so have you encountered any?

We have a lot of insects, but really, what country doesn't? And I wouldn't call them abnormally large at all. Ants are small here too, everyone! xD

What are some Christian YA books that you'd recommend?

Most of the time I don't read exclusively Christian YA books, so I'm probably not the best person to ask. But! I did really enjoy A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes, so I would highly recommend that series!

How do you write your book? (Is there a process you use?)

Honestly, it changes every time I write a book. I like to experiment with different ways to approach my stories. But to break it down into a couple steps I always complete when writing my books...

#1 -- Idea Stage: I jot down the original idea (premise, character, etc.)
#2 -- Brainstorming: I'll sit down for around three to four hours, and just write everything down that comes into my head; possible POVs, if it should be a standalone or series, plot points, scenes I can imagine, etc. I'll also start some initial research here.
#3 -- First Drafting: I write in chronological order, so I write every scene from my beginning to end. This will usually take me around three to four months. During this time I'll add to my Brainstorming document any ideas for future scenes (I plot as I go) and generally ramble in there.
#4 -- Read-Through: I'll read through the entire first draft, jotting down any thoughts/problems/changes to make as I go.
#5 -- Revise, Edit, Revise: Here I edit and revise my book for as long I need to. Most likely I'll send the story to my critique partner or beta-readers after each draft, and see what changes need to be made. Then I edit again, and again, and again!

Which food would you prefer if you had to eat one of these every day for a year?: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, or Italian

Since I lived in Thailand for most of my life, I would gladly eat Thai food every day of the year!

Hannah White asks...
What's the strangest position you've ever written in? Strangest place? 

Strangest position: lying down on my back
Strangest place: on a balcony overlooking a lily pond

They're not very strange, but they're the first ones I can remember being in odd/unusual places!

What's an odd habit you have that you blame on being a writer? (e.g. stalking, analyzing books/movies, predicting plot twists, binge eating chocolate, etc.)

Definitely analysing books and movies! I tend to accidentally spoil movies I watch with other people, by making predictions on who is actually the villain, who dies, plot twists, etc. and often, I'm too accurate. I love to be surprised though!

Thanks so much for all of you who submitted questions and to all of you, for coming along to my tiny corner of the internet, and chatting with me. I deeply appreciate everyone of you! As a small token of my thankfulness for you all, I'm hosting a giveaway! (Please note it's in Australian dollars, but so far as I'm aware, it shouldn't affect you using the gift card!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your favourite classic book? What's the strangest place you've written in? Would someone like to explain Ranger Cookies/Raspberry Poundcake to me?
Once again, thanks for all your support! Have a wonderful day! <3

April is upon us! Which means several exciting things: 1) I have school holidays coming up, 2) It's Camp NaNo, and 3) Very soon I'...

April is upon us! Which means several exciting things: 1) I have school holidays coming up, 2) It's Camp NaNo, and 3) Very soon I'll have been blogging for two years!! It's crazy to think how much has happened since I first launched Quill Pen Writer, but I'll save those rambles for next week's celebration.

I've been super busy since my last Am Currently, so I figured it was time to squeal with you all about books, writing, songs, and the like!

I've been very happy to duck into my local bookstores lately, and pick up copies of Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (curse words are blacked out to fit in with the format, and there are crude comments, as a warning) and Begin, End, Begin, an Australian authors' YA anthology.

Obsidio, apart from some the occasional questionable content, is as much of a thrilling read and with breath-taking twists as the first two books in the trilogy. The unique formatting really enhances the story, instead of hindering it. I hope to see more books in similar formats in the future!

I'm only a few short stories into the anthology, but the cover is gorgeous, and it's great to get little tastes of different authors' styles and characters.

A few weeks back I read The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, another collection of short stories, each one with a twist on a classic fairytale and...guys!!! It's amazing!!! AND IT HAS ILLUSTRATIONS THAT GROW ON EVERY PAGE. IT'S BEAUTIFUL.

I'm doing a mix of editing, and first drafting at the moment. First drafting Golden Revenge's unintended sequel, Silver Storm, has taken over Camp NaNo and most of my brain, so its currently my primary focus. It's not a 'normal' sequel, per se, so I feel as though I'm writing an entirely new story with links and connections to the first. It's been a challenge, but lots of fun!

For school, I've also had to write a number of short stories. One, with a historical fiction prompt, is called Under the Golden Hammer, and is based in Latvia during the 1949 deportations. Another is a longer worked based on the premise 'what if doctors could tell if you were "good" or "evil" at birth?' titled Here Lies. Reading lots of anthologies has definitely helped me refine my short story writing skills, and I have to say, though sticking to the wordcount is a struggle, I'm really enjoying writing them!

Recently I've been listening to a mixture of worship, rap, and Irish folk music. A dear friend introduced me to 'The Rocky Road to Dublin' by The High Kings, and it's a song I always feel the need to dance to. 'Jerusalem' by CityAlight (it's written by the lead singer at my church) also has a gorgeous, peaceful sound to it I love. As for the rap, as usual, the one and only NF has pride of place.

Tired, as I'm typing this up late, and the functioning of my brain is questionable. Aside from that, I've been feeling very blessed of late to have such a gorgeous view from my bedroom window, which has allowed me quiet times of reflection and admiration of God's work in nature. There are also hilarious birds that come and sit on the branch by my window, but that's a story for another time...

One last thing!
My 2 year Blogoversary is coming up, and I would be honoured if you would ask me some questions for a Q & A; just type them into the form below!

What have you been reading? Are you taking part in Camp NaNo? What's your favourite song at the moment?
Have a great day, and best of luck with your writing! <3