East Side to da West Side… Of Wherever We Are…

Bonjour, gutten morgon, all of that good stuff!

So I am sure that many of my little American friends can remember hearing the Dr. Seuss book Oh The Places You’ll Go (by the way, the name Seuss is actually pronounced SOH-ees, not SOOS). Yes! Oh the places that you will go – when you are writing or reading a book. Destinations are extremely important, but first you need to create them. Now, you could think that I am referring mainly to cities, right? I actually am NOT. I am referring to those very potent yet mainly obscure places: geographical locations.

One of two ways to go is to just pick a place that already exists. Take The Hunger Games trilogy for example. Ms. Collins places the nation of Panem in the ruins of what was once North America, but many years after the ice caps have melted and the coasts have flooded. Because of that, it is original in its own right. But, the not-so-original aspect is the fact that she used the geography of North America.

I suppose that this unoriginal geography does add some fun to reading the story. It makes an American reader think,”Hmm, where am I in Panem? I think I am in District 1!” My English II class did this with the Writing Goddess and it was very fun to try and place the different districts. I am in Tennessee, and because most of the state farms, I could safely assume that where I am is part of District 11. American friends, that’s pretty fun, right? Friends from outside the country, my deepest apologies that you cannot experience this awesomeness…

A fan-made map of the nation of Panem

Personally, there are some districts that are in different places than in the map above, but that’s just my opinion. Here is why: I have done my research, and some of the facts don’t add up. Where District 11 goes up into the Appalachian Mountains, I would replace it with District 12 land.

The simple truth for that is to do your research. Geography has a major role in where aspects of your world are placed. The geography can even be the foundation of the people and the culture. Greece is a mountainous country with tons of islands. Where do the Gods live? On a mountain. Where were most wars fought? On the sea. See? Simple things like geography can set off the entire culture.

Let me use my world exempli gratia.

My world consists of an empire split into 12 kingdoms. The Empire is called Terrapaxus, and not only does it span the globe, it consists of every land mass on Earth (minus Antarctica). Every nanometer is ruled by one person. It is basically like Panem, but the only thing the two empires have in common is the one person ruling everyone with a hereditary heir.

Each kingdom is based on a Zodiac sign, and if you were to rearrange the names of the kingdoms, you would find the names of the Signs. Let us take Cancerians and the kingdom of “Cranec,” for example.

Cancer the Crab is the 4th sign. It is a Water sign. Caucasian Cancerians are typically more palid and have lighter eyes and hair, but sometimes the hair and eyes are very dark. Many Cancerians have an affinity for water and the ocean, of course, and those who live near the beach in warmer climates tend to be tan. Cancerians are very sweet and caring, but can be crabby at times. If they get emotionally hurt, they can retreat into their own private world like a tortoise into its shell. They are very family-oriented, have a love of cooking and antiques, and sometimes can be very bad packrats.

Take the given information of a Cancer. When I think of Cancer, I actually don’t think of that warm Cancun beach full of sun, and the sparkling blue waters of Hawai’i, though they are some top destinations of Cancerian tourists… I think of the balmy, rough beaches of the west coast of Ireland, and the massive cod slowly smoking away in an old Inuit hut. Therefore, I placed the kingdom of Cranec in the Northern Hemisphere.

Cranec consists of the French region of Brittany, the British Isles (the “United Kingdom” has been abolished), Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Alaska (the Last Frontier has been separated from the US and made into its own country), and the Russian subdivisions of Chukotka, Kamchatka, Magadan, Sakhalin, Khabarovsk, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Primorsky.


Do what you will with your world. Make it millions of years ago with the ancient continent of Pangaea. Place it in outer space with some crazy new planet.

Have fun playing Creator Deity and start working your geographically molded mind!

– The Ollam


A God-Awful Lack of Inspiration, Drive, and Time

Oh my God… I have gone nearly a month without blogging. Yep… I suck… Well, not really. Since I should have blogged more but I didn’t, let me make a slightly ridiculous and somewhat lengthy shout-out to those of you who are slackers when it comes to writing.

So here’s the deal… Today in my Creative Writing Class, the Creative Writing Goddess (AKA The Teacher) played the preface of Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please, in audio book form. Poehler is really funny (of course, those of you who pay attention to those smaller shows like Parks and Recreation know exactly who she is). The reason she is funny is because she is cynically optimistic, and very realistic. One point she makes in the preface is so damn true: WRITING IS FREAKIN’ HARD.

She writes (or in this case, says) that a lot of writers sugarcoat the writing process. Oh yea, of course, as I’m writing this, I’m TOTALLY sitting on my bed with my computer in my lap, chai latte in hand. Hell to the no. Currently, my room is in my grandmother’s terms a disaster area, I’m hungry and I want my Zaxby’s chicken, like, NOW, and I’m blasting my wide assortment of sometimes obscene music. Oh, and of course I’m typing this blog.

Ms. Amy Poehler makes a hell of a point! Writing, fiction and realistic for me, is really difficult. Why: I feel like my writing isn’t worth a crap unless I plan it. Writing is nowhere near quick. But, fear not. There are times like this when something just floats around in the air and……. BOOOOOOOOM! It hits you. Like a missile. Or a massive snowball. Something big, solid, and explosive. Something like this blog, I suppose.

There was a large period of time in which I was writing a story, but because I felt so consumed with it, I literally was sick of it. I couldn’t bare to look at the damned ol’ document again. It happens. I honestly was plain sick of writing! But after a good while, my vigor for writing was renewed and I hopped back to the computer.

Writing really is hard, but believe me, it is so worth it. Take your time, and if you can’t think of anything, just put it down and do something else, which my personal favorite: SLEEP. I don’t know if it would help you, but if you sit at your computer for too long with nothing coming out of your fingers, just take a nap and when you wake up, something might come to you. One thing about a creative mind is that the person most of the time ends up being a night owl, and the mind keeps the person awake. If you end up getting in bed and laying there with your eyes closed, an something comes to you that makes your head explode with excitement, I encourage you to get right back to the keyboard, or in the case of primitiveness, the notepad, and KEEP WRITING. Write till you run out of ideas for that segment.

This brings me to something the Writing Goddess taught the class. First, get a down-draft. Just write something down, don’t edit the hell out of it. When you finish, have someone help you edit it. Rewrite it with the edits; this is your up-draft. When you finally edit the updraft and get the final product, VOILA! YOU HAVE A MASTERPIECE… Even if every reader says that it’s a piece of shit. You worked hard. If no one liked it, technically someone did: YOU. And that’s one of the things that matters in writing. You have fun.

Remember, don’t ever get discouraged when you write. If you run out of inspiration, just take a step back and focus on other things. It’s okay to take a break from writing. It’s also okay to lose a couple hours of sleep.. Well, only if you don’t have to work. Do your work first, and if you get something, write it down. Just don’t stress over details in the beginning. Just saying, I’m guilty of perfectionism in the beginning stages. That leads to failure.

– The Ollam