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…

thepanemfullmapmerged
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.

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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

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While Caring for Magical Creatures, Remember to Wear a Kepi, a Crown, or a Kippah: Creating the Inhabitants and the Government

While Caring for Magical Creatures, Remember to Wear a Kepi, a Crown, or a Kippah: Creating the Inhabitants and the Government

*the trumpets blare in all of their glory, announcing the arrival of…* THE OLLAM!!!

BENVENUTI MIEI AMICI! It is time to begin having some fun in designing your world! The first two things we are to start with, as I listed in my previous post titled “You are a Writer in a Sandbox” (check it out under the Beginnings category), are the inhabitants and the government.

To reiterate, they can all be human, all beast, or a hodgepodge of both. Yes of course, one could go straight for the usual elves, wizards, dragons, dwarves, and the other stereotypical myriad of creatures. Keep in mind, however, this little array of fictional creations is small, and I mean small!

The kinds of government are endless. The most common in literature are monarchies, tribalism, and totalitarianism. However, many governments are not completely within the definitions. One can say that the United States was made federalist-democratic republic, but it has evolved to include obvious aspects of netocracy, corporatocracy, bankocracy, and plutocracy (rule by social connections, large corporations, large banks, and the rich, respectively).

Anyone here in the U.S., and I am assuming you guys in other countries are/were told by your teachers: DON’T USE WIKIPEDIA FOR RESEARCH. My friends, here is a suggestion… Go against that. Use Wikipedia. But once you find what you were searching for, search for it across the Internet. This page below has been a literal lifeboat for me in finding new creatures.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legendary_creatures_by_type

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government

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Below are pieces from my fictional world’s history to give you an idea.

The Chronicle Omnibus, Branch II, Chapter 1:

Ylillyz Bambinyfh dellaz Terras (Children of the Earth)

Dyaonnipotentykh created every creature when the Feng Grove of Heligask Trees was planted, and placed them within each universe. However, when the Fourth Age of Man came to an end, Dyao removed the now-called supernatural creatures and placed them in the Realms of each Tree. Such creatures would slip out from time to time, and near the end of the Sixth Age, they were released into the worlds. The Diabolic Supernaturals began to take power, and the Light Supernaturals were recalled. The Final Age began and the Diabolics were locked away in the Infernal Realms of the Heligaskar until the Second Advent of the Messiah.

The Master of the Creatures was Mankind, but after the Sixth Age, the Supernaturals lived independently and peacefully alongside Mankind. The most amazing of creatures were among the assortment, such as Sleipnar, Garudas, Bradáns, Qilins, and Heidhrúns.

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The Chronicle Omnibus, Branch II, Chapter 2, Part A, Piece i:

Iloz Cavallimm Tuttopadrimm A.K.A. Sleipnar

From Google Images - Media Cache
An Allfather Horse

This is an illustration of an Allfather Horse, a descendant of Sleipnir, the Steed of Odhinn Allfather. They are usually grey in color, and have the ability to fly despite having no wings. Their spirits can be described like blue fire and lightning, but extremely cold, and their spirits can be seen on their bodies through the eyes and in the form of hoof sleeves, hair markings, and strangely geometric birthmarks. A gust of cold wind is actually the passing of an Allfather Horse, and the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire is the result of a point being struck by a hoof. Two other phenomena caused by Allfather Horses are Mammatus clouds and the Hessdalen Lights.

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The Chronicle Omnibus, Branch III, Chapter 1:

The Government of The Empire

The Empire of Terrapaxus spans the globe and is governed as a democratic-federalist autocratic monarchy. The supreme leader is the Their Most Serene Imperial Eminences the Emperor and Empress. They are to be succeeded by Their Gracious Imperial Excellencies the Prince and Princess, and then Their Gracious Imperial Excellencies the Imperial Knight and Dame.

The Empire is broken into twelve kingdoms ruled by Their Royal Majesties The Kings and Queens, and they will be succeeded by Their Royal Majesties the Viceroys and Vicereines, and then Their Royal Majesties the Royal Knights and Dames.

Each Kingdom is broken in Duchies, led by Their Ducal Highnesses The Dukes and Duchesses, to be succeeded by Their Ducal Highnesses The Marquesses and Marchionesses, and the Their Ducal Highnesses The Ducal Knights and Dames.

This is the monarchic aspect. Now the democratic aspect.

Each municipality after the duchy is broken as such until it is a city or a shire:

Duchy -> County -> Satrapy -> Province -> Prefecture -> District -> City/Shire

The cities are led by a single mayor, while a shire, being within a district but without a city, is ruled by a yearly elected local council.

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Believe me, there is SO much more I could go on about, but I do not want to ramble. There is too much stuff to talk about! There is your little rocket launcher for success when building your world. Albeit, I did say that the sixth and seventh things to do are write the history and the story, but to be honest, if you feel as though you need to do this first in order to get started, do it! Writing is not like coloring in the lines in a coloring book. Branch out.

Good bye my little sapling writers, and happy writing and thinking!

– The Ollam

Sleipnir Pic by Media Cache, taken from Google Images

Crown picture by David Liuzzo, Wikimedia (Consort Crown of Empress Eugénie de Montijo)

Cookie-Cutter Character

Cookie-Cutter Character

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No… It’s… THE OLLAM!

Howdy, howdy, howdy! I’m back, and I am going to help you guys out with the most difficult aspect of my previous post: Character.

Anyone who that has taken a reading or English class undoubtedly heard the terms of protagonist, antagonist, supporting character, or even archenemy. Mis amigos, there are far more than just these four types of characters…

Lesson time! To assist in this little show-and-tell, I am going to use the one and only, my favorite fiction character of all time: PERCY JACKSON. (PJ IS PERF, DON’T JUDGE ME. Judge the movies, though. They sucked. Logan Lerman does a good job playing PJ, however…)

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Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon

A protagonist is, of course, the main character, and has a clear conflict with an enemy, the antagonist. Also, s/he has a downfall. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, is the protagonistt of the entire series of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” written by Uncle Rick (‘scuse me, Rick Riordan). However, as shown in the equally-amazing spin-off series, “Heroes of Olympus,” Percy is not the only protagonist; there are six other characters serving as protagonists.

The antagonist of the PJ&tO series is the Titan King, Kronos. The antagonist (or as shown in the previous type, it could be multiple antagonists) is the arch-nemesis of the protagonist(s), and usually is the trouble-maker.

Here is a character you have probably never heard of before: the deuteragonist. S/he is the second most important character of the story. In PJ&tO, our deuteragonist is Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena (I ship Percabeth 100%). A deuteragonist can be for or against the protagonist!

Another one you probably haven’t heard of is the tritagonist. Notice that prefix of “tri-.” This is the third most important character, and like the deuteragonist, s/he can be for or against the protagonist. Our tritagonist of PJ&tO is Percy’s BFFFL, the satyr Grover. In the spin-off series, HoO, he becomes a supporting character, as he is not as essential to the conflict at hand as he used to be *cue the frowny face*.

An interesting thing about Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Kronos are that they could be defined as stock characters. A stock character is that cliché person that you see ALL THE TIME. PJ is the usual, weaker, unpopular kid that has the funny friend (Grover) and gets the badass hot chick on campus (Annabeth) and has to battle an evil that is older that the General Sherman sequoia (Kronos). See that cliché there? Yep. All writers use stocks.

There are a couple you may not have heard of… It is the anti-villain, and the anti-hero. The anti-hero is more common than the anti-villain. Now, these two types of characters are exactly what they seem to be.

The anti-hero (for example, Luke Castellan from PJ&tO and Octavian from HoO) is a character who is initially good, but has some darker ulterior motive. The anti-villain is a character who is, in opposition to an anti-hero, initially bad, but still has a crumb of a heart left. The best example available in the PJ&tO series is Ethan Nakamura, son of Nemesis. He fights for big-bad Kronos, but he is doing it for his mother, who is unrecognized by the gods. Another example of an anti-villain that may seem more prominent and far more recognizable is the one and only Magneto, the anti-villain antagonist of the X-Men Universe, created by the Marvel God Stan Lee. He is destructive, yes, but he does it for the good of his fellow mutants.

Ian McKellan as Magneto, photoshoot for X-Men:Apocalypse film

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One thing that one must remember is that there is such a thing as characterization. 

Explicit characterization is a straight-up biography, and one can learn exactly what the character is like on the spot. The Implicit characterization is far more difficult, but fun. The character of Death in Markus Zusak’s amazing historical fiction story The Book Thief is in my eyes the perfect example of a character that is described implicitly. PERF.

To further characterize your peeps, you have to decide: round or flat, static or dynamic?

A round character is the basic stereotypical nagging girlfriend, complex and deep. The flat character is the simplistic stereotyped boyfriend that does the same thing 24/7.

A dynamic character is the one that is “reborn”, and changes throughout the story. The static, as you can guess is the one that stays the same. Writers, aren’t you glad that there are such people in this world?

Now, if you happen to be a budding scribe of lovely fictional tales, here is an idea. Before you begin the process, pick out a good book, like The Book Thief, and analyze the characters. What is his/her position? How is s/he characterized? Is s/he round or flat? Dynamic or static?

If you do this, I believe it will help you in creating the characters and their personalities.

Happy Aanalyzing, My Guap-Filled Writer Homies!

–  The Ollam

Photo Creds: PJ&tO Pic from spinoff.comicbookresources.com

Magneto Pic from huffingtonpost

Cookie Cutter Pic from coppergifts.com

Writing That’s Mad Exciting

Writing That’s Mad Exciting

It’s….. THE OLLAM! *blasts John Cena theme music*

What’s up guys! I’m back and it’s time to give you a little sneak peak into the future of your mythical world: The story! Sooo… What is a Story? By definition, a story is “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.” (Thanks, Google!) I will be very honest, I am still writing the story for my world. Well, technically, I’m working on the details, but I got the basics down…

My friends, the basics of a story of any kind are Characters, Conflict, Setting, Plot, and Theme. Below is a little video that has been a good reminder for what I need to put into my writings:

Many thanks to my man Flocab! So yea, that is what you need! “Plot! Character! Conflict! Theme! Setting! Yes, these are the five things that ya gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story, that’s mad exciting!”

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Now, we’re going to return to the classic Lord of the Rings.

Here is a way to get a sense of everything you just figured out: identify the stuff in the book series.

Plot (More So Of A Summary):

Frodo, a little hobbit, must go with his friends to destroy a ring in the Kingdom of Mordor. They go through many challenges together, such as facing the Orc Army, being separated, and being followed by the weirdo half-hobbit creature Gollum.

Characters (Just The Main Ones):

Frodo, great-nephew or something of Bilbo, the hobbit hero from The Hobbit.

Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s BFF

Gandalf the Grey, a second-class wizard that tasked Frodo with the ring’s destruction.

Gollum, a hobbit that discovered the ring and kept ahold of it, which drove him crazy and made him into a disgusting erebophilic creature.

Conflict:

The One Ring must be destroyed to defeat Sauron. Simple as that.

Theme:

Hell If I Know! There are a good five or six themes!

Setting: Middle-Earth, a continental mass that is based on the Norse mythological realm of Miðgarðr.

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If you wish, I can share the story elements of my mythical story, but not now… I must build the suspense. Don’t worry; one day, you will read an excerpt one day.

Next week, I will be sharing with you the steps to building creating the inhabitants of your world. Happy Writing!

In the words of the Writing Goddess (my Creative Writing teacher), go out into the world, do good deeds, think great thoughts, and be the best versions of yourselves!

– The Ollam

Video Creds: Flocabulary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6I24S72Jps)