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Strategies for Writing Fantasy

 

Photo Credit: Samantha Myers

Writing fantasy can be tough. Many of us are creating and building a world, but even if you aren’t you still have a thousand elements to keep in line, and one tiny plot hole can go missed by you, beta-readers, and even editors.

We see this with even popular published works.

Never fear, because when writing fantasy, there are ways to keep everything running smooth and making the world believable to readers.

Here are a few strategies you can implement when writing fantasy.

 

Magical/Supernatural Systems

Most fantasy works have some type of magical or supernatural system.

In Northern Knights, my magical system has to do with element control, be it either the classical elements of wind, water, earth, fire, and spirit, or even elements like blood, wood, and metal.

Magical swords that can “bend” several elements will trust the more talented users but this is quite rare, as most users must master each element the sword can utilize.

Also, spirit traveling is a huge concept in Northern Knights and even more so in its future books, where both the living and dead can travel between the worlds but only if they’re born with spirit control ability.

It’s all about keeping these systems in line and yes, it took me several edits early on to do so, and that’s okay. By constantly editing your work you’ll find what works and what doesn’t, so you can keep what makes sense and toss what doesn’t.

Sometimes, you might sound contradictory, just be sure to explain it in your books. I like having my characters explain via dialogue rather than my narration telling the reader as I’ve always found this more realistic.

 

The World

As stated before, many of us are building worlds here or are building worlds within worlds. A good example would be the Chronicles of Narnia, which is a world outside this world, and Harry Potter, a world within this world.

My world is a little different, but I’ll explain it more in future articles as my series churns on.

If you look at the two examples above, I always encourage new writers to take on the Chronicles of Narnia example, where C.S. Lewis literally builds Narnia in front of the reader, as seen in Book Six, the Magician’s Nephew.

I also like the Harry Potter direction as well, since we’re seeing everything from Harry Potter’s point of view and therefore learning new things about the wizarding world as they unfold.

Many authors make the mistake throat clearing, which can be fatal these days even if they worked once upon a time. Throat clearing is a technique used by authors to give the reader background information, however most readers, myself included, want action and we gravitate in that direction.

Such as what I did with Northern Knights, where while Cain has already been exposed to this world since he’s lived in it all his life and shows the reader some of the finer points of the world, he’s been oblivious to the corruption taking place in it due to his love of sports. In other words, Cain shows the reader early some of his supernatural gifts but he and the reader both discover the greatest danger in Gaia.

But again, don’t throat clear which in this day and age will annoy the reader. Instead, use techniques such as the main character, in my case Cain, finding out with the reader as the story moves along, but doing so in a manner of either stumbling upon the problem or through dialogue. Both techniques can work well together, too.

Also, always stay fresh. Both Cain and the reader will find things out in both Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny, but I can’t wait to get deeper in depth with plot elements in books I’ve yet to pen the first draft on. All I can say is J.J. Abrams would love this.

 

Influences

Don’t be afraid to “borrow” from other authors when it comes to influence. I’ve stated many times how influential both Rowling and Lewis were to my own work, but it goes beyond just fantasy authors and book series’.

Go deep, and think about some of your favorite icons in all entertainment. Movies, TV shows, singers, celebrities, sports teams, sports players, you name it there might be some influence.

Some of my influences beyond fantasy can begin with the Cleveland Browns, as if you look to the right of the screen, you can even see the Browns’ influence in the book’s cover with the orange, brown, and white color scheme.

The Browns’ rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers, though Steeler fans think of the Patriots, Ravens, or Bengals as their primary rival, is also given a nod time and again. With one of the main antagonists even being named Rooney, the evil Southpoint Empire’s colors are black and yellow, and even Southpoint is derived from Southpointe, located at the southernmost tip in the City of Pittsburgh.

Beyond this, I also continually repeat an age-old joke regarding the Steelers’ (also shared by the Pirates and Penguins of the MLB and NHL) color scheme as black and yellow instead of black and gold, as most Steeler fans tend to state.

So again, don’t be afraid to use even real life influences as seen in the examples above that can make a work, or break it for some, as I’m sure Steeler Nation wouldn’t appreciate their standing here.

Always compose a list of influences and feel free to place them into your work. It can make for some light-heartedness in a book that might contain a darker plot or something similar.

 

Look Over Your Manuscript

Okay, so now’s the time to take the exercise and look your manuscript over. What do you see in your own fantasy work you can change?

Does the world need to be built in a naturally flowing fashion, or does the magical system contain some flaws?

Take an in-depth look here, because it’s likely you’re going to have something that needs to be changed.
Don’t worry, because when I first penned Northern Knights I changed about everything to make the work, well, work. Making the work work!

There were holes all over the place in my magical systems and the world itself is so complex I found myself writing short story type of projects just to learn its history…yes, that’s a fact, and for more information regarding the history, you can log onto Prolific Works and obtain your free copies of Fighting Tyranny, Fighting Treason, and Fighting the Great Plan: Part One at the links provided.

These works are available for free anywhere but Amazon because Amazon loves to give us a hard time regarding free stuff…nice…but you can get them at Nook, Kobo, and both Tyranny and Treason are available on iBooks and Google Play, with Fighting the Great Plan to follow.

These books will give you a tiny idea at what I had to do to better understand my own created world, and it gives the readers something entertaining for free as I promote Northern Knights and later Swords of Destiny for free as well.

Get Fighting Tyranny

 

Get Fighting Treason

 

Get Fighting the Great Plan

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History Behind Lord of Columbia

Three Worlds Meet

Since I’m giving my main characters a round of applause in Northern Knights, today I want to cover the history of some of my backstory characters and how they arrived in the New World.

 
Northern Knights centers on Cain, a Dom Toretto-like lead character who shares some qualities with James “Sawyer” Ford from Lost, Han Solo from Star Wars, and even Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

 
But, what happened before Cain? How was the New World shaped? We must go all the way back, dating to Gaia’s (the world in which the series is set which is not much different from our own) version of the Middle Ages to tell an epic tale on how a group of ambitious people ended up in Columbia, known in East Gaia as the Western End of the World?

 
Let’s give a rundown.

 

From the Dunes of the Arkaanaman Empire

Their name was al-Saad, in the Arkaanaman Empire. A noble trader, Bash al-Saad traveled as far as Atlantis, located near the continent of Eura in the Atlantean Sea. There, al-Saad heard Atlantean tales of a land further beyond Atlantis, which many in Eura spoke of as Beyond the Western End of the World.

 
Excited, al-Saad returned to Arkaanaman to speak with Sultan Mustafa Hakim. al-Saad stated he heard the true story of the Atlanteans’ journey Beyond the Western End of the World and requested funding in Arkaan crescents to take him where no man from Arkaanaman had ever stepped foot.

 
Still, Mustafa denied al-Saad’s request and forbade him to speak of such lands to the public under the threat of death.

 
Over time, al-Saad confided in his descendants of the great lands Beyond the Western End of the World. Telling them to never share such tales with the public, he concocted stories of the people living there and what they looked like. He invented different cultures and languages for each.

 
Long after Bash al-Saad died, his grandson, Rasheed al-Saad, met with Eurean traders, who told a tale of a King and Queen from the Southlandic Isles fading from existence. Rasheed caught the next ship to Southland, now the mother country of the world power, the Southpoint Empire.

 
Southpoint officials informed Rasheed the disappeared King and Queen came from nearby Ddraigoch, located to the west of Southland, where his kind would be the norm.
Upon arriving in Ddraigoch, Rasheed met with a talented teenage Knight, George Santos. Santos told the tale of the missing King and Queen and that his own ancestor, David ap Santos, was a good friend and student of the couple. George stated it’d “be a good guess” if the lost King and Queen sought the lands Beyond the Western End of the World.

 
Upon further inquiry, Rasheed found the King and Queen went missing over three-hundred years prior, and the teenage Santos was leading a crew to such lands to annex into the Southpoint Empire, which Ddraigoch also belonged to. Naturally, Rasheed relished the thought of embarking on a journey to the New World and perhaps discovering what happened to the lost King and Queen.

 

Journey to A New World

Intrigued by Rasheed, Santos invited him to join as a crew leader along with his ship’s captain, Sio Leistung, who initially held animosity toward Rasheed due to his olive skin color. However, Rasheed’s intelligence proved superior and he was a brilliant navigator. Feeling positive and negative Spirit vibes, he saved Santos and his crew much heartache and headache when a storm was nearby.

 
Rasheed was gifted in Spirit control, something long tabooed in Eura, however, anyone possessing element control ability, if they belonged to a higher caste, could openly control it. Those from Ddraigoch, however, acted different toward Spirit Masters, allowing them to practice their ability until they united with Southland and Northland in the early days of the Southpoint Empire. When Ddraigoch merged, it too became bound to treat Spirit Masters as such.

 
After three weeks at sea since departing from nearby Atlantis, they reached land. Like in his grandfather’s tales, the New World, which Santos named Columbia after the rumor that a captain named Columbo Pucci “stumbled upon” unknown lands centuries ago, primitive society existed.

 
Debate arose on what to do with whom Leistung termed the Savages, “as they have no real society or religion. Barely human.”

 
Santos retorted, “each culture is unique within its own and perhaps mass multiculturalism doesn’t work. We should leave them to their own business.”

 
“Nonsense,” Sio said, “I’m taking a crew over there tomorrow and we’ll show them how to tend to the land like true humans.”

 

Rasheed Picks A Side

After much bickering between Santos and Leistung, Rasheed found these reddish-skinned, dark-haired people resembled and took to him, despite his Middle Eastern heritage.

 
When Rasheed implied to Leistung these Native Columbian people should be left to exercise free will, Leistung grew furious and threatened to exile anyone taking Santos’ side in the debate.

 
Leistung gave Rasheed a final choice. Columbian society or exile. After considering he had a family and others he wished to bring over, Rasheed placed his loyalty with Leistung. And by doing so, he held his high-ranking status in Columbia, generation after generation, until his great-great-grandson, Shaman, married a woman of full-blooded Ddraigoch descent.

 
Leistung ordered Rasheed to make his surname to sound more Columbian in nature, and therefore, more like a Southpoint name, and as a result, changed all records of his family from al-Saad to Storm.

Shaman’s Columbia

Shaman exhibited similar traits to Rasheed. A thirst for adventure, ambition for a high-ranking office, and pledged loyalty to Columbia, and therefore, Southpoint. King James of Southpoint recognized Shaman’s great political achievements and nominated him as Supreme Leader of the Columbian Colonies.

 
Shaman’s first challenge was mobilizing a Columbian force to fight the Lourdeans and their Native Columbian allies invading from the north and the Western Wild. After decisive victories all over Columbia and annexing some of Kanata and the Western Wild from Lourdes, Storm soon found himself as a key figure in newly crowned King Rooney’s Southpoint Empire.

 
Per family tradition, Shaman sent his oldest daughter to the prestigious Summit University.

 
And if I ever come across an interesting extended story on Shaman’s rule over Columbia, or what happened after King Rooney was crowned, I’ll be sure to include it in a future book in the Lord of Columbia Series.

Northern Knights’ Sports Allegory

Strange Ideas to Promote Northern Knights

*NOTE! TODAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2018 IS THE LAST CHANCE TO GRAB NORTHERN KNIGHTS FOR FREE AT AMAZON KINDLE*

 
It is midnight on September 1st, 2018, and I wanted to give you all one final chance to snag Northern Knights, Book One in the Lord of Columbia Series on Kindle before it becomes permanently priced at $2.99 for the foreseeable future!

 
Anyway, I wanted to run a strange idea to promote books by you all, and I think you’re all going to like this:

 
Northern Knights has a blatant sports allegory, primarily toward the Browns-Steelers Football Rivalry.

 
If you know anything about the rivalry, it’s been one-sided for the last two decades, since the Browns returned to the league in 1999. In fact, the Browns are 6-32 against the Steelers since 1999.

 
I wanted to pay homage to the rivalry, which should get a little better this season, by making it a mainstay in Northern Knights. When one reads Northern Knights, they can find a lot of correlations between my book and the modern rivalry.

 
Anyway, I came up with a strange way to promote the book if I generate a good amount of sales. Jerseys, buying jerseys from my main characters, similar to what they would’ve worn in their respective sports in Northern Knights.

 
The featured image of this article provides a handful of many jerseys I made on NFL.com’s customized jerseys section and snipped it onto Canva.

 
It was a fun way to let readers know…especially both fanbases, that there are some correlations to real life in Northern Knights.

 
In fact, my overall marketing plan looks to hit both Southwest Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio. So, if the Steelers continue to dominate the Browns in the rivalry, maybe I’ll spread some bad blood among the fanbases once again!

Lord of Columbia Prologue

An Empire Begins

Once, there was a great Republic called Southland that journeyed throughout Gaia, a land much like our own, with seven continents and many oceans. In the olden days before steamships, the Republic’s mission was quite simple: To encourage free trade among all other peoples of the world, of all colors and nations.

 
As such, King Otto wished to keep peace and harmony throughout all subjects in this land and make alliances with such nations. His goal was simple: to deter any imperial threat.

 
As decades passed and Otto perished due to old age, King McBride took the throne and continued his late father’s vision.

 
However, the quest for Empire in two rival nations erupted. The Lourdeans sought land beyond what was believed to be the Western End of the World and sailed northwest. The Madridians, likewise, sailed southwest. Both nations conquered primitive people, and each sought to expand east. McBride, however, remained stoic and instead built defenses within Southland in case the Lourdeans and Madridians had evil ideas.

 
Madridia indeed saw Southland’s strength as a threat and attacked. However, Southland’s powerful naval forces proved too much for Madridia and thus, forced them out of Southland territory.

 
Lourdes saw Southland’s sheer strength and were deterred.

 
However, things came to a standstill when McBride died, and King Artie took the throne. Artie received word as a young boy that Madridian sailor, Columbo Pucci indeed reached the Western End of the World and named it Columbia. To realize his dream, Artie dispatched George Santos and his powerful crew to the New World.

 
Santos reached land and relayed to King Artie only primitive peoples resided in the land and there were no signs of Lourdeans or Madridians. This is because Santos landed between the Madridian south and the Lourdean north.

 
Immediately, Artie ordered the conquering and enslavement of the native peoples and Santos, reluctantly, obliged under the threat of death. This was the beginning of the Southpoint Empire.

 
A century passed, and under Artie, Southpoint, as it was now known, expanded far and wide, to every single corner of Gaia. Artie did away with Southland’s red and blue color scheme and instead created the black and yellow Southpoint Emblem as seen today, to be flown where the Southpoint Empire had landed.

 
King Paul took over for Artie, and King James did so afterward, expanding the Southpoint Empire but garnered a reputation for being much more lenient and friendly than Artie. However, truth is always reason in an Empire of Lies. The Southpoint Empire grew to the point that conscription all over Gaia became mandatory as the strong Southpoint Army annexed other areas and even stole land from the Lourdeans and Madridians via warfare.

 
Finally, King Rooney came to power and instituted harsh laws everywhere the black and yellow Southpoint Empire touched. Rooney ordered tax increases, mass surveillance, increased militarism, and exclusivity to all in the Southpoint Empire to pay for the conquest of empire.

 
Southpoint’s lines were stretched even further, where native peoples of all lands were conscripted merely to become fodder as the experienced Southlanders and their officers conquered more lands and stripped other once-free nations of resources.

 
In Columbia, however, the very first stretch of land George Santos stepped foot on over a century-and-a-quarter ago, decided it no longer wished to be part of the Southpoint Empire and to become its own free republic.

 
And that is where our story begins, a long time ago, in a world like our own.

Lord of Columbia’s Characters

Lord of Columbia’s Characters Have Real-Life Counterparts

 

Okay, moment of truth. It’s time to admit the soon-to-be obvious as Lord of Columbia: Northern Knights is set to hit the Amazon bookstore.

 
Lord of Columbia’s characters have real-life counterparts and I’m going to be in more trouble than Matt Stone and Trey Parker in just a few short days. So, I thought it’d be fun to give some vague as hell descriptions pertaining to each Lord of Columbia character.

 
Now, other than my main protagonist, Cain, everyone else is going to be referred only by their first names. Also note this post isn’t going to reveal anything about the characters themselves, but a vague description on who inspired them without giving away too much information to where I’ll have to testify against myself in federal court.

 
Shall we begin with Cain Riscattare?

 
Cain is my main protagonist. He’s an exaggerated version of me. He’s in top shape, has a great physique, and keeps his inner-circle small. He’s kind of arrogant and he loves to taunt his opponents on the playing field. He and I share the same birthday and have the same hairstyle.

 
Lira is based on several of my singer crushes looks-wise, but has the body of a fit girl. One can say she is a true Libertarian at heart, and a certain YouTube personality may be a better real-life person Lira is based on. Once the reader, and my Libertarian crowd will know in two seconds, gets hint of the girl’s physical features, it’ll be all they need to know.

 
Micah, Micah, Micah! It’s what Cain would’ve said when he was younger, and what I would’ve said when I was younger. Micah is based off a close friend of mine who one-upped me in everything in our younger days. Wait, a close friend? Of course! I’m younger, so it’s totally acceptable. The dude’s ultra talented.

 
Blaze is based on another good friend who is a total nice guy but simultaneously a total badass. Don’t try to screw the guy over, that’s all I’m going to say. But, like me he’s harmless unless you give him reason to harm.

 
Jed is well, a bit of a running gag. Based off another close friend (uh, sort of) a few years younger than myself who I was forced to live with for nearly twenty-two years (I’m twenty-seven).

 
Asha is the one who hits home. Based on a good friend I knew for a time a few years back who was obsessed with status and material. The girl was a two-way street, but man, she was good looking, I’ll say that. Fun to workout with, too.

 
Savannah may be the most intriguing. Based on a girl I’d met about twelve times but became friends with for a time. Athletic as hell, this girl still plays sports well into her college days (in mid-collegiate form). But, despite her athletic (and more likely than not) academic talents, I’ve never met a more humble soul in my life.

 
Clyde is based on a friend of mine who is just kind of…out there. Like, not in a strange way, just in his own way. Sort of quiet and not exactly bright, but nonetheless one with a sense of, and sometimes a dirty sense of, humor.

 
Ferguson is based on this dude I’d trained a few times. The kid was very twitchy but talked a thousand miles per hour. Now, I do the same, but this kid was on another level. He twitched so much I couldn’t help but laugh when I looked at him. And it wasn’t a physical problem or anything like that, because he was rather athletic. I think he just drank too much espresso in the morning.

 

Shayna is based on a few people who are my real friends. When I say real, I mean they’re friends that sugar coat nothing and tell it to you like it is. Those are the kind of friends we want.

 

 

Adam is kind of funny, because while I based him on all of the negative qualities of today’s politicians, he resembles this boss I had once who I couldn’t stand to a T. So, I’ll just base him off this dude I used to work for and thank the Lord I don’t work for him anymore. Never met a bigger two-face in my life, despite working for them only a short amount of time. Hopefully the dude I based him on reads this. I’d love a good legal battle.

 
Patrick is based on a dude who came into the gym, threw weights around, broke a few mirrors, yelled at a bunch of people, chugged energy drinks, and never saw results. He was a complete meathead wannabe, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

 
Ditto for Avi, who is Patrick’s best friend.

 
Psycho is based on two people, both juiceheads who’d be in a good mood one day, then try to run you over nonstop the next. They loved lashing out at others emotionally, too. It was kind of disturbing, to be honest.

 
Vince is based on this other dude I knew for a few years who you really never caught a good vibe about. That’s not to say he didn’t have a large inner circle. The dude was popular in my realm of work at the time so much he could do no wrong in the boss’s eyes. And he took full advantage.

 
Benns was this complete idiot I knew back when, who, well, thought he was a king. No, seriously, the man said things and said them with conviction. And he always had this strange vacant expression and chest rub.

 
Scotty is based on one of my better friends who wanted to serve as an antagonist so I granted his wish. Scotty is pretty much Cain but more like the anti-Cain.

 
Robby is based on a guy I never met but would punch him in the face if I did. I know where he works, so the idea isn’t as far fetched as it seems. He’s based on a privileged kid whose parents are absolutely abysmal business people but their status keeps them up with the Joneses in our little community. They reportedly have the largest house in the community and are in bed with the Chamber of Commerce.

 
Randelo is one of my favorites as he represents all the Libertarian thinkers….as well as a little bit of Albus Dumbledore and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yeah, he’s a pinnacle.

 
Suuruus is based on any great leader who used his powers for good. There are about twelve of them in existence throughout world history. I’ll give you a hint: His father is the unseen Emperor over the cosmos.

 

And guys, as a reminder, if the Browns win, you win. That being said, if you don’t have the money to swing for a new book or are on-edge about taking a chance on a new author, rest assured, I’ll be running free promos on Lord of Columbia upon its release every time the Browns win. When the Browns win, we all win. Keep in mind, they’re 1-34 since December 2015, so these promos might be rare.

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