Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fantasy Powers: Magical Beings

You have an idea for your awesomely new power system. Let's flesh it out. In the last post, Fantasy Powers: How Ideas Are Born, I touched on determining who would be using the power. Diving deeper into this will help make your new power system more believable.

You have a magical being or races of beings in mind, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

How will they collect it? 
Is the power in their bodies? Do they have to collect it from some outside source? Or, is it a combination of the two? You don't need to fully flesh out the power source now. You can, but you don't have to. I nailed down the source much later in the process and will talk about that in the next post of this series.

Once collected, how do they use it?
As I said in the previous post, my character draw power from Darkness. The power lives inside them. They have to train it. Once trained, they tell the power what they want then, the power works with the body to make it so. Do your characters have to chant to use it? Do they need to connect to something like the elements?

How does it live in the body? 
Not just live, but sit. Your characters are pulling power into the bodies to push it out or the power is already in their bodies and they need to push it out. Either way, at some point, it sits in the body. How does this look? Where is it? Does it physically live in the body or sit in some untouchable place like the soul? To understand how the power lives in my characters' bodies, I drew this out. It helped a lot.

What does it do to the body?
Because of the power, my characters live for centuries. They heal quickly and age slowly.

What are the consequences, weaknesses? 
You've probably heard this before, "every character needs a flaw." Every power needs a weakness. It's boring reading about all powerful characters. From reading about different powers, it usually has some affect on the body. I'm not going to tell you the Sciell's weakness because it'll give away the story ;) But, it does have to do with the body.

Do the characters become exhausted after prolong use? Do they pass out, become ill? If they absorb too much, do they risk all their cells breaking down? Since I already told you about the beings who become shadows- just so you know, they are no longer called Shadows. Because they give their bodies to Darkness, they have this violent animal side. They have to work to suppress that side of themselves.

Is using the power the same for everyone?
I'm hoping the answer is no because that could make for a really boring story if everyone uses the power the same way. Figuring this out will take some time. It will develop as you're writing your story. If you're like me, you don't outline, you make it up as you go along. At some point, you'll need to list out all your characters and their powers. I'd share mine with you, but it'll gave away the second book in the trilogy ;)

How are these differences determined?
For the Sciell, the way they mold their power can be hereditary, but not always. It's not exact. If the use of the power is unique, then the parents passes it on to the child. More often, their bodies determine how they use their power, which means the way two characters mold the power to do something will be different.

What are the characters' weaknesses when using the power?
This can go along with consequence and how each character uses the power, but I wanted to make this separate. In The Merging Worlds Series, using the power for everyone has a weakness, but each individual also has a weakness. For instance, a character who is adept at using the power for long range attacks may be terrible at using it in close range. A character may have a awesome ability, but it takes them longer to mold it.

Does the use of power vary between races of beings? 
In the fantasy stories I've come across, each race of beings uses the power differently. You can have a world where the different races are distinguished by how they use the power. In my story, certain races are more adept at using the power to do certain things. And, certain characters are better at molding the power to do some things. It doesn't have to vary though. You could keep the differences at the character level and have the races be distinguished by something else like religion or location.

If you have any questions, let me know!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mythical Creature: Abaasy

Here's a badass for your world building inspiration. Imagine this little charmer tearing through your fantasy world. 

Also known as Abaaht, Abaasy, Abasy, the Abaasy originates in Russian mythology, legend and folklore. They're demons in the mythology of the Sakha (also known as the Yakuts). The Yakut live in the Lena River valley and other areas of the Sakha Republic (pronounced sa-HA) Republic in eastern Siberia.

The abaasy are alleged to be the spirits of the long-time deceased who dwell near graves or in deserted places who otherwise travel about causing destruction. They serve Arson-Doulai, the ruler of the dead, who also swallows people' souls and gives them living diseases.The abaasy can be appeased by blood sacrifices. They inhabit the underworld also known as the "kingdom of darkness". They travel in packs of seven and their blood is poisonous. 

The abaasy are described as one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged monsters mounted on two-headed, eight-legged, two-tailed dragons as steeds. In olonkho, a heroic epic tale of the Yakuts and one of the oldest epic arts of the Turkic peoplethey are ugly and horrible man-eating beings. Their chief  is a three-headed, six-armed and six-legged giant with body made of iron.

These mythical creature seems to be popular in Role Playing Games.
The Yakut

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fantasy Maps: Mountains and Rivers

Mapmaking is harder than I thought. But, it is fun. I so can't wait for my new computer to get here. Using Photoshop on a laptop that can't handle it requires a whole lot of patience. Creating rivers with a mouse is really hard. I need my touch screen.

On the last post in this series, Fantasy Maps: Jael, I showed you a rough version of Jael.
Now, it looks like this.

Still rough, but it's getting there. The mountains are brushes I downloaded from StarRaven on DeviantArt.

These two videos helped a lot. I had a "duh" moment. The second video suggests studying an atlas to make the placement of rivers and mountains realistic. I was like, that is super obvious. Why didn't I think of that? Right now, this map is a fun experiment. I doubt this version will go into the book. And, I will be getting an atlas and spending a lot of time with Google.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fantasy Powers: How Ideas Are Born

What happened to the power? Fantasy stories today have a lot less magic. That's fine. But, I like giving my characters special powers. I like that those powers have a key role in the story. Give me memorable characters with awesome abilities.  How does someone come up with a power system from scratch?

This is different for everyone. It is a lot of work. It took me eight years and two novels to get my power system down. There are just so many parts to it. Start small. You just need an idea. Doesn't need to be fully fleshed out. You can do that later. Research a lot throughout the process. Research helps.

Don't Limit Yourself
If you've been following this blog, you've probably noticed I don't refer to my character's powers as magic. It's not magic. Don't think because you're creating fantasy, that the powers have to be magic and spells. They don't. It's fantasy. The power system can be whatever you want it to be.

Be Ridiculous 
This goes along with don't limit yourself, but I had to make this separate. You can create a race of creatures that shoot light beams out of their ears. If you put the proper work behind it, this will sound believable. Don't be afraid to be out of the box.

The Core
In one sentence or phrase, describe the system you want. For mine, the characters draw energy from Darkness. Simple. What's you're idea? Remember, it doesn't have to sound believable, yet.

Race of Beings 
Who will use this power? This does not have to drawn out. You just need a name and what makes them different. For the short story that started The Sciell, the creatures were called Shadows because they could collapse their bodies into shadows. I did a Google search to find out if similar creatures existed in mythology and I came across Carl Jung's idea of the Shadow.
The shadow, said celebrated Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung is the unknown ‘‘dark side’’ of our personality–-dark both because it tends to consist predominantly of the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses like sexual lust, power striving, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature, completely obscured from consciousness. Whatever we deem evil, inferior or unacceptable and deny in ourselves becomes part of the shadow, the counterpoint to what Jung called the persona or conscious ego personality. (Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy: What is the "Shadow"?)
This intrigued me. I read somewhere else that Jung believed the shadow possessed an abundance of untapped energy. And then came the light bulb.The shadow became the basis for my power system.

Knowing who will use the power can help created the power system.

Stories are inspired by something, so are power systems. You can pull inspiration from other books, TV shows, movies. Keep an eye open and a notebook or note app handy. You don't have to draw inspiration from other power systems. Notice, I created mine from a Jungian theory.

Next up: Fantasy Powers: More on the race of beings.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Inspiring Anime Fight Scenes

Where would my stories be without anime?! I've said this other times, but anime plays a big part in my world building and my stories in general. When my characters use their powers, I'm thinking of the classic anime power-up.

bleach power up photo: Power Up z49822114.gif
When I'm picturing battles for my book, I get inspiration from anime. Here are some fight scenes that were just pure epicness. I had a hard time picking only three.

I don't just use anime for my fight scene inspiration though. They can be a bit of an exaggeration. Research is rarely about pulling info from just one source. I use anime because of the characters' moves, their powers and weapons.

Sword Art Online: Kirito Vs. The Gleam Eyes
This was a scene I had to watch again. It was that awesome.

Bleach: Ichigo vs Aizen
You know those moments where all you can say is, that was epic. This was one of them. 

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Yuki-Onna vs. Yosuzume
I'mma be honest with you, I chose this fight scene because I love this character. It's also a good example of using just powers in fighting.

Yes, I am imagining an epic score playing in the background of all my fight scenes. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fantasy Maps: Jael

Being a dark fantasy writer is its own adventure. Mapmaking- what can I say? It has its good times. It has its annoying times. Just the simplest thing can take ages.

Anyway. What would I do without Adobe Creative Suite? My Merging Worlds Trilogy takes place in a province called Jael (ji-al). For fun, and to put in my books, I started creating the land through Photoshop and Illustrator. I'll share my progress with you. I'm not a professional. I'm leaning as I go along.

I've showed you this map before.
I opened this image in Illustrator and braved the pen tool with the help of this video from Adobe TV... create a vector of the map.

I opened this in Photoshop and moved it into my map image.

I got the parchment background for free from ElissaKarminakria on DeviantART. I raided this site a couple of days ago for map backgrounds and landscape brushes. They're all free. When you use it, you just need to comment on the image in DeviantART including the link to your image.

I added some color, texture and text.

Next step, rivers and mountains. Next, I create the world. I made a rough sketch just to get the placement of landmasses, ocean names and temperature.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Thor: The Dark World 3D

So much better than the first one. Not the most original plot. It still worked. You know what I love about fantasy and sci-fi movies? The worlds. We get this gorgeous picture of imaginary worlds. I mean, Asgard was amazing.

 Now, was it as good as Avengers? Meh. It had a good balance of humor and serious moments. The cast wasn't as dynamic. We were in Asgard more, but we didn't really get into new characters. The movie showed Thor's Warriors Three, but they were just bodies. That being said, after the beast that was Avengers, Thor wasn't a letdown.     

There wasn't much witty banter except when Loki was involved. Those scenes more than made up for the other characters being so serious. We got to see more Loki being Loki. How can that be a bad thing? It's really interesting. Loki is a bad guy. He destroyed most of NYC, yet I can't hate him. His lines are too funny. Seriously, he's like the coolest guy in Asgard. Well, besides Heimdall. He has the best eyes ever. His coolness doesn't just come from his eyes, though.

Then, there was the Queen- Frigga. She. Was. Epic. I barely remember the first Thor. It wasn't that impressive. I don't know if she handled a sword in that one. She did in Thor: The Dark World. I did not expect it. She went in. I'm a sucker for strong female characters. She knew how to handle herself. When she started swinging that blade...that was an epic scene.
Speaking of strong female characters, I'd like to have seen more of Sif. The snippets we got of her were pretty awesome. I wanted more.
Since we were getting more of Jane Foster, I was afraid Thor would be overflowing with sickening romantic scenes. I didn't see this movie for the romance. I really didn't want it in there. Thor and Jane had their mushy moments, but the movie kept it short.

Those two didn't reach the "I'm going to throw up" point. I am so happy for that. I didn't care for Jane at the beginning. But, by the end of the movie, she kind of grew on me. I wouldn't say I like her, but she doesn't annoy me anymore. She punched Loki. That was kinda hardcore.

The movie can't just survive on awesome characters. It needs a bad guy. The Dark Elves weren't impressive. They were after the Aether, which is like the best "weapon" ever. But, I didn't understand why. They had no personality. They were just there to attempt to destroy the Nine Realms and caused drama between the main cast.

As someone who writes dark fantasy, you can't just call something that wants to plunge the world into darkness, Dark Elves. Can you say obvious? I know that's not the movie's fault. Just had to throw that out there. The "Dark" name can be effective. In this movie, it wasn't.

Ever since the Joker in The Dark Knight and Loki in Avengers, I've come to expect more from my bad guys. They just can't be there to move the plot along. Seriously, the Dark Elves were like drones. I got nothing from them. The movie hinted at this "friendship" between two of them. It could have delved into that. I wanted to know more about them. However, their ships were epic.
Now, I have to mention this. They had a scene where Thor was shirtless or armor-less. I am a female and Thor is hot, but did they really need that? Come on. Why was that in there?

Thor: The Dark World had its good 3D moments. About halfway through, I forgot it was in 3D. But, for me, it was worth it just to watch the Captain America preview in 3D. That was epic.

I was never a fan of the red cape. Thor worked it.

Marvel is seriously cranking out some epicness. The previews were almost as enjoyable as the movie.
The preview in the movie was way better. I couldn't find it.

I like X-Men. I had given up on anyone making a good movie about these awesome mutants until I saw this trailer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Japanese Pranks [Video]

These had me dying. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath. My eyes are still watering. I was turned on to these videos and now I'm hooked. They're not in english, but you don't need to understand what they're saying to enjoy it.

Because it's Friday, I'll add another one.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beautiful Fall

I love taking pictures! Nature photography is a new hobby of mine. Didn't know I'd enjoyed it so much until a couple of months ago. Before I bought my Canon SX510, I was taking pictures, mostly, with my phone, which did not do what I needed. I was beyond excited when I got my fancy camera.

Over the weekend, I went to Green-Wood Cemetery. Who spends a Saturday walking through a cemetery? Well, I do and I had fun. I know how that sounds. Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn is actually a historical landmark with graves over two centuries old. It's beautiful and peaceful.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Review: Four Corners Dark

This is my review from Goodreads.

Four Corners Dark by William McNally
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've owned Four Corners Dark for a while. I needed my horror fix, so I picked up this one. It's a collection of four stories. I still judge a book by the cover and I love this cover. It's simple yet chilling.

It's been a while since I read a straight horror book. I'd forgotten most horror stories, especially short ones, are a bit obscure. For the most part, I enjoyed the stories. They're a fast read. Maybe too fast. I was so into them that I rushed through them. When I reached the end, I felt like I was missing something. I'm thinking I'll reread them. I’ll definitely have to go back over Engine 18 . I did not understand the ending. I especially liked The Raven Mocker. Nothing like a vengeful spirit. The Spinning Wheel had such a sweet ending, but not so disgusting that it ruined the book.

Were these stories scary? Not really, but I've stopped expecting horror stories to scare me. The curse of reading them all your life. Don't know when was the last time a horror story scared me. Anyway, all in all, an enjoyable read. The stories weren't thoroughly disturbing that I was scarred for life. They had the right about of horror.

View all my reviews
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