Posted in Exercises, worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Fauna

Earth itself has an amazing diversity of life. This isn’t just limited to people either. There’s over a million known species of animals on the planet. Estimates place the total number, both known and unknown, closer to eight million. The reason for such a wide margin has to do both with the sheer number of animals that currently exist and are known, and the fact that getting an accurate number even on humans is difficult.

That can also carry over to fictional worlds. Whether you’re working on an extraterrestrial pet or figuring out how dragons work exactly, fictional works have plenty of their own animals.

When handling a fictional animal species, it’s a good idea to consider the basics first, and then get into adding any additional features. Start with:

  • What does it eat?
  • What sort of climate does it live in?
  • What kind of threats does it have to watch out for?
  • How does it defend itself?
  • How does it make a shelter, if it needs one at all?
  • Are they lone animals or do they live in groups?

Also consider things like how they reproduce and how much care is given to babies and which parents might be responsible for that care. For aquatic animals, also consider how they get the air they need. Some animals have gills while others will come to the surface briefly.

These basics can give you a good idea of additional features that would work. A deer that hunts prey will need teeth capable of cutting, instead of just teeth useful for crushing leaves. Likewise, remember that even prey animals will need some means of defense. This could be in armor-like hides, or with claws and horns.

Once you know what the animal needs for its basics, you can start playing with an adding features. Consider how adding wings to a rabbit might make it better able to escape from predators, and how it might affect its ability to navigate dense undergrowth. When adding in something like magic or psionic abilities keep in mind how these additional abilities would help them in their natural environment. Obviously when giving magic powers, you have a lot more room to work with, so long as you’re not breaking the established rules of both magic and physics in your world. Remember fire underwater sounds cool, but doesn’t work unless that fire has some way of getting oxygen to continue burning.

It’s also possible you won’t need any additional features for your fictional creatures. You might know what a dog or a cat is on sight, but consider describing them as if you’re seeing it for the first time. You might end up describing an animal like this:

Four long legs held up a lithe, muscular body. Each paw ended in sharp, hollow claws. Aside from the obnoxious hissing, it was also capable of two different growling sounds, one of which indicated it was happy if you believed the stories. If the slitted eyes weren’t unnerving enough, both triangular ears swiveled to catch sounds from all directions, and the tail flipped, curled and twisted as the creature pleased for it to.

Any guesses which creature that is? It’s the common house cat. Play with your words and descriptions, see what you can do to an ordinary animal.

As an exercise: pick an animal you’re familiar with and describe it as if it was the first time you were encountering it and didn’t have a name for it. Think about how it looks, moves and sounds.

Additionally take a common animal you’re familiar with and give it an extra feature–this might be a physical feature like horns, or wings, or it might be a non-physical ability such as telepathy or conjuring. Write about how it navigates its world with these extra features.

Posted in Exercises, Stories

30 Day Shorts I

We’re on day three of my 30 Day Shorts challenge, so it felt like a good place to check in and see how it’s gone so far.

Day 1
I started a little piece, which ended up being an unseen scene from my current serial work. I ended up not using the day’s prompt. Title is still out on it.

Day 2 
What started as a ten-minute flash piece morphed into a longer piece connected to a longer story (not my current big project). It also let me take a look at some minor characters and some background relations. Currently I have it titled as ‘Children’.

Day 3
Started another exploration titled ‘Bloom’. It’s focused back on my serial, but also clears up some things about a character who’s been giving me development troubles. I ended up not using the day’s prompt.

How are you doing on the 30 Day Shorts challenge?

As a reminder I have both Aurarin’s Song and Crimson and Gold available for free on the 4th. Aurarin’s Song will remain free until April 6th. I also have all of my available and posted short stories on my short stories page.

Posted in General

March Recap

March hasn’t been an easy month, especially in the last couple of weeks. With the worldwide pandemic, stress has been at an all time high. I hope all of you are safe and sound at home.

On the writing front, it’s been a good month. I opted to work on some shorter-form stories and ended up making several of them into a serial set of stories. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them beyond this point because they were a ton of fun to write, but are a little long to post here and I’m not sure of anywhere that accepts serials at the moment. If you have an idea, let me know!

Because of that, my word count came in over sixty-five thousand. I still have a couple of days to add in on my tracker.

With April approaching, I’m looking forward to working on some new things, and I have a 30 Day Short challenge I’m undertaking. You can find out more on that here. Also coming up in April, I have both Aurarin’s Song and Crimson and Gold free for a few days! Crimson and Gold will only be free for April 4th, whereas Aurarin’s Song will be free from the 4th until the 6th. Both are also available through Kindle Unlimited currently as well.

How was your March? What are you looking forward to for April?

Posted in General

Stay At Home.

As of writing this post (around 10:30, Thursday morning) Arizona has 508 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Wednesday we were at 401 cases. 251 of those cases are in the county where I work: Maricopa county. While Maricopa is a big county, the explosive growth of cases is alarming.

UPDATE: As of March 28, 10:15, Arizona has 773 confirmed cases and 15 deaths.

I know you all are sick of hearing this. I know, staying at home is hard to do and it’s boring but please, stay at home. Some of you cannot, and I understand that. Your jobs have not been closed down (and for some of us, they likely won’t be). If you can, make sure you’re protecting yourself and anyone you come into contact with. Sanitize and disinfect your work surfaces as often as possible. Wash your hands as often as necessary (and don’t forget to use some lotion so your skin doesn’t dry out).

To those of you who are already doing these things, thank you. Thank you so much for following advice and doing what you can to try and limit the community spread. This is an incredibly difficult situation to be in and your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

I understand staying at home is boring and can get tiresome. If you have any sort of outdoor yard (especially one that is fenced in), now is a good time to use that space. Grab a blanket and have a picnic in your backyard. Play a game of tag with your kids if possible. Use a spare pillowcase for capture-the-flag. Make a scavenger hunt out of items like holiday decorations you have in storage. These can also be hidden around your house, not unlike an Easter Egg Hunt.

Try to avoid community outdoor spaces like pools and open barbecues. Hiking trails have become crowded as people try to find some way to both social distance and entertain themselves, don’t make the community spaces around your neighborhood into a danger zone for spread as well.

If you don’t have a reserved space outdoors or your weather makes the outdoors unusable, take your activities inside. Build a pillow fort. If you have kids or old children’s toys, go ahead and play with them: no one will judge you and you’ll entertain yourself. You can try clearing out a space to do an at-home workout, plenty of which you can find online.

Alternately, create something! I’m running a challenge this April if you’d like to get in on it. This also coincides with Camp NaNoWriMo. If writing isn’t your style, grab some paper and doodle, sketch or draw. I find artprompts.org a great place for inspiration. Alternately, I use the app What to Draw (on Android). You can also find hundreds of free coloring pages online. A quick search through your preferred platform can find you lots more.

You can also take this as a great time to expand skills or learn something you’ve been considering for a while. Duolingo is a good place to learn languages. You can also find  free courses through Alison and a rotating handful through CreativeLive. YouTube is another great place to find instructional videos, and a web search for free online classes will turn up even more.

While you’re at home with nothing else to do, go ahead and binge watch something (just remember to take a break and stretch every once in a while). Many streaming services have free-trial periods you can utilize. If you’re looking for something to read, there is a free Kindle app for both computers and smartphones–no e-reader necessary. Many books can be found for free (or check in with the authors you favor, they may know when their books are scheduled to be free or have other options for reading material. For instance, you can check out all of my free short stories and the links on my short stories page.) I also highly recommend The Drabble.

UPDATE: April 4th. Crimson and Gold is free today! Aurarin’s Song will be available for free from the 4th to the 6th.

If the lack of socializing is bothering you, hop onto Skype or Discord. Skype is great for video calling and sharing what you’re doing with others, while Discord can be used to set up groups like an online book club or DnD game, as well as stream between friends. You can also join up with friends in lots of online games, many of which can be found through the free-to-play section in Steam.

I know it’s hard because this is such a drastic change in lifestyle and routine, but please do what you can. Stay at home. And again, if you already are doing these things, thank you.