Worldbuilding Wednesday – a curse and a chant

In part six of The Box of Secrets, I again, as earlier in the story, wanted to put the curse and chant of a specific character in my own language. This meant writing the curse and chant and then translating it. As I have a limited vocabulary at the moment in this language (I can’t decide on a name, okay!), it also meant adding to the vocabulary words as needed.

This is one of the main things about language that fascinates me; by making what seems to be an arbitrary collection of sounds may contain information as diverse as asking what is for dinner or explaining the wonders of the universe. Someone else may use a different set of sounds and I would have no way of understanding even the simplest greeting. But I digress.

The curse

Don’t worry, this isn’t some curse word uttered in a bar after midnight!

As it is said by one of the “good guys”, I had to write a curse that would make sense from their perspective. In the end I decided on something simple:

The Darkness take your soul, servant of the dark.

Darkness

This does not refer to “normal” darkness, for instance night time. The “Darkness” can be likened to the Lewjan (the Betrayer). Where dark (as in night time) is “vér” — think Khalver — and shadow is “dun”, the Darkness is a compound of these two words; “verdun”. “Verdun” is, therefore, only used in this specific context.

Servant of the dark

Just as Khalne means “servant of the light”, so Khalver means “servant of the dark” (Khalla = servant). Khalla vér/Khalla verdun was simply shortened to Khalver over time.

Soul

The soul is referred to as “ahma”, with mortals sometimes called “ahna”; ‘those who carry a soul’.

The curse “the Darkness take your soul, servant of the dark!”, will therefore read:

Se verdun hon sah ahma nehma, Khalver!

 

The chant

The chant — this one used to make someone known — is also quite simple with regards to its wording:

Show yourself, servant of the deepest Darkness.

One who has turned from the path to follow the Betrayer, show yourself.

Of valleys and depths

The word for deep/deepest was actually constructed ‘backwards’, working from the word for “valley” (elir), which was already in place.

I decided that the word for deep would be “elara”, which would mean that “elaras” would mean deepest.

The whole chant would, therefore, read:

Khalla sah s’elaras verdun nakhan han sah.

Agr elstanbrahta se tellaria na Lewjan nakhan han sah.

For my previous post about worldbuilding a chant, follow this link.

Worldbuilding Wednesday – Worldbuilding a Chant

Nea-a Agrai, nea-a Agrai, lasala na s’tellarias nea hon, o Agrai, nea-a Agrai.

In Box of Secrets a healer needs to use both the Ruon charms and a chant to heal one of the characters. I needed the chant to be in the same language as the blessing which is normally given by the Airus and the Tellerassar when they want to thank someone or when they take leave of them for a long time (Á Agrai tellarias or s’agrelar silássa – May the Light of the One shine on your path).

However, I also did not want it to be a too-difficult chant as it isn’t the chant itself which is doing the healing, but is more used as a prayer to strengthen the charms used and a way to focus the nith of the charm. The chant I wrote for this scene also needed to be something which used a lot of repetition (because I like it, for one) and I wanted it to have a certain rhythm to it.

I had in mind medieval religious chant, of which I am a big fan, and wanted to give the same “air” to this chant. Here are a few examples of medieval chants:

Enter my small dictionary of words I’ve made for the world of Airtha-Eyrassa thus far…

Nea-a Agrai, nea-a Agrai, lasala na s’tellarias nea hon, o Agrai, nea-a Agrai is the final chant I decided upon and it means; “Creator of Light, Creator of Light, lead him to the path of Light, o Creator, Creator of Light”.

Further reading

Worldbuilding the Ruon Chronicles: David Farland’s “Writing a Series” Questions and a Synopsis

In one of his newsletters (for which you can sign up here ), David Farland gave a number of questions you should ask yourself when starting or when writing a series. He also made some very good points, including:

  • A strong series has a persistent world with persistent characters
  • Don’t change settings too much
  • The strongest series have persistent conflict, and, in a ‘tight series’ the conflict must continually build and escalate until the end
  • A central conflict will bind the story together
  • When I look at these questions and my first try at a premise sentence for The Ruon Chronicles (at least their start…), I can at least see that I already have most of these bases covered.

tumblr_of94nzxyon1tvn4tko2_250

Premise Sentence

After the Vidolf Elame’s prison breaks and set free the Vidolf within, a young Ruon, Selena Tellah, must find a way to use her Talent and the almost-forgotten charms of the Ruon Ruaha to prevent the Third Sundering that will bring her world to ruin. 

Looking now at Farland’s points, I can see that I do have the following:

Persistent world with persistent characters

Yes, the series takes place in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the ‘Land Beyond the Veil’). The characters, like Selena Tellah and Reisa Querna, are also persistent characters.

Don’t change settings too much

Parts of the story takes place in different countries, etc. so I will need to make sure that it doesn’t become confusing to the reader. While maps are nice, I don’t want the reader to refer to them every five minutes.

Persistent conflict

The persistent conflict is that they must stop the Third Sundering from taking place.

The central conflict

The central conflict will change from book to book, but the overall conflict will remain locked on the Third Sundering.

tumblr_nxesyifQLD1qj4315o1_500

Worldbuilding The Ruon Chronicles – The Ruon Charms

Examples of the Ruon healing charms…

The Main Types of Charms

The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms. The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies. However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms. Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of Nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the creator and not just the talent to create needlework) to make. Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon.

How the Charms Are Worked and Where They Are Worn

The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of Nith (or Talent) by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.

As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both Nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the Nith locked within the threads were used.

Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other Nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.

Order in Which the Charms Are Worked

The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the Nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the Nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the Nith required to work.

Colours in Which the Charms Are Worked

The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the Nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms.

img_3828

Pain and fever combined

Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Remembering That the World is Round

You may be asking yourself ‘what on earth’ right now. The truth is, I feel quite silly. No, actually I feel like a downright idiot. I’ve posted this map before:

Media24 Research advertising-20160622121831

It’s a straightforward map, but for a while, while figuring out some of the final trade routes (which does play a part in the story, it’s not worldbuilder’s disease) I seemed to have forgotten that the world is round.

The world of Airtha-Eyrassa is an earth-like planet, and so it stands to reason that you could sail around the whole thing. Only, I’d been treating it as if you couldn’t cross the one ocean. No, it’s not too big or anything, I just didn’t take it into the reckoning.

BUT. Yes, there is a big “but”.

My oversight made sure that I now have so much more story to tell.

So, what I actually want to say in this long-winded way, is – if you’re stuck in your story, go back and make sure you didn’t miss something completely obvious. Like the world being round…

792

Worldbuilding Wednesday: How I Write Worldbuilding Notes

I find it a lot easier when I make worldbuilding notes to write it as if I am writing a story. Rather than just making some bullet points, I write a few paragraphs which explains who a specific person/place is, etc. I have found that these paragraphs often have an archaic feel to them even though I’m not setting out trying to write in such a tone.

I can then file the notes in my story bible, Scrivener file, or both depending on what story it is I am busy with.

Here is an example of one of these worldbuilding notes which focuses on the Airahna found in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place.

 The Airus and the Airahna

 And it came to be that, after the mortal humans were created by Agrai and was sent to populate the lands of Airtha-Eyrassa, that some of the Airus fell in love with them and children were begotten. These children, though not all longer living than the “normal” humans, did have Talent which were above that of the humans.

These mortals became known as the Airahna – The Airus Ahna – or those with an Airus soul/the people of the Airus. These Airahna were of both sexes and of all the people of Airtha-Eyrassa and not just limited to one people.

However, it is said that Agrai smiled on these mortals even though they were of mixed blood and that is why they received so much Talent. Others, however, saw those of mixed blood as abominations and wanted to rid the world of them. Because of this many of the children thus created were spirited away from where they were born and some of them found their way to the Sanctuaries. It was from these people that the first of the Wislic were chosen. And so it was that many of the Airahna grew up without even knowing that they were Airahna. For, also, many of the Airus found it too painful to stay with the families because of their short life spans – they were able to see many generations of their offspring live and die without growing older themselves. Many even forgot which of the Airus’ blood it was that flowed in their veins.

It became less and less common for these children to be born as the Airus kept more and more to themselves and went to live in the far-off places or made for themselves hidden homes.

To read some fiction set in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, you can follow this link to my Patreon page or this link to my DeviantArt page.

To download the free WikidPad software, follow this link.

tumblr_nxesyifQLD1qj4315o1_500

For those who would also like to try WikidPad, but aren’t quite sure where to start:

When I make my WikidPad file, it will look something like this ( [ ] shows where the links to other pages are placed):

*The [Airus] and the [Airahna]*

And it came to be that, after the mortal humans were created by [Agrai] and was sent to populate the lands of [Airtha-Eyrassa], that some of the Airus fell in love with them and children were begotten. These children, though not all longer living than the “normal” humans, did have Talent which were above that of the humans.

These mortals became known as the Airahna – The [Airus Ahna] – or those with an Airus soul/the people of the Airus. These Airahna were of both sexes and of all the people of Airtha-Eyrassa and not just limited to one people.

However, it is said that Agrai smiled on these mortals even though they were of mixed blood and that is why they received so much [Talent]. Others, however, saw those of mixed blood as abominations and wanted to rid the world of them. Because of this many of the children thus created were spirited away from where they were born and some of them found their way to the [Sanctuaries]. It was from these people that the first of the [Wislic] were chosen. And so it was that many of the Airahna grew up without even knowing that they were Airahna. For, also, many of the Airus found it too painful to stay with the families because of their short life spans – they were able to see many generations of their offspring live and die without growing older themselves. Many even forgot which of the Airus’ blood it was that flowed in their veins.

It became less and less common for these children to be born as the Airus kept more and more to themselves and went to live in the far-off places or made for themselves hidden homes.

Worldbuilding Wednesday Header

Worldbuilding Wednesday – How Mythical Is Your World?

Worldbuilding can be very intricate and there is a lot of information you have to keep in mind when working in a secondary world – or when including fantasy or supernatural elements in your world. While writing about the creation of The Ruon Chronicles’ world, Airtha-Eyrassa, I realised that I needed to ask myself how mythical the world is before I really start getting into the nitty-gritty of the world.

I needed to ask myself some basic questions:

1. Are you creating a secondary world? How realistic do you want that world to be?
2. Is it influenced by gods, magic, or magical creatures? If so, how does that impact the nature, weather, geography, etc.? What impact does it have on the people living in the world?

Is it 100% necessary to have the geography, fauna, and flora correct according to science, or can you veer from this path up to a point? There can be a huge difference between writing fantasy and hard SF, for instance, when it comes to the physics, etc. involved in creating the world.

In the case of Airtha-Eyrassa, there is not only a creator, but also a creator that breaks the created lands apart during various “Sunderings”. This has huge impacts on part of the geography, but, also, instead of the land moving away from each other at extremely slow rates, the land is ripped apart and pushed away from the mainland by the creator. Some “magic” is therefore definitely required (and not just to keep everyone from dying)!

Don’t Give Into Worldbuilder’s Disease!

However, if you want to make your world 100% correct and perfect to the last detail before even starting to write, you will most probably fall prey to Worldbuilder’s Disease and never start writing. And then what’s the use of that?

I think giving yourself the space to create the world you want to can also give you the freedom to actually sit down and write.

For instance, I have made broad notes about some of the regions of the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, while not going into too much detail at the moment. For instance, I don’t really have to know the exact cultivar of grapes used to make a region’s wine right now. Maybe I will have to know that in the future, but for now I am not going to waste writing time getting Worldbuilder’s Disease because of this detail. It’s more important to know that the wine is exported from there than to know every little detail about the farming methods, if you catch my drift.

Worldbuilding is supposed to be fun – don’t let worldbuilder’s disease leech all the fun from your writing!

Worldbuilding Music Header

Worldbuilding: How To Use Music in Your Worldbuilding

Some days it’s far too easy to feel like this –

tumblr_npn88m7SzX1so32gvo1_500

When that happens music is a very handy – and easily accessible – tool to get the creative juices flowing again or to set the right atmosphere for the scene you are busy with. I find that sometimes “writer’s block” can simply be that you need to get into the right headspace to write the next scene, especially if it is an especially difficult or emotional scene. I also have specific music I listen to depending on the type of work I’m busy doing (I basically always listen to some kind of music while working – or podcasts while I’m doing filing).

While browsing around in a music store is a lot of fun when you’re looking for new music, there is also so much music available on YouTube, that it’s very easy to sample music in that way before buying it. Some of the best music I write to is also only available on something like iTunes here in SA (especially the indie music), so I’ll leave the music store for buying other music.

How do I find the music?

When you’re looking for some music to play while writing fantasy, sci-fi or even horror, the best way to find a playlist or an artist is to search for “epic music” or “fantasy music”. This will lead you to artists like BrunuhVille, Adrian von Ziegler, Two Steps From Hell, Gothic Storm, and Audiomachine. The music is really epic and cinematic in scope. I also find that using their music leaves it open to a lot more interpretation than soundtracks do sometimes.

Painting a picture through world music

If you’re writing a story taking place in a real world culture (or one closely based on a real-world culture), you can also look for music from that culture or country to help you get a feel for the place and the people. The main thing, I have found, is that you need to set the mood for the piece you are about to write. In that way you can also build a whole soundtrack for the story you are writing. The internet has also made it easier than ever to find music from different parts of the world to use in your writing.

Using music and lyrics as an inspiration for a new story

When you’re really stuck listening to music (with or without lyrics) which you are unfamiliar with can be a wonderful way to get inspiration for a new story. I love writing flash fiction in-between working on my longer fiction to recharge my batteries and help me to come back to the longer piece with new eyes, so to speak. (Very handy when editing.)

Die Heuwels Fantasties song Verwag my terug is a prime example of a song that directly influenced a story called “Shells” which I wrote after the first line sparked a link with the prompt we had been given for the week in a flash fiction competition. (The song starts with the line “I remember that I just wanted to hold your hand”.) The story and the song have nothing else in common, though. Using song lyrics to influence your writing, therefore, does not mean writing the song in prose form, but rather using it to let your imagination take flight. When you are stuck this can also be a great way to become unstuck.

I really enjoy listening to new music by my favourite musicians and find that they can also give me new inspiration or add to a piece of a story I am already writing. For instance, here is a new composition by BrunuhVille – isn’t it beautiful?

My own (growing) worldbuilding playlist

I’ve started compiling some of my favourite writing music into a playlist on YouTube, so if you’d like to have a listen, just follow this YouTube playlist link. The music is especially good for writing fantasy, I think 🙂

Do you listen to music while you write? What music do you enjoy using for worldbuilding or listening to while you write?

Worldbuilding Maps header

Worldbuilding: Maps of Airtha-Eyrassa

I won’t lie – I love maps. Whether they are of real or mythical places, a place I know very well or a place I still wish I could visit one day. I often have a faint idea of the place I’m writing about in the flash fiction fantasy stories, but for the Airtha-Eyrassa books I’m writing, I need much more detailed maps…

I’ve put some of the maps I’m busy with up on the Patreon page, but here is an example of one of the maps –

Airtha-Eyrassa Map June 2016

It’s not final and, as you can see, there are also quite a few notes scribbled on it as well. But it does show all of the countries at the time of the first book. It is also how the world looks at the time of these flash fiction stories:

Charms of Ash
Dust Red As Blood
Shadows
Charmed

To see the other maps-in-progress and a whole lot of worldbuilding, you can join my Patreon page. Here’s the video for the campaign…

Worldbuilding header

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Worldbuilding Names

This worldbuilding post was inspired by a similar one Rachel Poli Tweeted (Now if I can just find that link again…). I decided to look specifically at creating names for fantasy stories. While a book of first names is very handy (I own some myself), you sometimes need to look a little further for names for a secondary world.

Names From Dictionaries

I know what you’re thinking. But I’m serious – dictionaries of ancient/dead languages can be wonderful for finding names that have the feel of a different culture behind them without just making up a few syllables. For the world of Airtha-Eyrassa I’m using quite a number of different dictionaries, from Anglo-Saxon/Old English to Akkadian.

I find that I do change the spelling sometimes, as I do not really want the book filled with names containing too many diacritics.

Many of these dictionaries are available on the internet for free (or next to free). You can also look on university sites for free resources.

The Bible

I’m a Christian, so taking names from the Bible – especially the less well-known names – is kind of an obvious way to go for some of the countries’ characters. Nevertheless, religious texts can also be a great resource for names (it’s especially handy when the meaning of the name is also given).writing, paper, pen, fountain pen, Aaron Burden

Constructed Languages

Have you constructed a language or two for your secondary world? You can use some of the words to create names for your characters, just like you can do for place names. (On a side note, names in other languages can sound very cool and interesting and even more intriguing that if it’s in English [or whatever language you’re writing in]. I remember when I was doing some research fieldwork in the Free State [a province in South Africa] and asked one of the women what the “Nchu” part in “Thaba Nchu” meant, as I know that “Thaba” is mountain. I think they thought me even stranger when I said I only asked because I like the sound and thought “Black Mountain” is an awesome name. That said, you don’t have to go all the way to Vaneenfonteintottweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein[You’ve got to love Afrikaans] to make it sound or look otherworldly on the page.)

You can also look at the same place having two names in different languages – think Imladris and Rivendell. Just don’t go overboard so that your reader doesn’t know where they are in the world you’ve created!

Remember the Culture of the Place

Ask yourself who lives in the place you are writing about. What are their culture? Do they use family names? In my culture we love using family names (although it is becoming less so in some families). That means that you can have people with the same name and a nickname or other description. The name can also be shortened when naming the child (like Jakobus becoming Jaco or Johannes becoming Johan). And do they get the name from the maternal or paternal side? Have a look at Icelandic surnames as well.

Someone may also have names from different cultures depending on the culture/language of the parents. So, for instance, you might give your child an English name if you marry someone who is English while you are Afrikaans. (Or you can be like me and have a name that has an English spelling and an Afrikaans pronunciation 😀 [No, I don’t freak out when it’s not pronounced correctly…]) In our family’s case my older sister received the family names while I was named after one of my mother’s friends. Also, you can take the history of the family in account – like I have a French surname because I am a descendant of the Huguenots, but part of the family became Afrikaans (So you keep the name with the spelling, even though your language and culture changes). A name can let the character blend in or stand out.

writing, pen, Aaron Burden

Photo by Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com

In Airtha-Eyrassa there is one culture where your social standing is directly linked to your name. You are not allowed to have a name that is above your social standing/class, which is a way to keep people “in their place”, but also an easy way to let the reader know the class of the character and when that character has broken away from their class to move “up” in the society.

Make it up as you go along

Of course, just putting syllables together until you find something which sounds right for the character is also a way to go about it. For my stories I often work backwards from the name to the meaning and then adding those words to the constructed languages.

Name Generators

Scrivener has a very handy and helpful name generator which lists names by origin and by meaning. There are also various name generators available on the internet.

How do you go about choosing names?