Blog

World Building panel

Medar
Medar – digitized in GIS

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being part of a panel on World Building. I don’t claim to be an expert–after all, I’ve only created one world. But I have been building it for quite a long time … I started in 2003!

In preparation for the panel, I did a bit of research on world building, and was relieved to discover I’d done some things right. I guess being an avid science fiction and fantasy fan my whole life paid off!

Here’s some of the key things to think about if you’re wanting to build a world:

  1. World building goes beyond setting – you need to think about the written and unwritten laws:
    1. Technology
    2. Governance
    3. Distance unit
    4. History
    5. Geology
    6. Currency
  2. Use other author’s worlds to inspire yours – there are rules around this, but a general one is change 3 things. For example, in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, she takes a wasp, then makes it genetically modified, adds a hallucinogenic venom and changes its name to ‘tracker-jacker’. But there are some things you can use, like the familiar tropes of elves, gnomes, dwarves and wizards. And others you can’t, like orcs, the Death Star and Oz.
  3. The World is not the main focus!

Plus have a map!

I was pleased to discover I’d thought of most things. In particular, I did have a map. But I was forced to think about the geography a lot more when one of my sisters decided to digitise my world.

“How high is the Golden City?” “How deep is the Chasm?” “How far is the Wall from the Chasm?” These were great questions, and pushed me to consider these elements.

However, as I got further into my trilogy, I discovered that I hadn’t figured out everything about my world, which could have caused a major issue if it hadn’t been for the fortuitous fact that I’m writing fantasy, which means I have magic to sort out a few curly issues. Thank goodness!

So my final piece of advice is: Think about as many elements of your world as you can before you publish. It could save you a lot of time later on.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

Eek! Golden City is finalist for Caleb Awards!

Golden City: Realm Trilogy Book Three

Super excited to learn that Golden City is a finalist for the Caleb Awards! This award is administered by the Omega Writers group, which is open to Australian and NZ Christian writers. Check out https://www.omegawriters.org/2021/06/28/caleb-finalists-2021/

Unfortunately, the awards will be held in NSW, on 9 October 2021, so I won’t be going (as I am NZ based).

However, I am permitted to have someone accept the award on my behalf (should I be so lucky to win it!). Any takers?

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

Young NZ Writers – a big day out

YNZW Day Out 2021

I was recently privileged to be a part of the 2021 Young Writers Day Out. The YNZW was started by my writing colleagues Lee Murray and Piper Mejia ten years ago.

It’s a pretty cool event: First of all there are two free-to-enter writing competitions: one for middle grade and the other for high school aged students. Every child receives feedback on their writing. YNZW then produce two corresponding print and digital (intermediate and secondary) anthologies of the most promising work, which is professionally edited and published. The past two years I’ve helped with the judging and/or proofreading of these anthologies.

Then there’s the full-day student workshop. Of course, last year we had to run that online due to Covid, and I prepared a video presentation. So this year was the first year I got to experience the actual event. I presented on the Snowflake Method of plotting. The rest of the day I supported the other presenters in my stream. The day ends with the book launches for the two anthologies.

In addition, YNZW also runs an after-school writing programme, and ongoing student mentorship. Pretty cool, huh?

Like I said, such a privilege to be invited to be a part of this very worthy programme.

An author talk in Kawerau – are you a plotter or a pantser?

Koch Snowflake fractal

I had the honour a few weekends ago of being the inaugural speaker to be invited to speak to Write on Kawerau – the Kawerau writers’ group.

Since discovering and using the Snowflake Method to design my third novel Golden City, this talk has become my signature talk. I’ve now presented it four times.

Bascially, there are 2 types of writers:

  1. Plotters – those who plan out and plot their novel before they start writing
  2. Pantsers: those who write ‘by the seat of their pants’ – i.e., they just start writing and see where it takes them

Neither is right or wrong. They’re just different. I wasted quite a lot of time and effort ‘pantsing’ my first two books, Medar and Tyrelia, so I figured I had nothing to lose by giving plotting a go. Now I’m a convert to plotting.

But why the snowflake, I hear you ask? Good question. The way you draw a snowflake mirrors the way you can design a story. Check out the ‘snowflake’ link above, which explains how you can draw a snowflake by starting with a triangle, then drawing another triangle upside down on top. Then you can build out the points by superimposing smaller triangles on top, then you do smaller and smaller triangles on each of the points.

You plot in the same way: start with the big picture, then flesh out the detail, piece by piece. The method comprises 10 steps, switching back and forth between fleshing out the story and fleshing out the characters, getting more and more detailed each time you circle back to either the plot or character.

The beauty of this method is that you spot the plot holes before you start writing, not after you’ve spent months and months writing maybe 50,000 to 100,000 words. The best part is that steps 8 and 9 involve using a spreadsheet! Hurrah! If anyone knows me well, they know that I LOVE spreadsheets. To be fair, I did use a spreadsheet for my first two books, even though I didn’t use the snowflake method to plot the novels. But having a spreadsheet as part of this method made it a winner for me.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

Golden City is a finalist for SJV Award!

Eek! Just found out that my third book in the Realm Trilogy Golden City has made the final ballot for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards – Best Youth Novel category. Check out these articles:

https://sffanz.nz/the-sir-julius-vogel-awards/sir-julius-vogel-award-finalists-2021/

https://locusmag.com/2021/04/2021-sir-julius-vogel-awards-finalists/

Thank you everyone who voted for me so far. Now my fate is in the hands of the SFFANZ community. (If you feel so inclined, you can join SFFANZ ($10) and vote for me!)

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.