Writing tips, news, and excerpts from Althanas, a fantasy fiction writing forum. Find us at Althanas.com
Have A Question or Comment?
Plot - Characters - Tools - Advice - Combat
Anonymous said: I tried googling this and looking through your tags, but didn't come up with anything. Do you have anything on all-powerful ruling societies in fantasy worlds? Like, a brotherhood or something?
If you’re looking for an entire government, check the government tag on the tags page.
If you’re looking for a society, club, order, organization, etc. that is so powerful that they have several connections and thus control most of the government and the population, read on:
I listed some resources for secret societies here, as a start.
There are a lot of options for naming societies like this. Some variations include:
- The X Society
- The Society for X
- The X Order
- The X Order of Y
- The Order of X
- The X Brotherhood
- The Brotherhood of X
- The X’s Guild (guilds are specific to medieval times and consist of people involved in the same business or trade)
- The X of Y
- The X
- The X Group
- The X Union
- The X League
- The X Lodge
There are a lot of variations that you can play around with. Make a list of a few different names for your organization and pick the one that works best.
Organizations like this are often extremely selective when it comes to letting people in. They have to keep their power and bringing in someone who might ruin something or who might be a spy could destroy the organization.
Come up with qualifications for who can join and then come up with an initiation. Most organizations have them, whether it’s a ceremony, a test, or some kind of right of passage. It’s also common for the children of members to join, since they have the most connections and can be among the most trusted.
How visible is this society in your world? Is it well known? If so, is it feared? Respected? If this society is a secret, is it completely unknown to the general public or are there rumors about it? Do people within the actual government all know? Or just a few people?
You need a reason for why this group is powerful. They might have money, or a magical artifact, or magic in general, or powerful members. Whatever it is, it needs to be present and they need to use this power in the story.
If they are in charge, but are not the primary government, they’ll need manipulation over the government and they’ll need a way to keep it that way. If they have money, they might be paying off government employees or they might make threats against people or they might blackmail them. It depends on how your society works. Their power can go beyond the government too. They might have connections to businesses and others who can help them get any needed materials.
Their power needs to be evident enough that others will not try to challenge them. It should be difficult to overthrow a society like this. If it’s not difficult, then this society is not all that powerful.
Once you have established this society’s connections and power, you need to think about what they can do to alter their world. Do they have great influence in the government? Or do they actually make all the decisions while using others, such as those within the government, as the “face” of their laws, changes, etc.?
Note to authors: when a bullet is shot from a gun, it becomes so hot it’s sterile. You don’t get an infection from the bullet itself, but from the wound. That’s why in the short term it’s better not to remove the bullet, because bothering the wound just makes it more prone to infection! That is also why some veterans still have bullets in their body.
Anonymous said: What's the best way to describe a birthing scene without getting into the gorey details?
By writing about everything but the gory parts. However, to do that, you need to know what goes on during birth. You can start by checking my pregnant characters tag on the tags page for some information. Everything starts with research.
When researching birth, look for information relating to your setting and time period. Both can have major effects on who is present, what it feels like, what equipment is available, and the general atmosphere. Read up on birth stories posted around the internet and take note of what the authors mention in those stories.
Here is what you should focus on in this scene:
- POV Character: Whether it’s first person or third, the POV character will carry the scene and the details involved. With limited POV, you can only describe what your character is aware of. Omniscient and multiple POVs allows you to move elsewhere. Focus on what your character sees and what they are feelings, emotionally and physically. If the POV character is the one giving birth, talk about their feelings, their thoughts, how they observe the people around them, and what they feel physically. They most likely won’t be able to see what’s going on with the birth depending on the position, so you can dodge those details easily.
- Characters Present: Write about the characters that are present, if any. Write about what they’re doing and what they’re saying. If your POV character is one of these characters, you just have to keep them away from any place that might require more specific details.
- Atmosphere: Describe what it is like just being there. This can refer to the noise, the temperature, the general “feel” of the room, and the pacing. Does time go by slowly or quickly? Is everyone rushed but calm? Or rushed and frantic?
You also have two other options to avoid most of the birthing scene altogether:
- Fade to Black: This is when the author ends the scene prior to a certain event. It’s often used to imply that characters are going to have sex, but you can use it for a lot of things. You can end the scene with labor or contractions or something else and pick up the next scene post birth.
- Semi Fade to Black: You can put more emphasis on the beginnings of labor and whatnot and then use a few paragraphs to paraphrase the events of the birthing scene.
ronachi said: Do the characteristics of full-plate armor change in colder climates?
Probably. Fair warning: I’m going to be guessing here, and thinking through it, so I could be missing something important, or just flat out wrong.
Normal full plate isn’t just a slab of metal between you and the outside world, if it was it wouldn’t be very effective against blunt weapons; like maces, flails, mauls, warhammers, and morningstars.
Those were all weapons designed to transfer a lot of kinetic force through plate or chain armor, breaking the recipient. Plate works fantastically against swords, some axes, and polearms in certain circumstances, but, ultimately, if you’re a giant bell and someone else has a hammer, I can completely botch a metaphor.
The solution was to wear a layer of heavy padding underneath the plate. This would be flax or any other easily available fabric, that could then provide some kinetic protection, in addition to the plate’s protection from weapons like axes and swords.
Okay, so that’s the part I can say with confidence, here’s the part where I’m guessing.
The padding would probably provide some insulation against cold weather on it’s own. By design it’s basically just a thick coat under the plate anyway. If that’s sufficient to keep a soldier warm enough to fight, then that’s all it takes.
But, if it’s not, then you’d need to supplement the padding with something that would keep your combatants warm, and furs are an obvious choice. Now, I don’t know that furs would actually absorb as much kinetic force as the padded armor, and you can’t just add extra stuff under the armor without heavily reworking the plate. So you’d probably need to either sacrifice some of the padding for more warmth.
Depending on how the plate is articulated this might not actually be an issue. If you can slap a fur cloak over the armor, or even just attach fur over the plate itself, you might be able to keep your soldier warm when they’re not fighting without substantially increasing the weight they’re carrying and without accidentally freezing them.
I’m kind of preferential to the cloak because it’s slightly more likely to survive combat, and this gets to another issue. During combat, the issue wouldn’t be keeping your soldiers warm, it would be keeping them from overheating.
Anyone who’s ever worked strenuously in a cold climate should be familiar with this phenomena, but, while you’re engaged in heavy physical activity, including combat, you’re body will generate enough heat to compensate for the environment. You’ll feel the cold, but it won’t impair you. This can create a weird situation where while being active, you’ll actually feel too hot in your snow gear. You’ll perspire into it, and then you’ll end up with it drenched when you stop working. If you’re wet, your body temperature is dropping, and if your environment is cold enough, this can spiral into hypothermia.
For someone experiencing this today, the easiest solution is to wear layers, and toss off outer layers while working, so they remain dry, preventing excessive perspiration, and then put them back on when you’ve finished. But when you’re wearing full plate and in combat, that’s not an option.
In the case of your soldiers, this can create a situation where they’d actually sweat into their gear and face more of a threat from the cold after combat, assuming they had no place to make camp, and warm up.
It’s probably also worth pointing out that winter campaigns in northern climates have been a very bad idea through most of human history.
I hope this is useful, even if it is a little more speculative than I’d like.
Anonymous said: Cliches to avoid when making a fantasy college for both magic and regular studies?
Think of Hogwarts. Most of the things that make Hogwarts Hogwarts have become cliche as far as magic colleges go. More specifically,
- Magic students are secluded/treated as better. *eyeroll* More interaction between the wizards and the muggles, please.
- The college is super secret. This is because, in most fantasy stories, magic cannot under any circumstances be shown to vanilla humans, because they’ll either exploit it or murder the magic users. You could try for tolerance, especially since the college is for magic and regular users.
I wish academic fantasies would focus more on schoolwork and studying too, but that’s just my opinion. I can’t imagine trying to save the world on top of five term papers due tomorrow. I also wish academic fantasy would spend more time on the teachers outside of the classroom.