There are many different instances where a fictional world involves a fictional language. Klingon, Elfish, Dothraki, and Ewokese are all examples of languages created by/for a fictional world. In some cases, like Klingon, the language was created after the fact (and pieced together from fragments originally chosen to just sound right with no real meaning attached). Others, like Elfish, were created first, only to have the narrative wrapped around as an explanation and exploration of the language(s).
So how exactly does one go about creating a fictional language?
Well, obviously that depends on why you need a fictional language…
Welcome back after the brief hiatus! Just a reminder that, going forward, there will only be one update each week. Eventually I would like to return to the one every 4 days schedule that I was using, but that will be a ways away.
So today I’m continuing my talk on fictional economics. On April 18, I shared a post that challenged you to think up new types of currency rather than relying on the old standard of metal coins. Today I want to talk about what sort of things your characters might buy (or sell) using their chips, marks, stones, or other currency.
So twice now I’ve written about creating a fictional race/species. The first, on March 21st, was about the very basics. The second, on April 2nd, was about fleshing out the rest of the physical aspects. Today I’m going to talk about the finishing touches.
What exactly does that entail?
Well, what are the social structures? How does the race teach its young? What sort of jobs/occupations/responsibilities are there? How do they decide who gets which job? How do they treat their young, the old, and the infirm? Do they have a system that recognizes status?
All of these questions can apply to every type of race/species you create.
But how do you go about tackling them?
So we’re 10 days into the first 2015 Camp NaNo. How’re you doing? I realize that the camps are aimed at people who’s schedules don’t line up with the traditional November of writing, but there’s a good chunk of participants who aren’t students or other individuals with a seasonal sort of schedule. It makes it difficult, but then… traditional NaNo is difficult.
At 10 days, you should have 16,667 words (if you’re aiming to write 50,000 words that is). I’ve been on track so far for the month, but I haven’t been writing as much as I would like. I know that sounds a little silly. I’m reaching my goal, but still complaining that I’m not writing enough. For my past several NaNo wins it hasn’t so much been reaching the word count goal that’s been so satisfying. It’s been knowing that I tried my hardest. Poured sweat, blood, and tears into my novels. And just… created something new.
So maybe, it’s because this April is a revision project. Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t feel like it’s as much effort. (Not to say I’m just retyping the same story. There are new scenes and extra research and shifted dynamics. But the core story is already there) Not to say that I’m not taking full advantage of the opportunity and motivation to complete this project. I just feel like for me, this April, saying “I wrote 50,000” words just doesn’t quite feel like the same accomplishment. I think my personal goal is going to be completing the revision AND the editing of the manuscript. I want to be able to start looking at submitting the story. Which means I need to really step up my game.
So on March 21st I talked about creating a race/species, and covered all the basic physical stuff. Number of heads, eyes, arms, etc. This is good (obviously), but it’s really only the start. You also need to know things like:
- How does it move?
- What does it eat?
- How does it defend itself?
- How does it mate/attract a mate?
- Where does it live?
These less obvious physical attributes of a creature are just as important as the actual physical appearance. This is what takes it from being a lump of clay, or a puppet, and makes it alive. Of course, you need a little more to make it a fully fleshed out creature, but that’s what the April 14th post is going to be about.
There are numerous different examples of races within fiction. There are the ever popular elves and dwarves, the traditionally villainous orcs and goblins, and the potentially badass dragons and griffins. With a hundred other possible examples that I could give, it’s easy to find pre-defined fantasy races to populate your fictional world. But is that what you want to do?
I’m not asking because I want to dissuade you. It can be huge help to use a pre-established race within your world. Rather than having to explain and justify why this particular set of people are long-lived, live in trees, are in-tune with nature, and elegantly sophisticated, you can just say “elves” and everybody gets it. You can even use less common variants of elves (small, mischievous, and magical) and people are still going to approach your story ready and willing to accept that this race of people look, act, and think a certain way. HUUUUGE time-saver.
So I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t pay much attention to where I do my writing. It’s usually at home, on the couch or at the desk. The printer is nearby, and there are some shelves to stash notes and what-not. Plus, there is a nice big window nearby that lets in a ton of sunlight. I’ve got a power bar within easy reach to keep any devices charged, and the bar fridge has pop and snacks in it. All-in-all, it’s a nice little nook to write in a fairly crowded home. I like where I write. It’s comfortable.
But is it conducive to writing?
Where you do your writing can have a big impact on the quality of what you produce, as well as the relative ease or difficulty. Now, everyone is going to have slightly different ideal conditions. For some people, they like/need to be surrounded by chaos. Others need things to be clean. Some like quiet, others need noise. I can go on and on, but that’d be boring.