Tag Archives: Fiction

Cut me and I bleed Merch, take 2

 

 

Etheros

About a month ago I released an article that got loads of views about how to merchandise your novel. In this take to I’m going to go a little more in depth regarding the process, using my own experience in developing Jewellery based on the world of Etheros.

To kick things off there are a few things consider when merchandising a book, especially and indie title that doesn’t have a huge following.

  1. The merchandise has to stand on its own two feet – The items need to be appealing to the general public and not just people who have read your content. Doing this will generate more potential buyers for your book.
  2. Your stuff needs to be cheap, but not too cheap – Pricing is a complex beast, and there’s no easy rule of thumb. You need to remember that your goods are not Chanel or Louis Viton, but at the same time, they’re not cheap Chinese knock offs… I am aware that Chanel and LV are made in China (before anyone mentions it).
  3. It should get people excited about your book – Aside from creating an alternative stream of income, the product should have just enough of your world in it to get people pumped about your story.

I’m going to cover briefly the process I used to develop the runestone amulets:

Concept Stage

The amulets came to me while writing my debut novel “Sword of Unity” [Out in December], and are magical to some extent. In the current draft of the novel, some characters wear them for good luck while others use them as a channel to the 5 gods [the source of all magic]. In Etheros, they are actual stones, with the runes chiselled into their face.

Bringing them into the real world

When it comes to merchandising as a small time writer, you really need to consider price, and price was something I took into account in a big way. If there was no way to make the runestones for under $25 then they simply would not sell. I researched materials; stone, metal, wood, then finally came across clay.

Clay that air dries, and can be painted, then glazed. The materials are dirt cheap, and the raw cost of each amulet is only about $8 – Awesome… But hold up; what about Time.

This was where it got tricky. These guys take a long time to make, and as a freelance graphic designer I command around $60AU an hour for my work. Making ten of them took me two days (including drying time). I probably invested about one and a half hours in each… It is now a $98 amulet. Wowza, that’s no good.

Then I realised that the problem was not in production, but in what I’m paying myself. Merchandising your novel is a means to a different end. The time it takes you develop and make a product is part of the fun of bringing your world into ours.

Selling them

This is where it gets tricky, but there are a great many places to do it [ebay, amazon] but Etsy is a great, safe and reliable platform to launch your wares. You have store front, and place to tell your story, as well as exposure to a broader market that you normally would not have reached.

Wrap up

What do you think? Have you considered merchadising your writing [whether you have a novel, or even just a world you’ve been working on?] Have you come up with any ideas for cool items you could bring to the real world.

As I said in the first article; we’re living in a world where you don’t have to fit the mould of a trade-published author. There are loads of different ways you can bring your world into the public eye, and eventually achieve the dream of one day living off of the strength of your writing.

Thanks for reading,

Cortez

Megaladon [Flash Fiction]

Ocean swells over four meters tossed the timber long boat from left to right. The Watchmen, Hans, son of Vorge’s thick, furry hands gripped the figurehead as the sea crashed across the bow.

“Heave,” came the cry from the back of the ship. They had taken in sail and lowered the oars. The team of Nordemen rowed in perfect rhythm. “Heave.”

Lightning broke across the deepened blue clouds as rain begun to spray on the crew. “Heave.” Hans grit his teeth and held on tight, his fur cap flapped in the wind.

They had been sailing south for nearly eight days. Their target, the Southern Grasslands and the bounty of its arable lands. In the north they had no crops, and raising livestock was tough even in a long summer.

Hans knuckles whitened as he gripped the bow. Another wave crashed across the figurehead, sprayed his matted beard and stung his eyes.

“Brother,” Hans shouted back as a wooly man with a thick jaw responded from the side-mounted rudder at the stern with a nod. Hans continued, “Something roams these waters.”

“What do you see, Hans.”

“Top fin, near the size of our ship!”

The eyes of the crew shot wide as they continued to pull on the oars. As one man dropped his oar, Hans’ brother was on him. “Row you dog, the sea witch toys with us. There is no beast! Row!”

The crew grunted as they heaved, and the ship cut along the ridge of a towering swell. “Harpoon!” Hans cried as not more than twelve meters to his right, a beast the size of a house tore up out of the ocean. It broke through the surface and with what almost sounded like a wolf’s growl it flipped in the air then fell back into the deep.

His brother hurled Hans a two meter harpoon. He cut the rope that tethered it to the ship with his short sword, and locked the figurehead of the boat between his thighs.

Sweat mixed with sea water as the Hans raised the spear and beast revealed itself once more. What it looked for he did not know, but first the tip of its nose appeared, followed by a hollow black eye the size of a man’s fist. Thousands of teeth came forth from its gums as Hans stared straight down its pinkish throat.

He steeled himself. Kissed the rune of water that hung around his neck, his muscles tautened as he hurled the harpoon. It soared through the deepened sky and embedded itself in the animal’s gullet. The beast twisted fiercely. It would not die, but perhaps the wound was enough to scare it off. The creature descended into the abyss once more and Hans grit his teeth. Despite of the darkness he could still see the animals shadow beneath the surface of the water.

Hans called for another harpoon.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

handmade jewellery

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World Building: Miracle Magic

handmade jewelleryIf you’ve got gods in your world, chances are you have magic. Herein I’m going to give you the tools necessary to develop an in-depth god-based magic system for your fantasy world. A “Miracle” based magic system works better when you have multiple gods, because it allows you to assign a different school of magic to a different god. In my world [Etheros] there are 5 gods; Wind, Water, Stone, Fire, Life (very captain planet) and each one gifts its chosen in different ways.

The first thing you need to know is; who are your gods? I’ll be writing a separate section on manufacturing religions in world building, but for now, I leave that up to you. But consider what role your gods have played in the world, and what they represent. The god of love is not going to rain hell fire on one of her disciples enemies.

Forgetting Monotheism

Monotheism is a religion that worships a single deity, and unless you are creating a Christian fantasy I would recommend avoiding mono-theism. When creating a magic system powered by gods, there needs to be rituals and homage paid to a god to generate the desired spell. If you have a single god, it could get confusing for the reader.

Questions to answer

You need to answer the same questions that apply to every other article on world building magic, but there are a few extras when creating deity powered magic.

  • Ceremonies – Does calling on the gods for magic require a ceremony?

  • Homage – Human or animal sacrifice? Acts that the god likes?

  • Commune – Do characters speak with the gods? Do the gods talk back?

  • Will of the Gods – How much of the god’s own will a part of the magic system? In Etheros, magic combines all the systems, and is believed to be the will of the gods. Though, it may not be. I leave it up to the reader to decide whether the gods are real, or whether it is the belief of the people in Etheros.

  • Personality of the Gods – Is the god jealous? Tricky? How does that effect the way in which magic is used.

The limitations of miracle magic is defined by the strength of your gods. Can your gods shift mountains? Split the earth? Part seas? They do require some limitation though, which you can define by the characters connection to the god. Which is why I would advocate using a commune or ceremony to invoke magic of your gods. So unless your character has eighty goats handy, he won’t be able to lay waste to an entire army.

What do you think about miracle based magic systems? I actually don’t know of any outside of Norse, Greek and Roman mythology. Have you read a book where the gods where the source of magic wielded by the people? What did you think of it?

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

 

Old Magics [Flash Fiction]

flash fiction“Geoffrey, I have found another one,” Erys called from across the dig sight. The lean archaeologist stood up and ran her thumb across the stone. Round, and smooth, it sat in the palm of her hand, smooth imagery depicting a crescent, wrapped around a circle had been carved into its face. She had not seen one like this yet.

Geoffrey marched across the site, he hopped over a ditch and rounded a boulder at the centre. The crew of ten Mes Leonirian archaeologists had stopped work and slowly meandered toward the young woman who held the rune stone.

Erys handed it to the man and Geoffrey took out his looking glass. A steel disk, a little bigger than a man’s hand with a magnifying class set at its middle. “I have never seen this rune before,” he said.

The crowd murmured and nodded their heads. The dig sight, some sixty leagues north of Stena had been filled with these things. The sight of a High Elven tower during the immortal age, the budding historians had expected to find swords, gleaming armour and beautiful artwork. But, amidst the rocks, all they had found was more rocks.

“Put it with the others,” Erys said.

Geoffrey nodded as he wiped the rune stone on his cloak. His brow furrowed as he looked at it and turned away as the group went back to their work.

They had a pile of them, thirty, maybe more. The rune of fire, stone, water, wind, strength, sleep, longevity, life and even beer. They were dwarven relics, and their purpose seemed purely ornamental. “Maybe we can sell them,” Geoffrey called as he walked.

Erys laughed. “Perhaps, but they belong to the university now. They will probably release them once–” Erys trailed off and she dropped her pick onto the dusty ground.

The entire dig sight went silent as they looked to Geoffrey who stood over the pile of rune stones. All now glowed. Reds, greens, blues, purples, they lit up like a Summer’s End festival night.

“What is –” Geoffrey started but was cut off by a flash of light. Out of the pile it curved, like a fat, luminous serpent, then spread itself like frayed leather. The lights danced across the dusty ground, assailing the archaeologists. They turned to run, but as the light streaks hit them, they fell to the ground.

Silent as they grave they fell. Erys ran, her hips swayed and her arms pounded. Tears welled in her eyes. She did not want to die, were they dead? A read serpentine light streak coiled itself around her leg. She shrieked. It wrapped itself around her body before working its way into her screaming mouth. As it did, her vision faded to black.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

handmade jewellery

Quote Coupon Code CORTEZWP and get 25% off any of my stuff. [ends June 1st (tomorrow) 2013]

World Building: Item Magic

handmade jewelleryOtherwise known as enchanting, item magic can be added to your magic system or be the stand alone source of powers in your world. Herein I’m going to give you the necessary tools to create a convincing item based magic system.

As with all magic systems, you need to (at least for yourself) know where the magic comes from. In my world Etheros, enchanted items are rare and they come from “the immortal age” a time when dwarves imbued magical runes upon weapons, armour and objects.

  • Who makes enchanted items?
  • When?
  • How? (ingredients? Tools?)

If you are working with a caster based magic system wherein spells require the use of a tool (wand, sword, staff), you need to think about how these items are made. Were they forged by a lost civilisation? Are they made by master craftsmen?

You also need to consider the limitations of enchanted items. It is not uncommon to see an item in a fantasy world with a huge amount of power, but not every item can be this way. You need variance in your enchanted items, otherwise you may wind up writing a guild raid in World of Warcraft, and not a beautiful fantasy novel.

  • How frequent are magical items? Is your world like D&D where every man and his dog carries a magical item? Or are they extremely rare, like my world Etheros?
  • What is the strongest enchantment an item carries? In my debut novel “Sword of Unity” [out in December], there are two: Vengeance (the badies’ sword) and Unity (the hero’s sword), they are matched only by each other in power.
  • What is the weakest enchantment an item carries? Think of D&D, Baldurs Gate and the old Long Sword +1. What is the weakest thing a magical item in your world will do?
  • Relevance to the story – Personally I like magical items to be a part of the tale itself, rather than simple attachments to the characters.
  • Make a list of common enchantments – As always, I don’t like comprehensive lists, but a great starting point is to make a list of commonly occurring magical items. E.g. Bracers of strength, sword of fire.

Item based magic was a short one because as I got into writing the realisation hit me that I could blather on for hours. So at some point I will be adding to almost every aspect of this tutorial.

Was there anything in here that you hadn’t considered while developing your enchanted items? Was there something extra you did take into account?

Thanks for reading,

Cortez

 

World Building: Caster Magic

worldbuilding: magicCaster magic is by far the most common form of magic in fantasy writing. Throughout this post I am going to give you ideas, and a things you need to solidify when creating a magic system that is hinged by the people who use it.

The first thing, which was detailed in my last post “World Building: Magic, getting started” is to decide who uses the magic. Everyone? A select few? A chosen one? In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, only women can use magic, while men go insane when they harness it. There are two major factors in developing caster magic;

  • How is it used?

  • The spells

The how needs to be answered first and foremost. How do wizards or witches; warlocks or liches utilize the magic in your world? Beneath is a list of different method that can, and have been used in fantasy.

  • Vocal – Power words, incantations. If your spells need to be vocalised you also need to actually write what needs to be said. Tips for writing incantations:

    • Maintain a theme within incantations. Take Rowling’s Harry Potter as an example. The spells have a whimsical, Latin feel to them.

    • Consider having the incantation imply the effect of the magic – Lumos [Harry Potter] illuminates their wands. Luminous means lit.

  • Tool – Do your characters require a item to utilise magic? Be it a wand, a book, some other item of power [see Item Magic].

  • Ingredients – Do the spells require any special ingredients. Powders, leaves.

  • Gestures – This is a tricky one to write. If you put in a complex list of hand gestures, people will lose track of what the characters are actually doing.

    • KISS it [Keep it Simple Stupid]

    • Use simple gestures

    • Use blanket terms e.g. Peter’s hands moved all about in all directions, before flame sprung from his finger tips.

Creating spells is fun, and to be perfectly honest I would recommend you write them into your story as necessary. Creating a list of spells is a great way to better understand your magic system, though. But it should act as more of a guide to creating spells as you write, as opposed to an end-all list of what a magician can or can’t do.

  • Purpose of the Spell – What does it do? Why would you use it?

  • Who can use it – Does your character need to be a skilled mage to use this spell? Or will a young, new wizard be able to use it?

  • Gesture(s) or incantation or tool required.

  • Ingredients (if any)

These are just a few of the things one needs to consider when developing caster magic. It is a massively complex process but this is a good starting point. Once the initial set of articles are up, I will be going more in depth into each element of caster magic (eg. Ingredients, tools, etc).

Hopefully you learnt something that you can apply to your own world building exercises.  Is there anything you would add?

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

World Building: Magic, Getting Started

worldbuilding: magic

I feel like I say “things to consider” in almost every post. Perhaps I’m a terrible writer, but either way, I know world building and in this post I shall impart some of the jewels in the crown that is; creating a brilliant magic system.

 

 

 

  • Origin
  • Capacity
  • Who?

First thing to work out is the origin of magic in the world. Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to say “it’s just there” but to better understand your own magic system there are a few questions you should answer that will help give your magic depth:

  1. Where did it come from? Do people know its origin?
  2. Who discovered it? – Was there an ancient wizard? A demi-god?
  3. How long have the races in your world been using it?
  4. Is it considered good or evil?
  5. Why is it considered good or evil?
  6. Does it come from something, or someone? eg. Winds of Magic (Warhammer), The true source (Wheel of Time).
  7. Are items required to use it? Wand (harry potter), crystal ball (that creepy woman at the carnival).
  8. How is it controlled? Mental, hand gestures, voice, items?

The uses of your magic, or magic’s capacity is another extremely important thing to consider. You need to give characters a level cap, so to speak, and you also need to have room to grow. A magic user who just discovers their power need to learn how to use it, or perhaps control it. There are some questions to ask yourself about the capacity of your magic.

  1. What can your magic do? Break mountains, cause rainstorms, move things around? Generate a list of stuff that people in your world do with magic. But keep in mind that this is a loose set of guidelines and not a strict can or can’t system.
  2. How is use attained? Is the person simply gifted? Is it taught? Little form column A, little from column B?
  3. How do they improve? Practice harnessing the powers or do they read spell books and learn new things?

Who uses your magic? It was a question answered loosely in the capacity section but I wanted to go more in depth. Can the magic in your world be taught to any old joe? Can it be used by anyone who possesses a certain item? Are wizards a secret order? Or does everyone know (and perhaps fear) them?

Hopefully you took something from this piece, maybe even got a few ideas for your current project. What do you think?

Thanks for reading,

Cortez