Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest: History of the Frederikaners

History of the Frederikaners
from 'Shepherd'

The seed colonists of the planet Niesse are a distinct nationality/ethnicity known as the Frederikaners. The main group of Frederikaners live outside the Terran Empire, and are under the authority of an alien species known as the Gray, and live on a continent on one of the Five Worlds that is owned by the Gray. This is their history.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest: Geography of Niesse

Geography and Climate of Niesse

Niesse is a world in the Terran Empire, from a WIP with the working title 'Shepherd'.

The planet Niesse is located on the Wieman Expanse, a relatively new slipstream trail with a start-point at the Star Colony Olmayo. Niesse is in the third stage of terraforming and is under control of Grovanli Iterations, an ellessee new to the enterprise of terraforming.

The view on the planet Niesse, regardless of where one chooses to land, is bleak, as is common in a terraformed world at this stage. It looks like a bleak endless sand desert--- rocky in some spots--- with no visible living things.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest starts Monday!!!

Sharon Bayliss is hosting a Worldbuilding Blogfest which starts this Monday. There are post suggestions for each day of the blogfest.

I've found such events are a chance to visit other blogs and to be visited by them, so I am participating. Hope you will consider doing so as well.

Here is the Blogfest list:

Population Dystopia in Fiction

Especially in science fiction, from time to time we see fictional characters coping with a population dystopia--- a demographic trend which causes widespread problems for the human race--- or for any other race you happen to be writing about.

Population dystopias come in two major types: the population bomb of overly high population growth and a demographic winter of falling birthrates, an aging population, and population shrinkage.

In near-future fiction, using either of these themes is sure to provoke extreme emotional reaction in people who have strong opinions on either of these demographic theories. In stories set in the far future or in fantasy world settings, you can hope that these reactions will be toned down.

The Population Bomb: I remember reading a copy of 'The Population Bomb' by Paul Ehrlich. His chilling prediction that high population growth would lead to famine in America and Europe by the end of the 1970s would have been even more compelling had I not been reading it in the late 1980s.

Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room is a science fictional treatment of the population bomb theme with the usual overcrowding/food shortage theme. This book was make into the movie Soylent Green, which added commercialized cannibalism into the mix. I still remember Charlton Heston running around screaming about soylent green being made of people. In the book, of course, it was made of soy--- or perhaps soy and lentils, or some hybrid of the soybean and the lentil.

Orson Scott Card's book Ender's Game (a Hugo and Nebula award winner) has the population bomb as a minor theme. In Ender's world, governments forbid families to have more than two children. Excess children from non-complying families are not permitted in the schools (which all seem to be government schools). Ender's parents gave up their non-complying religious faiths--- Catholic and Mormon--- in order to get an education, but when the government asked them to have a third child because their first two were almost-but-not-quite what the government needed in a future military leader, they feel quite awkward about it.

Demographic Winter: This theme is not as widely used, though it can be found in a number of fantasy series featuring elves. The elven race is quite frequently seen as experiencing a demographic winter of falling birth rates.

For example, in Mercedes Lackey's elves-and-race-cars series, the elves are seen as cherishing and protecting abused children, often kidnapping such children from their violently abusive parents. The motive is given that elves cherish children because they have so few of their own. The common demographic winter concern of masses of elderly people needing care and few young people to give it is not shown--- the elves may all be over one hundred, but they seem like young people or at worst, middle aged. But it is obvious that the elves' adoption of abused children is a custom that would provide them with a substitute labor force to help them care for elderly elves when it got to the point there were not enough young elves for the job.

If you have read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood you may have thought it a simple work of new-feminist polemic or of anti-Christianist bigotry. And those are indeed the reasons why the work is taught in schools as literature. But the book also contains a demographic winter theme.  The absurd walking stereotypes of a liberal's view of 'fundamentalists' (evangelical Christians) are experiencing a demographic winter caused by widespread infertility. The feminist heroine, as an enemy of the Gilead state who is a woman of proven fertility, is placed in a home as a 'handmaid'--- a household servant who is expected to bear a child to the household's master. I must applaud Miss Atwood for taking the trouble to create an actual motivation like this for her absurd Christian caricatures. A lesser writer wouldn't have troubled to think of a reason for them to do this evil other than 'that's how evil those Christians are'.  While I personally think Miss Atwood might have taken the trouble to actually meet and talk to a conservative Christian in person before writing this book in order to ground the Gilead characters in some faint semblance of reality, she did at least do enough of her homework in world building and in creating her main character to enable me to find the book not only readable but re-readable, in spite of the bigotry in it directed at my own faith.

Have you ever thought of using a population dystopia theme in your fiction? Was it a major theme of the work, or only a side issue? Did you make it close to the population concerns people have about the real world, or did you try to make it quite fictional and distinct from people's view of real-world population issues?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Worst Author Blog Ever

Once I saw an author blog by a man who had written a self-published novel. He had been told that he should have an author blog. He decided that what that blog was about was his book, and himself as an author

And so he made a few posts to announce when the book came out, and when it became available on And then, being a fine Christian gentleman who didn't feel right about immodestly talking about himself, he stopped posting for lack of anything appropriate and Christian to say.

But that blog was not the Worst Author Blog Ever. That would have to go to one of the many authors who have made the same decision about what their blog is about--- their book, and themselves as author--- and somehow managed to find things to post about on this topic every day for months or years.

If you want a blog that will connect with potential readers, you need a blog that talks about what they might be interested in--- and at first, your book will not be among those things.

You need to decide what your blog is about--- perhaps write an 'elevator pitch' or a one-sentence summary of your blog topic. It can be about your genre, about the writing life, about the fact that your cat is plotting against you---- anything that can help you reach out to like-minded blog readers.

Another important factor in avoiding that Worst Author Blog Ever title is to follow the Golden Rule--- do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Do you want other blogs to mention your book or blog? Mention the books or blogs of others. Do you want others to review your book/blog kindly? Review the books or blogs of others kindly--- pretend the author of these works is looking over your shoulder as you write. Do you want others to respect your opinions even if they disagree with them? Respect the opinions of others; if their opinions are beyond the pale (as in admirers of Adolf Hitler), at least be as kind as you can to the holder of the opinion. (Calling people dirty no-good skunks never changes their opinion, anyway.)

One published author whose blog I have followed mainly attracted me by how she followed the Golden Rule in her internet presence, Holly Lisle. Her web site and blog is filled with useful advice for beginning writers. Now, I had read a few Holly Lisle books years ago and didn't care for them very much. But after year after year of checking in on Holly Lisle's blog from time to time, I recently picked up one of Holly's books second-hand. I got hooked, and bought the next two books in the trilogy as soon as I finished that book. Her internet work had eventually turned me into a reader of her fiction.

Are you a writer who may have had trouble with this new requirement that authors become bloggers? How has it been working out for you lately? Do you have any wisdom to share?

Monday, January 21, 2013

You should be committed!

Do you dream of being a published writer? You should be committed! No, not that kind of committed. You should be committed to your writing. Not just writing in general, but your particular writing project, right now.

It's hard to do this. We get a good idea for a novel, work on it a bit, and then other ideas come along. If the work on Novel #1 is going well, we may ignore the other ideas for now. But when the road becomes rocky on Novel #1, and those other wonderful novel-ideas are beckoning--- we start Novel #2.

For some of us, this first step of abandoning our novel for a better idea becomes the start of a pattern. We start a novel with high hopes, the novel seems less of a good idea each time we work on it, and before long we leave it unfinished to pursue some new novel idea.

This problem is we have not firmly committed ourselves to writing our Novel #1, working on it every day, until it is finished. If we are committed at all, it is a lukewarm commitment 'until a better idea comes along'. And if you have 'the right stuff' to be a writer, better ideas, or at least newer ideas that seem better, will always be coming along.

So, today, this day, make a firm commitment. That novel project you've got going right now--- you will finish it. Every day, say to yourself: "I commit to finishing (name of novel). I will work on it every day until it is finished."

And then, do it. When the idea appears in your mind to shift your work onto some other project, treat it like the idea of running out on a booze-binge or the idea of running off to Mexico with a cute secretary. Because that idea is a temptation, while the novel that you are committed to--- that's your wife. Be faithful to her!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Writers Lack Self-Confidence

If you are a writer, and you are not yet published, I'd be willing to bet good money on one thing: at least some of the time, you lack confidence in your writing, and, thus, in yourself as an author.

It's only natural. As children in school, our first writing efforts may have been 'rewarded' by having our little stories returned full of corrections--- sometimes unneeded ones. Like the time my mother as a child had been assigned to write about an imaginary country. She created one called Boland--- which the teacher corrected to 'Poland'. Mom's lacked confidence in her writing ever since.

Or perhaps you went to the kind of school

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Linguistic Aspects of Worldbuilding

In fantasy and science fiction, some degree of world-building is essential. In fact, if you start out without doing some world-building type planning, you may end up writing a world that is a clone of Narnia, Valdemar, Middle-Earth or Darkover without intending to.

A centrally important aspect of world-building is language. You don't have to do what J. R. R. Tolkien did and construct languages for your fantasy world. But your novel will have characters and places, and those characters and places will have names. You want those names to add to
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