anonymous asked:

hi, do you have anything about combining magic and technology? :)

Hi there.

I’ve found a few resources which I’ve listed below. Otherwise, here are a few tips that might help you out with this. 

Think About How Magic & Technology Would Interact

Personally, I think it makes more sense for the technology in the world to be powered by the pre-existing magic… but of course, that’s not an absolute rule and by all means, the magic doesn’t necessarily have to exist before the technology.

However, it is important to think about how these two elements interact. Imagine if it was commonplace in our world for people to wield energy. Do you think we would be using that to power electrical devices and the things we rely on, or would we still burn through our natural resources?

What would weapons look like, what kind of devastation would they bring? How would the way we educate our children change, and what kind of professions and skills would emerge out of this new magical era?

Think about the science and machinery we already have. What would happen if we added magic into the mix?

Establish Rules

The more you know about the world you’re writing, the easier it is to work with. What is the ‘norm’, first of all? Once you know what can and cannot be done between these two things, then you know exactly how much room you have to play in. It also helps the reader get a grasp of the world’s laws, keeping things easy to understand and most importantly, easy to imagine.

Consider the Environment

I’m really showing my nerd colours today, but there were a couple of games that sprung to mind when you said this, where I think the combination of magic and technology is done well. The first being FFXIV: A Realm Reborn

It’s a MMORPG; in the world of Eorzea, you can play as characters such as Black Mage, White Mage, etc… Typically, magic-wielders, who use Magic Points as power behind their attacks/spells. Having played through the WHM route, there was a heavy emphasis on the interaction between the use of magic and the direct effect it had on the environment.

Whilst some believed using the magics of the natural world was exploitation, others saw it as a way of establishing harmony between Eorzea and the elementals, proving the two could coexist and help one another.

Anyway, in this world of magic and mystery, there is also the Garlean Empire who have advanced technology known as magitek (something which appears in VI too). As you can imagine, it’s a mix of magic and technology. The machines the Garleans create are powered by ‘Ceruleum’, a powerful, unstable form of energy.

In the game, there are a couple of areas where Garlean territory lies in the midst of the almost medieval-style, magical parts of the realm. They have huge, metallic structures and bases, patrolled by soldiers and weaponised Vanguards. They’re heavily associated with - and tied to - very unnatural practices and materials. The magitek mount is animated machinery, powered by the magics already present in the world (as Ceruleum is mined or created by draining elemental crystals).

All I can say is that it looks pretty unnatural to move from the earthy, rocky settings of Western Thanalan (desert-country) into Cape Westwind, to name on example. So it’ll be interesting to think about how the technology appears in comparison to the magic, assuming the latter is natural, of course.

Consider Technological Advancement

Another game where this kind of mechanical-magical merge is prominent is Lost Odyssey. This is set during a magical industrial revolution, in which the sudden increase of power in magic brings with it a huge amount of weapon-tech, including machinery which can harvest the power of certain elemental magics to further research and industrial expansion.

In the game - although I haven’t played it for many, many years - I remember walking around the cities and seeing the magical generators and machines that saw to the upkeep and maintenance of everyday life.

Also, technology is something that some countries aggressively pursue whilst others don’t. Industrial revolution might not happen everywhere at the same time, so it might be useful to think about how different aspects of your world are affected, specifically how the balance between the two comes across from place-to-place.

Anyway, these are just very basic things to think about. It’s always useful to keep an eye out for follower responses too as you can get some suggestions that way. Otherwise, please find resources below!

I hope this helps… best of luck…!


- enlee

Architecture Tips and Links

Anonymous asked: Hi there, firstly let me say I adore what you all do here - it’s so useful and you put so much time into it! Secondly, I came to ask for architecture terms. In my writings, the cities have magnificent palaces and cathedrals, but I am at a total loss on how to describe them sufficiently, not knowing the terminology. Could you please help?

Hello right back, friend anon! Thanks very much for the kind words. We appreciate your support!

This is a tough question to answer because architecture is nearly as old as humanity and there are literally thousands (maybe millions) of architecture terms used in thousands languages across thousands of cultures and thousands of years. 

I have some advice for you, and then I have a decently large stack of links which may or may not be helpful to you. Shall we proceed?

  1. Narrow down your time and place. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a much easier time with research.
  2. If you’re writing a Fantasy or SciFi story, find an architectural style or styles to use as a base and draw from those terms associated with that style. I do not mean steal from the culture of that architectural style willy nilly. Learn about the culture from source material (and people of that culture), learn why the architecture developed as it did, and make conscious, well-informed decisions about which aspects of the architecture style you will use. As always, be thoughtful. Be respectful.*
  3. Do the research. I know you’re not an architect. (Or maybe you are. No judgement.) You haven’t really been exposed to architectural terms and don’t have much context for them. It’s okay. You don’t have to be an expert. Just find someone who is and ask them. If a professor or professional architect or scholar is too daunting, try going to a student of architecture or someone who runs an architecture blog with your questions. Also, libraries are great. Actual books can be helpful here, maybe more so than any links I could give you. 
    Anyway, do yourself a favor and actually spend a bit of time learning about architecture. It will help to understand the terms you’re using instead of just plugging something into your writing that sounds about right. You wouldn’t use hand when you mean knuckle, and you shouldn’t use cloister when you mean arcade.

*If you lift an architectural style from a culture and use it in your Speculative Fiction story without bothering to do any research or understand that architectural style’s place within that culture, I get why you’re doing it. Research is hard and time-consuming, and it can be really, really boring. It’s tempting to skim the surface, or not to do any research at all, relying on “conventional wisdom” or what you’ve gleaned from the media to inform your choices. It’s certainly easier, more comfortable, not to research well. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for this type of story. Lord knows there have been plenty of badly researched bestsellers.

If you do write something without putting sufficient effort into your research, however, expect to be called out as lazy and willfully ignorant. I say “willfully ignorant” because if you didn’t know better before, you certainly do now.

Okay, on to the links!

Though I found this topic interesting enough to dig into a bit myself, I’d like to call your attention to WriteWorld’s Research Rule. Please bear it in mind as you ask questions in the future.

Thanks for your question!


  • garnetportrait said: i really hope this isn’t too pretentious or too forward, but i am currently writing a novel around the victorian aristocracy, i just saw your post on architecture tips/tricks/hints etc,and just wanted to say that i have done lots and lots of research on victorian country houses/mansions/palaces and their architecture to ensure my novel remains historically accurate, so i would be happy to try and answer any questions from writers who are also tackling something similar, and on aristocracy! (:
Boston Gothic

[aggressively jumps on the train of “[location] Gothic” posts]

  • There is road work going on somewhere and even if it is completely out of your way it doubles the length of your commute.
  • People speak of road work with terror in their eyes and a tremor in their voices. They look around furtively every time they mention the Big Dig. You have heard tales of people who went into the tunnels and never came out.
  • There is an accident on the I-93. There is always an accident on the I-93. It is the same accident.
  • When you start your car the weatherman on the radio warns you to drive safely and beware of black ice on the roads. When he signs off you remember his name - he is the one who lost control of his car on an icy road and died a year ago. You also realize that you never turned the radio on.
  • You take a midnight walk. The lights on the Zakum Bridge flash out mysterious missives in Morse code and the lights on the Pru and the Hancock respond.
  • On your midnight walk, Dunkin Donuts beckons you with its lights, its warmth, its active bustle of life, but the sign on the door tells you that is closed 4 hours ago so you stay outside. Whatever those things are in there, you have a feeling they won’t sell you iced coffee.
  • Your train is delayed for adjustments to a non-existent schedule. You sit in a dark tunnel and you could swear that, out of the corner of your eye, you see something pressing its hands and face against the window, but when you turn to look nothing is there.
  • At 2 AM you hear the eerie whistle of a train. It takes you a moment to remember that the T stopped running at 12:30.
  • There are mysterious lights at the end of the tunnels at every terminus station. They glow an eerie blue and sometimes seem to pulsate. No one knows what they are for. No one questions them. The maintenance workers, when asked, deny their existence.
  • Even though you are in the heart of the city, the breeze carries the smell of the ocean and you suddenly feel seaweed tangling around your body as the water pulls you down again. 
  • You take a walk on the Esplanade. The bridges grow before your eyes, stretching onward endlessly into the void. The trees whisper prophecies, some of them true. You hear running footsteps. You move to let them pass but they never get any closer or further away. As you walk home they follow you, a steady beat in your head. 
  • You do not walk on the ice over the Charles, not because it is too thin but because if you do you will see bloated frozen hands and arms pressing against the ice from beneath. Once you saw a face. It still haunts you.
  • The trees on Comm Ave whisper secrets. The trees in the Common whisper prayers. No one can understand what the trees in the Public Garden are trying to say. No one wants to.
  • The swans in the Public Garden died years ago but every spring the city sets them afloat on the pond just the same. 
  • The triangle on the Citgo sign recedes away from you deeper and deeper into the void, and then all of a sudden it is right in front of you again as if it never left.
  • The sign towers over the city, and silent, ageless, improbable guardian. When we are gone the sign will still stand. When all is gone, the sign will remain. 
  • The number of non-stop flights out of Logan increases every day. Get out, the posters say, as if the city itself wants you to go. Get out. Get out while you still can.
  • The students keep on coming. Every September they descend upon the city in droves and until June it is their city. Get out. This place is not for you. It belongs to them now. It is not yours. It has never been yours. 

By Whitney Strix Beltrán

Role-playing games offer participants limitless opportunities to explore new places, characters, and ideas. Do you want to be a vampire pirate? Cool! A cyberpunk android? All right! Do you want your game to take place in a medieval fantasy kingdom, a post-apocalyptic dystopian wasteland, or even other galaxies? No problem! With imagination the only barrier for what can be created, there should be a vast field of narratives told through games. Yet, role-playing games are often more narrowly defined.

Role-playing games have an established history of leaving setting and characters a blank slate, while often loosely drawing inspiration from Western themes.

For example, when I was a kid and I played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, we came in with unexamined expectations—the city we saved was always filled with white people, the mayor of the town was always a man, the kingdom was always vaguely built around an imagined medieval Europe. As an adult, I still see these elements and themes repeated in games today.


This Is a Towel: Setting

Anonymous said: Can you link me to some posts you have about making up settings, specifically in fantasy?

Firstly, what is a setting? Here’s a great definition from UDL Editions:

Setting: The setting is the environment in which a story or event takes place. Setting can include specific information about time and place (e.g. Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809) or can simply be descriptive (eg. a lonely farmhouse on a dark night). Often a novel or other long work has an overall setting (e.g. a Midwestern town during the Depression), within which episodes or scenes occur in different specific settings (eg. the courthouse). Geographical location, historical era, social conditions, weather, immediate surroundings, and time of day can all be aspects of setting. 

A setting is a literary component, one of the fundamentals of fiction along with plot, character, theme, and style (x). As such, it’s worth pursuing a deep understanding of the effect of setting on the story and in relation to every other literary element in your toolbox.

Along with tone, setting creates the atmosphere of your story. Right from the beginning, a story’s atmosphere draws readers in and sets up expectations for them about the story they will experience.

For example:

It was a bleak evening, to be sure. The blackening gray sky cowered low on the horizon, and the Morrow house sat straight-backed and alone on the hill, its old Victorian towers and turrets puncturing the bellies of the clouds. 

The atmosphere here is morose, maybe even sinister. The beginnings of a setting can be seen at the mention of the Morrow house, an old Victorian mansion at the top of a hill (and the story’s location), and by the mention of the weather.

The tone, which complements and strengthens the setting, is conveyed by the descriptions, the word choices made by the writer. Words like “bleak”  and “blackening” and “gray” as well as phrases like “cowered low,” “straight-backed and alone,” and “puncturing the bellies” contribute to the grim tone. The name of the house, “Morrow,” feels somber and austere, and the inclusion of “Victorian,” a time period known for its gothic novels and strict but often subverted moral code, both advance the tone of this example.

From your first word to your last, setting and tone work together as atmosphere to introduce the reader to the story and lure them in. To think of tone and setting as separate literary elements is to limit their utility. They are sisters, and each should be considered with the other as you write.

A believable setting lends credibility to the world of your story. If your setting feels real, whole and established, the rest of the story feels stronger and more substantial within it. Just to reiterate, the setting of a story includes but is not limited to:

  • Geographical Location
  • Immediate Surroundings
  • Historical Era
  • Social Conditions/Culture
  • Weather/Climate
  • Time (Hour/Day/Year)

So, now that we know what it is, how do you get a setting? A huge part of setting creation is worldbuilding (world-building, world building), so let’s talk about that. From Wikipedia:

Worldbuilding: The process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. 

Though worldbuilding can include character development as well, its primary focus is on the creation of a solid setting. With that in mind, here’s a semi-organized list of worldbuilding posts from WriteWorld and elsewhere.

Keep reading


This is going to cover the basic physical structure of trains & some terminology & other important things about the physical aspects of trains. I’ve tried to include everything that I could find or think of, if there is anything that I have gotten wrong or missed, please add it on! :)

Railway vehicles listed by usage

Glossary of rail transport terms

The people who work on trains

Types of Trains

  • High Speed Trains [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Generally defined as trains that can operate 125mph or faster. High speed trains generally connect large metropolitan areas (with very few stops in between) and are meant to be competitive with airlines in terms of overall travel time.
    Although High Speed Rail trains in general are compatible with regular passenger and freight trains (and often share tracks at major stations in Europe), it requires dedicated tracks to operate at high speed.
  • Inter-City Trains [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Generally mean trains traveling long distances connecting metropolitan areas. Although the distances covered by some of these trains are comparable to airlines, inter-city trains generally operate at highway speed. Long distance inter-city trains may provide amenities not found on most other forms of transportation, including sleeper-cars and cafe/dining cars.
  • Commuter/Regional Trains [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Generally mean trains connecting suburban areas with the central city and primarily serves riders to and from work. Commuter trains typically run on weekdays, during rush hours, and only in the peak directions.
    Many commuter trains in Europe, as well as some in the U.S. use electric multiple units instead of locomotives. In a multiple-unit train, every car (or every other car) in the train has motors which are capable of propelling the vehicle. Multiple unit trains are more reliable (with multiple engine/motors rather than one engine) and more efficient (by easily changing train length for peak and off-peak hours).
  • Rapid Transit [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Also known as metro, subway, and heavy rail, mean trains that generally serve the urban-core, have large passenger capacity, and operate totally separate from road traffic. In order to run separately from road traffic in the city-core, rapid transit trains would run either above or underground.
  • Light Rail [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Which might be also known as trolley and streetcars, mean trains that function as local transit in an urban-core and can operate on the street-level. Compared to rapid transit, light rail costs less, is more pedestrian friendly, but has less passenger capacity. The major advantage with light rail is that it can operate like rapid transit or like local buses, depending on the available infrastructure.
  • Modern Streetcar [images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]
    Typically have smaller dimensions and operate at slower speed than their light rail counterpart. The streetcars are meant to facilitate local circulation in the urban core (and serve as a catalyst for transit oriented developments) rather than connecting nearby suburbs with downtown.

[larger image]

Steam engine

A steam engine is a machine that converts the heat energy of steam into mechanical energy. A steam engine passes its steam into a cylinder, where it then pushes a piston back and forth. It is with this piston movement that the engine can do mechanical work. The steam engine was the major power source of the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It dominated industry and transportation for 150 years.

What are the parts of a steam locomotive?

  • Driving wheels - the large steel wheels attached to the engine
  • Cab - the place where the engineer rides and operates the locomotive
  • Boiler - where water is turned into steam by hot gases from the firebox
  • Steam dome - located at the top of the boiler, it holds the steam
  • Firebox - place for the fire in a steam locomotive
  • Smokestack - place where steam and smoke leave the steam locomotive

Words to Know

  • Condenser: An instrument for cooling air or gases.
  • Cylinder: The chamber of an engine in which the piston moves.
  • Piston: A sliding piece that is moved by or moves against fluid pressure within a cylindrical vessel or chamber.
  • Turbine: An engine that moves in a circular motion when force, such as moving water, is applied to its series of baffles (thin plates or screens) radiating from a central shaft.


anonymous asked:

My story exists in sort of an alternate reality world... But how do I make that happen? I want them to have the same cultures as our world does, as well as some medical terms and names and things like that? But it's a different world from Earth? Do you have any suggestions for how that could work?

Hi, Anon…!

I think it’s important to set some rules for your world as you build it. This will make it a little easier for you to decide the core elements of it and what can or can’t be allowed to happen.

An alternate reality (or parallel universe) is typically set on the same world as the actual reality, except there are changes that cause the species living there to have a different version of what’s ‘normal’.

First of all, you need to decide exactly what things you want to keep the same as the original world, and understand why they are the same when other things are different.

So medical terms usually stem from a specific event or person/thing directly involved with its discovery. For example, Penicillin derives from Penicillium, the fungi in which this antibiotic molecule is found.

If you wanted to keep that in, then we can assume that Alexander Fleming et al. existed in the early 1900s and did all of the things they did on the original planet Earth leading up to the discovery and subsequent medical application of Penicillin. Or, if there were any changes to this point in time at all, they were so minor that this particular event wouldn’t have been affected anyway.

You could even consider word origin, if you wanted to go that deeply into it, but don’t concern yourself too much with over-researching as you might not ever feel comfortable enough to get around to writing your story…! Remember, first drafts are there to be improved upon and they aren’t perfect. You also have the power to decide what goes into your story, and what stays out.

It might all sound pretty complicated, but this is all for your own clarity, so your research can be as in-depth as you like. By considering these things, however, you will begin to tackle the ‘how could that work?’ part of your question.

I would advise starting with fairly simple rules at first. Write down all of the things you want to be different on this alternate world and then look at why that difference could exist. Ask questions to these differences until you feel like there are no more answers to gain from it.

Even if you don’t have all of the answers right away, you can develop them over time until you have created the world you want to create.

I hope this helps. Please look below for more resources to help you with world building and writing alternate worlds…!


- enlee

by Stephannie

A few days ago I wrote a post that talked about using a real place in your fiction. Today I want to talk about creating a fictional setting for your fiction. The good thing about creating a fictional place is that anything can happen in that world. The bad thing is that some authors think they don’t have to follow the rules because their world is not real.

You have to follow some rules though. Yeah, I know. You create this world from your imagination and it’s not real, so why should you have to limit it. One simple reason: Readers have to believe in your world and accept what is happening to your characters.

Just as I mentioned in Ever Want to Use a Real Place in Your Fiction and Get Away with it? readers may be willing to suspend belief, but they also have certain expectations, and while they may allow you to get away with fictional events and monsters, their minds will immediately contradict something it knows is not true.

Read More →