Tag Archives: world building

Conflict in Fiction – The Lesser Wars

Hi everyone!

Before I started writing what would become the final rendition of book 1 of the Sword of Dragons, the story began with a map.  At first all I did was draw in the lines for the continents, and then I started picking where cities and land features would be…and as I marked down the cities, I began to formulate the countries, and their back stories.

And thus, conflict was born.  Four kingdoms, two at each other’s throats, with the other two supporting one or the other.  Every couple of generations, a new war would start.

When the kingdoms briefly united against the common foe, Klaralin, many wondered if peace would finally reign upon his defeat.  But it was less than a century before Tal and Falind were at each other’s throats again, with Erien and Saran supporting each respectively.  These recurring conflicts, in comparison to the war against Klaralin, became known as the Lesser Wars.

But…why has conflict always broken out between Tal and Falind?  Why are these two countries destined to squabble century after century?  And will the peace that has come between them after book 1 last?

Remembering and Forgetting

By the time book 1 takes place, Tal and Falind have had periodic wars for over five thousand years.  No one remembers the reason behind the first conflict.  Somewhere in one of the sanctuaries of the Order of the Ages, there is a history book that tells of the first war, but even the greatest scholars have not seen nor read this book in millennia.

What often sparks the Lesser Wars now are land disputes.  Every time a new mine or other resource is discovered somewhere along the border, or every time a Warrior patrol from one kingdom strays into the other, it becomes the impetus for a new war.

One thing is for certain, the Warriors’ Guild has been at the head of almost every conflict (almost.)  When Cardin Kataar learns of this, it is one of the many reasons he begins to have second thoughts about joining the Warriors.

Is he right?  Are the Warriors the reason for the continual cycle of the Lesser Wars?  Can the cycle be broken?

As Professor River Song would say, Spoilers ;)

But this begs the question…at this point, does the original reason even matter?  If someone were to find this book and discover the original reason, could they point to this and say “See?  This reason is no longer valid.  Why are we still fighting?”  Or would the book give them more reason to fight?

Or, going back to the original question…would it even matter?

As we’ve seen in the real world, “yesterday’s enemies can be today’s allies; today’s allies can be tomorrow’s enemies.”  Today the United States and Britain are close allies.  250 years ago, we were enemies.  No one cares about those old grievances so much anymore.

So in all reality, no, a grievance five thousand years ago really has no play on the current conflicts.  At worst, if someone from the time of the current book series were to learn of the original reason, they might use it as an excuse to continue war.

Currently I have no plans of ever revealing in the book series why the original conflict began.  But the original reason is a matter of sovereignty, stretching back to the era of Archos and Talus themselves.  As the first kingdom, Tal, grew larger, it became more and more difficult to maintain the breadth of the Kingdom.  Saran and Falind were both formed around the same time as one another, named after their first sovereigns.

The leader of Tal at the time did not care for this outright revolt.  These lands were under his rule.  So he declared war.

And Tal lost that first war, and was forced to concede Saran and Falind’s independence.  But Tal didn’t forget, and never forgave.

Fortunate for Saran, their capitol was formed at the end of a labyrinth of valleys in a vast land of mesas, and was nestled against the sea, and so was easily protected.  Tal, realizing that they could never hope to take Sharenth, let them be, and when they had built up enough strength, marched upon only Falind.  Saran, unwilling to let Tal have their way with an independent nation, attacked Tal’s forces.

So the cycle began.  The seeds of hatred between Tal and Falind were formed, and the customary alliance between Falind and Saran was born.

Tal never conquered Falind, though they came close many times.  As the original reasons were forgotten, there even came a point when Falind had designs on conquering Tal, putting to rest the Lesser Wars once and for all.

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into the history of Halarite and the four kingdoms!  If you enjoyed this, let me know and I’ll delve even deeper into Halarite’s history as time goes on!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

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Pre-writing Process – World Building

Hi everyone!

So the term pre-writing…I’m not sure if that’s a real term or not, I just made it up, but think of it like pre-production in a movie.  It is, in my opinion, essential to writing a good novel.

Image Source: http://www.makingstarwars.net
Image Source: http://www.makingstarwars.net

What do they do in pre-production?  They finalize the script, select their cast, work through and approve things like concept art, set design, costume design.  Then they build the sets and create the costumes, build the props, schedule shooting times and arrange everyone’s schedule.  Production or principle photography doesn’t begin until the majority of these items are taken care of.

Why do they do this?  So that when they start production, it isn’t chaos, everyone knows what they are doing and when and how.  This also means they spend less money.  A lot less.  Sure things will change along the way, script changes, wardrobe redesigns, set redresses to make a scene look or work better, etc, but the groundwork is laid, and any changes become easier to work with within the given framework.

Pre-writing is the same concept, but is more about world building and character creation.  It is important so that you ensure your novel, and any subsequent novels you might make, is consistent, rich, developed, and interesting.  Even if you don’t use everything you create in this stage, it’ll create the universe more clearly in your own imagination.  And while readers might not consciously be aware of your efforts when they read the end-product, it has a very real affect on the quality of the final product, and readers do notice that.

Plus you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches in the end :)

World Building

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

World building can include a lot of things, and can be done in many different ways, but there are some consistencies.  For starters, as you come up with ideas, write them down!  Whether you scribble it on the back of a napkin, jot it down in a notebook, or type it up on a computer, get it down as you think of it, or as soon as you can afterwords!

Immediately putting it onto a tangible medium allows you to get the idea down before it starts to become ‘fuzzy’ in your mind.  However, remember that this is still pre-writing.  So don’t treat it like it’s prose or a final product.  Ask yourself questions on paper, answer them if you can or leave them for later, jot down things inconsistently if you have to.  Let your imagination flow freely!

Here’s an example from the journal I’m using for developing my modern fantasy: “The barrier is created to prevent a malevolent force from coming to Earth.  Why does that force want to come to Earth?  For that matter, who or what is it?”

It isn’t developed, it isn’t complete, it was just a couple of lines from the very first inklings I had on the story.  Only more recently have I figured out who that ‘malevolent force’ is.

Research

Which brings me to another important suggestion: Research!!!

No matter what you are writing, research is essential to good world-building!  If you’re writing a ‘typical’ fantasy novel, you need to research proper medieval attire, names and designs of weapons, fighting styles, city/castle architecture, basically anything that you don’t already know about the period your story will emulate.

If you’re writing a science fiction, well that becomes even more important if you want your fiction technology to be believable.  If there’s cybernetics in your universe, make sure you know how that technology might actually work, because the moment a reader thinks something couldn’t possibly be real, their suspension of disbelief is broken and they lost interest.

If you’re writing a romance, where does the story take place?  Have you been to that location before?  Even if you have, do you know everything about that location?  Just like any other genre, if you write something that rips your readers out of the story and into a doubtful mood, like if you say Las Vegas has a marsh just outside the city limits, you’ve lost your readers’ interest.

Or for my new story, a modern fantasy that ties into history, I’ve researched ancient myths to figure out who the bad guy really is.  And once I had an idea for the malevolent force’s identity, it wasn’t set in stone.

My initial idea was a Mayan god, which led me to Quetzalcoatl.  I figured out how I could tweak the legends and myths of this god to fit my purposes, but further research led me to other areas, until I found a Babylonian god who’s mythology and the actual historical characters that worshiped him made him the perfect supernatural being to act as the over-powered villain in the story.

Image Source: www.kadingirra.com
Image Source: http://www.kadingirra.com

Figuring out how this god, his son, and the Babylonian king who had his temple built (or rather, rebuilt) not only gave me a back-story and helped define the goals and motivations of the villains, but it also gave me ideas for how other characters would be motivated or affected by the villains.  It helped me flesh out the world, and gave more meaning to everything that happens in the story.

Setting up ‘rules’ for how fictional facets work is also important.  Very important.  Look at Star Trek, one of my all-time favorite science fiction universes.  Yet it has a consistent flaw of inconsistency with how most of the technology works.

The same goes for fantasy.  Magic is not real (unless someone isn’t telling me something…) but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be rules governing how it works within your universe.  Believe me, changing the rules just to fit the story is not a good idea, no matter how often you see big-name franchises do it!  So figure out the basic rules up front.

One last bit of advice about all of this: remember that until it is in a published story, the rules and history you create are not set in stone!  So if while you’re developing your story, or even if you’re already writing it, or even if you have a completed manuscript that isn’t published yet, if you get an idea to change something to make your stories more interesting or entertaining, don’t be afraid to do it!

Just make sure you keep your universe consistent!

I know I teased you all with some clues about the villains in my new modern fantasy story.  More shall be revealed in due time, don’t worry.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this was of some help to aspiring writers, and was interesting to readers :)

-Jon