Category Archives: My Books

World creation, development, and planning

Last month, I touched a bit on the development of the fictional planet for my series of science fiction novels.  I will talk about it in more depth, starting with how I created it, the maps I made, and what I’m doing next.

In the beginning, I had an idea for a story I wanted to write.  But that story needed a setting.  I took a piece of paper and drew a rough map of a world with four continents, one large and three smaller.  I drew mountain ranges, large lakes, and rivers.  I drew polar ice caps.   This was all on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet.  I gave the planet a name, then discarded that idea.  To this day, I still don’t have a name for the planet, other than a designation based on its parent star, which was a target star for the search for exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone.  But this part came much more recently.  I developed this planet back when we knew of only a small fraction of the extrasolar planets that we know of today.

The second part of my map-making process was to blow up the planet.  No, not destroy it, but to draw it in more detail, on 16 pieces of paper.  I first traced a second map on another sheet of paper and drew lines of latitude and longitude.  The top row of papers were the northern half of the northern hemisphere from 45 degrees to 90 degrees north.  The next row was from the equator to 45 degrees north.  And same for the southern hemisphere.  I marked out where the tropics were, as well.  I used this for future reference.  On my much larger map, I drew all of the countries and capital city locations, then gave them all names.  As this planet is a colonized world, the oldest countries had names that are related to Earth locations.  The newer countries had more exotic names, although some of them had names of people I know, including family.  I even named a place after my favourite astronomy professor.  I drew all of the countries in order from oldest to newest, so I could get an idea about how the world’s population expanded.  I also gave approximate dates for the establishment of each country.

After the large map was made, I then drew another small map with climate/ecosystem zones.  I then drew yet another map with tectonic plates and indicated areas that were seismically and volcanically active.  I developed these maps with the knowledge I’ve gained in university, including the geology classes I’ve taken.  Who knew my university education would be useful for science fiction?
Also, because of my love of geography, this was a very enjoyable process.  And with this love of maps, I created two polar projection maps for the northern polar sea and the southern polar continent.  So, kids, if you’re really interested in making maps for science fiction or fantasy worlds, math and science are actually very useful!  And it’s a fun way to use it.

Now that the maps had been drawn, I went on to write out details about each country.  I included land area, which required me to determine the size of the planet.  I calculated the diameter, circumference at the equator, as well as the length of the lines at 45 degrees, so I can fudge the land areas in more temperate and polar latitudes.  I used this to make a grid on a transparency sheet and overlaid it on the more detailed big map.  It was pretty simple to calculate land area from that, as simple geometry was required.  I then determined land use percentages, length of coastline and rivers, then used a website to calculate a medieval level of maximum population. I’m surprised that website still exists, although the original page that describes how to do the calculations has moved, and can be accessed here.  After that, I wrote about the forms of government, described the climate and geography, date of independence, and so on.

This brings us to today.  I haven’t actually worked on the backgrounds of the nations for quite some time, though I have developed the story quite a bit.  I am planning on starting a new website dedicated to my books sometime in the near future, and this will include an atlas for my world.  I will, over time, write country profiles for every country in my world, including general history.  However, it will be left a bit vague, as I plan to fill in more details as I write the books.  I’ll be able to keep the stories consistent with the history of the world, and also provide readers with a very handy reference guide.  Will I publish a book based on this world?  Probably not.  It’ll be a constant work in progress, and the best way to do it is provide it for free on the internet.

I’m really looking forward to getting these books written, but I’m also looking forward to playing with maps and creating history.  So, keep coming back here as I detail my process of writing more in the future.

The age of the protagonist

I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels where the main character is usually a teenager who goes on a journey, discovers themself, and becomes an adult.  This is a very common theme of epic fantasy stories.  I’ve read some in which the main character is an adult, as well.  However, a lot of fantasy stories are about self-discovery, and it’s usually teenagers that go through this process, both in literature and in reality.  Teenaged characters may also appeal more to younger readers.

So, this is what I’m wondering, how old do people prefer to have their protagonist? For me, it depends on the story.  Young characters are often needed, especially for self-discovery stories.  Adults can go through this, too.  But adults are usually less adaptable and more set in their ways. The two fantasy novels I’m reading right now are quite different.  “A Game of Thrones” has an ensemble cast of characters of many different ages.  There’s no particular lead character, as the point of view changes between several adult, teenage, and child characters. The other is an eBook I’m reading called “Voidhawk” where all characters are adults. But usually, I read fantasy novels with a teenaged lead character.

As for my planned trilogy, the main character starts out as a teenager for reasons I won’t get into now.  However, he is nearly an adult.

What age do you prefer protagonists to be?

The evolution of alien species

Creating alien animal species for a planet is a difficult thing to do.  But I’m doing it in a scientific way.

On the world for my science fiction novel series, I’m going to be developing the animals by using what I know about evolution.  I will be creating the phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species for numerous animals.  While I won’t be featuring a lot of animals in the books, I will be setting up a kind of biological template for the planet’s animals, so that I can create species as I need them.  I will have base forms for many of the taxonomic ranks, though not all.  That would take up far too much time, and I want to concentrate on the stories and the characters.  But I think it’ll be fascinating to set up unique animals classifications.

My book plans, part 3

Finally, I’d like to talk briefly about some other stories I have planned.  It’s related to the novels I mentioned in the previous post.  They are short stories.

I’m planning to write a few short stories about some events that are important to the timeline, as well as to introduce some other characters that may be referenced in the novels, but don’t appear in them.  But they are important characters in their own way.

Short stories can be a good way for new readers to get introduced to the world, and they can spend a much shorter time reading.  They will certainly have a lower price, and may be re-released in the future as a collection.  It also gives me a way to write about some things that I don’t think are long enough to become a full novel.  It can also provide readers something new to read while they wait between novels.  Some short stories may even turn into novels, if I feel they require more time.

Well, that should be it for my future books for now.  I will update as I write, maybe release some brief flash fiction related to the stories.  Thanks to my future readers!

My book plans, part 2

My second book I’m planning has been in the works for several years.  I started with the concept when I was in university 12 years ago.  It’s more than just a book, it’s a trilogy.

Currently untitled, this trilogy will be science fiction with a good basis in science, but plenty of fiction and a bit of fantasy added in.  It’s about an Earth colony that develops independently from Earth’s government, and that results in a diverse world with many cultures.  It is high-tech, but many parts of the world still have a frontier feel.  It’ll take place about 300 years after colonization.

I have created the entire planet, as well as countries, some of the cultures, religions, politics and more.  With an interest in geology and planetary astronomy, the world will be fairly realistic, but as it is fiction, I will add some fantasy elements.  In fact, it’ll be a bit of a bridge between science fiction and fantasy, though will be more sci-fi than fantasy.  The planet is fictional, but the star it orbits is quite real.

It will be character driven, and there will be no teenage heroes full of angst.  We don’t need that do we?  There’ll be some grit, but also be a world that seems like it would be nice to live on.

Since the world is quite extensive, I plan to have a reference guide online.  It’ll also be the basis for even more n0vels, if it proves to be popular.  I’m hoping you enjoy it!

My book plans, part 1

I started this blog for several reasons, but the biggest reason is writing.  I thought it was about time I talk about my planned books.  In this post, I will talk briefly about the book I have started writing.

Currently untitled, my first book will be part autobiographical, part cultural examination.  I will be focusing on only one aspect of my life, my time in Japan, and compare the cultures of Japan and Canada.  I’ll use my experiences to describe the differences and similarities between Canada and Japan, while also showing some of my surprising, shocking, funny, and amazing times here.

I can’t say much, because I don’t want to give anything away.  But I will tell you more as I write.  Of course, I will be including my experiences during the earthquake last year, climbing Mt. Fuji, as well as a terrible incident in a train station that I witnessed.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book as much as I’m enjoying writing it.