Three rules for naming your fantasy world

Writers of fantasy, particularly high fantasy, should definitely have a read of this.

Matthew Wright

In my mis-spent early twenties, a friend and I created a fantasy world map for our RPG sessions.

I had to share this pic, taken by She Who Must Be Obeyed. We end up in some interesting places, sometimes. Just in case anybody googles "Stockton Mine". To build a world, start by wearing a hard hat (like mine).

Yes, I played Dungeons and Dragons – and later a game we invented ourselves to get around the sillier D&D ideas. The world was designed around what we might call the ‘rule of funny’, with place names made up mostly of bad puns and motorcycle parts manufacturers. This meant we had waters such as the Greg Lake, next door to rolling hills such as the Sinfields. And there was the Hergest Ridge – though we didn’t have the Old Fields. We also riffed on Tolkien’s unfortunate habit of ending place names with ‘-dor’. You know… Backdor. Frontdor. Dianador. Groan.

That does raise a point for those of us engaged in (more serious) fantasy world-building. Place names gotta be credible. Tolkien, inevitably, set…

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Understanding the ‘Tolkien effect’ – and making it work for you

Matthew Wright

One of the plus sides of a contest like National November Writing Month is the enforced deadline. Writers have to finish to time – which is the nature of writing, once you have a publisher and contract deadlines. Mostly.

1197094932257185876johnny_automatic_books_svg_medThe greatest challenge when writing anything is knowing when it’s over – knowing when to stop working on your project. Some authors don’t, including J R R Tolkien who kept revising his material even after it was published. The quality kept going up with every iteration, with stunning results (I am a HUGE Tolkien fan). We can’t complain about that. But it meant very few of Tolkien’s books and stories were published in his lifetime.

Winston Churchill crashed into the other problem. He was finally persuaded to send his history of the Second World War to his publishers – they were screaming for it – but he pursued the manuscript with…

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