Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

10/14/2016

Create Your Characters

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Now that you’ve got a story idea, who are the people in it?

Often, a story is centered around a single, strong character, and you’ve already answered that question. But, what if you haven’t? Well, then, maybe I can help.
First, if you need to flesh out an entire character, including a bit of family tree and a biography, I’ll send you back to a site I referenced last week, albeit at a different page. They call it the Name Generator, but, really, if you choose the right options, it will make a pretty complete character sketch.
But, maybe you just need some specific details to fill in parts of your character sketch that seem light or are missing entirely. Again, I’ll send you to a site I’ve referenced before, Seventh Sanctum, where you can find an entire page of character-related random generators. They have everything from complete, generic character generators to genre specific character generators to name and naming specific generators. In fact, they have a full page of random naming related generators, if you’re having trouble in that regard. But, if you want to pick something more specific, you can check the Most Common Given Names, according to Wikipedia. Or, for last names, the Most Common Surnames. Surely, something there will suit.
And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include our very own Funny Name Generator!

Also, if you want to fill your character’s pockets with some random things, Fantasist.net has the Daily Carry Generator, for modern settings, and the Fantasy “Pocket Litter” Generator, for, well, more magical settings. And, contrary to my normal habit of hiding my source code, mostly because I’m a very, very amateur programmer and my code is generally junky, I’m giving you all a download link to grab the PHP files for those last two generators. No warranty is expressed or implied by offering that code! Use at your own risk! (But, it’s pretty simple and shouldn’t cause you any grief.)

Come back next week for more world building tools!

9/30/2016

Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I thought I’d try something new this year; early preparation.

To be clear, though, I’m not going to attempt NaNoWrimo this year, because I’m way too busy right now. However, in previous years, I would often post things to help people who were doing NaNoWriMo during the month of November, when the event occurs and this year, I thought I’d start early to let anyone who was writing get their prep out of the way.  So, here in the earliest stages of planning, you hopefully have an idea what you may want to write and, while you’ve been thinking about it for weeks or months, maybe you haven’t captured those thoughts.  In the past, I’ve used dozens of notebooks of every shape, size and description to scribble down every stray thought I may have had about whatever project I had in mind.  The only problem is, I could never seem to get the ideas all gathered together and into a useful format.  That’s where Evernote came in.
I started using Evernote because of the Getting Things Done method for staying organized.  It’s a great system and, naturally, it gave me a way to collect all my ideas so I had easy access to them and one tool that people used in the GTD system was, Evernote.  (For some more details on that, and a great introduction to the GTD system, check out David Allen’s setup document for Evernote.  It’s well worth the $10!)
Once you’ve checked out Evernote, then go read their article Prepare for NaNoWriMo with Evernote.  It’s got some great ideas for how to capture your story and character ideas via Evernote, which you can then reference on your writing computer or your smart phone.  It’s pretty awesome!
And, if that wasn’t enough, they even have some great creative writing templates you can integrate into your personal creative writing notebook.

Trust me, it’s never to early to start planning and you will not regret using Evernote once you start!
So, let’s gear up for a month’s worth of creative writing resources in preparation for National Novel Writing Month!

11/7/2015

Place Names

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Specifically, subdivison names.

Naming things can be one of the most difficult tasks for an author.  Whether it’s naming people, places or things, the endless work of finding just the right name, one that sounds realistic and fits the circumstances, can be trying work.  For me, place names are the hardest to do well.  No matter what the setting, naming towns and streets can be challenging.  As it turns out, it can be challenging in the so-called “real” world, too.  Back in 2013, Gizmodo mentioned a book titled Real Estate Subdivisions by Stanley L. McMichael that, among other things, included a list of more than 750 potential names for your subdivision.  The article also included links to a Real Estate Subdivision Name Generator on-line.  But, personally, I was fascinated with the idea of that crazy book by McMichael, published in 1949.  I chased it down, eventually, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Besides the list of names in the appendix, there are also fascinating chapters on everything from planning your future subdivision to setting up a home-owner’s association to deed restrictions, including restrictions along racial lines.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.  But, still, the names of places remain.
Just because I’m a sharing kind of guy, I typed all those names from that appendix into a single text file and I’m giving you all a link to it here: Subdivision Names Text File.
Some of the names sound a bit odd, but others are actual names of places I’ve been.  In fact, several of the “suggested” names in this book are places in the Chicago area where I have or had relatives living!

In any case, I hope you find the file helpful.  I might add, too, that if you add “Street”, “Lane”, “Court” or “Avenue” to almost any of the names in that file, they’d make fine street names!
Enjoy!

5/8/2009

An Upsidedown World

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime.
The moon is a Full Moon

I’m always looking for new twists on old themes.

And, frankly, the whole “alternate Earth” thing is a very old theme. But, I have to admit, it’s one that I can’t get away from in my own head. One of the alternate Earths that I contemplate on a regular basis is an inverted Earth. An Earth with its North and South poles swapped. I guess it’s an idea that grabbed me when my mother told me that people think at some point in the future, the magnetic core of Earth is going to, well, flip and send all our compasses out of whack, among other things.
Well, apparently, I’m not the only one who’s fascinated by this. Chris Wayan explores it all quite fully on a page titled Welcome to Turnovia.

Check it out.

11/29/2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is C.S. Lewis’ birthday.
For those of you who don’t know him, C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, which has been made into movies and mini-series several times. Lewis was a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien and, in fact, was part of the same writing group, the Inklings. It was there that the two became fast friends, until their falling out. Lewis, or “Jack”, as he preferred his friends call him, was a convert to Catholicism and became a prolific Christian apologist, penning such gems as The Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, and Mere Christianity. He was a remarkable author and an interesting man.
You can read more about Clive Staples Lews at the website endorsed by his step-son, Douglas Gresham, called Into the Wardrobe.

10/8/2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Herbert!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Today is Frank Herbert’s Birthday.

Of course, he passed away in 1986, the year I graduated from high-school, but his work lives on. Mr. Herbert is primarily known for his seminal work, Dune, and the other books in the series that followed. Though, interestingly enough, he never intended to write sequels.
Often refered to as the science-fiction Lord of the Rings, the Dune series of books detail an amazingly rich science-ficiton culture. The novels are some of the first science-fiction to have detailed political and sociological sub-plots, not to mention ecological sub-plots! The way Mr. Herbert used religion in his work is quite interesting as well. In a genre that often avoids discussing religion, he explored the topic in detail and with a depth that was personally inspiring.
Herbert also wrote The Green Brain, which is another ecological-message tied up in great science-fiction, as well as The White Plague, another of my favorite books.
There hasn’t been anyone else quite like Frank Herbert and I am in awe of the ways in which he influenced the genre, which is why I celebrate this every year.

7/3/2007

Fractal Terrains Real World Data

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Okay, here’s some real data for ProFantasy’s Fractal Terrains.

Been looking for Fractal Terrains Real World Data? Well, look no further!
I got tired of everyone asking for this on the Profantasy CC2-l list and thought I’d take a minute while I’m getting my chemotherapy to import the ETOPO2 data and save it as a Fractal Terrains file. Hope it comes through for everyone okay.
Enjoy!

1/8/2007

Sheridan Simon’s Pen Name

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, I’ve gotten a lot of hits here looking for information about Sheridan Simon.

Sheridan Simon was a very well-known and respected Physics professor at Guilford College who was also quite enamored with science-fiction. In fact, he used to create logically plausable solar systems and planets for science-fiction authors, for a small fee. He advertised in the back of LOCUS magazine, the trade mag for the speculative fiction crowd. He designed Hoffman’s Quartet for me in 1992, but sadly passed away in 1994. He was truly an amazing man and had a real genius for translating hard physics into very readable language that even guys like me could understand.

What’s a bit more interesting, though, is that he wrote science-fiction, too. Now, for a long time his pen name was quite a mystery. In fact, the story went that even his wife didn’t know the name he wrote and published under. While that makes for a good story, I don’t know if it’s actually true or not. In any case, a lot of folks have been through this website looking for that pen name, since I mention Dr. Simon on occasion and do rather well in the search engines. In any case, I got a wild hair to track this down the other day and I have an answer, I think. If I’m reading the entry on LocusMag.com correctly, he published under the name “Yeaton Clifton“.

Of course, since all his work seems to have been published in now-defunct magazines, I doubt it will be very easy to find. At least you know who to look for now!
Good luck!


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