Worldbuilding/Writing FAQ

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Ulario's avatar
The next installment of my FAQ series.  This will feature information on my process for creating worlds and creatures (as well as my writing process) and will tie in almost directly to a future FAQ on how I design characters.  If your question isn't answered here, please ask in the comments below and I will do my best to answer it and possibly add it to the FAQ.

Where do you get your inspiration for your world from?
Keep in mind that my fictional galaxy as a whole is a personal story, so many of the base concepts come from myself.  Most things I creature are the different puzzle pieces that make up myself as a person.
Apart from that, my inspiration comes from many different sources...
:bulletblue: I find great inspiration in nature.  Particularly in landscapes and animals, as I base many of the planets and living creatures in my galaxy from places found on Earth.
:bulletblue:I look at the cultures and people found all around earth.
:bulletblue: Very rarely does a TV show or movie leave such a lasting impression on me that I draw creative inspiration from it.  However, there are some.  Firefly is the most notable example, as a lot of things, including Ultimarian Fashion was inspired by that show.
:bulletblue:  My dreams.  Many creatures and worlds come to me in my dreams.
If you want to see the type of things that inspire me, I do have an account on Tumblr where I reblog anything and everything that I find inspiring. -…

I'm bad at coming up with names, but you seem to be good at it.  What advice can you give?

Erm.  I dunno how to answer this since names just come to me.
Use names from other cultures as examples to help guide you and really study them.  When I was creating the Jincilla culture, who are mostly based on the ancient Greeks/Romans, I studied names from those particular cultures quite a bit.
Take your time with finding names for your characters... and try to find one that fits the character.

Do you go more for fantasy or realistic?

A mix of both.  I try to make my creations believable to an extent beause believability is important, but in my mind there is such a thing as being 'too realistic'.
If things were 100% based on realistic science, I'd find things to be a bit boring.  That's where suspension of disbelief comes in.

Wait!  This thing in your fictional universe is scientifically impossible!  <Insert long winded speech about scientific inaccuracy here!>
Nor is it meant to be!  While I do have science as a basis for my universe, and I try to make things believable... to properly represent a lot of my ideas, sometimes the laws of reality need to be stretched just a tad.  Think of my universe as being Science-Fiction-Fantasy or a Space Opera as opposed to hard science fiction.

Do you have any tips for a new writer?

The best piece of advice I can give is what my creative writing instructor in college told me. 
Read.  And read often.  By reading the work that others have done, you can learn what to do to improve your own writing!

(The remaining questions are taken from :devallard-leo:'s writer meme.)

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.

Anybody that knows anything about me knows that the Azure Wheel Galaxy is my baby.  I have been devoloping it since 1997, when I was still just a noob artist in high school.  At its core, it really is a personal story that delves into a lot my my philosophies, beliefs and who I am as a person.  Also, I am a huge fan of space operas and science fiction in general, so the genre fits. 

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?
Too many to name.  I need to populate my galaxy somehow after all.  >_<
For some reason, most of my characters are male and I really can't explain why.  I really need to get some more female characters out there.

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?
See the answer for the second question on this FAQ.

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
Hahaha!  Holy crap!  I can't believe I'm going to admit this publicly.  My very first character was actually a Sonic the Hedgehog clone... except he was a cat named F.L. Cat (short for FeeLine Cat). I created him when I was 10.
My second character that I could remember was created when I was... 12?  He was an anthropomorphic fox named Donnie D. Fox who was very, very 90s Xtreme!  Complete with backwards hat and roller blades.  (Stop laughing!  It was the style at the time!)
Unfortunately, none of my old drawings of these characters survive since my mom threw out all my old sketchbooks.

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about "youngest"?
Ambassador Naara'tar'yll is definitely the oldest.  He's about 800 years old.  Spaceborn are incredibly long-lived.
The youngest?  I think the youngest major character of mine is a 16 year old girl who plays a big part in Deren's story.

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?
Place:  My house.  Usually sitting on the couch or at my desk.
Time:  Whenever inspiration strikes.  That can be anytime... even in the early morning.
Tools:  Computer, definitely.  So much easier to revise things.

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

Oh yeah.  I definitely do listen to music whenever I write or draw!  Usually random movie soundtracks, but I do try to select music that somewhat fits what I'm working on!

8. What's your favourite genre to write? To read?
Science fiction for both.  :)

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
Usually my characters just pop into my head or I dream about them.  I know I'm not much help here.  >_<

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!
Um... LOL.  I think the weirdest situation that I've ever written my characters in is taking Shae and writing a humorous "Fifty Shades of Grey" parody called "Fifty Shades of Shae".  The title popped into my head one day and I just ran with it.  I... don't think I will ever post this story publicly because of the semi-adult content.

11. Who is your favourite character to write? Least favourite?

I really can't answer that since at different times, different characters are fun to write for. 

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of world building?
This is another tough one for me to answer.  I'd have to say "Prelude to A Dynasty", which was a story about Aredon's origins that I wrote in college.

13. What's your favourite culture to write, fictional or not?

I know I'm biased, but my Ultimarian culture... since this species is my #1 baby.
I also have a lot of fun writing about cultures based on ancient civilizations, such as my Jincilla... who are based on ancient Romans.

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?
Like with everything else in my universe... my planets and locations just come to me one day or appear to me in dreams.
There's plenty of maps.  Just look in my gallery!

15. Mid way question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!
HP Lovecraft, Franz Kafka, Douglas Adams and William Blake.

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how "far" are you willing to go in your writing?

I do write romance between my characters.  Shae and Liah's romance is definitely my favorite to write.
As for "how far" I'm willing to go... well... as far as the story needs to go.  I won't write porn just for smut's sake, but I will write in sex scenes if the story calls for one.

17. Favourite protagonist and why!
My own:  Aredon!  The big guy is the closest thing that I have to a persona... even if he's a 7 foot tall heavily muscled Ultimarian Male!
Others:  Do comic characters count for this?  If so, probably Hawkeye!

18. Favourite antagonist and why!
My own:  Rahst.  The whiny daddy's boy is just so much fun to write for.
Others:  GOLLUM!  One of my all time favorite literary characters!

19. Favourite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!
Liah.  She was originally meant to be a side character, but the fact that I really needed a strong female lead combined with the fact that she just grew on me pushed her to being one of my three main character.

20. What are your favourite character interactions to write?
My favorite scenes to write are just of my male characters with the guys, acting like guys.

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?
Some of my older characters do.  Many of my characters in their 20s and 30s do not, but will have them in the future.
My main three (Aredon, Liah and Shae) do not have kids and will never have kids.
I have to admit that I'm not really fond of children, so I'm pretty bad at writing them.

22. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?
Depends.  Some stories I've hammered out in a few hours, while some sit unfinished on my computer for years.

23. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?
I am willing, and I have done it.  But only if it is absolutely necessary and there wouldn't be a more interesting plot twist for that character later on.
The most interesting death... well, I can't really say because it's a pretty big plot twist for my Intrepid storyline.

24. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
Yes.  Liah especially since she is a beastmaster with a menagerie of animals that she keeps on her ranch.
Her most notable pets are Gabriel, an ariasha (a catlike creature with long ears) that she rescued from a lab that was doing illegal animal testing and Nimbus, a cobyth (feathered dragon thing) that lost a wing when he was a baby.

25. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favourite picture of him!
I.  Draw them quite a bit.  Just look in my gallery.  >_<

26. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.
They do.  In fact, most of my characters' appearances reflect the part of me that they are meant to represent.  Other times, these also come to me in dreams.

27. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.
I'm sure that I have... but for some reason, I can't think of one for the life of me right now.  However, it would be more mental disabilities since physical abilities are a relative easy fix in a world with science fiction medical technology.
The closest thing that I can think of off hand is Nimbus, Liah's cobyth, who only has one wing because it was lost in an accident as a hatchling.  Cobyth DNA is pretty fickle and notorious for rejecting regrown limbs, so it was never able to be repaired.

I'm sure I can think of more to answer later.  :)
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IkeQuasar's avatar
I think either you or some other Artist might really enjoy drawing Dragons, specifically the Dragons in my Star Dragon Dynasty, which is mostly a Matriarchal Empire set in Space. The Dynasty is no democracy, however democracies can exist within the Dynasty, including that of America on Earth, which ranks at the very bottom of the Dragons' caste system. Like it or hate it, Dragons in my Science Fantasy Universe are equally as much about ownership as they are about honor, although this doesn't make them the same as Klingons from Star Trek. These particular Dragons are Eastern Dragons, who still breath fire but fly without wings, because of a row of glands that act as hot air balloons. As ironic as it may sound, Female Eastern Dragons are really not that common in Cartoons and all, Mushu from Disney's Mulan seems to be the most famous Male Eastern Dragon, but even he needs a girlfriend if you ask me, and he's apparently not Mulan's type. 

I definitely think you might enjoy drawing my Star Dragon Dynasty, but the same thing is true for any other artist who draws Dragons, but more to the point, do you have any opinions on turning Eastern Dragons into Ancient Aliens? 
dinonickp's avatar
I have one problem that I really struggle with, and that's actually writing my stories down. Like you, I also have a whole galaxy of my own with multiple races, planets and characters to inhabit them. I just don't know how to put it all down into text. What advice, if any, would you give for this issue?
Ulario's avatar
I think... the best advice that I can give for that is to carry a notebook with you and start jotting your ideas down.  Once you get your thoughts more organized, it should be a bit easier to start writing.

This also helps to make sure that you don't forget your ideas.  :)