by André Klein
A good friend of mine once said: “Every day I write is a good day.”
And after more than ten years of writing I still agree with this statement.
Writing is great. But it’s also hard work.
According to Malcom Gladwell, to become an expert in anything you need to invest at least 10,000 hours. While that is somewhat an arbitrary number and implies that genius or expertise can be manufactured according to a formula, there is a certain truth in it, nevertheless:
In order to become good at anything, not just satisfactory but really good you need to invest a lot of time and effort.
Want to collaborate on a Google Doc with Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Dickinson, Dickens and Poe?
Click here. Start typing. Enjoy the hilarity.
Ninja Update: Wanna see something fun? Mention Shakespeare in a sentence and see what happens.
Poe kept writing distinctly into my sentences so I wrote ”Edgar, you’re not funny” aND HE BLATANTLY DELETED THE NOT I AM SO DONE WITH THIS ASDFKJL
OH GOD IF YOU TYPE “EDGAR ALLAN POE” POE ADDS A :( AFTER HIS NAME PRECIOUS BABY
Oh my God so I typed ‘Shakespeare’ and Shakespeare butted in and wrote ‘The lovely and handsome Shakespeare’ but Poe burst in saying ‘The dreadful and lonely Shakespeare’.
aND FYODOR DOSTOYVESKY ADDED ‘ I do not wish to make myself a laughing-stock before these idle listeners.”
Look what they did to All Star by Smash Mouth
“Somebody once hushedly told me the world is going to roll me. I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed. She was looking kind of glocky with her finger and her thumb in the shape of a “L” on her forehead. Well, the years start voraciously coming and they don’t stop coming; fed to the rules and I hit the ground running. It didn’t make sense absolutely to live for fun. Thy brain gets smart but your head gets dumb. So much to do, so much to behold. So what’s wrong with taking the back busy thoroughfares? In everything one thing is impossible: rationality. You’ll never know if thou don’t go. “You’ll never shine if you don’t glow”, he growled incoherently. Hey presently, you’re an All Star. Get your game on; go play. Hey now, you’re a Rock Star. Get the show on; get laid. As well as all that glitters is gold, only shooting stars break the mold. ~All Star by Smash Estuary of opinion…”
Imagine putting your research paper in here and letting them go at it.
OH MY GOD I WAS WRITING AND EDGAR WOULDN’T STOP FIXING THINGS SO I WROTE “Edgar shut up I’m trying to write” and he changed it to “Edgar shut up I’m meagerly attempting to write” THIS FUCKING ASSHOLE
I typed in “Hello” and Shakesphere erased it and wrote “Begone with this rubbish.”
I typed “party in the Usa” and Poe changed party to “ill-fated gathering”
I just used it to yell at Dickens about Tale of Two Cities, I am happy now
Ladies and Gents, I present the Pokemon Theme song, revised edition.
. I wanna zealously be the very best,
"That no one ever was" replied Oliver, "I want some more".
To catch them is my real test,
To train them is my cause.
I will travel across the world,
Searching far as well as wide.
Each Pokemon to accurately fathom
The relentless determination that’s inside
Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) its thou and me
"I know its my destiny", he growled incoherently
Pokemon, oh, you’re my best secret enemy
In a holy globe we must defend
Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) a scarlet ornament so true
Our courage wilt pull us through
"You teach me and I’ll teach you" said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper
Po-ke-mon, gotta catch ‘em all… I do not wish to make myself a laughing-stock before these idle listeners.
oh MY GOD EMily Dickinson wrote something about love and I added something about love as well and edGAR ALLAN POE JUST CHANGED “LOVE” TO “LOATHE” WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU PESSIMISTIC MAN???? AND JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU CAN SCOLD POE FOR THIS, SHAKESPEARE BUTTS IN AND CHANGES “YOU” TO “THOU” WTF SHAKESPEARE NO ONE ASKED
I know a lot of y’all are writers, so I’m sharing the writing tips my English teacher gave me.
These are some color symbols.
- Trans* boys
- Fat boys
- Boys who are really bad at like almost everything
- Not-hot boys. Like just average looking boys.
- Boys with acne
- Boys who are love interests and aren’t dark and scary but are, like, normal
- Nerd boys hell yeah
- Boys who don’t have a love interest
- Boys with girl BFFs
- Ridiculous boys who say and do ridiculous things, for good or for bad
- Boys who are terrible aND AREN’T FORGIVEN FOR THEIR TERRIBLENESS BY THEIR 1. HOTNESS 2. TRAGIC BACKSTORY. Boys who are just terrible and compelling anyway.
- Boys who realistically interact with love interests (I can tell you that there are very, very few teen boys who will go out of their way to flirt with you if you are aloof and cold. Or even just not-flirty. The fragility of their male ego doesn’t usually allow for it.)
- GOOD GUYS
- Boys who don’t constantly pursue a fuck
- Boys who have risen above gender roles and societal expectations for their personality or behavior or whatever
- Boys who are drowning in gender roles and societal expectations for their personality and behavior or whatever
- Boys who don’t get the girl
- Funny, optimistic, good-natured boys (I’m done with snarky sarcastic cynical boys really I am. I’m done with snarky sarcastic cynical anyone really.)
- Boys who see the stupidity going on around them and don’t participate (but aren’t cynical)
Before reporting broken links, please check the updated version which is always located here. Updated: 8/10/13
- Joss Whedon’t Top 10 Writing Tips
- 34 Writing Tips that will make you a Better Writer
- 50 Free resources that will improve your writing skills
- 5 ways to get out of the comfort zone and become a stronger writer
- 10 ways to avoid Writing Insecurity
- The Writer’s Guide to Overcoming Insecurity
- The Difference Between Good Writers and Bad Writers
- You’re Not Hemingway - Developing Your Own Style
- 7 Ways to use Brain Science to Hook Readers and Reel them In
- 8 Short Story Tips from Kurt Vonnegut
- How to Show, Not Tell
- 5 Essential Story Ingredients
- How to Write Fiction that grabs your readers from page one
- Why research is important in writing
- Make Your Reader Root for Your Main Character
- Writing Ergonomics (Staying Comfortable Whilst Writing)
- The Importance of Body Language
- Punctuating Interrupted Dialogue
This is an ultimate masterlist of many, many resources that could be helpful for writers/roleplayers.
- Improve Your Writing Habits Now
- 5 Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Writing
- Getting Over Roleplaying Insecurities
- Improve Your Paras
- Why the Right Word Choices Result in Better Writing
- 4 Ways To Have Confidence in Your Writing
- Writing Better Than You Normally Do
- How’s My Driving?
- A Description Resource
- 55 Words to Describe Someones Voice
- Describing Skin Colors
- Describing a Person: Adding Details
- Emotions Vocabulary
- 90 Words For ‘Looks’
- Be More Descriptive
- Describe a Character’s Look Well
- 100 Words for Facial Expressions
- To Show and Not To Tell
- Words to Describe Facial Expressions
- Describing Clothes
- List of Actions
- Tone, Feelings and Emotions
- Writing Specific Characters
- Character Guides
- Writing Help for Writers
- Ultimate Writing Resource List
- Lots of RP Guides
- Online Writing Resources
- List of Websites to Help You Focus
- Resources for Writing Bio’s
- Helpful Links for Writing Help
- General Writing Resources
- Resources for Biography Writing
- Mental Ilnesses/Disorders Guides
- 8 Words You Should Avoid While Writing
- Body Language Cheat
- Body Language Reference Cheat
- Tips for Writers: Body Language
- Types of Crying
- Body Language: Mirroring
- Words Instead of Walk (2)
- Commonly Confused Adjectives
- A Guide on Punctuation
- Common Writing Mistakes
- 25 Synoms for ‘Expession’
- How to: Avoid Misusing Variations of Words
- Words to Keep Inside Your Pocket
- The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups
- Other Ways to Say..
- 300+ Sophiscated and Underused Words
- List of Misused Words
- Words for Sex
- 100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
- Words to Use More Often
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’ or ‘Laugh’
- Three Self Editing Tips
- Words to Use Instead of ‘Walk’, ‘Said’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Sad’
- Synonyms for Common Words
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’
- Transitional Words
- The Many Faces and Meanings of ‘Said’
- Synonyms for ‘Wrote’
- A Case Of She Said, She Said
- How to: Cure Writer’s Block
- Some Tips on Writer’s Block
- Got Writer’s Block?
- 6 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
- Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block
- How to: Make That Application Your Bitch
- How to: Make Your App Better
- How to: Submit a Flawless Audition
- 10 Tips for Applying
- Para Sample Ideas
- 5 Tips on Writing an IC Para Sample
- Writing an IC Sample Without Escaping From the Bio
- How to: Create a Worthy IC Para Sample
- How to: Write an Impressive Para Sample
- How to: Lengthen Short Para’s
- Drabble Stuff
- Prompts List
- Writing Prompts
- Drabble Prompts
- How to Get Into Character
- Writing Challenges/Prompts
- A Study in Writing Prompts for RPs
- Para Prompts & Ideas
- Writing Prompts for Journal Entries
- A List of Para Starters
- Bad Asses
- Bitches (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Emotional Detachment
- The Girl Next Door
- Introverts (2)
- Mean Persons (2)
- Party Girls
- Rich (2)
- Serial Killers (2)
- Shyness (2, 3)
- Villains (2)
- Disorders in general (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Anxiety (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder (2, 3)
- Cotard Delusions
- Depression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Eeating Disorders (2, 3)
- Facitious Disorders
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Multiple Personality Disorder (2)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Night Terrors
- Kleptomania (2)
- A Pyromaniac
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2) (3)
- Sex Addiction (2)
- Schizophrenia (2)
- Sociopaths (2)
- Aspergers Syndrome
- Someone Blind (2)
- Cancer (2, 3)
- Muteness (2, 3)
- Ballet Dancer (2)
- Alcohol Influence (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Cocaine Influence
- Ecstasy Influence (2)
- Heroin Use
- LSD Influence
- Marijuana Influence (2, 3)
- Opiate Use
- California (2, 3)
- England/Britain (2, 3, 4, 5)
- New York
- The South (2)
- A Death Scene
- Loosing Someone (2)
- Old Persons
- Physical Injuries (2, 3)
- Sexual Abuse (2)
- Fight Scenes (2, 3, 4)
→ CREATING CHARACTERS
- Components of Your Biographies
- Character sheet (2, 3)
- Need Help With Character Creation?
- How to: Draw Inspiration for Characters From Music
- How to: Write a Biography (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- How to: Write a Fully Developed Character
- How to: Create a Cast of Characters (2)
- Writing an Original Character (2, 3)
- Creating Believable Characters (2, 3)
- Bio Formats (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Little Things You Can Add To Your Bios
- Connections (2)
- Bio Twists
- Jung’s 16 Personality Types
- Underused Character Personalities
- Birth-Order: Personality Traits
- The Difference Between Personality and Behavior
- How to: Show a Characters Personality In a Paragraph
- 16 Character Traits
- Underused PersonalitiesPersonality TraitsHabits
- 300 Possible Secrets to Give Your Characters
- I Bet You Didn’t Know..
- Character Plots And Secrets (2)
- Celebrity Secrets
- Secret Masterlist
- Song Lyrics Masterlist
- Songs for Biographies
- Favorite Quotes: TV and Movies
- Favorite Quotes: Notable Authors
- Favorite Quotes: Celebrities
- Favorite Quotes: Popular Books (2)
- Quotes From Songs
- Character Quotes
- Masterlist of Bio Lyrics
- Masterlist of Bio Quotes
- Masterlist of Song Lyrics
- Biography Lyrics
- A Masterlist of Quotes
- +130 Quotes
- The Quotation Garden
→ WHILE ROLEPLAYING
- 100 Paragraph Titles
- Para Titles - Song Title Edition (2,3)
- A Whole Ton of Para Titles
- 350+ Song Titles
- Para Titles For You (2)
- How to: Create an interesting starter
- How to: Make an Interesting Starter
- Gif Conversations: A Guide
- A Brief Guide to Starters
- Interesting Gif Convesation Starters
- Starters Masterlist
- Gif Starter Posts
- 46 Interesting Gif Chat Starters
- Ideas for Gif Chat Starters
- Masterlist: Jobs
- Possible Careers for Characters
- Artistic Occupations
- Martha’s Vineyard Job Masterlist
- Interesting Jobs
- Para Ideas
- Masterlist: Para Ideas
- Top 50 Places for Starters
- Writing Topics: Para Ideas
- 101 Date Ideas
- 68 Date Ideas
- 22 Date Ideas
- Popular Places to Eat
- Character Development Questionaire
- Character Surveys
- C.D. Questionaire
- 30 Day Character Development Meme
- Character Development Questions (2)
- 100 Pt. Questionaire
- IC and OOC Surveys
- Online Test for Character Building
- 30 Days of Character Development
- How to: Develop Characters
- Get To Know Your Characters
Romance (in general)
- The Little Ways a Ship Gets Build
- Roleplaying Relationships
- 8 Ways to Say I Love You
- How to: Make a Set Ship RP Work
- How to: Write a Romantic Scene
- Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Relationships
- Putting a Label on It
- Synonyms for Love
- Pregnancy (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Smut Guide: Casual Sex
- Smut Guide: For Beginners
- How to: Write a First Time Sex Scene Romantically
- How to: Smut - The Bare Bones
- How to: Smut (For Virgins)
- How to: Write Lesbian Smut
- How to: Write Smut (2, 3)
- How to: Write a Blowjob/Prepping for Smut
- Smut Guides of Tumblr
- Tips on Writing Sex Scenes
- A Guide to Language in Smut
- Domination and Submission
- Making Love
- A Smut Guide
- How to: Create the Best Plot for Your RP
- How to: Create A Plot Outline in 8 Steps
- How to: Write A Plot in 12 Steps
- How to: Write A Quality Plot
- How to: Spice Up Your Roleplay Plots
- Components of Your Plot Page
- Writing Up A Plot
- Basics of Writing A Plot
- Links for Plot Writing Help
- Eight Unique Plot Ideas
- Plot Twists
- Situation Ideas (2, 3)
- Guide to Plotting
Here are some scientific facts about blood loss for all you
psychopathswriters out there.
I would like to know what is in those bottles.
It’s Siracha!!!! Siracha is life!
That’s actually highly useful.
The Five Elements of Story
I want more queer friendship stories. Not just stories where the only two queer people find each other and fall in unhealthy codependent love in a sea of cishets. Give me whole communities of queer people. Give me queer best friends gushing to each other about their silly crushes. Give me younger queers going to older queers for advice and guidance, without getting creeped on. Give me queer friends cuddling and watching tv together, or baking cookies together, or a big group of diverse queer people fighting about where to go out to eat because everyone has a different favorite place, but ultimately they decide to go to everyone’s favorite place at least once and just flip a coin or something to decide who’s turn it is to pick. Give me queer friends from different cultures bonding over sharing their cultural differences. Give me queer people starting college or moving for a new job and learning how to be a part of a new community full of other queer people.
Romance is nice and all, and queer romance needs more representation. But friendship is every bit as important, and more important to some people. I don’t want to hear stories where I have to hope I find that one other queer person to be happy with and then shut out the rest of the world. I want community.
- angels who hate humanity because god loves them more
- angels who hate god
- angels who fall in love with humans
- angels that don’t know to do because they’re starting to love the bloodlust of battle a little too much
- angels who would rather worship flesh and battle then god
- angels sent to fight human wars
- angel human hybrids forced to live with their inadequacies
- angels that become demons but long for heaven
- angels that love earth too fucking much
- angels that can’t stand earth and wishes those pathetic humans would wipe themselves out already
- angels who can’t get use to earth and are almost getting themselves killed constantly
- angels who love booze and sex and violence
- angels sent to take prisoners back and forth to hell
We are always told to use body language in our writing. Sometimes, it’s easier said than written. I decided to create these cheat sheets to help you show a character’s state of mind. Obviously, a character may exhibit a number of these behaviours. For example, he may be shocked and angry, or shocked and happy. Use these combinations as needed.
I made a slideshow about how to create a fictional character… I got most of the information from the ‘start writing fiction’ (free) course on the OpenUniversity website and found it incredibly useful so here’s a visual version for you :)
1. The Constant Victim - This kind of individual will always finds a way to end up as a victim in their relationships.
2. One-Upmanship Expert – This person uses put downs, snide remarks and criticisms, to show that they’re superior, and know much more than you.
3. Powerful Dependents – They hide behind the mask of being weak and powerless – then use their helplessness to dominate relationships. That is, they send the subtle message “you must not let me down.”
4. Triangulators – This person tries to get other people on their side. They’re quick to put you down, and to say some nasty things. They separate good friends or drive a wedge in families.
5. The Blasters – They blast you with their anger or they blow up suddenly. That stops you asking questions - in case there’s a showdown.
6. The Projector – This person thinks they’re perfect and others have the flaws. They take no ownership – because they’re never, ever wrong.
7. The Deliberate Mis-Interpreter – They seem like a nice person – but they twist and use your words. They spread misinformation and misinterpret you. Thus, they deliberately present you in a false, negative way.
8. The Flirt – This person uses flirting to get their way in life. They want to be admired and to have an audience. However, your feelings and your needs are of no concern to them.
9. The Iron Fist – They use intimidation and throw their weight around, to use you for their ends, and to get their way in life.
10. The Multiple Offender – This person uses several of the techniques we’ve described – and they’ll often switch between them if it suits their purposes.
I did a post on religion a while ago, but I can do a better job with it.
Religion is the belief that supernatural or spiritual powers exist.
There are four “branches” of beliefs that form the way a person feels about their religion (or lack of) and other religions. They are:
- Theism: A theist believes in a god (or more).
- Atheism: An atheist lacks the belief in a god (or more).
- Gnosticism: A gnostic believes it is possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.
- Agnosticism: An agnostic believes that it is not possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.
These create people who are one of the following (this can change throughout a person’s life):
- Gnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more) and are absolutely sure that it exists. Depending on the personality of this character, they might take offense if other people tell them they are wrong or that their religion is false. Others will brush it off and not care.
- Agnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know for sure if this god exists. These characters might struggle with their religion if this existence is important to them.
- Gnostic Atheist: These characters are absolutely sure that there is no god (or more).
- Agnostic Atheist: These characters do not believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know of its existence for sure.
Most early religions began with animism. This is when supernatural powers, life, souls, or spirits are attributed to the natural world as well as objects.
Sometimes, deities can be created when certain attributes as parts of the natural world are viewed as more important than others. A population may give a name to a particular spirit (like the sun) and thus make a deity out of it. Over time, this leads to polytheism.
The earliest deities were most likely female because back then, humans believed that women had the ability to create life from nothing. This is why “virgin” deities, goddesses, beings, and religious figures are common. They are seen as being able to make life by themselves, but the concept of virginity has changed to being “clean” or “pure”.
Early monotheistic religions often came from polytheism, but not always. What happens is one deity becomes more important than all the others for whatever reason. Here are some reasons for why monotheism might have come up in your world (with the exception of the spread of religion):
- A person claims that one deity is the true deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
- One deity may be more important than the other deities. Over time, this deity becomes the sole deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
- A historical figure transforms into a deity over time through myth and legend, thus becoming a major deity.
- One deity might “absorb” other deities and their attributes due to its importance, thus becoming a single deity who is a mixture of other deities.
Religion does not always evolve in this order and it does not have to. There is no “ultimate” form of religion. Monotheism is not “civilized” and animism is not “primitive”. They are both valid religions, they just exist in different ways.
One source of conflict for your story could be the switch from one form of religion to another. If polytheism is moving into monotheism, a minority of the population might be trying hard to hold onto old deities.
Of course, there are more types of religion other than animism, polytheism, and monotheism, such as naturalism. Look around at various religions for some inspiration.
The name! You have to name your religion. The followers of this religion need a name to refer to themselves by. You can also have names for the various branches of a religion or for the followers of a specific religious figure. If you’ve made up a language, you can use that language to create a name. You can also name the religion after a deity, a historical figure, or a religious figure. You can also name it after the founder of the religion.
Where did this religion originate? With older religions, it might not be clear. Other religions have a clear start, or at least are known to have started in a specific area or with a specific person. If there is a founder of the religion, create this character and their history.
You also need an origin story for the world. A lot of religions have them.
REASON AND APPEAL
There are three general reasons for why people practice religion:
- Sociological: Religion is used for cultural conformity. It unites a community through similar morals and values and can be used to control a population or to bring general peace among worldviews. If you can influence a person’s thoughts, you can control their actions.
- Cognitive: Religion has been used to explain the unknown and to help people make sense of the world they live in. Myths, legends, and deities have been used to explain why the seasons change or why storms happen. Religion offers an explanation.
- Psychological: People turn to religion in times of need or emotional struggle. They might turn to religion because they have a sick family member or they might turn to religion because they need an end to a drought. Having a reason to hold on (religion) can help people get through the hard times.
It’s common that all three reasons exist together, but one reason may outweigh another in an individual or a population. For example, in a time of famine, the majority of a population might turn to religion for reason 2. In a society with little understanding of science, the majority of the population might use religion for reason 1.
When creating a religion, think about why your characters are religious or why they are not religious. Think about situations that would make them approach religion. All characters will differ based on their personal needs, how religious they are, and how they were raised. Some characters might only turn to religion when they are extremely desperate.
A sacred text is a general term that refers to a text that is important to a religion. The Bible is an example. Sacred texts do not have to exist in a religion. Oral histories can take their place or exist alongside them.
If there is a sacred text, decide how it is supposed to be read. Some religious texts are meant to be read by a religious official, who teaches others what it says (the Bible). Other texts are meant to be ready by everyone and interpreted on an individual level (the Qur’an).
- If the sacred text is meant to be read by a religious official and no one else, religious officials will be educated while most of the population will not be (depending on the society, available education, hierarchy, and technology available to spread written texts). Lack of literacy might be used to control the population.
Sacred texts might be a part of the government. If so, create laws carefully and make sure you know all the details about the religion and the government you’ve created.
Another option for a sacred text is one that is created by an individual or by a community. These sacred texts are filled with whatever information a person sees as important to the way they practice their religion. They may collect information through religious officials, oral histories, or their own experiences. These sacred texts can be passed down to another generation.
Here are some things you can put in a sacred text:
- Historical Accounts: If a sacred text is just a historical account of a religion, you’ll need to come up with mythologies that fit into this text.
- Laws & Guidelines: Sometimes, a sacred text is used to write down laws and guidelines of a religion.
- Prayers, Songs, etc.: If prayers, chants, songs, and other spoken words are important to a religion or hold meaning, they might show up in a sacred text.
PLACE OF WORSHIP
Not all religions have a place of worship. However, places of worship can be as grand as the Hagia Sophia or they can be as simple as a personal altar in one’s home.
Within certain religions, such as Catholicism, there can be a hierarchy of places of worship. For example, a Cathedral is a church, but it also acts as the seat of a Bishop for a given area. Places of worship, in times when the majority of the population could not read, used lots of common symbols within the architecture so that people knew it was a place of worship for a certain religion. This is why many medieval religious buildings portray religious stories or figures within the architecture.
If there are places of worship in your world, put them in your story. If they are in a city or near a trading center, they might be more grand than others due to available resources. If a government official commissions one of these buildings, it will likely be large and detailed due to available expenses. Places of worship in isolated areas are likely to be smaller and simpler.
Make these places known in your world. Give them a feel. A lot of religious buildings are meant to give the feeling of grandness and divinity. Some might make a person feel small and insignificant. Give these buildings a demeanor. This will help readers get a feel for this religion while also setting the mood and tone for the scene.
Create the main beliefs and philosophies of your religion. This will impact your society as a whole. However, there should be differing opinions and beliefs within a religion. People are going to interpret parts of a religion in different ways and will have different opinions on how to approach a religion.
- Opposing Forces: Some religions have opposing forces within it, such as good vs evil. Some religions don’t have opposing forces and rather see everything just as it is without attributing morality. Decide how your religion views the world.
- Opposing Forces 2: This refers to the opinions of people within the religion. Having differing opinions within a religion can be mild, but it can also be extreme. The latter can cause lots of conflict and even a split in religion, creating two different branches or a new religion altogether.
- Common Values: The main values and morals of this religion will affect the way your characters think and behave, even if they are not religious. Being raised around this religion can sway their opinions. This might create conflict for your characters when faced with a decision that goes against what they were raised with.
- Afterlife: Everyone, at one point, wonders what happens when we die. As I mentioned above, religion is often used to explain the unknown. What is the afterlife in this religion? If there are no opposing forces of good vs evil, there will probably not be a hell-like place.
- Sins: You don’t need to put sins in your religion, but it can help with conflict and character morals. Decide what this religion has outlawed or what it has looked down upon. If you want, sins can become law through the government.
- Other Religions: For a post on what happens when other cultures come in contact with each other, look at the lower part of this post. Sometimes, religions can exist peacefully side by side.
Like I said, beliefs will impact your characters and the world they grew up in. People are a part of whatever culture they were raised in and it’s impossible to completely cut off those ties. The morals, values, and beliefs of your world’s religion impacts your characters in a much larger way than you think.
Lots of religions have different sub-religions, branches, and denominations. If the religion you have created it widespread, it’s likely that this religion will have sub-religions and different forms of worship. If a religion has influence on another religion, those religions might end up combining.
- Region: Different branches of a religion tend to be dominant in certain regions, even in multi-cultural places. Decide where certain branches are more common or where they are limited to.
- Interaction: Two different branches within a religion might hate each other to such extremities that war can occur. This is another source of conflict for your fictional world.
- Difference of Beliefs: If applicable to your story, think up some differences between the branches of religion.
Religion should be seen in your story if you make up one. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a huge part or if none of the characters are extremely religious. If you have created a religion, it should have some visibility. It could influence language, dress, architecture, holidays, and more.
- Architecture: This will most likely be places of worship, but religion can appear in all types of buildings and structures. Certain symbols might be seen in windows or on doors. Certain architectural styles might hold symbolic meaning, like how tall buildings are seen as reaching up to the heavens and therefore are seen as divine.
- Clothing: Religious clothing can be obvious or subtle, but it still affects fashion. People might mimic the style of a religious figure or they might wear something that shows which deity they worship. If you show this, you can let the reader know what certain characters value. For example, wearing a certain symbol in the form of a pin might show that a person worships the deity of bravery, thus showing that this character values bravery.
- Language: People mention parts of their religion in common phrases all the time, sometimes without realizing it. You can come up with exclamations and common phrases in your world through their religion.
- Calendars: A lot of calendars surround important dates in religion. If you’re looking where to put year zero, go to religion. Did someone important die in that year? Were they born? Did something else important happen?
Most religions have some kind of symbol. This symbol is often important to that religion (like the cross for Christianity). Creating a symbol can add depth to your world while also bringing reality to this religion. You can put this symbol in various places to help show readers where this religion has spread.
It’s not necessary to have a symbol.
Decide how far this religion has spread and what people think about it. Religions, if small, are sometimes viewed as cults. If they gain popularity and start overcoming another dominant religion, they might be seen as threats.
- Region: Know the region that your religion has spread to. There can be small regions within larger regions that resist this religion. If your characters are traveling, knowing the boundaries of this religion can help you create scenes and cultures that have this religious influence.
- Subscribers: Decide how many people subscribe to this religion. If this is the dominant religion in a region, this religion will be more visible in your world.
- Influence: Religion has massive influence on culture. If you are writing a world where religion is important, it will greatly influence your characters’ lives and worlds.
- Spread: Does this religion have a goal to spread to other places? If so, your religious characters might try to convert others or there might be conflict with the spread of religion.
Is there a certain way to join this religion? Many religions have rituals, ceremonies, and initiations that are used to accept a person into that religion.
- Invitation: A few religions are invitation-only. This can be rigid or more free. A rigid invitation means that only a certain person can invite others into this religion. For example, if a person wants to bring a friend into their religion, they might have to bring their friend to a religious official to get permission. Less rigid invitations can be as simple as allowing any member of a religion to bring in others.
- Open: An open religion allows anyone to join whether they were invited or not. These religions can spread fast while invitation-only religions are able to stay small and private for a longer period of time.
- The Initiator: Who performs the ceremony? Most often, it is a religious official, but it doesn’t have to be.
- The Ceremony: How they are brought into a religion? What happens during the ceremony? How long does it take? Are there any preparations that need to be made? Does it have to happen at a certain age? If so, your characters might have to go through this.
- Birth: Most people are born into a religion. Sometimes, they are given the choice to leave this religion at a certain age or they can be officially initiated (like within some Amish communities). This might cause stress for characters if they come of this age and if their parents or guardians are expecting them to turn a certain way.
- Forced: Sometimes, people are forced to join a religion.
RELIGIONS IN YOUR WORLD
It’s realistic to have more than one religion present. They don’t have to exist equally and probably won’t.
- Outlawed: An outlawed religion is one that is not allowed to be practiced. What are the punishments for practicing an outlawed religion? Why are they outlawed?
- Minority: A minority religion is simply one that has a lesser amount of followers than a dominant religion. They do not have to be oppressed religions.
- Oppressed: An oppressed religion is one that may or may not have been outlawed and one that is rejected by society as a whole. Practitioners experience discrimination. What this discrimination is depends on you.
- Dominant: The dominant religion is the one that is most common in a given region. It does not have to be oppressive to other religions.
- Secret: Secret religions are unknown to the general population and are invitation-only.
- Mythical: Mythical religions are secret religions that may or may not exist. The general population might have conspiracies about the existence, but they have no hard proof.
- Dead: These religions are no longer practiced.
- Revived: These are religions that were previously dead, but revived by a population. The practices in the revival will not be the same as the original religion.
- What is the dominant religion in your character’s region? How do they feel about it? Is it their religion? Do they agree with the dominant opinions?
- How much power does religion have? Are government rulers considered divine or close to divinity? Is religion above the law? Does it dictate your character’s world?
- What is the most well known story? What does this story explain? Does it give morals or does it explain a natural occurrence? Or something else? How does this story affect your characters and their world?
- How important is religion to your character? Do they turn to religion in times of need? Do they take offense if someone puts down their religion? Do they try to spread their religion?
- Why do people follow this religion? Did it appear in a time of need? Or is it used as an explanation? Does it bring a community together? Is there a reward (like in the afterlife)? Were they forced to convert?
- What sacred days are there? Are there any at all? If so, how are these days viewed? How often do they come along? What do they celebrate?
- How did this religion spread? Some religions spread unintentionally, as do languages and other cultures. The Phoenicians never had the intention of conquest, only trade. Their trade led to widespread cultural exchange. Was your religion spread on purpose? Is it actively spread? Was it forced upon a population?
- How does the environment affect religion? Available resource might determine what is used for places of worship. Weather might create deities. Positions of the sun might create holidays. Geography in general might impact the origin story of the world.
- How does this religion feel about various topics like marriage, death, sex, sexuality, drugs, magic, incest, and murder? What this religion says about such topics will determine what is considered “the norm” in your world and how your characters act. If incest is considered a sin rather than just taboo, people might be afraid to get too close to their sibling.
- What conflict does this religion create? Does it create internal conflict for your character? Does it create wars or fights between people? Is it dangerous for your character to travel in a certain area because of their religion?
- How does this religion impact your character’s outlook on life? Religion shapes the way a person perceives the world. It impacts whether they see a person as a villain or as a hero and how they feel about everything in general.
I made these as a way to compile all the geographical vocabulary that I thought was useful and interesting for writers. Some descriptors share categories, and some are simplified, but for the most part everything is in its proper place. Not all the words are as useable as others, and some might take tricky wording to pull off, but I hope these prove useful to all you writers out there!
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