7 Deadly Perils of… Underplanning

Time to kick off another brand new series!

‘7 Deadly Perils’ is going to be a series of short, snappy posts about different aspects of writing and the seven possible pitfalls/disasters that you may encounter. The aim is to try to give you some useful advice in an easily digestible format. When working through my novel-in-progress I tend to come across various problems/ideas/thoughts all at the same time, depending on what I’m currently focusing on. The want to be able to share all that stuff with you while it’s still fresh in my mind is what led to this series’ creation.

So, I hope you find what is about to follow useful. Once I have a couple of these ‘episodes’ out there, I may even compile them together under their own category.

7 Deadly Perils of… Underplanning

  1. You will lose your way.
    Sensible Side of Your Brain: Buddy, I think we should turn back. We probably took a wrong turn somewhere back there.
    Stupid Side of Your Brain: No! If we keep going straight through this field, we’ll get there quicker!
  2. The purpose of your story will not be clear.
    Gandalf: You must carry this burden, Frodo Baggins. You must destroy the ring.
    Frodo: Uhh, why?
    Gandalf: Honestly? I have no idea. Probably just so it’s not left lying around.
  3. You will make things up. These things will not make sense.
    And then he was falling; falling to his death. But then a dragon swooped in and caught him on its back. ‘Phew!’ the walrus said. ‘That was a close one!’
  4. Your plot will lack cohesion and depth.
    I don’t have a piece of comedy gold for this one. Just say the words ‘cohesion’ and ‘depth’ over and over while gently caressing your half-finished manuscript.
  5. Your characters will be Pinocchios.
    Character: I’m a real boy!
    Reader: No you’re not, get back in your cardboard box… the same cardboard from which you are made!
    Character: Nooooooo! *sob sob*
  6. Your story will have no believable conflict. Your characters will experience no inner conflict.
  7. You will give up.
    Author: Well, this story about a magical wizard school and the boy who goes there isn’t going anywhere. Time to consign it to the bin. I’m gonna write a story about casual vacancies… whatever they are!

Next Time: 7 Deadly Perils of… Overplanning!

It’s not a race… It’s a marathon

Something I learned just recently, which has changed my approach to writing for the better, was the idea that writing a piece of fiction is not a race. For years, I was competing to write my novel as quickly as possible in order to get it out the door and sell. But it doesn’t work quite like that (at least, not for us amateurs). No… writing is a marathon, you see. It isn’t so much a question of when you finish, but a game of seeing if you even can finish.

When you’re rushing your writing, you rarely have a chance to pause and actually enjoy what you’re doing. Characters don’t develop in your head, so much as splat onto the page in a bloody mess of literary abandon. Plot lines become knotted abominations, settings broken and/or bland and your own mood takes on a dark, savage quality. In short, you are no longer writer and story; you are now raving madman and word-scramble.

The greatest thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to take time over what you are doing. The time you might think you’ll be saving yourself writing the first draft will come for payback, doubling, trebling even, when you come to re-drafting, IF you rush! Who cares how many words you wrote today, or yesterday, or last week? Is your story moving along? Are your characters developing? If so, what have you got to worry about?

As an old friend of mine said recently, everyone has time to write at least 100 words every day. Whether you bash them out on your phone while waiting for a train, or on a scrap of paper during a boring meeting, or even on a napkin (a NAPKIN, dammit!) while you’re knocking back your morning Starbucks… *pause for breath*… it doesn’t really matter.

Oh, and if you think you need to get your story written and out in the world ASAP because you might get hit by a bus next week, I have these pearls of wisdom for you:

  1. There’s more of a chance agents/publishers will reject you if you’ve rushed your manuscript.
  2. Your manuscript probably isn’t that good anyway (no offence, but let’s be honest with ourselves).
  3. What do you care if people read your story or not once you’re dead? Just relax and have fun haunting that guy at work you don’t like!

In all seriousness, though, just enjoy your writing. When you’re having fun, your best work will come through.

The Best Laid Plans of a Writer

Writer's Stop

Right, let’s get back on track with some posts about writing. After all, that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? 🙂

Now, today I want to talk about planning. First, let me start out with a little story:

One day, there was a writer who didn’t like to plan. He had loads of ideas swirling around in his head and he wanted to write everything! But each time he would think of a story to write, when he sat down and started typing out the first chapter, he realisedhe didn’t know what would happen next.

‘Oh, bugger!’ he cried. ‘Oh well, never mind. I’ll just write something else.’

And so he was stuck in an eternal loop of unfinished stories and unfulfilled dreams of being a published author.

Yeah, that’s right, that was me. Until a few months ago, that is…

‘What happened a few months ago?’ I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you.

I learned to plan.

It’s not a particularly easy thing for a writer to acknowledge, but I knew deep down that my writing was suffering from a lack of planning and I am by no means a naturally gifted and “special” writer who can just rush through a story without anything to show them the way. You know what those sorts of people are called? Pantsers. That’s what us writery types call them, anyway.

Here’s the official definition of the word. *cough* taken from urban dictionary *cough*:


A NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.
This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the ‘planner’, who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.
Another pantser?! Seriously, GTFO.

Take note of the second paragraph. Planner. That is what you should aspire to, more or less.

I hate planning, I will admit that, but it does have HUGE benefits. Take a look at this example:

Chapter One

  • Swordfight / conflict
  • Rain
  • Slippery footing
  • Main char – discussion about amulet
  • Discovers amulet’s power / destiny
  • Attacked by assassins
  • Almost poisoned – fear
  • Escapes with amulet into city
  • Who do the assassins belong to? Who wants him dead?

That’s it. That is as much as I write about any one chapter. I tried out this method after browsing the web on the search for planning advice. Before, I had stuck to strict play-by-play summaries of each chapter and I’d always burned out and got bored. I like it when there’s still a lot of freedom to move in my writing. Think of each bullet point as an island and imagine there’s just blank space in between each one. That blank space is where you can really use your imagination and play around as much as you like. So long as you stick to the bullet points and hit each one of them at some point, you can’t go wrong. I guarantee it. Just make sure you have a few points that conjure up an image and set the scene, a few points that deal with the plot and character’s progression and then a couple that are just action/movement and finally one that asks a question for the chapter to end on and draw the reader deeper into your story.

As for the overall structure of the plot, I approach it like so. This is advice I adapted from Michael Moorcock’s brilliant How to Write a Book in Three Days, by the way:

Part 1 – Hit the hero with a heap of trouble. Give them a problem to overcome. Give them a reason to try to overcome it.

Part 2 – Increase the trouble that the hero is facing. Give him more crap to deal with. Keep giving him a personal reason to keep trying to overcome it.

Part 3 – Put your hero in so much trouble that the reader isn’t sure he’ll survive it. Break him, bash him about, make him beg for mercy.

Part 4 – Find a way for your hero to triumph. Tie up any loose ends. Provide a satisfying conclusion.

All you need do is fit your chapter plans in and around those four parts and you’re already halfway to the finish line.

My Top Ten Planning Tips

  1. Whenever you feel lost or don’t know what to write, just look at your chapter plan and make sure you’re sticking to each bullet point.
  2. Cover everything and don’t try to rush.
  3. If your characters insist on going in a different direction, stop and plan ahead a few more chapters to see if it works.
  4. Make sure that you have the ending already planned out.
  5. Plan out at least one chapter from the middle of your story. Make it an event/scene you really want to write.
  6. Make sure all your characters and their motivations/goals are clear in your mind before you plan.
  7. Think of a few objects and images that will form the visual theme of your story. Incorporate these elements into your plot.
  8. Don’t plan out every single chapter before you start writing (unless you enjoy planning). Most likely a lot will change as you delve into the first chapters of your story and you’ll only demoralise yourself. Plan ahead by two or three chapters at all times.
  9. Equally, make sure you have the entire journey/arc of your story clear in your mind. Just in very basic forms (e.g. amulet discovered, hero goes on journey to east, takes part in huge battle against demons, confronts antagonist in ruined temple).
  10. Enjoy your writing! The best advice I can give you is to write what you find interesting and fun. If you’re bored writing it, people will be bored reading it. That’s the secret to writing well.

What do you reckon? Got any of your own planning tips or stories to share? Are you a pantser or a planner?

From The (Fantasy) Web Today

Here are a few articles that grabbed my attention today. I was especially interested to see a few here on planning and outlining a fantasy story, which is something I’m working hard on at the moment. Hope you enjoy!


It’s Moving Time!

Over the next few days, I’m going to be dropping activity as I’m currently moving house back in the real world! In case you get bored while I’m gone, here’s a list of fun stuff you should do:

  1. Go check out Cyanide and Happiness (just Google it). It’s a brilliant webcomic that inspired me to create my own. Beware, if you’re easily offended, steer well clear.
  2. Check out the new Our Picks feature via the sidebar on the right side of the blog. There’s some nice articles and advice for all you aspiring authors out there!
  3. Visit SFF World – it’s a great site with author interviews, book reviews and a lively forum – perfect for every scifi/fantasy enthusiast.
  4. Try saying the following words/phrases ten times in a row, as fast as you can. Tell me which one ends up sounding the rudest: Lipstick / Kentucky Fried Chicken / Muffle Trucker
  5. Write a nice little story under 300 words and post it up here in the comments!
  6. Got any tips/advice for newcomers to the blog? Why not drop them in the comments section for them to read through?

See you guys shortly!

~ James

New Blog Feature – “Our Picks”

If you have sharp eyes, you will have noticed a new feature that I’ve worked on bringing to the blog today. It’s called “Our Picks” and you can find it on the sidebar just underneath the spiel about me. Basically, it’s a series of “post collections”, designed to cover topics such as How to Write Great Characters or Learning From Other Authors. I really hope you’ll all check them out and find them to be of use and interest.

A smaller modification I’ve made today is in the navbar (above). I’ve made it a little easier to navigate by making all of the pages you can visit visible on the drop-down list. A few people told me they weren’t aware that the button itself lead to a page and were only looking at the drop-down options.

If you have any comments/concerns about the blog’s layout or content, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.



Stimulating Your Setting to Life

Writing is a difficult pursuit. Just this week I found myself struggling with characterisation. When I tweaked the characters, the plot went with it and I felt like I was patching up a leaking ship. You may think that there are big problems if you’re needing to “repair” your story, but in my case I improved upon the way the plot was working and ended up with something far stronger than I had to begin with. Not every leaking boat sinks.

After I’d sorted out the annoyances with my story, I looked to the setting. I always spend a very long time worldbuilding and getting the various locations clear in my head. I try to treat it like a movie. There are various “sets” and each one is designed for a specific purpose, whether its to evoke a certain emotion in the reader, to act as the backdrop for a major event or simply to help make the world feel more real and add flavour. If you’ve seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies, surely you remember Amon Hen, the place where Boromir is killed defending the hobbits? How about Helm’s Deep or Minas Tirith? Surely you felt disgust when Isengard’s gardens were destroyed and transformed into evil pits? These scenes invoke very specific emotions and the sets are designed to heighten the drama that is taking place within them and cement the story very firmly in a living, breathing world.

Just read this short scene and see if you can visualise where it’s taking place:

‘I’m not sure,’ Jeremy said. He set his flask of tea down. ‘It’s a sticky situation.’

Thomas hauled himself from the sofa and went over to his desk. He opened a drawer and produced a book. ‘This here is all we need to bring them down, Jeremy. One pathetic man and woman at a time.’

Jeremy stared out of the window. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘Do it.’

Can you picture where that conversation is taking place? Do you know how big the room is, where in the room the desk is or what the book looks like? Do you remember what Jeremy is drinking tea from? When you come across writing like this, it’s being made unnecessarily difficult to picture everything.

Have a read of the same scene below but with some description of the setting included:

‘I’m not sure,’ Jeremy said. He set his flask of tea down, its weight suddenly dragging at his frail muscles. ‘It’s a sticky situation.’

Thomas hauled himself from the leather sofa that looked better suited to an executive office and crossed over to his mahogany desk in the corner. He opened the top drawer, remembering it was quite stiff and produced a dusty, leather bound-book. ‘This here is all we need to bring them down, Jeremy. One pathetic man and woman at a time.’

Jeremy stared out of the misted window beside him. The wet London streets outside seemed like an alien world compared to the warm comforts of Thomas’ apartment suite. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘Do it.’

Now, try and tell me that wasn’t easier and more interesting to read? Just from a few extra descriptions, we learn that Jeremy is either an older man or he is not very well and we remember the flask because it interacted with Jeremy in a meaningful way. We also learned that Thomas doesn’t have a very good eye for dĂ©cor and the book he retrieves from his desk is old and has seen better days. Finally, we learn that this takes place in London and it is raining outside. Jeremy is a man used to comforts as he views the streets as alien. Now, the reader starts to piece a few more things together that you’ve not even started to hint at or explain. Best of all, they start asking questions and getting involved in the story. Perhaps they are politicians? Perhaps the book is a last resort and has been kept out of sight for years? Why does Jeremy have a flask of tea? Maybe he’s travelling somewhere and doesn’t intend to stay long?

You may think example two improved upon the first greatly, but there is still more we can do with this. The setting is clearer in our heads, but it’s not alive yet. This is where we come to my main point. To truly make a setting come to life you need to treat it like a character.

Let’s play around with that second example:

‘I’m not sure,’ Jeremy said. He set his lukewarm flask of tea down, its weight suddenly dragging at his frail muscles. The side table quivered unsteadily as it took the flask’s bulk and Jeremy knew it too had been worn down and abused over the years. He rested his withered hands in his lap and regarded his friend. ‘It’s a sticky situation.’

Thomas hauled himself from the leather sofa, the material making a sucking noise as his trousers pulled away. The thing would have looked better in some young executive’s office, surrounded by glass, slate tiles and minimalist art. Thomas crossed over to his old mahogany desk in the corner and opened the stiff top drawer to a cacophony of loud scraping noises. He reached inside and produced a dusty, leather-bound book, its cover faded and peeling away.

‘This here is all we need to bring them down, Jeremy,’ he said, holding the book aloft and shaking it excitedly. ‘One pathetic man and woman at a time.’

Jeremy stared out of the misted window beside him. The drenched London streets outside seemed like an alien world compared to the warm, inviting comforts of Thomas’ apartment suite. The aroma of freshly baked bread danced past his nose and his stomach immediately growled in protest. ‘Fine,’ he said, irritably. ‘Do it.’

By trying to really make the scene come alive, not only does the reader feel more involved but the word count has also more than doubled. If you find that your chapters never quite reach the length you want them to, take a look at your scene-setting and make sure you’re pulling out all the stops and inviting your reader in. Another outcome of making the setting more dynamic is that it makes your characters more three-dimensional and human. Notice that I also included more sensory description in that last example. The sound of the drawer opening, the sight of the book cover peeling away, the smell of the fresh bread and the feel of Jeremy’s hunger and impatience. It’s certainly a far cry from the first example.

By the way, this is a perfect exercise for you to try out if you’re struggling with describing a scene. Write a couple of really basic sentences and include a bit of dialogue. Then, expand on it and include basic, superficial descriptions like colour and size. Don’t be too specific or the reader won’t use their imagination for anything and then they’ll feel uninvolved. Once you have your improved scene down, really go for it and hit it with all you’ve got. Imagine you’re dipping a colourful paintbrush into a clear glass of water. See all the colours swirling together and colliding to make the water more interesting. That’s your goal as a writer. What would you choose, water or chocolate milkshake? A pond or the ocean? A goldfish or a lion? Get under the skin of your world and find out what makes it tick.

If you take nothing else away from this article, take this. Remember those old Disney cartoons from the 90’s where the background was like a painting and it never moved? When you saw one object drawn more vividly you knew it was going to move or do something. That’s what you want to avoid. To make a truly living world you need to make everything vivid and make the reader always guess what’s going to move and what isn’t.

Shake things up and make them fizzy!

Reblogged: A Few Essential Tips on Character

Just a few essential tips that I found in a really great article you can read here. We all need to remember a few of these from time to time.

Act Upon The World Rather Than Have The World Act Upon Him

Don’t let the character be a dingleberry stuck to the ass of a toad as he floats downriver on a bumpy log. We grow weary of characters who do nothing except react to whatever the world flings at their heads. That’s not to say that characters shouldn’t be forced to deal with unexpected challenges and left-field conflicts — but that doesn’t prevent a character from being proactive, either. Passivity fails to be interesting for long. This is why crime fiction has power: the very nature of a crime is about doing. You don’t passively rob a bank, kill your lover, or run a street gang. Simply put: characters do shit.

Boom Goes The Dynamite

Blake Snyder calls this the “Save The Cat” moment, but it needn’t be that shiny and happy. Point being: every character needs a kick-ass moment, a reason why we all think, “Fuck yeah, that’s why I’m behind this dude.” What moment will you give your character? Why will we pump our fists and hoot for him?

Nobody Sees Themselves As A Supporting Character

Thus, your supporting characters shouldn’t act like supporting characters. They have full lives in which they are totally invested and where they are the protagonists. They’re not puppets for fiction.

How You Succeed Is By Not Having Them Succeed

You as storyteller are a malevolent presence blocking the character’s bliss. You must be a total asshole. Imagine that the character is an ant over here, and over there is a nugget of food, a dollop of honey, and all the ant wants is to trot his little ant-y ass over to the food so that he may dine upon it. Think of the infinite ways you can stop him from getting to that food. Flick him into the grass. Block his path with twigs, rocks, a line of dishsoap, a squeeze of lighter fluid set aflame. Be the wolf to his little piggy and huff and puff and blow his house down. Pick him up, put him in the cup-holder in your car, and drive him 100 miles in the opposite direction while taunting him with insults. The audience will hate you. But they’ll keep on hungering for more. Will the ant get to the food? Won’t he? Will he find his friends again? Can he overcome? Primal, simple, declarative problem. You are the villain. The character is the hero. The audience thirsts for this most fundamental conflict of storyteller versus character.

Beware The Everyman, Fear The Chosen One

I’m boring. So are you. We don’t all make compelling protagonists despite what we feel in our own heads, and so the Everyman threatens to instead become the eye-wateringly-dull-motherfucker-man, flat as a coat of cheap paint. The Chosen One — arguably the opposite of the Everyman — has, appropriately, the opposite problem: he’s too interesting, a preening peacock of special preciousness. Beware either. Both can work, but know the danger. Find complexity. Seek remarkability.

A Tornado Beneath A Cool Breeze

A good character is both simple and complex: simplicity on the surface eradicates any barrier to entry, and complexity beneath rewards the reader and gives the character both depth and something to do. Complexity on the surface rings hollow and threatens to be confusing: ease the audience into the character the way you’d get into a clawfoot tub full of steaming hot water — one toe at a time, baby.

Get All Up In Them Guts

Know your character. Every square inch. Empathize, don’t sympathize. Understand the character but don’t stand with the character. Get in their skin. The closer you get, the better off you are when a story goes sideways. Any rewriting or additional work comes easy when you know which way the character’s gonna jump. Know them like you know yourself; when the character does something under your watch, you know it comes justified, with purpose, with meaning, with intimate knowledge that the thing she did is the thing she was always supposed to motherfucking do.

What’s In a (Fantasy) Name?

So, what’s in a name? That’s the question I’m going to explore today. I’ll give you the answer now: everything, that’s what. How can I write an article about a question I’ve just answered? Answer: I can’t, but it does lead me nicely into an article on fantasy character names.

Let’s get down to the topic at hand. Names. If I’m being honest, names are one of those aspects of writing fantasy that I both love and loathe. You may remember an article I put together on this subject a while back (And Don’t Call Me Shirley) which dealt more with coming up with names. What I want to talk about now is how names affect the characters they are pinned on.

Take the example below:

The great sorcerer, Gob Blackfist, reached into his robes and produced a wand. He beckoned to his servants, a brutish warrior called Amiah LaFontaine and a pretty young she-thief called Alcandameus the Pale.

Please feel free to send in your messages of adoration; it’s a masterpiece, right? But seriously, there’s something really wrong with the names in that snippet. Now, there’s nothing wrong with calling your sorcerer Gob Blackfist, so long as you explain why he’s called that. Why do you have to explain your choice of name? Because it’s non-conventional and the reader will question it.

Here’s another example. The names are now as you might expect:

The great sorcerer, Alcandameus the Pale, reached into his robes and produced a wand. He beckoned to his servants, a brutish warrior called Gob Blackfist and a pretty young she-thief called Amiah LaFontaine.

‘Yes, master?’ Gob asked.

Alcandameus grinned. ‘I think I have finally solved this accursed problem with our names!’

See, that was better, right? No strange names where they shouldn’t be and no orc-type names for our great sorcerer. If you came across an author of bloodthirsty, epic fantasy on the bookshelves and his name was Clarence Pink, you’d be a bit turned off from reading his work. If, however, he used a pen name like Alex Steel… well, bring on the violence!

In the same respect, it’s strange to come across a person whose surname matches their job. A traffic warden called Ian Fines, a firefighter called Rob Burns or how about a jeweler called Mr. Goldsmith? It’s true that surnames originated in this way. Your local medieval blacksmith might earn himself the highly imaginative name “Blacksmith”. If you use names like this in your writing, however, it can come across as a little bit childish and silly.

The best thing to do when assigning names to your characters is to speak it out loud and maybe put the name into a few lines of dialogue. See how it sounds and if it sounds wrong, go back and try something else until it feels right.

Don’t forget that tomorrow I’ll be posting our second ever author interview. Don’t miss it, it’s going to be great!

Building a Wiki For Your Novel

Recently, I’ve been working on a new method of fleshing out the finer details of my novel-in-progress. I like to call it a Wiki, even though it’s not necessarily hosted online anywhere. I spent a couple of hours looking at various wikis for such worlds as Westeros, Midkemia, Warhammer 40K Universe and Middle-earth. I looked at character pages, location pages and other miscellaneous pages for objects, historical events etc. Now, I love looking through wikis, Wikipedia being my favourite, and I love the way that the information is presented. It’s easy to read, quick to find important information and fun to explore.

Here’s a nice example from A Wiki of Ice and Fire:

Jon Snow

Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark, by a mother whose identity is a source of speculation. He was raised by his father alongside his true-born half-siblings, but joins the Night’s Watch when he nears adulthood. He is constantly accompanied by his albino direwolf Ghost. At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Jon is fourteen years old.

Character and Appearance

Jon was raised by father Eddard Stark, alongside his true-born half-siblings. Eddard always treated Jon the same as his trueborns and Jon got on well with his half-siblings, particularly with Robb and Arya. Jon always had issues with his bastardy and eventually chose to join the Night’s Watch, where the circumstances of his birth were of little importance.

Jon has strong Stark features. He has a lean build and a long face, with dark hair and grey eyes.


Ned brought Jon back after he returned from Robert’s Rebellion and insisted on raising him with the rest of his family. Jon got along with most of the Stark family, but Catelyn always considered him an outsider and his presence served as a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity.

Yada yada yada…

As you can see, there are nicely defined sections, the information is concise but descriptive and in just a few paragraphs we already have pretty much a decent character profile. Depending on which character I am dealing with, I like to have an additional section on Equipment & Attire, too. As I write the wiki page, my character is growing and forming in my mind and I can gradually add more details about them as I go along. As I develop my story’s plot, I go back to the wiki and add the individual characters’ progression through the plot. Check out the example below:

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

When the family encounters the direwolf pups after Gared is executed for deserting the Night’s Watch, Jon takes the albino pup, as it is an outcast from its litter. Jon’s position both inside and outside the family subtly chafe him over the years until, when he nears adulthood, he joins the Night’s Watch.

Tyrion Lannister accompanies Jon to the Wall, and their friendship is fostered by their shared position as noble outsiders. Jon is initially resented by the other Watch recruits because of his noble background, but he eventually learns to fit into the crowd. His actions towards his fellow recruits exacerbate the lasting enmity from the caustic master-at-arms, Alliser Thorne. Jon also protects Samwell Tarly from bullying by some other recruits.

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont appoints Jon as his personal steward and squire in order to groom him for command. During a wight attack on Castle Black, Jon saves Mormont’s life and receives serious burns on his hand. Mormont gives him the Valyrian steel bastard sword, Longclaw, of House Mormont, and has a direwolf head engraved onto the pommel in honor of House Stark.

Although Jon has learned to fit in with the Watch, he has difficulty separating from his old life. At the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, he tries to desert to join Robb’s army, even though the common penalty for deserting the Night’s Watch is death. His new friends bring him back, however, and save him from this fate. Jon finally decides to honor his bonds and abandon his Stark past.

I go through a similar process for non-character pages. Let’s take an example from the LOTR Wiki on the Rangers of the North:

Rangers of the North

The Rangers of the North, also known as Watchers or simply Rangers, were the last remnant of the DĂşnedain who had once populated the Northern-kingdom of Arnor.

The Rangers usually wore grey or dark green cloaks with no identifying ornaments except a six-pointed cloak-clasp in the shape of a star. Another identifying feature was that all of them wore a green longcoat. Equipped primarily with swords and bows, they were quick, versatile, and experienced riders.


Characteristically elusive and enigmatic, the Rangers spent most of their lives in the wild, visiting towns and villages only on rare occasions. The Rangers were led by Chieftains. These Chieftains could trace their lines back to Isildur himself and his father Elendil. Though the Chieftains were designated figures of authority for the Rangers, the scattered people had no official headquarters or capitol after the disintegration of Arnor and possibly lived in temporary camps scattered about the wilderness…

Etc. etc. etc…

The pages for events, organizations, weapons or ideas are much shorter than that of a character’s, usually. They contain less sections and sub-sections because characters are usually much more complex than objects, places and concepts. Usually.

Once I’ve completed the individual wiki pages I like to combine them all into one file and keep it on my hard drive with my other project files. If I ever need to look something up or add a detail to my world, I just open the wiki and do what I need to do.

At some point over the next month I’m going to put together my own method of making really nice antique fantasy maps in GIMP, a free Photoshop clone. I guarantee you won’t want to miss it!

~ James