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Posts Tagged ‘novel. books’

Author Interview with Tony Ross

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am

Tony Ross

Today’s interview is with writer Tony Ross.  Tony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, “Victor,” was released in 2011 and is currently out of print. “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” was released in January 2013 with a few details and minor changes made to the original story. The sequel “Orion” was released in October of 2013.

1.     So tell us about your book.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

I have two books on the market right now: “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” and its sequel “Orion.” Both are supernatural/sci-fi thrillers, aimed primarily at younger adults who read those genres. Readers have compared my style to Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker and Stephen King. I’ve also drawn comparisons, at least with “Victor,” to Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series. The action and suspense probably appeal more to men, but I’ve heard good things from female readers too.

Victor“Victor” won a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2013 International Award Contest. The story is set in 2040 in fictional Sunlight City, where choice is the only law and all things are permissible. The decisions of three people will influence the future of the world: a gifted assassin trying to hold together his fraying sanity, a brilliant scientist with a world-changing secret who must unlock the assassin’s mind in order to survive him, and a streetwise, energetic detective with secrets of his own.  All three are bound by the darkest of secrets. Only the truth will set them free.

“Orion” features a young man, David, protecting a frightened woman from a killer. Faced with a deadly ultimatum, trapped by the weather in an overcrowded hotel slowly boiling over with fear and mistrust, David must protect the woman, find and stop the killer… and confront the darkest secrets of his heart.

I write these crazy stories, believe it or not, to minister. I don’t write Christian fiction strictly for Christians. We’ve heard the message already. Not everyone will read a book that’s clearly about Jesus, salvation, or Christian living. But if I can work those things into a fast-paced and entertaining novel, maybe a reader who doesn’t know God will decide, “Y’know, maybe I need to look into Christianity a little more.” And maybe I can encourage the Christian readers to take their walk with God a little deeper, beyond religion to relationship.

2.       What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Time to write is always a bit difficult to come by. Between family, work, ministry, etc., there are only so many hours in a day. I wrote most of “Orion” sitting at the kitchen table while my homeschooling kids did their homework. Beyond that, turning off my internal editor is always a trick. I need to tell myself that writing a truly “rough” draft is okay. I sometimes get hung up on plot points and stop writing for a few days while I kick things around in my head.

3.       What advice would you give new novelists?

Number one, write. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel. Just write. I’ve done poetry, articles, short stories… You can’t hone your craft without using it. God’s given you the desire and the ability. Take every opportunity you can to perfect it.

Number two, read. A lot. Find out what good writing is. Why did this best-selling novel stand out? What didn’t you like in that other novel? What would you do differently? Don’t copy anyone, but learn from their styles and develop your own. Every good writer is a student too. Don’t be afraid or too proud to learn from those who have gone before. Learn from their experience.

Number three, pray every time you sit down with pen, pencil or keyboard. What does God want you to write? Really look for His will. You might have a plan, but God’s is going to be better and ultimately more fulfilling.

Other than that, research your publishing options. There are plenty out there and not all are good. I spent thousands to publish the original version of “Victor” and was less than satisfied with the results. I pulled “Victor” off the market, revised a few things, and released it as “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” through a different publisher. This time I saved thousands and am much happier with the end result. Save yourself the heartache and do your research before you publish.

4.       Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

This is a long story. Let’s see if I can provide a Cliff’s Notes version. I walked away from God in my teenage years. I had a lot of anger, bitterness and hurt to work through. By the time I turned twenty-two in 1994 I was a depressed, suicidal alcoholic who expected to be dead or in prison by twenty-five. God put a young lady into my life at that time who invited me to church. At the time she’d asked, I’d hit rock bottom and had nothing left to lose.

I went with that young lady to Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, Wisconsin. I found a church that prayed and worshiped unashamedly, preached directly from the Word of God and welcomed me and all my issues with open arms. Over the next several months, I repented of my sins, was baptized by immersion in Jesus’ name and was filled with the Holy Ghost, just like we find in Acts chapter 2. God took a life that was completely hopeless, flipped it around and gave me a new and living hope.

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve been married to that lovely young lady since 1996. I have five beautiful kids, two boys and three girls. I’m part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic and have preached there since 2004. God has really done great things for me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

5.       Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My bookshelf is fairly diverse. Supernatural thrillers are my favorite, but I enjoy fantasy, mystery, westerns, a little bit of everything. I’m a big fan of Frank Peretti. I have a lot of Ted Dekker on my shelf. Robert Liparulo, Bryan Davis, and Mike Dellosso are also among the ranks.

6.       Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m just underway on “Brimstone,” the third book in my series. I’ve got a fourth in mind that should finish out the series, but I’m contemplating a series of short and very affordable ebooks, 20,000 words or so, featuring my characters at different points in their lives, telling new stories or letting readers see other sides of them.

7.       When did you start writing?

Oh, I don’t like math questions… (Laughs) Tenth grade. This would be… 1987-88. My English teacher had us write a journal. The first week we introduced a character, the next a second character. The third week was conflict, and so on. Most of my classmates wrote a sentence or two, a paragraph tops. I was writing pages. By the end of the year I had a 140-page handwritten epic, which really wasn’t very good, but I was hooked. At the end of the year my teacher told me, “Tony, you have one assignment for the summer. Get published.” I finally was in 2009. I hope she’s not mad that I’m late.

Tony Ross was born in Shawano, Wisconsin in 1972. In addition to full time factory work, Tony has been part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in nearby Clintonville since 2004. He was married in 1996 and has five children.

Tony does somehow still find time to write what he calls “thrillers for thinkers,” novels that not only entertain but invite the reader to contemplate deeper spiritual points. While a Christian thriller may seem like an oxymoron, Tony believes it’s all a matter of perspective

I want to thank Tony for allowing me to get to know him and for spending time with my readers.  If you want to learn more about him and his books you can check out his website here.

Opening up my book proof

In Look what I did!, My novel: The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars on October 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

announcement-PICTURE

 

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide: Step 10 Celebrate your accomplishments

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps on May 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

fireworks

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  This is the last step I used when I wrote my book

Ok here is step ten: celebrate!

Yep.  Writing is a lonely business.  It is not a group activity.  It is you and the paper or the screen staring back at you.  I know writers that will not even share their work with a person until well after they are finished.  I couldn’t do this.  I had after some scenes and even some chapters read it.  I needed the feedback.  I needed to know if people could see what I saw in my head.  Was I able to translate the pictures and voices of fictional worlds and characters from my mind into the mind of my reader.  Heck I needed that encouragement.

But let’s face it.  When you write it is a struggle sometimes.  It is an uphill battle to add character development, plot twists, seal plot holes, endure writers block.  Then after you have gone through all that.  You look back after x period and by God you are done.  You look at your work after so many pages and you realize that you have created something.  Celebrate that.

I remember when I finished my novel.  It was July 4th 2012.  I sat there looking at my computer screen.  I had reached the point where I could put the words the end on my work.  I knew I was done.  There was a part of me that was ecstatic, another part of me that was sad.  Me and this book had labored under much toil together and our journey and now taken a dramatic turn.  Oh yeah it needed polishing…at lot actually.  But it was done.

So when you get to your word count for the day. Celebrate.  When you complete that chapter.  Celebrate.  When you figure out that plot twist.  Celebrate.  And when you finish and get to the end…celebrate.

You did it.

Reward yourself at every opportunity when you achieve a bit of success.  Use whatever motivation you have to keep going.  Do not give up.  It is worth it.  I have learned so much.  But all my learning has shown how much more I have to go.

Take some time out to sit back, and celebrate.  Ya did good kid.

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 9: Get some beta readers!

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing on April 30, 2013 at 5:35 am

edited-manuscript

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I am going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I am going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step nine: get some beta readers.

A beta reader (or betareader, or beta) is a person who reads a work of fiction with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the public.

Another way to think of a beta reader is as a product development tester.  Essentially, you have someone who represents a sample demographic of the market for your book to gauge consumer reaction.

I like the idea personally of a beta reader being more than someone who checks for grammar, spelling and the like.  But thinking of this person(s) as representative of your selling demographic will really tell you if your writing is connecting with your audience, and what you might need to do to improve.

Where can you find beta readers?

Well there are various areas that you can look.  A few of the best I’ll just list out and link for you.

  1. Family/Friends
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Good Reads         http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group
  4. absolutewrite.com             http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=30

What are the basic steps?

  1. Send out your manuscript.
  2. Get back the replies.
  3. Go through the replies, and thank each person by email phone or a mailed note.
  4. Follow up and see if they are willing to look at further work
  5. Determine if their input warrants changes to your draft.

Things to watch out for

People who don’t respond!  Yep you might have some that say will do it, you provide them with the information but they simply don’t follow up, or through for whatever reason.  This is why you want more than just a couple of readers.

Secondly be very clear on what you’re looking for from a reader.  Having a reader tell you the story was good.  Or it was awful wont help you become a better writer.  What was awful?  Why?  The more you can help focus your reader on monitoring how they are interfacing with your work the better off you will be.

Thirdly, you have to decide how much of your work you want to give out.  Will it be a couple of pages?  A scene of work?  A chapter?  The whole novel?

My recommendation is that you give out based on do you trust the person to not ‘steal your work, and are they providing feedback?

Register with the copyright office. The best way to protect yourself legally from any copying is by registering your material with the US copyright office (www.copyright.gov). While each and every material produced by you is automatically copyrighted upon publishing, registering with the Copyright office will give you more extensive legal rights. In the event that someone publishes material that is exactly the same or similar to yours, having a formal copyright will make it easier for you to prove first instance, which means that you are the first author of the work.

Send any correspondence via email. The email provides documentation that you are the source of the material.

Typical Beta reader questions

Interest:  Does the story hold your attention

Were you ever bored during the story?

Was your mind ever wandering?

Can you tell me in the story where it happened?  Where do you remember losing interest?

World creation: is more detail needed?

Was there ever an occasion during the story where it seemed not “believable”?

Was there a point where you said, “Oh come on!” or where they any “logical fallacies” which you noticed?

Exposition: How was it handled?

Where in the story were you confused?

Was there anything you had to read twice?

Are there characters you found you didn’t care about?

Did you like the character(s)?

Did you hate the character(s)?

Did you keep forgetting who the characters were?

Was there any plot questions left unresolved for you?

Tension: Are the plot lines resolved?

What do you think will happen next?

What are you still wondering about?

Remember  the reader is reporting on their experience of what they are reading…their opinions are not wrong.  They are helping you to acquire great clues on how a reader is interfacing with your writing.

Again always make sure you tell your readers thank you!

D

The Prequel to the Bible is Here!

In My novel: The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars on April 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

Would you partner with me in a dream? 

For years I have watched movie makers and novelists write best sellers, of epic tales of far away places.  I have always dreamed that God would one day use me to speak to the world in a gripping tale of like manner.

In my audacity to think big, I believe God placed in me almost 8 years ago the desire to tell the story of the fall of Lucifer.  To use my imagination to weave a tale of wonder, angles, God, and battles involving the angelic host.  Now after all these years I am approaching the finalization of that dream.

The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars is the novel that has taken me 8 years of work.  I am asking if you would be willing to help me by adding your support to this project.

I have started a KickStarter campaign showing how you can specifically help and am emailing everyone I know to share in the novels success.  You can find the link here. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1744195552/the-third-heaven-the-rise-of-fallen-stars

I’m offering some great rewards for my supporters and hoping you will join me!

You can find the complete details and what I am pledging to you as the creator of this project here. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1744195552/the-third-heaven-the-rise-of-fallen-stars

The novel is done.  However, to make it a success commercially I am in need to some professionals to assist me in the areas of copy editing, cover design and marketing.  Your contribution will allow these challenges to be met.

Here is the brand new trailer for my book!

You have been a supporter of me, and I want to thank God in advance, for your taking the time to join with me in helping to bring this novel to commercial realization.  I believe this is the year, and with your help it will happen!  I’m looking for YOUR support.  Would you help me?

​Remember: the prequel to the Bible is here!

The Prequel to the Bible is coming!

In Look what I did!, My novel: The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars on April 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm

On Monday 4-29-13 at 10am I will making a major announcement on my novels progress.  The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars.

I want you to be a part of what I’m doing and relish in the success of the book.

I will be debuting on that day the brand new teaser trailer for novel right here on my blog!

I promise you.  You will not be disappointed!

The prequel to the Bible is coming!

DImage

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 8: Revise, revise, and revise again.

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps on April 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm
Revision doesn't have to be hard.

Revision doesn’t have to be hard.

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I am going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I am going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step eight: Revise.

Revision

When do you start revision?  Some have a tendency to revise as they write.  I do this a bit, but the reality is if you do; it slows down your writing and you are leaving the ‘flow’ of your streaming consciousness that is giving you scenes to write.  Therefore, revision should be its own step.  Do it after you get the thoughts out on paper.

How to revise you ask?  Well I’m glad you asked that question!

There are several steps that have helped me.  Essentially, I go from a larger view of the novel until I zero in to the smaller aspects of it.  When I hit the center of the bull’s eye, I start over until I feel there is no more revision left to do.

So using the image of a bull’s-eye (concentric circles) I do mine like so.

Revise the plot: are there plot holes or anything that is not tied together in the novel?  Unanswered questions.  Frayed edges?

Revise the scenes.  Do you need to rearrange them?  Does some need to be deleted?  Added?

Revise Characters:  Are there too many? Can some be combined? Are the descriptions there?

Revise Dialogue: Does the dialogue of the characters sound unique to that character? Does it need to be shortened, lengthened?

Revise for grammar and spelling.  Some word processors will do this as you type the manuscript out.  This is last step for me.

csg_writing-the-revision-process-tone

I don’t profess that these are all the steps.  What I do profess is that the method will work if you work it.  If in using this method, you need to add another ring in your concentric circle.  Do so.  However, always move from larger issues with the novel to smaller issues.

Lastly, when should you revise?  Well I would say wait at least 4 weeks after you have done your first draft.  Then start revising.

4 weeks!  Yep, I know you’re excited but let me tell you after you start revising after a while you will get tired of reading what you wrote over and over.  Revising is taxing work.  I emphasize the work piece.  It is not fun.  Think of it like this.  You are essentially going to be cutting things like a movie editor.  Remember in the DVD all those deleted scenes?  Well that’s how your novel is going to be.  Slimmer than the original in all probability.  You are cutting the dross away.  In addition you need to give yourself space from the work to get perspective.  It will help to read it with fresh eyes.

Remember those attachments you have to scenes, and characters, and all that while you wrote.  Well in this stage you have to let that go, and ask yourself the crucial question, does it move the story forward?

A film editor for example is a mechanic who removes the unneeded and fits pieces of film together to make a finished movie. He is a collaborator who works with cinematographers and sound editors to bring sight and sound together. And he is an artist who captures a director’s vision and tells a compelling story.

You are the film editor for your story.  You have to ask yourself is this needed?  Why.

Once you can do that and follow the steps involved, you will be well on your way to revising.

Have fun!

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 7: Write!

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing, Uncategorized on April 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Image

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I’m going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I’m going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step Seven: Write.

You have your inspiration, you established some world creation, you have an outline.  You have your materials.  Stop loafing and get to writing.

It doesn’t matter what you have.  If you don’t write nothing will ever be produced.  It’s not enough that the idea and world and characters are in your head.  They must be released from the prison of your mind to live on paper.  Only then can the purpose of your novel be realized.  That being for others to enjoy.

Write.  Just do it.  Try to write 1000 words a day.  Yep.  Keep a limit.  Shoot for a 1k a day in words.  Move it.  Get off your butt.  Start writing!

I do not care how much you read about writing.  It is NOT writing.  Only writing is writing.  Outlining is not writing.  Character creation is not writing.  Marketing, is not writing.

Only writing is writing.  So get to it.  Push out words.  Write the images that come to your mind.  Just get them out.  Connect them later.  But write the images or scenes that are in your head.

Pick a time when others know you are not to be disturbed.  But write.  If you need to do it in the morning, or in the evening write.  If you don’t get to 1000 words still write.

Write daily.  Make it a priority.  But write.  Do a lil something daily.  But write.

Only writing will make you better.  Only writing will see your vision materialized: only writing counts.

It does not matter how much of the previous steps you did if you do not write you have been active but not productive.  You have missed the mark if you do everything but write.

So write.  Write as if your life depended on it

Some say you should not worry about grammar and spelling as you write.  I say do what you want.  Just do not get bogged down.  Correcting already generated text is NOT writing.  It is revision.  Write.  Generate new text…new words.  Leave the revision for after you have finished writing.

This step out of all the others is the most important.  This step is the only one that will create your masterpiece.  Your work.  Nothing else.  Everything else is star stuff.  Writing is where the planet is formed. Where the rubber hits the road.  That which separates those who do from those who try.  Nothing else matters.  In the words of the company Nike.

Just do it.

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 6: Outlining

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing on April 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Three-Act-Structure-Sep-18-2012-9-39-AM

Image attributed to Arvel Chappell III

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it has taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I’m going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I’m going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step six: Outline your story.

This step is key.  It’s been said that writers block is merely you not knowing where to go next in the story.  Regardless of if you agree with this not, outlining the structure of your story will go a long ways to helping you understand what you want to tell your reader.

There’s a simple way to do this and more complicated ways.

Three Act Structure

Here are a few pics that visually explain 3-act structure.  Also reference the main pic in the heading of the blog.

Figure

Figure 1

Essentially, there is a beginning, a middle and end.  With you escalating tension, or conflict for your character (the put them through hell phases I call it.) from approximately near the ‘end’ of the beginning until you hit the climax at the end.  Then you drop off quickly with the resolution of the story and fade to black. (Sorry the cinematographer in me is coming out.)

Easy, peezy, lemon squeezee huh?

Well as fine and dandy as that is.  I just didn’t do it that way.

This is what I did to outline my story.

I imagined each ‘scene’ in my head.  Every fight scene, the ending, sometimes I could connect each scene to another and sometimes I could not.  However, in the end I had some scenes in my head.  If your not clear about what I’m saying.  If you have ever played a DVD when you go to the main menu of the movie it will ask you what chapter or what scene do you want to directly skip too.  Well when I write, I see in my head all these various scenes.  EXCEPT they are not laid out in the order of which the story is to be told.

I use Microsoft excel to lay out my outline.  Here’s some screen shots

Ok in this first screen shot, what I do is write out every scene I can think of, then I move them up or down on the spread sheet.  Over time I get a get a scene by scene outline of my story  (Ive changed the font as this is a prelim outline for my next novel)

Figure 2

Figure 2

Notice I created at the bottom tabs.  There is a tab for each chapter.  So each chapter has all the scenes associated with it.

I use the comments ability in Excel to add detail if I need to.

Notice that a green box is next to one of the scenes. (its green because its been written)

You can color code all the scenes for example that deal with a particular characters story arch.  Thus keeping track of where he/she is in the novel if you have multiple characters.

On Fig 2 notice at the top that I have cells to show the chapter title.  The scene, whose point of view is being shown and what happens, and how many pages the scene covers.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Excel (if you’re a lil savvy) is a great way to lay out and outline your book

I hope this tip help!

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 5: World Creation

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing on April 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Image

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I’m going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I’m going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step five: create the world.

I personally love this step.  Its very involved but lets start out with how I did it.

Draw a rough map on a blank sheet of paper.  Do your standard north, south, east, and west.

Draw some mountains, rivers; decide where forests are going to be.

It is amazing what you can learn from computer games.  SimCity for example has a world generator.  If you have, the game use it to help make your world.  Then take a screenshot and print it out. Viola!

What languages will be used?  What influences will be there?  Asian, English, African, Old English?  Something totally new?

What are the physical laws that govern your world? Are there magical, religious, or other powers that govern your world? Are there celestial phenomena that occur with regular periods?  Lunar eclipses, comets.  Aliens who visit?

One of the things that George R. R. Martin has used in his novels are seasons.  He has taken winter, summer, and used the idea of simple seasons to great effect in his novels.  Instead of making winter and summer last a couple of months, he made them last for generations.  Creating a world where winter is seriously dreaded.

What types of animals populate your world?  Are there mythical creatures, like dragons and the like?  How are the animals of your world impacted by the planet? (think James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’.)

Are there mammoth mountains, supernatural phenomena, lands where the trees walk?  Again, get creative!

What is the level of technology?  (Here are some links to think about this.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TechnologyLevels

What videogames, movies, and or novels, best represent the world that you are trying to create?

Are all the people the same racial and ethnic makeup?

What are the geo political structures? Who is in allegiance to whom?  Who is hostile to whom?  Why? For how long?

Here is a link to think about government structures in your world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government)

What is the hierarchy of leadership in your main characters culture?  Is there a chieftain,  a mentor and apprentice?  Guilds?

How are women, children and men treated in the culture?

Once you determine the level of technology, that will give you an idea of the economics, and professions within your world.

What cataclysmic events have affected the world?  Does your world have a version of the Atlantis story?  A Mt. Vesuvius, A 911?  What is your world’s creation story?  Are there Gods?

Take the time to make the world, do not rush this step and you will find that your novel will have more color, and depth than you will have ever imagined.