Tag Archives: creative ideas

Your Town’s Main Attraction


(World Building, part 3)


We’ve been discussing World Building over the last couple of articles and if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet check them out now… WB1 and WB2. In this article we continue the discussion of Town Building by zooming in on the town and taking a look and what might bring someone to your town. What is the main attraction or focal point of your town?


The Fishing Village

Most of your towns; from a small village to a large city, has some sort of trade that it is known for. In a fishing village that trade of course is fishing. Most of the men would head out to sea in the early morning and not return until afternoon, or evening depending on the success of their catch. Fishmongers; traders in various fish and other seafood would have shacks set up along the beach hocking their wares.

As a main attraction, your town could be built in a horseshoe shape with a large lake at its center. Perhaps a large ocean-themed gambling house could be built on stilts in the center of the lake to attract visitors. The only way to get to the casino would be by boat.


Another idea, and something a little more unique, would be a bait-and-tackle shop. Most citizens would visit the local tavern for news and gossip. In a fishing village, a shop that sells live bait and rents boats would be a better locale. It allows the writer a little more creativity than your typical dull tavern setting.


The Inland Village


A blacksmith might be the main attraction of a village further inland and away from a large body of water. Like the tackle shop, this could be a place where people come to socialize while watching the smith work on the latest project.


If a village is too small to house a tavern or common room, a boardinghouse might be the main attraction of your village. A large farmhouse with multiple beds for travelers which would include a meal or two. Perhaps if it is on farmland, the owner might get a couple hours of labor out of a visitor in exchange for room and board.


Town Attractions


The larger the town the bigger, and sometimes better, the attraction. A town I created called Manzana Gran (“Big Apple” in Spanish), the main attraction was the Emerald Gardens Coliseum. I created a large gladiator type event called the Colossal Warrior Challenge which came around once a year. There was another event called the Chaotic Mayhem Series which was similar to football teams but with weapons. Other events such as plays and circus-like performances could be there. Plus, I created the fantasy version of concessions to be in the outer ring of the coliseum.


The Tourist Trap


Just like any place in your own hometown area, there is always some little place where people like to go for a quick trip, buy some little knick-knacks and pay too much money for food, gas, and local entertainment. In your world, you can do the same thing. Create a collection of ruins where a mighty civilization once lived and promote it around the countryside as the place to see when in the area. Create a monument to a great battle that took place decades or centuries ago and give tours.

Not all tourist traps necessarily have to be legit either. Some of your local thieves guilds might create said tourist trap as an actual trap! For example, a guided tour in the woods only to be attacked by a band of trolls who rob every tourist and split the loot with the guild. Another could be a scenic boat ride to be overrun by pirates. The list is as endless as your imagination.



Remember, as standard as a tavern is for a centerpiece of a town for entertainment, it doesn’t always have to be the main focus. Try something more on the unique side and your readers will thank you for it. Please share any ideas that you might have for a main attraction, I’d love to hear from you.


Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!



Building Your Town ~WB2


(World-building, part 2)


In our previous article we looked at an overview of World Building and some of the problems that I personally had with it. Grant it, you don’t have to include everything you read about in your world but at least have an idea how something works so that if a storyline comes along that would feature that portion of the world, you’d know how to handle it.

In this article we look at creating a town and what is necessary for it to function and I’ll share hardships of the first town I created. I’ll be using the word “locale” for an overall use of the setting. The population listed in each is my own guesstimation. I’m sure everyone has their own idea of how many people reside in each size of a locale. These descriptions are for a Fantasy or Medieval setting.


Village, Town, City

Before building, you must decide how large of an area you are creating. There are three basic sizes of locales: A Village, A Town, and A City. There are additional sizes but these three will suffice for the purpose of this article.



            A village consists of approximately 50 people and, depending on your story will have a larger town or city nearby. Villages will not have all of the amenities that are found in the larger towns; and most likely will not have any kind of elected official or mayor. Depending on your story, you might select someone to serve as Matron or Patron of the village which could be the eldest member of the village. It could also be the one with the most knowledge of the village or area in general.

Usually a village will have that country feel to it; featuring farmland, orchards, and a fishing hole. A fishing village will be near a large body of water with fishing as its main line of business. Not every village will feature standalone shops for people to purchase items. A shop generally is someone’s home where the business is conducted in the front room (with the family living in the back) or on the first floor (with the family living above).



A town consists of approximately 500 people and is mostly self-sufficient. A town will have either a mayor as an elected official or a town council; sometimes both. Aside from having more people, a town will feature several businesses and even have a residential section. A town will also house a couple of guilds where people from villages, farms, and the general area can come in for meetings. A guild is an organization of people with similar interests. A Merchant’s guild will feature a place for all shopkeepers to get together and discuss the latest news and suggestions for improving business. I’ll feature guilds in another article.



A city is the largest of the three and usually has towns and/or villages nearby as suburbs. A city consists of 1500-2000 people and will feature a ruler such as a king or governor. A city council might also be included, plus law enforcement; city guards, possibly a night watch, and soldiers from the castle.

A city will also have various districts which make it more of a “melting pot” of citizens. You’ll have your residential sections of: Wealthy (merchants, royalty, etc.), the Working Class (bartenders, laborers, and families), and the Lower Class (thieves, outcasts, etc.)

The advantage of a city is that you have several businesses that feature the same service thereby bringing a little friendly competition or that they cater to certain individuals. For example, I have a tavern called Noblemen’s which caters to the upper class of a city. On the flipside, there is a tavern called The Hangman’s Noose which caters to a seedier clientele. And right in between, I have a tavern called, Quenchers which caters to the rest.


Business Suggestions

As you can see all three locales vary in size and naturally won’t house all businesses that are available. The smaller the locale, the fewer the businesses; or specialty shops that you would find in a bigger town. Here are some suggestions of businesses that can be featured in all three regardless of size.



There should be some sort of religious facility that people can come and worship. It can be a proper church building, temple, or a simple garden grove with a shrine. Even farmers and dairy owners would want to pay homage to a god of nature for crops or health of cattle.


Tavern or Common Room

No locale would complete without at least one watering hole. This is usually the location where everyone will gather in the evening to socialize with their neighbors. A common room is more of pre-restaurant idea that centers on food service and less on alcohol. Some places will have both a tavern and a common room in the same building.



Call him a shaman, priest, or simply the local healer; a locale should have someone who can tend to those who are sick and in need of medicine. In a village, it would most likely be the Matron of the place; in a town, an apothecary (pharmacy) might be available; and a city would have all of these and possibly a hospital.

Some might ask why would a village have both a healer and a church? I mean afterall a priest is a healer, right? Correct! However, there might be people in the village that aren’t comfortable in dealing with a priest; especially if they are not of the same faith. A farmer with an axe wound would not want to listen to a priest attempt to convert him while healing him. This could make for an interesting conflict in the story too.

There are many other business ideas and I’ll provide links at the end for further help.


This Town ain’t Big Enough

One of my earliest experiences as a DM (Dungeon Master) I created my first town called Tsangu. Don’t know where I came up with the name but I wanted some strange and Fantasylike. Anyways my first concept was that of a one-street Western Town; buildings on both sides of the street (maybe an alleyway between buildings) but nothing more. I wasn’t too familiar with towns and this came long before the internet was around. I don’t recall any of the names of the businesses except for one and it was called Nuthin’ for Sumthin’. It was a front for the local thieves’ guild and the business they ran was for looks and not for profit. The prices were outrageous as they weren’t expecting customers.

Since then I have slowly improved in designing towns and villages but that’s been possible with the help of the internet and mapping programs. For my current project, DWC, the main locale is the village called Caldera Falls. I have a few ideas of what is featured but haven’t quite worked out everything yet. The neighboring city is called, Ciudad (Spanish for ‘city’).


What about a Shantytown?

Finally, I want to discuss a possibility for you that might help with story ideas. A shantytown is worse than the seedier district of a city. Shantytowns are instant locales that are created with a series of people and tents or wooden shacks. If you have a group of people who are suddenly homeless due to war or disease, they become a band of refugees who own whatever they can carry.

A local town can provide tents or scrap pieces of wood or cloth to help construct places to live. Food is whatever is brought with them or given by the locals and sanitary needs are virtually unheard of. This setting can help you to hide a thief who is on the run from the law, created sudden robberies in town, or create problems due to traditions or language barriers of the foreigners.



In my next article we’ll continue the discussion of town building and look at what the focal point is for your setting. Plus, I’ll make suggestions for some towns that you might haven’t thought of. In the meantime, share with me any of your problems you’ve had in creating towns or comments you might have in businesses you’d add.


Happy Adventuring!


Featured links for further assistance

DMG II (Dungeon Master’s Guide 2): This free PDF of the manual can help you in your creation. Chapter 3 gives you an idea of how to create a fantasy city including tables from which you can choose professions and trades for characters. Chapter 4 is about an old D & D city called Saltmarsh. This gives you all of the details of this town and you can get an idea of what you want to create.

AD&D 2nd Edition: (*Sorry for the nudity on the front cover*)This collection of 26 books holds every type of book a gamer could want plus valuable information for the writer. In the DMG, chapter 6 covers money and equipment which will give an idea of how much things costs and of what value certain item are.



Taking Things for Granted~ WB1



(World-building, part 1)


            Have you ever played SIMs computer game? It’s an opportunity to further the lives of pre-made characters and create places for them to live and hangout. It’s like being a god of your own world; you help them get a job, make friends, and basically live their lives. But sometimes things happen because you’re not paying enough attention and accidents occur. I had one character wet the floor because she needed to use the bathroom and I didn’t see it right away. I took it for granted that she would do this on her own.

A while back I wrote an article called “The Writer and the God Complex” in which I discuss how our characters seem to take on a life of their own and for as much as you want them to go here and do this, they want to go there and do that. This article is on building the world itself and how we take certain things for granted.



Yeah, but what’s the source?

A couple months ago I began a new writing project I’ve dubbed DWC. I don’t want to give away the title as I fear someone will steal the idea and get stories out before me. As I began to create the characters, the concepts, and the little village where they all lived; I got to thinking that I haven’t researched World-building (WB) very much.

Yes, I already have books published and, if you read them closely, you can tell that my WB skills are lacking. So I went in search of articles and sites to help me with this information. I’ll share what I found at the end of the article.

The name of the village where my characters live is called Caldera Falls. Naturally it’s named after a waterfall that’s at the north end of the village and there is a mill at the bottom that uses the water to turn its wheel. I decided that the water ends in a pool and then creates a nice stream that runs through the village and dumps into a body of water called Farewell Bay.

So then I ask myself, where does the water come from at the top to spill over into the falls? The answer is nowhere to be found. In fact, I really didn’t want to answer that question. I thought it has a falls; the village is named after it, so leave it alone! But I couldn’t leave it because I just know someone who reads my story will ask that very same question. That forced me to find an answer. One of the articles I found talked about water runoff and the drainage situation and I’m thinking, “That’s too real!” But I then realized that this is what I’m after.



Ditch the Plateau

Another idea I had was to make the capital city, Ciudad, reside on the top of a plateau of a mountain. It looks out over the rest of the area called, Alderman Valley which features Caldera Falls and two other towns. However, the question arises: Who is going to climb up the side of a mountain to get to the city after pulling into the docks of Farewell Bay? Again I wanted to refuse to answer this question because the plateau idea was neat. I even had an idea of an elevator on the side of the mountain facing Alderman Valley where people could go down and get to the towns there. Of course they can completely bypass the city and travel around the mountain, across the sand, and over to Caldera Falls. So I decided to ditch the mountain but I’m keeping the name Alderman Valley and having it to be a misnomer when it was discovered and no one bothered to correct the error.



Town Boundaries

Another item I tend to overlook is boundaries or city lines where one town ends and the next begins. Out here in The Valley of Arizona you can go through three different cities in just a few minutes and not even know where one ends and the other begins. Primarily, it’s because you don’t have a Welcome to Mesa sign at every area when you cross one to another. I thought about just making the grass a slightly different shade of green for this town compared to that town but that was fairly lame. Given that Alderman isn’t that big, putting up signs to announce the arrival in one and the departure of another was a little too much.

Then I hit upon a unique idea. Since I was thinking about the source of my waterfall, what if the river to the falls broke off and travelled down the side of the hill and created a line that separated Ciudad from Alderman Valley. That’s an interesting way to create a border without stating the obvious. Since the village of Greencrest is dominated by orchards, how do they get water for the trees? So I had the river branch off and created all of the borders for Alderman Valley. This way when you crossed the river you knew you were entering the next town. Problem solved!


Suggestions for World-building

  1. When doing research for building your world, don’t assume you have to include everything you read about. It’s one thing for you to know it’s there in your world but you don’t have to mention it in your story.
  2. Design a type of map to know where businesses and homes are located. You don’t want to say your characters when north to the tavern in one chapter and then south in a later chapter; even though they left the same place each time.
  3. Study maps of cities and countries to get an idea of borders and the “lay of the land.”
  4. Make a checklist of things you want to include in your world so you don’t forget them. However if they don’t fit, don’t force them. You’ll upset yourself and your reader.



Make an effort to build your world so you know where things go and how people get there. In future articles, we’ll discuss other ideas. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or ideas from you own world-building share with me in the comments below.

Happy Adventuring!


World-building Sites and Articles

Here are just a few places to research to give you an idea of how to build your own world:

World Building Academy— This site has been very helpful! You can sign up for weekly tips.

Inkwell Ideas–A collection of articles to help you flesh out your world.

Fantastic Medieval Ships— Does you world have a large body of water? You’ll need ships!

Medieval Demographics made Easy–What’s the difference in size between a village, town, and city? Here’s some help!

Writers, Take a Moment


When you begin your writing session, do you simply sit down at the computer and write? Do you know exactly what you’re going to say and how to say it? Not everyone can do that and I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Before you begin, take a moment to focus on the task at hand.

Ritz Theater

Going to the Movies

Growing up in a small town in the 70s, there was only one place to go to see movies. That was the Ritz Theater downtown. When my sister and I were old enough we were allowed to be dropped off at the theater, go in and watch the movie, and then be picked up at the end.

Before the main feature they would run a cartoon which I thought was always neat! It was like free entertainment. Of course when my mother was a child, she saw trailers of upcoming movies, serials, shorts, and cartoons.

The point of most of this; especially the cartoon and the trailers, is to allow people to get to their seats and get comfortable before the main attraction. Adjust your body, maneuver drinks, snacks, and children before you got to the main feature you paid for.

Writing should be viewed the same way. Before sitting down to the computer or that blank page, you should take time to get yourself situated. Allow yourself that period of adjustment from the Real World to the Fantasy World of your story. Even if you’re writing non-fiction, it’s still your world in which you are entering.


Suggestions for transition


  1. If you listen to music while writing, select a couple of songs to play just prior to writing. It allows you mind to leave one world and enter the next.


  1. Use the time to fix yourself a snack. Brew some coffee or tea, gather some cookies or veggies, and find your stash of chocolates.


  1. Review your notes. Look over your notes from your previous writing session to find out where you left off and prepare your mind for writing. Don’t re-read what you last wrote; at least not much if you do. Too much re-reading will cause you to begin the editing stage.


  1. Maybe take a walk around the block, down to the mailbox, or down to the corner convenient store. Although this is suggested for writer’s block, it can also be a good transition period before writing as well.


  1. If you live with people; family or roommates, take the time to announce you are going to write and don’t want to be disturb for the next hour or so. It is always good to allow an hour in case a problem arises that needs your attention.



These are just a few ideas that you can utilize to take a moment to prepare yourself for writing. If you have any other suggestions place share them in the comments below. I’m always interested in other ways to pause before I begin a writing session.

And, as always,

Happy Adventuring!



ANNOUNCEMENT:  This Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the release of a new book as part of a blog blitz. I’ve never done one of these before but thought this would be an interesting experience. Come back Wednesday and check it out and then share it with others on various Social Media Outlets.


Who Am I? The “-tion” Edition

Me and Girls

Me and my daughters, February 2016


This week’s article I want to talk a little about who I am and how I come to be where I am and what I am. But rather than bore you with an autobiography of this, that and the other. I’m just going to share with you the highlights of my life; one phrase at a time with a word ending in ‘—tion’.

I am…

A Christian through salvation

An American through Declaration

A high school graduate through education

A former Ohioan through relocation

A Writer of fiction through imagination

An unknown author through procrastination

A father of two through procreation

An ex-husband through legal documentation

A retail employee through incarceration

A photographer of landscape through transportation

A former magician through prestidigitation

A hiker of trails through exploration

A lover of pizza through mastication

A sufferer of fools through exasperation



I am all of these things as well as others. I hope you enjoyed this little exercise of vocabulary. Can you think of any others that you might add to your own list? Please share in the comments below.


10 Responses to Non-writer Comments



This week’s article is a coping mechanism for you when you have to deal with family, friends, coworkers, and fellow coffee shop customer, AKA the non-writers. This is your everyday group of people who just don’t understand the writer mentality and why you do what you do.

Below are ten basic comments that non-writers will say (or have said) to you. I’ll attempt to translate what they are really saying, offer advice to the situation, and then provide you with suggestions as a response to their comments. If you haven’t heard at least one of these comments, I figure you’re not doing the writing gig correctly would be very surprised.

Ten Comments Non-writers make to Writers.

 1. So you’re still writing your little story/poem/etc.

Translation: I thought for sure you would have given up this silly little dream of yours and moved on to something more productive.

Advice: Non-writers can’t believe your determination for any project you are working on. To tell them that it takes a long time to complete any writing project will add fuel to their fire. You know you need to be patient when it comes to writing, you also have to be MORE patient when it comes to dealing with non-writers.

Response:  “Yes, I am still writing my little story/poem/etc. As long as my hands are on the keyboard, they aren’t crushing your windpipe. Now BUZZ OFF!!”


  1. Must be nice not having a real job.

Translation: Boy, I wish I could sit around all day and earn a paycheck doing nothing.

 Advice: Believe it or not, preachers hear the exact same thing. Everyone assumes that all THEY do is preach on Sunday. But I digress; if writing is how you earn a living, you’ll definitely hear this one a lot. Naturally they wouldn’t say that of Stephen King or James Patterson. But since you’re not them it’s open season for comments.

Response: “It may appear that I’m not working but let me introduce you to my fans and see if they think I need to get an actual job.” (Take non-writer to your platform and your reviews section. If you don’t have either, get some!


  1. Writing doesn’t sound too difficult.

Translation: You just put words together to make sentences, and sentences together to make paragraphs, and then you make it long enough to turn it into a book. Simple!

 Advice: They’ve just explained everything they now know about writing which is what was taught in elementary school. Beyond that they are clueless.

Response: “Writing is just a tad harder than that. You see, first I have to research my idea and take notes, then I find some images for inspiration; and take more notes, then I write down a character list; which stems from webpage after webpage of names (male and female, plus ethnic background), then I outline my story; taking more notes, then I jot down snatches of conversation (overheard on the bus or in a restaurant) which might add to the flavor of the story, then I come up with a few twists that will totally catch my reader off guard, and then I will write my story.

Of course, that is only the first draft. I will then go back over all of my notes and double check my research; possibly researching some new stuff which came up and make new notes, then I will edit my first draft and begin the second draft.

        Then a few more drafts later, I will send it off to my beta team to read all the while compiling notes and suggestions they have for the story, then I will write another draft or two before it’s finally finished. But yeah, it’s not difficult.”


  1. I always thought I’d write a book after I retire, when I have some time to kill.

Translation: Writing for is for old people who have nothing better to do with their lives now that they don’t have a job. Sure beats sitting on my butt all day and watching paint dry.

 Advice: Everyone wants to write that great All-American story; the next Harry Potter or Twilight. But to them, there’s no time to do it and by the time they’ve retired there is no initiative to start which is why watching paint dry becomes easily fascinating.

Response: “Waiting until retirement may be fine for you. However, I figure by the time you retire and begin your first novel, I should have 30 done and available for purchase, and at least 6 of them already made into movies.”


  1. Wait a second, creative writing degrees are a real thing?

Translation: You actually went to college to become a writer? It must be one of those ‘gimme-courses’ like Basket Weaving 101.

Advice: This will be a hard one to live down because if you’re not a journalist then, to them, all you did was take a bunch of “fancy” college courses to make you seem smart. And for all they know, you printed out your own degree found on some instant degree website.

Response: “Yes, it’s a real degree and I didn’t have to memorize all 31 flavors to earn it like you.” (OR something along the lines of whatever their job involves; hopefully retail or fast food. If they have their own degree…good luck with that.)


6. Have you been published yet?

 Translation: Obviously if you are a writer you should already have something available for me to pick up at my local bookstore to read.

 Advice: At first this sounds like a question of genuine interest but given that this comes from a non-writer it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This question goes hand-in-hand with questions 1 and 2.

Response: (If unpublished) “Thank you so much for your interest. I am still working on my novel but I will make sure that you are the first to know when it is available for reading. Perhaps you’d like to be a Beta Reader or a member of my Street Team? You know what? Nevermind, I forgot who I was talking to.”

         (An e-book author) “Yes, I do have a book published but it’s only available online. That means you have to buy it from the internet. You know the place where you visit those sites about Justin Bieber to express your man crush? Yes, I have been looking at your browser history.”


 7. Can I be a character in one of your stories?

 Translation: Gee, something tells me that you might just be famous like Stephen King or that Patterson guy. Maybe if you put me in your book, I’ll be famous too!

 Advice: Everyone wants a piece of the action and you just know that they would actually make a great character. I mean after all, your serial killer needs an extra victim and it should really be a gruesome death.

Response: “It’s funny you should mention this. Why just this morning my agent called and said my story was one victim short and I think you would be perfect to play the fanboy who gets knifed backstage. Or perhaps a grisly death in the mosh pit.”

 (Give updates to him on the whereabouts of the character and slowly describe the horror that he’s experiencing.)


  1. So I have this great idea I think you should be using in your book…

 Translation: (See #7 above)

 Advice: I don’t know how many times I personally have been told this. I was once told by a maintenance employee that I should be writing her life story and how difficult it was for her to leave her homeland and enter America. Some people, I guess, think that fictional stories are unnecessary.

Another friend of mine came up with this idea that everywhere this character went he would trip and stumble into another world. It’s one thing to be accident prone but that is one of the worst running gags I have ever heard. After the second or third stumble my readers would riot and burn me in effigy.

Response: “I’m sure you have a great idea but why should you share it with me? You should write you own book and use the idea in that.” OR “Hey, I heard (insert author’s name) is looking for new ideas why don’t you send them an e-mail with your idea in it? Chances are they’ll use it and have it published long before I do.”


  1. Aren’t writers just professional liars? They tell stories for living, after all.

Translation: Yes, I’m jealous of your creativity and yet I’m not man enough to admit it, so here’s a diversion instead.

 Advice: This question comes at a point when they have nothing else annoying left to ask. It sounds more like a lame attempt to keep asking you questions when in fact they have run out.

Response: “Professional liars? I’m sorry you have us confused with politicians.”


  1. You’re writing a book? Tell me everything.

Translation: I’m not one to wait until it comes out, I want to know now!

Advice: Yet another attempt to get involved in your story. (See also #7 and #8) It could also be that he is fishing for ideas that he might sell to another writer in the hopes that THEY will use them and give him the credit for the idea.

Response: Tell you everything? Sure! (Describe the last TV episode of one of your favorite shows but change it into the genre that you write.)



Overall, whether we like it or not, we have to contend with non-writers on a daily basis and their questions. One thing to remember though is that any non-writer could be a future reader of your as well as a fan.

Let me know the difficulties that you’ve had in dealing with non-writers. Do you have other questions you’ve been asked? Share with me in the comment below.

To check out copies of my books and stories, visit my Author Page on Amazon.com

Happy Adventuring!


Shout out to a Fellow Writer!

This week I want to give a shout out to a fellow writer known as The Blond Writer. Recently she has posted a couple of really interesting articles that caught my attention and something that I, as a fellow writer, wish existed.


The Theatre of Rave Reviews

The first is about a place called Writer Town. It’s broken down into sections that would be very familiar all writers. *I even donated a couple of places to the town.*

The second is a Writer’s Support Helpline. Trained individuals are there to help when a situation good, bad, or dire.


Operators are standing by!

These and other articles bring a smile to one’s face as they trudge their way through life in the world of the writer. If you don’t follow her, you should!

Next week, I hope to bring you a brand new article.

Until then, Happy Adventuring!!