I have always been fascinated by world building. From
science fiction to fantasy to horror, there must be reasons why a character or
a whole slew of characters react as they do in their world. Their actions,
their thoughts, the reason they fall in love with the person they do, it’s all about how their universe revolves.
It determines what kind of story you’re writing. Like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern
series. She built a whole world, making it hard science fiction. She gave
reasons for why the dragons were needed and how the alien world and its people
were. Now, my The Witch and the Familiar books are urban
fantasy, even though most of A Familiar
Tangle With Hell is set in Hell. But it and Being Familiar With A Witch, are set otherwise in a city that Tina
Epson lives in. I let readers find that Tina works for an independent bookstore
in town, Cup of Tea and a Book. She lives in an apartment she moved in after
leaving her parents’ house. Except for a few friends, she lives alone in town,
as her parents had moved to
after retiring. She’s mortal in the first book and likes to live a normal life.
But in my world building, my characters never get a chance for that, as unusual
circumstances make her come to a decision for normalcy or not.
World building makes the author research the myths, legends,
and fairytales. If you want to know about vampires, then nonfiction books and
online websites about vampires are a good place to start.. Some of it will find
its way into the book, more snippets later will sneak in. A lot of the author’s
research may never find their way into the storyline. But it’s good for the
author to have all the information for their own use, to look at when writing. One more thing with world building is
readers bring expectations to reading, like rules of beings and creatures of
myth, legend, and fairytales. The reader will have these in their mind. You
will have to take the vampire, werewolf, god, or ghost, and make the reader go
past these rules and believe you made another way these beings to behave. Your
explanations do not have to be the most fantastic, but you do have to have
World building should include something else: background.
Think of a movie. You have the main actors. But you also have the extras, or
background as they are called in the movie business. You’re thinking, “No,
extras aren’t that important, not when your hero or heroine is the real focus
of the story.” But let’s look at the newest movie out, Hunger Games. Katniss
Everdeen volunteers to be in the games as tribute to save her younger sister
whose name had been drawn from the girls’ bowl for the Reaping. When Effie
Trinker says, “Let’s give a big applause to our newest tribute,” no one says a
word or claps. You know what they are truly saying. So those extras are
important to the scene. The same goes for the book or short story you are
working on. In A Familiar Tangle With
Hell, Tina and the demon bunny, Fluffy, are traveling through Tantalus, a
part of Hell, encountering demons and lost spirits. These characters may not be
in the story again, but at this point and time, they flesh out Hell, as much as
descriptions of this version of the Pit looks like do.
When you build your world, another thing is you must be
consistent in your rules. That means keeping them as you began them. Editing
will help in catching these kinds of mistakes. A good critique partner for just
this would be another great thing to have. I have files on various important
characters in my stories, their traits, what they do, etc… and use these to go
back to if something comes up that I’ve forgotten about my character. After all, if what you’ve written goes
against any of the rules you’ve created in your world, then there has to be a
logical, rational reason it happens differently at the time, reasonable to you
and the readers. Such as if iron is poisonous to the fey, but suddenly later in
the story, the character can pass through a fence of iron, there must be a
reason why they can do this time (maybe they had found a spell that enables
them to). Don’t just have them unable to do something because it isn’t
convenient to your story. Being consistent is what makes the suspension of
disbelief your readers are willing to have held together.
historical past should not overwhelm or dominate your current story. If it
does, then you will bore your readers, most of all, you’re writing the wrong
fiction. A paragraph of it will be all you need.
Is there an
inventive language in your story? It’s okay, but don’t make it so difficult for
your reader to understand that they can’t follow along or have to wade through
it. If it makes your reader stop to figure out and ponder about it, well, it
isn’t helping your pacing. The reader needs to be engrossed in the story so
much they can’t put it down, and at no time, should it make them stop and close
that cover. If the reader needs a degree to understand your book, then you lost
the battle to keep most readers engrossed in your tale. Glossaries are a useful
way to deal with this, but better if you don’t make your reader stop so much
your reader to keep reading ahead. That’s not to say you can’t (after all, I
have in my Witch and the Familiar
books—demon speech when doing a spell). But nothing that will stop the reader
World building is
fun, as long as you think about presenting your world right. It’s all about
drawing in your readers and keeping them coming back for more. It’s about
giving them a vacation from reality they can suspend disbelief and enjoy.
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Dark heroes and heroines with bite…sink your teeth
into a romance by Sapphire Phelan today.
Mortal woman Tina discovers she is part of a
prophesy that says she and Charun, her demon Familiar, must make love so she
can become the witch she is fated to be. If she doesn’t do it and stop the
demon army bringing Armageddon to the Mortal Realm on Halloween, she won’t
stand a chance in Hell.
A year later, just when Tina and Charun thought it was all over and that their life would be normal-another prophesy pops up. If Lucifer snatches Tina and mates with her before the last chime before midnight of the new year and gets her pregnant with his son, that the real Armageddon would begin, spelling the end of life as they knew it. This time they get help from an archangel, Jacokb, but with demons, Lucifer, and a cute demon bunny with fangs out of a Monty Python nightmare, out to stop them and Heaven not lending a hand, will Tina this time lose the battle and become the mother of the Antichrist and the start of a new Hell on Earth?
from The Witch and the Familiar
(adult in nature as is the book, so only 18 and older can read—when my erotic
urban fantasy heroine meets Fluffy the demon bunny for the first time):
She leaned back
against the rocky wall in the cave and heaved a sigh of relief.
“Who are you?”
asked a sweet little voice.
Wary, for in
Hell, a child could be deadly, Tina muttered another spell and lit up the cave
to see who the voice belonged to. Startled, she saw a cute little white bunny,
wiggling its fluffy tail.
“I am Fluffy.
Who are you?” it asked, hopping closer.
into a crouch, putting out a hand. “I’m Tina.”
“I am hungry. So very hungry. May I munch on you?” It opened its mouth
incredibly wide and revealed sharp, bloody fangs, with what looked like a
couple of pieces of flesh caught between in the back.
Tina leaped to
her feet. “No, you may not eat me.”
The bunny from
Hell cocked its head, puzzled. “Why not?
Lucifer has never stopped me from doing it to other unlucky living
mortals who ended up here.” Its eyes darkened, going to a hell spawn gleam. “My
master has even let me nibble on souls, too, though those do not taste as good
as real flesh.”
“Well, there it
is! Your master would not like it if I
ended up on your dinner plate a pile of bones.”
specifically, he had me brought to Hell to become the mother of his child.”
The tiny fiend
looked downcast. “Master would give me to demons to roast over a fire if I do a
stupid thing and eat you.” It looked up at her and Tina felt chills as a parody
of a cunning grin flitted across its mouth. Back on Earth real rabbits did not
grin. “But once you give Master his
child, then maybe he will be grateful to Fluffy because I take you to him.”
Fluffy stared up at her with big, round eyes. “I do not think he would want you
roaming around Hell. Other demons may not be as smart as me and would go ahead
and swallow you.”
Tina said, “But
there’s a demon out there in its spirit form. I just managed barely to get away
With a sigh,
Tina spoke a word and the rock covering the entrance vanished. But once they stepped
out Xaphan faced them. Fluffy hopped over to him and opened his mouth wide. To
her shock and horror, the little fiend sucked in the entire demon with a loud
slurp. Fluffy patted its bulging belly that promptly shrunk back down to normal
This did not
bode well for her.
understand how something that looked as adorable as its name suggested could be
so evil. Fluffy nipped at her heels, forcing her to walk.
said, turning around to look down at Fluffy. “How does Lucifer treat you?”
wrinkled. “Treat me? What do you mean?”
down at Fluffy’s level so she could directly into the demon’s eyes.
“Does he give
you treats, not because you earned them, but because he likes to? Does he treat
you like a pet or as an equal? I mean, you’re a talking rabbit. Back in the
mortal realm that’s pretty rare. Forget rare, there isn’t a talking bunny there
except in books, movies, and cartoons.”
“My master lets
me eat any fool I catch in Hell, but I have never received a tre— What is a
“In the mortal
realm people who love their dogs or cats give them a snack. Pet bunnies get a
carrot or dandelions from their owners.”
Fluffy sat up on
its hindquarters. “I have never received anything like that. Mortal rabbits
like vegetables? They do not eat meat?”
“I never met a
rabbit until now that didn’t eat veggies. The closest to fresh kill for a bunny
on Earth is ripping a carrot or a root out of the dirt.”
“Yes, they are.”
“I would like to
“Let’s see if I
can magic one up for you. Some parts of my magic work in Hell, but others
link.” A small carrot appeared on the palm of her hand she held open. It
didn’t look that great.
It would have to
She handed over
the carrot to Fluffy who took it between its paws and began nibbling on it.
Having fangs instead of normal bunny teeth enabled it to gnaw down the taproot
up. “Not too bad. I wonder why my master has never introduced me to this
carrot. I still like meat, but this carrot has flavor.”
always had you on a strictly meat diet?”
nodded, wiggling its ears. “Oh, yes. He has had me since I was just a demon. To
try an experiment, he added genes from carcasses of dead rabbits and wolves he
got from the mortal realm. He said the wolf genes would make me a carnivore and
the idea of a bunny being a predator tickled his funny bone.”
“I bet it did,”
mumbled Tina under her breath. “Bastard.”
“Nothing. If you
like that carrot and since my magic is not too trustworthy in Hell, if you
magick me to the mortal realm I can get you plenty more carrots.”
suspicious. “Are you sure you’re not trying to trick me?”
“You said you’re
smart—right? And being a demonic entity, you must have powers I would assume.
So if I do any funny business in the mortal realm, you could whammy me or
“That is true.
Except like you, my conjuring is not at full strength right here in Hell. Only
the master’s is at full power. It’s his way of ensuring none of us do a repeat
of the rebellion in Heaven.”
thought Tina. “Do you know where any of the portals that lead back to Earth are
Tina stood up.
“Then lead on, Mr. or is it Miss Fluffy? Are you a boy or girl?”
“I do not know.
Big L never told me.”
“Well, you sound
exactly like how a five-year-old boy might sound like, so until we find out
otherwise, I guess I will think of you as a guy.”
ahead of Tina. If she didn’t know his true nature, that this rabbit was more
deadly than a full-grown African lion, she would have thought him sweet and
Yeah, as cute
as a hungry boa constrictor. Keep your eyes on the little monster,
otherwise you might find yourself gnawed on.
Still cold, Tina
wondered if her magic would work enough for her to bring up a coat or sweater,
or the very least, a shawl. She thought one word. Molos! A sweater appeared around her shoulders and
she put her arms through the sleeves, slipping it on. She felt somewhat warmer.
She couldn’t wait to get out of this place and back home. A cup of hot
chocolate would be first thing on her list of priorities.
Well, after she
found Charun first and attacked his hot body. She felt pretty sure he could
heat the fire within her even faster than a cup of hot chocolate.
Tina missed him.
Missed his arms circling her body when he pulled her into his embrace. Missed
the way his lips danced on hers, while his hands skimmed her body with hungry
urgency. And most of all, she missed the way he brought her magic along with
her need out of her, as she screamed his name.
Heat rose as
lust and love raged like a fire inside her body. Tina fought to tamp down the
need as this was not the right time and place to have it.
Not with a
lustful Lucifer wanting to mark her as his and demons and monsters ready to
flay her flesh with fang and claw.
Tina paused and
leaned against a rock. Tears sparkled in her eyes, almost blinding her.
she said with a moan. “Where are you?”
Sapphire Phelan’s Bio:
Sapphire Phelan has published erotic and sweet paranormal/fantasy/science fiction romance along with a couple of erotic horror stories. Her erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch is a Prism 2010 Awards winner and a Epic Awards 2010 finalist. The sequel to it is A Familiar Tangle With Hell, released June 2011 from Phaze Books. Both eBooks were combined into one print book, The Witch and the Familiar, and released April 24, 2012.
She admits she can always be
found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house, husband,
and even the cats sometimes suffer for it!
Find out more about Sapphire Phelan at http://www.SapphirePhelan.com.
Can purchase the paperback
book at http://www.phaze.com/book.php?title=The+Witch+and+The+Familiar
Also for those in