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Generating words for your conlang

One of the most labour-intensive stages of creating a conlang (constructed language) is generating the masses of words required, and also of ensuring you have enough distinct words that use the full range of options that you designed into the language. Thankfully it’s a trivial task to do this with a computer program, and being a developer myself I’ve written a simple script that can be used to generate an “instant dictionary”.

Now obviously you’re not constrained by the output; if you see a word that doesn’t feel right for the assigned meaning, then of course you’re free to swap it for something else. Use your auto-generated dictionary as a jumping-off point to get you going, rather than a shackle for your creativity! Read more

I&E follow-along: Finding the plot

This last couple of weeks I haven’t made a lot of progress on I&E because I’ve been catching up on promo work for The Prince of Lies: blog posts, interviews, etc. On the other hand the WiP has never been far from my mind, since my planning time is rapidly running out!

Because of all the changes I’ve made in the past few weeks, I now find myself with a bunch of characters in search of a plot. I have personal arcs for the protagonist and another major character, and I have the beginnings of a wider conflict – but I currently have little idea of where that’s going or who’s behind it, which is very frustrating. I think I need to sit down this weekend and use whatever tools Holly has given us on HtTS (Dot & Line, etc) to ferret out the main conflict and resultant plot.

On the plus side, I have a better idea of how the series is going to work structurally, and I even have a possible title and fledgling concept for a third book. Now if only I can rein my Muse in and focus on the WiP…

Conlanging 101

Last week I gave a very brief history of language construction and mentioned some well-known examples from fantasy, such as Sindarin and Dothraki. If you’ve been inspired by any of these books or TV shows to create a language of your own, read on! Note that I shall be focusing on creating languages for use in fiction; whilst conlanging for its own sake is a great hobby, it can be easy to get carried away and create something too arcane for your readers to cope with.

Bear in mind also that language creation is a vast topic that can’t be covered in a single blog post; however I shall link to resources that will help you to take your first steps in this fascinating hobby. Read more

Friday Reads: The Thousand Names, by Django Wexler

Constructed languages in fantasy & SF

A couple of years ago I blogged about how I’d gone about creating the languages for my alternate history fantasy series Night’s Masque. At the time, The Alchemist of Souls was undergoing final edits, so I felt it was a bit early to post any details of the languages. However, this month being the fortieth anniversary of the death of J R R Tolkien, I felt it was high time I did a new series of blog posts on the topic of conlangs (constructed languages).

In this first post, I’m going to cover the history of conlanging in SFF. In following weeks I’ll talk about how you might go about creating your own language, and finish up with some software tools that can help you with the task. Read more

Diversity in secondary world fantasy

There’s been a lot of debate in genre circles recently about diversity in fantasy – hell, I was on a panel about this very topic at AltFiction last year. It’s a very broad field, however, so I want to focus on one area that’s been on my mind for a while. Note that I’m writing this article from the perspective of a white Westerner; I’m very much in favour of a diversity of voices in SFF, but by definition that’s not an issue I can address in my own fiction.

Epic fantasy gets a lot of stick for being conservative in its worldbuilding: of cleaving to white, Western, European-inspired settings. And there’s a lot of truth in that. OK, so it’s hardly surprising, given that the acknowledged grandfather of the genre was a professor of medieval languages at Oxford University. But there’s a lot more to the world—and to human experience—than the culture of one small corner of it during a brief historical period. Read more

Previously on Night’s Masque…