I’m breaking with my norm today and posting on a Monday. I wanted to do a follow-up post on fantasy with some of my favorite resources for writing in this genre. The following list will include both online and print sources, and I’ll try to give a helpful blurb about each of them.
I love this website. It’s awesome. There are at least more than two dozen different generators here for just about anything you could imagine. (Pirate ship name generator, anyone?) I can easily get lost on this site for hours.
Baby Names World
Aren’t we all searching for that one perfect name for a character? This is one place I like to come to do a meaning search.
When I’m just in the mood to browse, I come here. The interface is super easy and there’s a good variety of names.
Easily the best variety of names I’ve come across in baby name websites. And most have a meaning that is made available when clicking on the name itself. I love it for when I’m looking for a loaded name to give a character.
Fantasy Name Generator
When I need names that just sound outlandish, I come here. I’ve been known to pull place names as well as character names from the depths of this site. I do think that some of the names might come from literature and other places so do be careful and always change up some letters if you’re concerned at all.
That’s all for online sources. (Except, of course, Wikipedia. Because when you’re looking for all sorts of trivial stuff about random things, it’s a great resource. I would never use it for a source on a scholarly paper unless that paper were on technology and writing and such. Or if I needed a brief rundown of an issue before diving into the scholarly research so that I’m not overwhelmed by lingo and jargon.)
Print resources are varied. I have multiple books on heraldry so that any time a family crest or royal coat of arms was necessary, I knew what I was talking about and had a good idea of how to create it. Not that I would go technical in the descriptions, but if I could get a solid picture in my head I could translate that to the page. I’d recommend doing a little basic research on heraldry to any author of fantasy work. If nothing else, it’s absolutely fascinating.
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This book really helped me when re-working the entire system of magic in Oracles Promise. It’s an invaluable resource for basics of a variety of different aspects of fantasy. Everything from magic to medieval societies to fantastical beasts and fantasy races. This is definitely a book that will get your mind going on all sorts of questions, the answers of which will only serve to enrich the world you are creating. (Even if they never make it to the page.)
The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. I found this in the bargain section of Borders when I was in grad school. It’s proved absolutely my right hand man when looking for little things to incorporate into the history of various worlds I’ve created. (And still proves to be that way.) This book doesn’t just cover your basic Greek and Roman mythology. It’s got everything from that to China and Asia. Leaves out Native Americans and Mesoamerican peoples, though, so that is one drawback.
Encyclopedia of Superstitions and The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Superstitions. I go to these when I need just that little something that will give a quirk to the mythology of the world I’m creating and have a deeper symbolism for the characters than anything we might be most familiar with.
Weaponry: An Illustrated History. I use this one when the type of weapon becomes important. And, really, if you’re writing high fantasy there’s likely to be a battle. Knowing your weapons in such cases is critical because it can lend that extra degree of internal logic and help your reader suspend their disbelief.
History of Medieval Life. Let’s face it, the bulk of fantasy that has come before us takes place in medievalistic societies. It’s important if you’re writing fantasy to know where the genre has been so you can know how to make it fresh and exciting. Having an idea of the traditional mores of fantasy societies can help in that area.
The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures. So much fun to read up on all of it and see the varied histories of different beasts. There are many traditions associated with these creatures, some of which can provide interesting twists on the old. (Thereby leading to something fresh that might catch an agent or editor’s eye.)
What People Wore When. Because, really, clothing is interesting. And being able to describe what someone is wearing can help put the reader in a scene. (But only if it’s necessary.) And you don’t want to be going with the same old same old. Spice it up and learn a little bit about where we’ve been in our sartorial history.
FCC notice: I bought and paid for every one of these books myself. No one paid me to endorse them or even to add them to my collection of books. These opinions are my own and will remain my own forever.