How to Create a Believable World

No matter the types of stories or novels you write, all of them have to have a world. As the writer, you have the ability to shape and mold that world to whatever you want it to be. You get to God to your characters.

While the plot, characters, and all that other stuff are important, if you don’t have a world for your characters to live in, you don’t have a story. Create a believable world where your characters live and work is fun, hard, and exciting all wrapped into one. Let’s look at some ways to help you create your world.

Map it Out

The first thing to do in creating your world is to map out what it looks like. You don’t have to physically make a map, but jotting down some notes as to what it looks like, where things are located, and how things work helps to solidify your world. This will also save you hours of writing time. You won’t have to stop every few pages to figure out where the local drug store is located or if there is a hidden dragon cave down the street.

Look for Inspiration

Maybe you already know exactly how you want your world to look and work. Maybe you are going to place your characters in the exact world you live in. This is great. But for those of us who don’t already know what we want, we can find inspiration in different places.

First, other books. The smallest element from another writers book can help spark your world creation. This doesn’t mean you recreate what they have used, but it can help lead you towards your own world.

Another great source of inspiration is through movies. This is perfect for those who want to create fantasy worlds so that you can physically see common elements of fantasy lands. Movies like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, How to Train and Dragon, and Avatar can help you come up with ideas for your own world.

Set Rules

Once you have a good idea of how things look and the direction you want to go with your world, create rules for the world. People are going to want to know the whys of your world. Is it a realistic world with regular humans who have become extremely technologically advanced to the point where they almost seem magical? Do your characters actually have the ability to use magic?

If you are writing a realistic story based in the regular world, you still need to set rules for what is the norm for your worlds society, or at least make sure the reader knows that you characters play by the same rules that regular society plays by.

Create the History

The history of the world shapes what it is. Just because you are starting your story in the years 3058 on Mars doesn’t mean people aren’t going to want to know how the characters ended up there. Plus, your characters are going to need to know this information.

Things in your worlds past are going to affect your characters today. For example, in my book Loved by Death, my characters know why it is best to try and hide the supernaturals from human knowledge. While the reader doesn’t find out directly, the way the characters act is shaped by this information.

Think About How they Act, Talk, and Interact

Take a moment and think about the different regions of the country you live in. Think about the different accents you heart when you travel. If you live in the US, the way people talk in Texas is vastly different from how people talk in New York. Think about all the different British accents. This holds true for your world.

Is it normal for your characters to shake hands when they meet somebody? If not, why? Do they walk like normal people, or do they have to walk backward or on their hands? This may seem arbitrary, but trust me, it will help you, in the long run, to figure this out now.

What are Their Belief, Social, and Political Systems?

This plays into the world’s history. This is what dictates how they act and behave. Maybe the characters of your world were never exposed to organized religion; how did this affect them?

There may have never been a civil rights movement, so things still work like they did in the 1800s. What would happen if your world had no political system and everybody did as they pleased?

*Side note* writing these what-ifs are making me excited. I don’t know about you, but just sitting down and thinking about the world would work with these little changes makes me tingle.

Alright, back to our regularly scheduled program.

How Does it Look

Next, think about the flora and fauna of the world. Is it a barren wasteland? Are their beautiful flowers and animals everywhere? Is it post-apocalyptic or is it heaven on Earth?

How do your characters live in this world and interact with everything there?

Pulling it All Together

Once you have the bits and pieces figured out, you have to bring it all together in a way that’s believable and interesting for your reader. This is where plot comes into play. You have to make sure that you actually story will fit into your world.

If your plot doesn’t fit within the parameters of your world that you have just created, you better have a really good way to explain it or rework your plot. You may be the God of your world, but if you confuse the crap out of your editors and readers, you are going to have a lot of rewrites.

Even if you are writing a fantasy novel, you can’t just make it a free-for-all. There have to be some rules that everybody plays by. While Greek playwrights may have gotten by with using a deus ex machina, that type of plot devices doesn’t work as well today.

Get to writing your novels and stories. Create a fantastic world that is believable and makes people want to live there as well.

What books have you read that you wish you lived in?

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

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Short Story – Pelagia’s Fate

The mountains loomed over the large white castle. The sun eased past the horizon, illuminating the yard. Shrubs with little red flowers lined the wall. Shining yellow and white sprites sprinted through the yard watering the flowers, cleaning the pool, and pruning the shrubs. Above them, at the tallest window, stood a man of 120 years, yet he didn’t look a day over 25.

His long black hair billowed in the wind that rushed through the open balcony window.  His bare chest shined in the growing light. His boxers hung low on his hips, showing off his defined body and the slightest ruffle of dark curly hair.

Padraig rubbed his hand over the tattoo on his ribs. The dark blackbird popped from his porcelain colored skin. The only color the tattoo held was the bright red arrow that hung from the blackbird’s beak. Padraig had been part of the first group that Amon had given their fates to. He had thought it was a ridiculous idea. Never believing that one man had the ability to hand out fates to people with only a simple tattoo, but the tattoo had been free. Padraig had lived for several decades with that tattoo without as much of an inkling that it was going to come true. Then one day it happened. And it continued to happen.

Padraig had grown up in a poor elf family. They lived on the outskirts of Inis and scraped by with the scraps of the nobles. When he was told he would become a noble, his family had been ecstatic. They ignored the other half of his fate, but that was the half that scared Padraig. Once he became a noble, he knew he had to be careful. He didn’t want the evil half to come out. He thought he had managed to escape the other half of his fate. He never got married. He made sure all the people that worked for him were men, but then one day he slipped. That was it. That evil side came out … and he loved it.

The door to his room creaked open. In stepped a beautiful woman. Her long red hair was tied high on her head. She wore a strapless green bikini top with matching bottoms. Across her stomach, a purple spider web held a large black spider. The tattoo shimmered from the sweat that prickled across her skin. Adeline was 70 years younger than her husband, but it had been love at first sight.

Padraig’s ex-wife hadn’t been able to handle his lifestyle. She loved the extravagant places they lived and the fact she was married to a noble, but she hadn’t been able to live with his dark side. She couldn’t take the bad with the good. Adeline could. Padraig’s dark side played right into hers.

“Showing off for the workers?” Adeline asked.

“I just got up, wanted a bit of fresh air. How was your workout?”

“Wonderful. I see you had a good time last night.”

Adeline walked over to the bed and began to ease off the ivory white sheets. Starting at the foot of the bed, she rolled the sheets up into a ball, keeping the blood on the inside. She tossed the blood covered sheets next to a lump on the floor, hidden in the corner. A closer inspection would show that lump used to be a beautiful fairy woman. The only thing that was still recognizable on the body was a black and white tattoo of a tombstone with a black cat sitting perched on top.

“Did you have to make such a mess?” she asked.

“I can’t help it if she wouldn’t stay still.”

“I thought I told you to use the sedative.”

“I like it better when they’re awake.”

“The sedative I gave you allows them to wake up but keeps their body immobile. It also keeps me from having to explain to the cleaners why my husband has such bloody sheets.”

“Just throw them away. I can buy new ones.”

“Throw them away? If we threw away everything that you bloodied, then we wouldn’t need cleaners.”

“Honey,” Padraig, cooed, wrapping an arm around his wife, “Are you jealous?”

“I was just hurt you didn’t let me pick this one out. And she was one of our best gardeners.”

Padraig kissed his wife’s cheek. Wrapping her in a hug, he led her over to the stripped bed.

“Let me make it up to you.”

Far below them, in the deepest and darkest corners of the castle, came a penetrating scream. Darcy darted through the nooks and crannies that he knew so well, chasing after a shiny silver elf. He didn’t enjoy chasing elves as much as he did the others. Elves would glow when they got scared or excited, so they made it too easy for him to find them.

Adeline had lured Darcy into their home with the promise that his fate wouldn’t come true. The day Darcy stepped out of the hospital white building with his fresh tattoo, he had lost all hope. He had always been a gentle soul. His entire family was twisted, evil ogres and Darcy had always felt out of place. When he looked down and saw the large chimera on his left leg, he knew how his life was going to end.

The ugly creature was made up of a lion with a tail that grew into a snakes head, and a goats head growing out of its back. Darcy’s tattoo was more intricate and uglier than any others in his family. His packet had told him that the chimera was seen as an omen for disaster. That was it. Nothing else was explained.

For days, all Darcy had done was wander around the center gardens of Inis. He enjoyed watching the rainbow-colored butterflies race through the flowers. He would help the gardener’s plant pink and purple flowers. Every few days, he would see this beautiful woman with long red hair running through the gardens. It seemed like on those same days his family would show up and mock him. Then one day the red-headed lady came up to him.

“You come with me, to my castle, and you can work as a gardener forever. You’ll never have to worry about your fate coming true. I’ll make sure of that,” she cooed the last part in his ear.

Darcy ran home and packed his bags. His brothers had laughed at him when he told them his plan. His parents weren’t home, and he didn’t plan on waiting around for them. He met the lady back at the gardens and followed her back to the castle.

The first few days had been amazing. He worked outside. He had regular gourmet meals. He had free run of the castle. Then one day Adeline asked him to go to the basement. There was something wrong with the boiler, and she needed him to fix it. As he walked in, the door slammed and locked behind him. He shook the door, trying to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. A hum came from deep in the maze of concrete walls, drawing him closer. He continued to wander through the maze, but the closer he got to the hum, the further away it sounded.

He continued to wander through the maze for days on end trying to find that sound until he had learned the maze like the back of his hand. All of a sudden the humming stopped. Meals were slid under the door for him, letting him know the time and day: breakfast at 8 am sharp, lunch at noon and dinner at 6. Then one day the door opened. The light burned his eyes. He hadn’t seen daylight in a few weeks. When the doors shut, he could hear a quiet sob.

He followed the sob through the maze-like he had the hum, but this time he caught up with it. It was a young giant girl, no more than 20. She tried to run away from him, but he grabbed her, pulling her to the little room he had made himself. He forced her to sit and talk to him. Every time she sobbed, he would smack her to shut her up. The next morning she was gone. A week passed, and then another girl was tossed into the maze.

This continued week after week until he grew used to these visitors, and bored with the interaction. Then they started coming more often, and he became more creative in the way he treated them. He would chase them through the maze until they collapsed. They couldn’t hide, he knew where everything was. After a year, Padraig came to speak with him. He offered him the chance to roam the castle again if he so chose if he would continue to “wear down” his lady friends. Darcy agreed, he wanted to see the gardens again, but he also enjoyed his exercise.

Here he was, 20 years later, and he still enjoyed chasing these women. The shining elf darted into a cave that all the women seemed to find. They thought it hid them. If any ole’ monster was chasing them, it would, but not Darcy. He stopped chasing her for a moment and listened to her cries. He crept up behind the wall and peered over. With a soft tap of his finger, the elf looked up at him before letting out a blood curtailing scream.

***

Pelagia rubbed her hand across the lily tattoo on her shoulder. The tattoo had long since healed, but it still itched from time to time. Her long blond hair was held in a braid that draped over her tattooed shoulder. Her casual blue outfit stood out against her family’s power suits.

She sat at the red oak table that her parents used for family meals. When the kids didn’t come to visit, they used the small breakfast nook in the kitchen. It was the Friday night dinner that Pelagia dreaded sitting through each week. The conversation always turned to her fate. Her parents and siblings would start talking about everything they had accomplished at work. The new rules or laws that they had sent to the elders for approval or the new election they were getting ready for. Then they would look over at Pelegai, see her rubbing her shoulder, and then stare at their food for a few minutes. Somebody, usually her mother, would speak first.

“Honey, stop rubbing your shoulder, you make me worried when you do that,” Brigid said, picking at the roast duck on her plate.

“Sorry, it’s a habit,” Pelagia replied, dropping her arm.

“A bad habit,” mumbled Jarlath.

Jarlath, Pelagia’s father, couldn’t understand her preoccupation with her fate, nor did he understand why she just sat around and waited for it to come true. Of course, she wasn’t sitting around and waiting. Pelagia worked, she volunteered at the local hospital, and she was active in her spiritual group. To her parents, she was wasting her time.

“Sorry, Dad,” Pelagia growled.

“I just don’t see why you can’t come work for me. I need a new secretary, and you just might make it in politics yet,” Jarlath stated.

“I don’t want to. I am happy doing what I’m doing.”

“Then why do you look so sad?” Brigid asked.

“I’m lonely.”

“Then find someone.”

“Mom, I can’t. My damn fate won’t allow me to.”

“You can find someone to be with without having sex.”

“The Universe must not feel the same way.”

“Well, at least you’re still alive.”

“Mom! Really? Every time I’m here you have to bring that up.”

“What? You can’t forget the noose around that flower. You are going to commit suicide one day, so you need to get used to it.”

“I understand that will happen one day, but you don’t have to act so cavalier about it. All that does is make me think that you all won’t even morn me when I do die. You’re already comfortable with my fate. That’s the problem with this stupid system.”

“Do NOT refer to the fate tattoos as stupid. The Universe, elders, and nobles all believe that it is an amazing system,” Jarlath yelled.

“Oh, sure, they think it’s great. The Universe doesn’t have to live these fates, and the elders and nobles have the best fate possible. All I’m trying to get at is the fact that these fates make us worry until they come true, and if you have a fate of death, then your family has already gotten over it before you even die. I want people to miss me when I’m gone. I don’t want people sitting around saying things like, ‘Well I saw that coming.’”

“We will miss you,” Brigid said.

“Sure, you will.”

“If you’re going to sit there and insult your mother, then you can leave,” Jarlath said.

“Fine!”

Pelagia pushed herself away from the table and stormed out the door, slamming it behind her. She wandered her way towards the garden, which had become a weekly tradition. Every time she had a fight with her parents she would end up in the garden.

The garden was a gathering ground of sorts. A large circular hedge marked the garden’s territory. Inside, the garden was full of flowers, trees, and protected plants. As Pelagia walked through the large golden gate the elegant scent of the globeflower hit her nose. The garden greeted her with a sea of pink, blue, and yellow. She shuffled her way to her favorite bench in front of the bog rosemary. As she settled into the bench the tears began to flow.

Pelagia sat and cried for several hours. There were very few people in the garden at this hour, but the few that were there didn’t pay her any attention, except for one. If Pelagia hadn’t been crying she would have noticed the fiery redhead that had been watching her for the last hour.

Adeline loved walking through the gardens at this time of night. Only the most desperate and pathetic wander through, giving her the best opportunity to find help. Adeline had noticed Pelagia a few times before, but never felt it was the right time to approach her. Tonight, on the other hand, seemed right. Pelagia was more upset than she had ever been.

Adeline sashayed over to Pelagia’s bench and sat down. Her gentle hand touched Pelagia’s arm. Pelagia jerked at the touch. Seeing how beautiful the person behind the touch looked, Pelagia relaxed for a moment.

“Are you all right?” Adeline cooed.

“Yeah. Fine.” Pelagia sniffled.

“You don’t look fine. Why don’t you tell me what’s really wrong.”

“It’s a long story.”

“I have time.”

Pelagia looked deep into the stranger’s eyes, searching for a reason why she was interested. She couldn’t get past the ice blue color of her eyes. They pulled her into a trance, and Pelagia started telling Adeline everything. Once Pelagia finished her story, Adeline wrapped a long slender arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.

“What if I told you I could protect you from your fate?”

“You can’t do that. Nobody can. It’s fate.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. My husband and I own that large white castle on the east side of town. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Anyway, we have made it our mission to help innocent people like you stay safe from horrible fates. The work of Amon can be crude and evil, and we believe people should have the opportunity to make their own life.”

“But nobody can possibly keep fates from coming true.”

“If you come live with me, you can work in the gardens there, and you will have a nice little basement apartment all to yourself. You’d have free roam of the property, and not a single person there will cause you any harm. Now, tell me how your fate could possibly come true in a place like that?”

“I suppose it would be hard for my fate to be fulfilled there.”

“Your family won’t miss you either. They’ve already moved on.”

One last tear slipped down Pelagia’s cheek. With a sigh, Pelagia stood and turned toward Adeline.

“I’d love to live with you and your husband. Anything is better than where I am now.”

“That’s my girl,” Adeline said, standing and wrapping Pelagia in a hug.

Adeline took Pelagia’s hand and led her towards the Buckley castle. Pelagia’s eyes grew wide the closer they came. Never in her life had she seen anything as amazing as her new home.

Adeline led her up the huge white marble stairs to the front door. Celtic knots decorated the edge of the iron door. The soft lilt of singing echoed around the corner of the house. The door creaked open as they approached, welcoming Pelagia. The foyer was decorated with gothic accents, red roses, and white candles.  Pelagia eased into the expansive room. Looking up the hall, the lights of the candles disappeared into the darkness. Adeline draped an elegant arm around Pelagia and led her down the hall. The soft echo of their footsteps followed behind as they reached a large steel door.

“Here we are,” Adeline announced.

“Where does the door go?” Pelagia whispered.

“To your room. You get the entire basement to yourself. It’s completely furnished too.”

“Really?”

“Yep. You have free run of the house and grounds as well. Make yourself at home.”

Pelagia reached out and grasped the cold doorknob and pulled the door open. Cool air hit her. A soft whir can from the expansive darkness that unfolded before her. She eased her foot onto the top step. The step was hard. Despite the darkness, she knew it had to be marble. She continued her slow march down the stairs.

Pelagia’s skin started to emit a soft glow lighting the dark stairwell. While she could see where she was going, the glow of her skin casted an ominous shadow along the walls. At the bottom of the stairs, Pelagia ran a hand along the wall looking for a light switch. Her finger slipped over the switch. Lights flicked on overhead illuminating her new home. Pelagia had seen a few basements during her life, but nothing this extravagant.

An expansive living room stood in front of her. A huge flat screen TV hung on the wall. A complete black leather living room suit decorated the floor. Red, purple, white, and pink lilies and irises decorated the tables and walls.

Pelagia stepped through an archway into the kitchen. A cute little breakfast nook was set up in the corner. Marble countertops sat on the cabinets. To Pelagia’s eyes, she had brand new stainless steel appliances. She walked back into the living to the open bedroom door.

A huge canopy bed stood in the center of the room. She found an equally big bathroom to the right. She flopped down on the soft bed and smile up at the sparkling purple canopy. With a sigh, Pelagia started to close her eyes when she heard a low grumble coming from outside her room. She bolted out of the bed and eased through the living room to investigate.

Another growl shook the room; this time sounding further away. Pelagia followed the growl to a large black door on the far side of the room. She slowly reached out her hand to touch the doorknob.

“That doors locked,” Adeline stated.

Pelagia jumped and whirled around to face Adeline.

“What?” Pelagia asked, her heart racing.

“The doors locked. It’s for the boiler room. Nobody ever goes in there except when there is maintenance that needs to be done, but there’s a second entrance so you won’t be bothered.”

“Then why do you have this door?”

“It was put there before we turned the basement into an apartment, and we didn’t take the time to remove it.”

“Oh.”

“I brought you some cookies and milk to welcome you home. I’ll introduce you to everyone tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

Pelagia took the tray of cookies and milk with a smile. Adeline gave her a small wave as she made her way back up the stairs. Pelagia gave the large black door one last look before taking her treats to the kitchen.

That night Pelagia enjoyed her treats and enjoyed her first night of restful sleep since her 18th birthday. Over the next few days, Pelagia got to know her new home. She made friends with fairies and sprites that worked in the gardens, and the kitchen elf started teaching her to cook. She never once thought of that odd growl she had heard the first night. The large black door didn’t even catch her attention. She was enjoying her life for the first time in a long time, and she didn’t have to worry about her parents butting in. They had no clue where she was, and she wasn’t about to tell them.

The one week anniversary of Pelagia’s move in, Adeline and Padraig threw her a party. They had all of her favorite foods; cookies, milk, honey, several types of berries, and caramel. After she had eaten her fill, and the party started to wind down, Pelagia made her way to bed. She laid for a few moments on her bed and watched the lights around her twinkle. As she started to drift off to sleep a deep growl rocked her bed.

Pelagia sat up. Another growl ripped through her apartment, louder and fiercer. She scooted to the head of the bed with her legs tucked into her chest. As another growl rumbled through the air; a large shadow passed by her bedroom door.

“Hello?” Pelagia called sheepishly.

She was answered by another growl. Goosebumps run up her arms. Easing off the bed, she crept to the door and peered out. The living room appeared as it had earlier. She pushed the door open with a squeak and stepped into her living space. The growls continue in constant succession causing the walls the shake. The closer she walked to the large black door, the louder the growling became. She reached out a shaking hand and grasped the doorknob. The knob wouldn’t turn. The large black door rattled as something hit it from the other side. Pelagia jumped back and ran upstairs.

She ran through the house trying to find Adeline, but she was nowhere to be found. Pelagia hurried into the kitchen, running into Padraig. Pelagia stumbled backward. Padraig stepped back holding a glass of wine in his hand and wearing nothing but boxers.

“You okay?” Padraig asked.

“Yes… No… I mean…” Palagia stumbled.

“Calm down. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

Padraig sat his glass down on the black marble island and motioned towards a bar stool. Pelagia eased onto the bar stool next to Padraig. With a sigh, she raced through the story of what happened downstairs.

“I’m sure that seemed very scary,” Padraig cooed, reaching a handout and stroking Pelagia’s hair, “But it’s just the boiler room. It acts up sometimes.”

“But something banged on the door.”

“It just sounded like it did. Nobody is the boiler room. Both doors are kept locked.”

“But…”

“Everything is fine.”

Padraig ran a gentle hand down Pelagia’s arm onto her leg. She brushed his hand away and stepped back from the island. Padraig sauntered over to Pelagia, pushing her into the counter. He wrapped an arm around her waist and brushed his hand down her face. Pelagia cringed at his touch.

“You need to relax,” Padraig sighed.

“Let me go,” Palagia shouted, pushing him away.

Pelagia took off to her room. Back downstairs, she ran for her bedroom, planning on locking the door to keep Padraig out, but the door was already locked. She scrambled to find a hiding place, but there wasn’t one. Even the outside basement door was locked where she couldn’t get outside. She turned to look at the large black door again. The growls and banging had subsided leaving her apartment quiet.

The sound of footsteps echoed above her. She ran towards the large black door, knowing it would be locked, but desperate to find a hiding spot. To her surprise, when she turned the doorknob the door easily swung open. Pelagia stepped into the dark, cold room. A sewer smell hit her nose causing her eyes to water. A rumble ran through the room almost knocking Pelagia down. The door slammed closed. Pelagia frantically grabbed at the door, but the door was locked. Turning to face the dark room, Pelagia made her way into what looked like a maze. Another growl ripped through her. She took off running.

“There’s another door,” Pelagia whispered.

The maze shook as Darcy took off. Pelagia ran as fast as she could, trying to get to the other end. The more she ran, the more lost she became. Every wall looked the same. Every turn seemed to lead back to the same cubby hole. The more frightened she became the more her skin glowed.

Out of breath and tired, Pelagia hunkered down into the cubby hole to rest. She hadn’t spotted Darcy. He had learned a while back that the longer his prey went without seeing him, the longer he got to chase him. Nothing was more fun than the chase. Darcy peered around the wall at Pelagia. She sat curled in a ball. Her head pulled into her knees.

Pelagia’s hair swayed as Darcy breathed harder. The smell of his breath caught her attention. Her head shot around and spotted Darcy. With a blood-curdling scream, Pelagia took off again through the maze. Darcy reached out a monstrous hand and grabbed for Pelagia’s shoulder. She shook free and continued her pursuit through the maze.

“I’ve got to stop glowing,” Pelagia whispered to herself.

As she rounded another corner Pelagia tried to calm herself. With thoughts of fruits and flowers, Pelagia’s glow began to dim. Her eyes weren’t used to the darkness, causing her to run into a wall and fall.

Darcy had lost sight of the little sprite when she dimmed herself. She was one of the best victims he had ever chased.

“Where did you go?” Darcy growled.

Pelagia pulled herself up. As she took a step a hot pain ripped through your right leg causing her to scream.

Darcy darted in the direction of the scream. Pelagia limped as fast as she could, but Darcy was too fast and too use to the maze. She could feel his hot breath on her neck. His cool fingertips touched her skin. She jerked away, but her leg gave out sending her tumbling down. Darcy grabbed the wounded girl by the neck. Pelagia kicked and struggled to get out of his grasp, but it was no use. Darcy tossed her against the wall of the maze like a rag doll. Pelagia’s head bounced off the wall sending her into darkness.

***

Pelagia’s eyes blinked open to a searing pain in her head and a blinding light. As her sight cleared a familiar face came into view. Padraig crouched over her. Pelagia tried to move out from under him, but her body wouldn’t move. The only thing she could move was her eyes. She rolled her eyes as far down as she could. Nothing was between her and Padraig. She laid naked under him.

Padraig leaned over her, pressing his hands into the pillow beside of her head. Pelagia tried with all her might to scream, but nothing came out. The only thing she could do was lie there. Padraig continued using Pelagia until she passed out again. That didn’t stop him. For hours Padraig would ravage Pelagia, stopping to rest for a few moments before starting again. Finally, he had his fill and left her.

***

A few hours later, Pelagia came too in the same blinding white room. This time she could move her head and body. She jerked up to a sitting position causing waves of pain to rocket throughout her body. A soft whimper escaped her throat.

“It’s about time you woke up. I was beginning to worry about you,” Adeline cooed from the corner.

Adeline stood at the far side of the room. She wore a long green evening gown that sparkled in the midday sun that shined through the window. Her red hair cascaded around her body. Picking up a glass of water, Adeline glided across the room to Pelagia. Trying to avoid her touch, Pelagia slid across the bed as far away from her as she could get.

“You know, my husband really enjoyed having you. He’d never been with a virgin before. You may have ruined him for any other woman. But the problem is, you’re never going to feel like that again.”

Pelagia tried her best to curl up into a ball, but her leg hurt too badly from her fall. For the first time, she saw what her body looked like. Her thighs held dark bruises shaped like fingers. A stain of red blood covered part of the sheets. Adeline smiled as she watched the fear fill Pelagia’s face.

“Well, I have someplace I need to be. I didn’t dress like this for you. You really should drink some water. You’re probably severely dehydrated.”

Adeline strolled towards the door before stopping.

“Don’t think that can go anywhere. Your buddy Darcy will be watching your every move.”

Adeline left Pelagia alone with Darcy. Darcy stood at the door with his arms crossed wearing nothing but a loincloth. Pelagia accessed the damage Padraig and Darcy had caused. There wasn’t a spot on her that didn’t ache or hurt. The knee she had hurt was black and blue and swollen. Her arms felt like they had 100-pound weights strapped to them. Tears started to flow as she continued to think about what had happened.

She eased herself off the bed and hobbled towards the window. She opened the door to the balcony and stepped outside. The sun was hot on her cold skin and caused her head to pound. Darcy grunted, calling her back inside. Pelagia took one last look outside. She was in the top room of the turret she had noticed when Adeline first brought her to the castle.

Pelagia eased back to the bed and leaned against the post. Darcy stared at the young sprite. He had never been put on guard duty before. In fact, he had never seen what happened to the women he chased through the maze after he immobilized them.

“Excuse me,” Pelagia began, “Where can I use the bathroom?”

Darcy said nothing but pointed towards a bucket in the corner of the room. Pelagia sighed.

“I can’t go in that. Can’t you take me to one of the bathrooms?”

“No,” Darcy grumbled, still pointing at the bucket.

“My leg is all messed up. I’m not going to be able to squat over that. I have a shy bladder too.”

“I don’t care.”

“Please, all I’m asking is that you step outside the door. I’ll manage to squat over the bucket, and you won’t have to watch. There’s no way for me to escape except through that door.”

Darcy growled, shaking the floor. Pelagia pushed herself against the bedpost. Darcy took a step towards her, holding out a hand.

“Two minutes,” he said, raising two fingers.

“Thank you.”

Darcy slipped out the bedroom door, closing it behind him. Adeline and Padraig glided up the white marble stairs. Adeline held a basket of food, Padraig, a bottle of wine.

“She is magnificent. I think I can convince her to be my pet,” Padraig said.

“I’m glad you like her, but what about Darcy? He’s going to miss the maze.”

“We’ll send him someone through from time to time, but he’ll be Pelagia’s guard the rest of the time.”

“That should…” Adeline’s thought stopped when she saw Darcy standing outside of the bedroom door, “What is that fool doing?”

Adeline dropped the basket of food and took off towards Darcy. With a shove of her hand, she sent him flying back into the wall.

“Why are you in the hall?” Adeline screamed.

“She needed to pee.”

“So. You watch her. She gets no privacy.”

“She can’t escape but through this door.”

“You fool. There is a large window and balcony in that room,” Padraig interjected.

“She would fall to her death if she tried to go out that window.”

Adeline grumbled as she pushed past Darcy into the bedroom. Padraig ran in after his wife, looking around. Adeline took off to the bucket, but it hadn’t been used. There was no sign of Pelagia. Padraig tapped his wife on the shoulder and pointed towards the balcony. The doors were open and the white curtains flapped softly in the breeze. Far below them, in the gardens, a screamed rippled up through the window.

Running out on the balcony, Adeline and Padraig looked down to the concrete floor below. A small red stain began to grow as blood rushed out of Pelagia’s smashed skull. Gardeners rushed over to help, but there was nothing that could be done. Her fate had been fulfilled, and all that would remain of her was the stain that would never leave the Buckley’s garden.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Short Story – Awaiting Fate

A note before I begin the story This story is posted on my website, but I wanted to make sure that everybody sees and reads my stories. Let me know what you think.

Bright, bleach white walls gleamed around the room. Matching white furniture sat around the room filled with clients. The soft buzzing of a tattoo machine could barely be heard through the wall. Like clockwork, each 18-year-old glanced at the large grandfather clock standing in the corner. Every hour, on the hour, another fresh adult was taken into the back room where their future would be permanently printed on their skin.

Along the far wall sat a family of ogres. The 18-year-old, Karolos, stared at the clock. He had been there since eight that morning. His family had tried to assure him that he had nothing to worry about. The Doyle family had long been given the fate of antagonizer.

Despoina, a fairy, sat with her family. She sat poised on the edge of her seat, ready to jump the moment she heard her name. She too had been assured that she would end up just like everybody else in the Nolan family. They were all destined to be famous. One of the vaguest fates a person could be given, yet everybody hoped to get it. One couldn’t ask for anything more than to be famous, and they didn’t care how they ended up famous. Despoina’s uncle had only recently reached his fate of being famous by murdering one of the high noble’s daughters. Ironically, the high noble’s daughter’s fate had been to die at a young age. Despoina’s mother and father had achieved fame through the family’s diamond business.

A family of sprites sat with their daughter, Pelagia. Again, she had been told time and time again that everybody in the Brady family had always been fated as a politician. None of these young adults found comfort in their family’s words. Maybe the past few generations had been given the same fate, but it all came down to what Amon chose.

Iris, an elf, sat between her mother and father and watched as everybody kept an eye on the time. She didn’t come from a long line of antagonizers, famous people, or politicians. The Quinn family held many different fates. Her father, Elias, was a prophet. He worked with the nobles when preparing for battle. Her mother, Thalia, was a writer. She worked with the nobles, politicians, and other people of importance to write their history, mainly in the form of a poem.

“Why do we still have to do this?” Iris asked.

“Its tradition,” Elias responded, “Since Amon first came to us he has provided us with our fates.”

“Amon,” Thalia started, “Is the son of the Egyptian God, Amun-Ra. He was in need of a home and he liked our aura.”

Elias told his daughter that Amon had powers much like a prophet, but he also had the power of influencing the future. While he didn’t write the complete future for everybody, he did influence it with his tattoos. Amon had left his Egyptian home because he was tired of being overshadowed by his father. He had discovered his powers 100’s of years ago, but nobody would let him use them.

When he left Egypt, he met a lot of new people that he didn’t even know existed. The Gods and Goddess controlled the types of people that were allowed to live in Egypt, and that had been limited to fairies and sprites. His first day on his own, he had almost been killed by an ogre, ran over by a giant, and taken in by a family of elves. The family of elves invited him to stay in the land of Inis. He agreed to stay and was soon swept into their world.

Inis was so different than Egypt had been. All sorts of people lived there; ogres, giants, sprites, fairies, elves, and more. They all worked with each, and their looks didn’t dictate their personalities. Elves, who wore dark, ominous colors, could be good people. And sprites who wore light, friendly colors, could be bad people. These things amazed Amon.

Once Amon had become used to his new home, he started offering his gift. His first customer has been an 18-year-old fairy that was struggling with her family. Raz’s parents had been grooming her to become a seamstress just like all the other women in their family. Raz despised sewing and felt that she was destined for something more. Amon told her he could set her fate all through a simple tattoo. The catch was, she didn’t get a say so. He would speak to the Gods and Goddess’, and whatever the Universe told him, would be her fate.

Raz agreed. Even if her fate ended up being that of her mother’s and sister’s, she could say she at least tried to be her own person. Amon spoke to the Universe and began her tattoo. When he finished, he revealed a large white rose with eight petals. Confused by the symbolism, Amon explained to Raz what it meant.

The white rose meant that she would be a mystic, working closely with the nobles to help everybody understand what the Gods and Goddess’ wanted. The eight petals meant she would live an infinite life. Amazed and thrilled by her fate, Raz rushed home to her parents.

Soon all of Inis had learned of Amon’s powers and people began to flock to him for their fates. Amon became so overwhelmed by their response that he wouldn’t leave his home. He didn’t know what to do. Nobody had ever been interested in his gift before. How was he going to use his gift for the entire land of Inis? The Universe spoke to Amon and told him that he was to provide the fates to 18-year-olds only. Those that were going through the transition from child to adult. Those that needed the most guidance.

Amon went to the nobles and told them what the Universe had instructed. Within the next week, Amon had set up his shop and began seeing all of the 18-year-olds in Inis. After the current young adults had been fated, it became a ritual for every 18-year-old to visit Amon on their birthday. Parents would wake their children early in the morning and rush them to his shop to await their fate. Some only waited for a few minutes or an hour, while others were there all day. Amon only called them in when the Universe told him to.

After a century of serving the people of Inis, Amon was still an important part of their world. Raz was still working with the nobles, and if anybody ever spoke out against Amon, she was there to share the word of the Gods and Goddess’.

Nobody ever seemed to hold a grudge against Amon, no matter the fate he gave them. They all seemed honored. Iris couldn’t understand how somebody could feel honored after being told they were destined to be murdered. Raz could have simply bucked the system and told her mother that she would following her own dreams. Instead, she went to some stranger for a tattoo. That simple act of rebellion had set the future for every young adult in Inis.

“I can tell you what each and every child in this room will be told,” Elias informed his daughter.

Iris rolled her eyes. Elias enjoyed showing off. Predicting things was his favorite pastime, and his answer to any problem. Whenever Iris was sick as a child, she had to listen to her father tell stories about how sick her friends were going to get. If she felt upset about a grade she made in class, he would tell her the grades of her friends. Now, as she waited for her fate, he was telling her what the other people in the room would get.

“That child over there is going to be a servant. That young lady will become a mistress. Oh, and that…”

“Dad, please,” Iris interrupted.

“Your father means well. You don’t have to quell,” Thalia said.

The large white door that led into Amon’s office squeaked open. Karolos stepped out, stretching his left arm around trying to get a look at the tattoo on his tricep. On his arm stood a large black and white tattoo of three interconnected triangles. His parents started at the simple tattoo. Everybody in his family wore a tattoo that showcased a badger in some fashion.

“Karolos,” the receptionist called out.

Karolos turned to look at the purple haired fairy. She held out a piece of paper for him to take.

“You received the Valknut runic symbol for a warrior. The paper explains more of what you have to look forward to.”

Karolos glanced over the paper, and then over at his family. After being told time and time again that he would be just like them, he ended up being his own person. His mother and father trudged over to him. Karolos’ father threw a large arm around his son’s shoulders.

“Well, it’s been nice knowing you son.”

His mother slapped him on the back before following her husband out the door. Karolos’ uncle grabbed the paper out of his hands, ripping it. Karolos looked over at the receptionist. With a sigh, she handed him another paper.

“Avoid them at all costs,” she whispered.

Iris watched as Karolos trudged out the door. She couldn’t believe that his fate had just cost him his family. Letting out a groan, Iris banged her head back against the wall.

“See, he gets a better future than his family,” Elias stated.

“Maybe, but his family hates him now.”

“They don’t hate him; they’re just not allowed to like him.”

“That’s the same thing.”

“No, it’s not. You need to quit being so distraught. Life is the luck of the draw. It’s not something they could have foreseen.”

Iris and her family sat in silence. In the months leading up to her birthday, she had fought with her parents about her tattoo. Neither understood their daughter’s worries. They had both been ecstatic when it had come time for their tattoos.

What seemed like moments later, Despoina stepped out of Amon’s office. Despoina looked down at the side of her leg at the glistening golden apple. Her mother stepped over to the receptionist to grab her daughter’s information packet. She gave her daughter a peck on the cheek and handed her the packet. Despoina looked at the paper in her hand. She frowned. Her father led them out the door as her mother patted her on the back. Iris looked at her father.

“She’s following in her families footsteps. She’s going to be famous, but because she is going to be a mistress to someone of great importance.”

“That’s horrible,” Iris mumbled.

“Look on the bright side, it could have been matricide,” Thalia assured.

A little while later, Pelagia shuffled out of Amon’s office. On her shoulder stood a while lily wrapped in an orange noose. Pelagia’s parents ran to her, tears in their eyes. She took her paper from the receptionist and trudged out the door. Iris looked over at her parents.

Elias explained that the lily meant that she would forever be a virgin. Not because she was going to be alone, but because she would stand up for what she believes in. The orange noose meant that she would commit suicide one day for something noble. Iris knew her father wasn’t telling the whole story, but she was okay with that. The less she knew the better.

The receptionist stood.

“Iris Quinn, Amon is ready for you.”

Iris’ parents patted her on the back as she stood. She eased her way to the far white door. As she made her way closer, the door eased open. Iris stepped into the dark room. The smell of sage and rosemary filled the air. A partition was set up in the corner for Amon to meditate. A large black tattoo chair sat in the middle of the room. A stainless steel table sat next to it. Tiny plastic cups were lined up on the table. The closer she walked to the chair, the more she could smell alcohol and soap. The sound of snapping gloves came from behind the partition.

“Please remove your shirt and lay face down in the chair.”

Iris watched as the chair moved itself into a reclined position. She did as she was told. The black vinyl chair crunched as she laid down. Her skin stuck to the seat, ripping up as she tried to find a comfortable position.

Amon sat down and squeezed cool soapy water onto a paper towel and cleaned Iris’ upper back. Next, he cleaned her back with alcohol. Amon grabbed transfer paper with an intricate design drawn on it. With smooth precision, he laid the paper across her back and smoothed it out. He peeled the paper away, leaving behind the outline of her tattoo. Amon picked up his tattoo machine. He foot pressed a button on the floor, bringing drilling sound from the machine. He dipped the needles into black ink. As he eased them out, black ink slung across the blue paper towel that lined the table.

Once he had his machine loaded with ink, he lined over Iris’ back and drew a permanent black line. Iris craned her neck trying to see what he was doing. All she could see was the blinding overhead lights. The needles tickled across her back drawing line after line on her skin. She tried to follow the lines to figure out what he was drawing, but just as she thought she had figured out the pattern, Amon would switch positions.

What felt like a century later, Amon squeezed the cold soapy water across her back, wiping the excess ink away. A warm, stinging sensation remained on Iris’ back.

“You may get dressed and leave,” Amon said as he stepped back behind the partition.

As Iris sat up, she could feel the swelling in her back as she moved her arms to slip her shirt back on. She glanced around the room for a mirror, but nothing hung on the walls. Again, as she walked towards the door, it opened to let her out. She stepped out into the glaring light of the waiting room. Faces turned towards her, a mixture of concern and worry spread across them. She glanced over at the receptionist who held out a piece of paper. Iris blindly took the paper, and without looking at it, walked over to her parents.

Iris turned her back to them. Her mom eased her shirt away from her back to reveal her tattoo. On her back stood a majestic peacock with its tail feathers spread. Bright blues and greens popped out of the drawing. The peacock wore a chain of bright purple irises. Tahlia spun her daughter around and wrapped her in a hug.

“What is it?” Iris croaked through her mother’s crushing embrace, “Am I going to die.”

“No,” Elias started, “Far from it. You’re going to be an Elvin ruler.”

“Really?”

Thalia pushed the information sheet up so Iris would read it. Across the top, written in gold script, were the words ‘Elvin Ruler.’ The only other words on the paper were clan leader. Iris had hoped the paper would explain everything. Even though it bothered her not knowing how she was going to reach her destiny, she liked having a bit of uncertainty left in her future. Her parents wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her out the door.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. I will be making Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles available for free on Kindle in the coming weeks, so make sure you keep an eye out so that you don’t miss your chance.

4 Tarot Writing Plots

*This page may contain affiliate links*

Earlier this month I told you about my new writing buddy, tarot cards, and how I learned about them in Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. If you haven’t read the first blog post, make sure you do so before continuing. It provides you will important information about the cards and how to interpret them. You can read it here.

If you still need tarot cards, click the pic to find the one I recommend to beginners.

Let’s dive into these four spreads that can provide you with the plot of your story.

Beginning, Middle, and End

This is a basic three card spread that provides you with the three main sections that you need for a good story. To perform this spread, shuffle your tarot cards until you feel like that are good and mixed and then lay out three cards from left to right. The first will be your beginning, the second your middle, and the third card is the end. Here’s an example:

Beginning: The Sun – A young child is born during the summer to the reigning King and Queen.

Middle: The 10 of Cups – The young child has grown, gotten married, and had two children of his own. He and his wife are now faced with taking over the kingdom after his parents are killed.

End: The Fool – Since he refused to see the bad in some people, he has now had his family and kingdom stripped from him and he must start anew.

As you can see this gives you a rough outline of a story that you can flesh out to explain how the man moves through these phases.

Three-Act Structure

While the simple beginning, middle, and end is a good place to start, it wouldn’t hurt to take things a step further to help flesh out the story a bit more. You can add two more cards into your reading to help connect the beginning and middle, and the middle and end.

This time, shuffle your cards and lay out your first three. These are still your beginning, middle, and end cards. Next, lay a card down between the first two and then between the last two. This means that you now have you Act I card (beginning), Plot Point 1 card, Act II card (middle), Plot Point 2 card, and Act III card (end). Here’s how it could look.

Act I: Knight of Swords – A young man, in the prime of his life, sets out to fight off the men that have been terrorizing the citizens of his town.

Plot Point 1: The Chariot – He swiftly defeats these men. The grateful townspeople come to him for more help, and he becomes the unofficial “sheriff” of the town. He is determined to fix all of their problems.

Act II: 10 of Cups – He marries one of the townspeople that he is determined to help, and they have children. This slows down his quest to bring happiness and harmony to the town.

Plot Point 2: The Hierophant – Unhappy townspeople start demanding that the man start fulfilling his promises. This leads the townspeople and their “sheriff” to form a structured “ruling” system.

Act III: Queen of Wands – By the end, he has learned his place. He has now become a “king” of sorts to the town. He balances family and the needs of the people, and the town is better for it.

Again, this gives you a rough outline that you can follow. The quotations I used around words, for me, symbolizes a lack of a better word or a word that could be changed given the context of the actual story. For example, if the story were set in the 1600s, the sheriff would likely be king. If it were in the late 1800s in America, the sheriff could a sheriff or a marshall.

Freytag’s Pyramid

Gustav Freytag, a German novelist, came up with Freytag’s pyramid in 1863 to describe the storylines that he had found in successful books. His pyramid is made up of the exposition, inciting action, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement.

This is what most English classes will teach their students when it comes to writing a story.

For this tarot spread, you will be drawing a card for each of these spaces in the pyramid. You will lay down seven cards from left to right, and it helps to do so in a pyramid shape that way you can visualize the storyline.

Exposition: 8 of Pentacles – A working-class woman is looking for a new start in life.

Inciting Force: The Chariot – She approaches a mystic for advice and help with her life. She makes a deal with her for love, but with consequences, she didn’t expect.

Rising Action: Page of Cups – The dreamy young woman sets out on her quest for love as laid out by the mystic. What she doesn’t expect are the emotional challenges she will face along the way.

Climax: The Sun – The young women is swept up in a relationship with a young man of the local gentry. A relationship will set her up for the rest of her life and no worries of having to be a working-class woman again.

Falling Action: 3 of Pentacles – During her relationship with the young man, she works to improve the lives of poor single women, but this works against the mystics rules.

Resolution: 4 of Cups – Since she promised to follow the mystics rules, she is forced to sit back and be the doting wife of the man she is with. She is stuck with a life of displeasure and discontent.

Denouement: The Hanged Man – She realizes that through her experiences, she has become a mystic. She can help the women she has longed to help by not helping them. She can end the cycle.

As you can tell, this reading has more detail than any of the others.

Conflicts

The last spread we are going to look at doesn’t have to do with the entire plot, but instead, with a section of the storyline. This will look at the conflict that the protagonist has to face. For this spread, you will draw two cards. The first card represents the protagonist and the second card is the conflict.

Protagonist: Ace of Swords – He is a strong fighter and leader on the battlefield.

Conflict: The High Priestess – A strange woman comes to town with secrets about the protagonist that could destroy his whole world.

You can use this information to build the plot around the protagonist and the conflict that they have to face.

Before I wrap this up, it’s important to note that with tarot you can draw what is known as clarifying cards. These are cards that you place on top of a card you have already drawn. As the name suggests, it is meant to help clarify the previous card.

That means if you drew the 2 of cups for your protagonist and you aren’t sure exactly what it is trying to tell you, you could draw a clarifying card that could help explain it. Don’t go too crazy on clarifying cards though. It’s important that you learn how to interpret your cards in as few cards as possible, otherwise, you could end up getting confused.

That’s it. I’ll have more posts about using tarot for writing, so be sure to keep an eye out. Also, you can easily Google the card names that you draw to learn exactly what they mean, but you can just use the image on the card for your interpretation.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. I will be making Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles available for free on Kindle in the coming weeks, so make sure you keep an eye out so that you don’t miss your chance.

“In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.” -Fran Lebowitz

Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder

This is going to be a short and sweet post. As you all know, one of my short stories has been published in Millhaven Press quarterly journal. Volume one, issue one of Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder was released on April 1st and will be available through June. All the short stories in this issue are fantasy or sci-fi, so if you like those kinds of stories, I’m sure you will enjoy this.

There are several amazing short stories in this issue that I’m sure you all will love. It only costs $9 for a paperback version and you can get a Kindle version for just $2.99, or free if you have Kindle unlimited.

You can purchase the paperback on the Milhaven website here.

If you want to buy on Amazon’s you can get it here.

Unlike a lot of publications that pay their contributors a flat rate when their stories are accepted, Millhaven pays their writers through royalties. This means what we make is directly affected by how many copies are sold, so please share with your friends and family.

I also posted earlier this month that another short story of mine will be published in the second issue of Millhaven’s journal. The second issue will be mystery, crime, and espionage stories. I’m also working on another short story that I’m going to submit to for their third issue, which will by horror and dark fantasy.

Get in on the Millhaven train. It’s changing the way we read. I love what they are doing, and the fact they are trying to recreate a tradition from the past. If you want to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with Millhaven, like their Facebook page.

Remember: share, share, share.

I’m Getting Published!!!!!

I recently submitted my short story Awaiting Fate to a new independent publishing company called Millhaven Press. It was accepted and now I am just waiting for the first issue to come out.

When I say that they are new, I mean NEW. This is literally their first issue. They are a quarterly publication and each issue had a different theme. The first theme is fantasy and science fiction, so if you are into those types of stories you should definitely get a copy.

They also have some other books that you can buy on their website as well. I am extremely excited about this, and I hope that the publication does well. That is why I am doing my best to help them out by sharing the issue on all of my social media outlets, and writing this post.

Right now, the first issue is available for pre-order. It is only $9. Once April 1st rolls around, you will get your copy. They also have some bundle packs that you can get as well. Check out their website with the link above, and make sure you pre-order your copy here.