Background Writing

I’ve been working on the background of the Illuminator world (home to the first novel I actually finished, the Heir of Illuminations).  I’m writing scientific (sort of) treatises on the uses of magic and creating calculation and tables and inventing all sorts of things for use in the world. Of course, very little (if any), of this material will see the light of day in publication, but I find it enthralling and just plain fun. I can see why many writers take years to write their stories! There is a lot of playground to explore and poke around in. A lot.

2010-11-03 12.15.14
Flowering rosemary—for no reason. Yay!

I have made up two (sort of) languages that do influence the story, I’ve made character genealogy that makes sense to me, and give the characters depth they did not have before. And not to worry, I’ve been playing in the actual story, though I’m have more fun in the filling of the world. I had a nice little hand-drawn timeline that had a few key moments marked and a few dates and ages. I downloaded Aeon Timeline (when I used this two years ago, I found it quite useless and confusing as it hadn’t been finished yet) as it was listed in a discount for NaNoWriMo participants and winners. Amazing software (not useful for another story as it doesn’t have the capabilities I need—that I know of yet) that forced me to think about time, days, months, etc that I had not thought about it. This world has 14 months, 12 of which have 32 day and 2 that have 11. They all have names, including the days. Fun, yes, practical, sort of—I can add the fantastic element of other to the story that wouldn’t have been there without being made aware. I’ve thrown in dates and minor events way in the past that influence the future. All good things that help set up the current situation. This world has a lot of history culminating in the events that happen with these particular sets of people.

I thought I’d share a few excerpts from a some documents that I’ve made up.

Our subject is the center of many debates here in the Vale. Often we turn away potential candidates on the basis of their capacity to drawn from the wellsource, what has been dubbed in the High Ancient Tongue as órlaíthan—the meaning of which has been argued, but most often is translated as “lip of the well,” though the exact term, as I have state before, more closes means “depth of water source.” Either way, the measurements of órlaíthan had proven to be difficult and rather inaccurate—that is until a few hundred years ago when Mag’us Greesh Kipperling developed a unique Net to measure órlaíthan. Based on his Net and the subsequent measurement of the entire Vale and the known populations of Magi around the globe, I have decided that we need to further this work and create a standard of measurement in terms of absolute and relative measurements. The first we already have—the órlaíthan. The problem with this measurement as it exists is that the number itself is quite meaningless. Have seventy-three ór does not give much insight into the abilities of the person, as this measurement completely ignores strengths of the wellforce user.

from On Órlaíthan, Mag’us Ellwendes est Shorel on 6 Údthalésh 451 New Era


Wellforce is often divided into the seven categories of Communication, Healing, Illusion, Meta, Physical, War and Weather….

When talking about wellforce, the conduit of the power is called a filament. This is a general blanket term used for single Marked powers (where Marked is one of the seven catagories described above). For example, “use a filament of Physical to draw a pencil across the room.” In addition, the terms strand and rope are used as well to describe thickness of the filament, however these terms are often not necessary as each user is aware of the thickness needed for most tasks. Next, we have Nets. Nets are the general terms for more complicated castings involving two or more filaments entwined to create a unique effect—I must warn against first experimentation without proper supervision as many students have been lost to improper study and lack of guidence. After Nets, there are also Layers. Like Nets, Layers offer further honing of the art of using wellforce. Layers general add sublety and depth to Nets and and never used to describe with a filament. Layers are tied to Nets with Meta. For an example, to heat a room with an illusory fire, one would entertwine two filaments of Physical and Illusion, one to create heat, the other for the dancing flames, to create a Net. To further this example, say one wishes to make the illusion of a fire that will die over time. Using a filament of Meta to create a layer and timer to another Net of Physical and Illusion that will gradually shift and eventually disappear.

from On Marked Power, Scholar Mag’us Corthen Baurel on 22 Lámorén 627 New Era

Kitty says the blog is almost over.
Kitty says the blog is almost over.

I have written up the curriculum of the school my characters attend (though I haven’t written any texts for those classes—though I’m guessing my poor characters have to read the above texts and many more). These little snippets have helped me define the world, the discoveries and wonders in it and the sorts of people that live there. I still have the creation myth to revise, the pantheon of gods. Thankfully, these tasks are made easy because of the wonderful man who united the world for a brief period given many similar backgrounds and ideas from his time.

I hope you found these little bits fun and maybe they sparked some creation in you, or, a desire to read more in this world!

P.S. I will be opening up enrollment in a live online class, Fiction Workshop, on January 15, 2013 (next Tuesday). Check it out at and click on Available Courses for more information.


2 thoughts on “Background Writing

  1. Andrew– I can’t believe you bother to speak with me. You are clearly somewhere else, way above me, on the IQ charts. I did, however, understand the flowering rosemary and kittypuss photos. Thank you for including them.

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