Reinventing the Wheel
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“Reinventing the Wheel”
Quick Resources for Fantasy Writers
By Brenton Tomlinson

When writing fantasy, I have found a need for a ready resource for a few things that haven’t been gathered into one area. Name generators for people, places and things being one and translators for making your own spells for another. Creature descriptions for both inspiration and general use along with accepted spell components, Gods, weapons, equipment, etc, etc. There are a multitude of things an author needs to place and name within their world and I have found it better to not “reinvent the wheel” for all of it.

Of course all new worlds are varied, the way your characters go about things are a little different, but in the end, a horse is still a horse and although your demon may do some things a little unique, it is still a demon at heart and the basics rarely change. The question then becomes – what are the basics? Is there somewhere I can find them? What about languages, surely not everyone spoke English in fantasy worlds. What about magic, that definitely isn’t standard English but why should an author have to invent a whole new language?

Since the availability of the Internet, the answers to these things are becoming easier to find. In the (continuing) creation of my first novel I used trial and error to narrow down my resources. Be careful, many of the free sites out there have virus issues and so make sure your protection is up to date before you surf anywhere.

Creating Names

What I did: I wanted to give my characters and places interesting names that weren’t too difficult to pronounce so I looked for fantasy name generators. Fantasy.fictionfactor.com has one found here
http://fantasy.fictionfactor.com/FNG.zip which is serviceable but didn’t meet all my wants and needs. To cover everything I wanted to name, I used sites like:

http://www.rinkworks.com/namegen/ for most of my main character names

http://www.angelfire.com/tx/afira/six.html for my slightly different character names – things like places with different dialects or animal names

http://nine.frenchboys.net/ for fantasy creature names. Elves fairies and the like.

http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index-name.php Has plenty of different name generators for most purposes.

But wait there’s more. When you use a name from the generator, chances are that your inbuilt dictionary isn’t going to understand them and put that dreaded red line under it. Before just continuing on, right click on the word and see what your computer thinks works there, sometimes (not often) it may suggest something that sound’s better. Viola! Instant inbuilt name generator ?

Creating Worlds

It’s often difficult to keep track of the things you want to include in your fictional world. I find that using a map generator or even a world building exercise can help make your fantasy realm more believable – not only to your reader - but to you, the writer, as well!

http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/maps-workshop.html Holly Lisle offers a fun, easy map creation workshop that should help keep your fictional realm in order.

http://www.vendornation.com/*ws4d-db-query-QuickShow?vp001 VendorNation publish VistaPro – a landscape rendering program that can help you create 3D maps of your world.

http://www.zompist.com/howto3.htm Zompist can help you to create “sinudoidal” maps. These give the impression of the globe peeled and laid flat to give you more of a feel for the spatial distances between your proposed continents.

Creating Magic

In my world I also needed to have something to represent magical incantations and so I browsed around to see what others had done. Some “authors” have spent way too much time creating entire languages of extremely difficult to read script that come in useful but I wanted to keep with the general flow of modern languages. Translators are wonderful for that. I imagine that a magic user would utter something simple like “Bring Forth Silence” when trying to cast a low level silence spell, translate that into Dutch and you have “Breng Vooruit Stilte”. Ah much better. Magic is a language that is just different and being able to use that difference in your descriptions helps the reader suspend that belief we are all trying to help them achieve. There are many translators out there but not all of them are free and many of them have virus issues. I used these two primarily but not exclusively:



As I have a lot of magic in my story I wanted to retain some accepted authenticity with one form of it. I have a separate form that breaks all the “norms”. To detail the accepted form of magic I had to find what was out there and found sites like this to draw from:


Creating Gods

Gods – What fantasy world of adventure is worth its salt without interfering Gods at some point? Isn’t it enough that as authors we have had to create the setting and the plot as well as squeeze in our cast of thousands and now we have to create a pantheon as well! Nope you don’t. Going back to the wheel and not reinventing it, borrow from all the work already done by the masses and conveniently posted on the web. This site I used is great for inspiration and you can mix and match to suit your needs:


Ok, we have our hero and his friends all prancing around with their new names in a town which is celebrating its own naming ceremony. It also happens to be in a wonderfully named continent on a world with its own inspired name. Looking down on it all is a whole pantheon of gods all looking pretty smug with their own shiny new names.

Creating Creatures

Now what are our heroes going to fight? What, I have to create all their encounters from scratch too???? Remember the wheel. I think most authors will have a couple of creatures that are unique to their environment but most will be at least similar to other mythical creatures, after all a skeleton will be a bunch of animated bones no matter where you find it. For what has come before and to give you inspiration to fill your world, try places like:




So we have our hero and his friends who can speak mystical spells all prancing around with their new names in a town which is still celebrating its own naming ceremony. It also happens to be in a wonderfully named continent on a world with its own inspired name. Looking down on it all is a whole pantheon of gods all looking pretty smug with their own shiny new names wondering when the story is going to start when a giant creature announces itself by running off with a local villager. When the village elder is questioned by our heroes he can now tell them all about it and give the local legend a name. And off we go.

Now this all takes a huge amount of preparation and background work but at least you haven’t had to completely reinvent the wheel!

I hope this helps at least one person as much as it has helped me.

Good luck with your writing

Copyright Brenton Tomlinson. All Rights Reserved.

Brenton Tomlinson is a writer from Adelaide, South Australia. His father instilled in him the mantra that trying many and varied jobs would lead to greater experience and better insight into those around you. He has used this to great advantage through his life and has now coupled it with the writer’s best inspirational tool “What if…” to produce a broad range of speculative fiction. He currently works for the Australian Department of Defence in the area of Science and Technology. He also administers a website - “Musings of an Aussie Writer” and a blog of the same name, both aimed at helping writers in their craft.