Creating a Language

In my upcoming novel, the dominant race in that section of the galaxy is not human, and as such, does not speak any human languages.  They are, however, similar to humans in many ways.

Their language can be spoken by humans, though not all human languages can be spoken by this species.   Thus, in developing their alphabet, I started with the sounds in the English language (as it is the only language I can speak with anything approaching fluency).  Then I decided to remove all velar and glottal sounds.  The dominant race simply doesn’t pronounce sounds that far back in their throat.  Thus, no k, g, h, or ng.   That leaves us with – p, b, t, d, f, v, s, z, sh, zh, ch, j, w, r, l, y, m, and n.

However, as some of you know, I’ve been struggling to learn French.  French is a very vowel-heavy language, to the point I am fairly confident they only use consonants for decorative purposes.  And trying to pronounce it or even understand it in its spoken form is proving to be very difficult for this native English speaker.  So, vowels.  And wow, there are a lot more of them than you might think.

Now, here, we have an issue.  See, English uses most of these sounds, but represents them with only five symbols.  Sometimes diacritic or tonal marks are added to help you figure out how it is pronounced, but sometimes you have to figure it out from what letter it is next to.  And sometimes, English just says fuck you, and you’ve got to figure it out from the context of the sentence.  Examples – read and read.  English sucks that way.  You’ve also got rode and road, and other such wonderful bits of nonsense.

IPA, I love you, but this is my first time, so let’s be gentle.  I’m going with the standard AEIOU then combining them to make other sounds.  And I’m kicking out O.  Sorry, O.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just for flavor purposes I feel like I should get rid of at least one section of that vowel nightmare.  Alright, our sound chart looks like:

Labial Labio-dental Alveolar Aveolar-palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p,b t,d k, g
Fricatives f, v s, z sh, zh h
Affricates ch, j
Approximants w r, l y
Nasals m n ng
Vowels A E I O U

I will also, just for shits and giggles, add a dental click.  The dental click will not, however, be used as a typical letter.  Rather, it will be used to make distinctions.  Add a dental click to a phrase, and the phrase becomes inquisitive.  Basically, this species pronounces its question marks.

Now, I have my sounds.  My building blocks.  Now the question is, how do I put them together?  How do I build my syllables?  English offers a lot of options.  (s)+(C)+(r,l,w,y)+(V)+V+(C)+(C)+(C).  That’s because English likes to kidnap words from other languages, and then mistreat them horribly.

Our dominant species, however, is much more ‘civilized’.  They’ve been monolingual for centuries, and have eliminated many of those mutated and redundant words from their mainstream vocabulary.  I’m not going to restrict it as far as Japanese does, as Japanese only allows (C)(y)V(V)(n).  Which is why Japanese words end on vowels or ‘n’s.  I’ll start with (C)(C)V(V)(C)(C), and add a note that VV by itself is not allowed.  Then I’ll toss in a rare occasional word that doesn’t fit that restriction.  That leaves me still close enough to English that I’m not going to create a language I can’t speak.  It does, however, eliminate words like beaux and bureau, which incidentally are words English stole from French.  Sorry, France.  I’ll draw more inspiration from you next time.



Hey fellow writers, it’s almost that time again.  Yep, November.  National Novel Writing Month.  I’m participating, which is partly the reason for my recent spat of world building posts.   I also decided to try doing a fundraiser for NaNoWriMo.  So, if you read my work and like it, please donate so NaNoWriMo can keep going strong.

And if you are also participating, good luck!

S-Type Binary Star System

A P-type binary star system has two stars that orbit close to each other, and the system orbits around that.  An S-type system, on the other hand, is two stars that orbit at some distance from each other, and thus may each have their own system.  I’m going to place such a system in my world, each with it’s own set of planets.

Unlike in the P-type system, where you calculate the stars as though they were one entity, in the S-type you treat them separately.  Thus, my results:

Primary Star Secondary Star
Property Calculation Calculation
Mass 1.21 0.75
Luminosity 1.95 0.37
Diameter 0.90 0.56
Surface Temperature 1.10 0.86
Lifetime 0.62 2.05
Distance to Barycenter 153.06 246.94
Eccentricity 0.40 0.50
Maximum Separation from Barycenter 560.00 600.00
Minimum Separation from Barycenter 240.00 200.00
Maximum Separation 1,160.00
Minimum Separation 440.00
Inner Limit 0.12 0.08
Outer Limit 48.40 30.00
Frost Line 6.77 2.93
Habitable Zone 1.40 0.60
Minimum Habitable Zone 1.33 0.57
Maximum Habitable Zone 1.91 0.83
Forbidden Zone Edge 146.67

The forbidden zone edge is important.  The outer limits of each system need to fall well inside the forbidden zone to prevent the stars from interfering in each other’s system.  Looks like we are good there, with stars still close enough to be significant in each other’s sky.

We can then lay out the first system like so:

Primary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.17 24928024.98
Orbit 2 0.29 44122604.21
Orbit 3 0.58 86921530.29
Orbit 4 0.86 128643864.8
Habitable Planet 1.59 237991149.9
Orbit 6 2.37 354606813.4
Orbit 7 4.53 677299013.6
Biggest Gas Giant 7.38 1103997392
Orbit 9 12.32 1843675645
Orbit 10 17.87 2673329685
Orbit 11 29.49 4410993980
Orbit 12 47.18 7057590369

And the second system as:

Secondary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.10 14766732.9
Orbit 2 0.14 21559430.04
Orbit 3 0.20 30614390.66
Orbit 4 0.39 59085773.97
Habitable Planet 0.72 108126966.4
Orbit 6 1.08 161109179.9
Orbit 7 1.76 262607963.2
Biggest Gas Giant 2.93 438555298.6
Orbit 9 5.39 806941749.3
Orbit 10 8.20 1226551459
Orbit 11 16.15 2416306374
Orbit 12 25.36 3793601008

This system is actually going to form the core of the worlds controlled by the dominant system race.  While humans will exist in this setting, they will not be the dominant race and will, in fact, not be native to this section of the galaxy.  The dominant race originated on the habitable planet in the primary system, and later spread through that system and into the secondary system, where they encountered the much less developed race on the habitable planet there and promptly enslaved them.

P-Type Binary Star System

One of the systems in this little section of the universe will be a binary star system.  Why?  Because it’s cool.  Do I need really need more reason than that?  However, this does affect the calculations a bit, and there are now several other factors to consider.  The two suns combine to give off more light, and also interact with each other to create gravitational fluctuations.  There will also be the cultural considerations having twin suns will mean for the inhabitants of this system.

Again, I’m using Artifexian to provide inspiration. (more…)

Creating the Universe

There is a science fiction story that has been kicking around in my head for a while.  I’ve created a rough outline, but I’d like to get some of the science part right.  Now, it’s possible none of this will actually be referenced in the book, but having it on hand helps keep me from making dumb mistakes like two planets being too close together, or a planet being outside the habitable zone, so on and so forth.  I intend to set several stories within this universe, thus it behooves me to make it as accurate as possible.  Plus, this gives me something to focus on right now and I kind of need that.


Medications in Stories

Alright, I know we should all suspend our disbelief and all that, but uh…

If you are going to go out of your way to actually name the drug being used, please do a little research and make sure the drug in question actually does what you claim.    Cocaine?  Not a sedative.  Yes, it was used historically for pain killing and soothing tonics.  It is still not a sedative.

Chloroform?  Very dangerous and doesn’t work at all like it’s advertised on TV.  For starters, the average person can hold their breath for at least thirty seconds, so a chemical that has to be breathed in is not your best choice for knocking someone out fast.  I hate to break this to you, but there is no wonder drug that will knock people out fast that doesn’t have to be very carefully calibrated to an individual.  That’s why anesthesiologists get paid large amounts of money.

Some artistic license can be forgiven.  I’ve done the bash over the head with no long term consequences thing a few times in my stories.  In real life, the amount of force needed to knock somebody out and the amount needed to kill them overlap considerably, to the point its almost random chance that decides which one is going to occur.

Chemical restraints to exist (we’ve all heard of roofies) but they aren’t instant things and they can and will make a person very ill.  They can also kill, particularly if a person is already on medication.  At best, they still take about three minutes to work and can take much longer.  You will also occasionally find people upon whom they don’t work at all or they have a counter effect.   Benadryl is commonly given as a mild sedative, yet on some people it actually works as a stimulant.  That could even make for a good story twist for you – your professional kidnapper/assassin doses someone, only to end up with a hyperactive squirrel rather than a compliant sloth.

On Dialogue Tags

“Be wary of dialogue tags,” she warned.

“Ha,” he laughed.  “I’ll tag my dialogue as I please!,” he exclaimed.

“Peace,” she groaned.  “Have mercy,” she begged.

“I enjoy your pain,” he gloated.  “Let all tremble before my might,” he boasted…


Okay.  Yeah, I can’t do this anymore.  I’m annoying myself.  See the above?  Yeah.  Don’t do that.  If you must use dialogue tags at all, try to stick with ‘said’ and ‘asked’.  Let your characters words and actions show what they are doing and feeling rather than stick in a dialogue tag to tell them.

Other dialogue tags should be used very sparingly, if they are used at all.  If you are using other tags more than once in conversation, you are probably using them too often.  Dialogue tags should be nearly invisible to the reader, so when they aren’t, it needs to be important.  Emphasis.  Ye old out of character alert that something a bit out of the ordinary is going on here.  Used too often, they lose their impact and just become annoying.

Also, you can’t actually laugh a line of dialogue.  You can, however, say something while laughing or trying not to laugh.

And yes, I know, you’ll find English teachers, particularly at the Jr. High level, who tell you to use other words for dialogue tags.   I also know that while it is difficult, you must refrain from smacking them upside the head with the thesaurus.

Mental Illness in Stories

Look, I know it’s apparently ‘trendy’ or something right now to have your angsty character have a mental illness of some kind.  But please, please, please, if for no reason other than so you don’t look stupid, if your character is going to have a mental illness make sure you actually learn what the hell it is first.

Your character with Tourette Syndrome?  Yeah, there is a lot more to that than random cussing.  In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you have to also have at least two motor tics.  In fact, Coprolalia?  The cussing thing?  Yeah, only about 10% of the people with Tourette Syndrome have that.  It’s not limited to Tourette Syndrome.  Also, it’s Tourette Syndrome, not tourettes.  And if you, anywhere in your writing, call it turrets syndrome, your readers get one free punch at your face.  Each.

If your character has epilepsy?  Then they probably do not drive, especially when they are in any part of the world with actual driving regulations.  Why?  Because it’s a goddamn seizure disorder, that’s why.  They are not legally allowed to drive unless they’ve been seizure free for a variable number of years.  Not months.  Years.

Also, if your character has a severe neurological disorder for which they are on medication (such as schizophrenia) and they go off their meds for any reason?  Yeah, it’s not going to be just a bit of a hangover.  It’s going to be ‘let’s take a trip to our good friend Mr. Emergency Room’.  It could KILL them.

It would also help if you learned the difference between ‘feeling depressed’ and ‘having clinical depression’.  Hint – Only one of those can be helped by going for a walk in the park or ‘just trying to cheer up and put a brave face on it’, and it’s NOT the latter.

If you are in the US, your character cannot be involuntarily medicated without a court order, and getting such a court order is NOT an easy thing.  If someone gives medication without the consent of the patient or their legal guardian, they can go to jail.  A doctor is not going to walk up and sedate someone in the ER for shouting.  They are going to call security and security is going to walk up and taze them in the ER for shouting.

And if you are in the US, a psychologist, a therapist, a counselor, and a psychiatrist are NOT the same thing.  Learn the difference.  Only one of those is also a medical doctor able to legally prescribe you medication.