How to Invent Your Own Measurement When World Building

Weight, volume, speed, and time: there are many aspects of daily life that we have to measure in order to function and communicate with those around us.

An agreed-upon unit of measurement is essential in society, and the way we measure things says a lot about our culture. It’s only natural that when we start writing and world building, we feel encouraged to invent our own type of measurements to create a more unique society. It’s much like creating a new language.

The thing is, in order to have an immersive world, we need to understand how different units of measurements are invented. We can do this by learning about the history of some units of measurements.

In this video, I take a quick leap back in time to get some inspirations… and then I take a crack at explaining the ones I created in my epic novel. I hope this video can show you what works and what doesn’t work when inventing units of measurements.

Have fun!

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This Is My First Time In Space

I didn’t know what I expected to do once I’m up here. I guess I’ll enjoy the view?

Look outside and see the great expanse of the universe?

Good stuff. This trip has gone exactly as planned so far, and I always worry when a trip goes EXACTLY as planned… you don’t remember it.

There is a beauty when things go wrong because then there is a “crisis.”

We, people, recollect crisis better than moments of tranquility. Think about it, last time you spent the whole weekend chilling at home, and someone from the office, probably Frank, asks you what you were up to and all you said was, “Nothing…” Nothing. You were doing something… and it was awesome — and nothing went wrong.

You aim low and you achieve your goal and then there is nothing interesting to talk about.

See that’s the thing about stories, a good story needs to have a conflict. Man against man. Nature against man. Or my favourite, man against his inner self, like in that Woody Allen movie, you know, the one with the nervous guy. There needs to be a conflict in this trip, otherwise, I’m not going to remember it once I return to Earth.

Oh? I guess you’re right. I’m totally having a man vs self-conflict right now, aren’t I?

It’s not the celestial expanse that is against me nor my spaceship-mate, Astro. Yes, my partner on this trip is named Astro. Funny, huh?

Me? What’s my name? Oh equally or if not more space-related, my name is Flying Saucer. First name Flying, last name Saucer. It’s French, it’s pronounced Saucey-ée. Flying Saucer and my partner Astro. Anyways, back on topic, I’m most certainly having a conflict.

I’m unable to enjoy this trip because once I get back I’m not going to have anything to talk about. When my wife asks me how was it, I’ll say, “Oh it was wonderful, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about coming home and having nothing to talk about, so I stressed about it the whole time.”

Yeah, she’ll love that story, at least she’ll pretend to. I mean, our whole love is a sham anyway. She’s not fooling anyone. She’s a trooper though. She doesn’t complain or demand a divorce like some women. She hates me, but you know what she hates more? The mysterious abyss that is the dating scene. Ha! I’m so much more courageous than her. Here I am in space, and there she is living in my home, resenting me for my bravery. Either way, she couldn’t do this, the same way she couldn’t divorce me. To divorce me is like going into space, you just simply can’t be certain that you’ll get back — get me back. The dating scene is merciless. She never online dated a day in her life, she is not ready for this new world. This brave new world.

What was it like to be in space?

Oh, it’s cool, I spent a lot of time up there thinking about how my wife won’t divorce me, it was pretty awesome!

space

Yeah. That’s what I’ll tell the guys. They’ll love that nugget. Except for Johnson, who is still jealous that I’m more successful than him. He’ll never openly say it. Nobody ever admits they are jealous, you simply have to read it in their face. I can read it on Johnson’s face all right. I can read it all day. Flipping the pages back and forth. Highlighting the best passage, his dumb lips. Circling a good quote, his furrowed eyebrow. I will scribble little notes in the margin, his left dimple. Fuck him! Jealousy…. know what it is? Jealousy is like taking poison and hoping someone else will die. Yes. I like that. It’s so true about Johnson. He’s killing himself. I don’t need to worry about him at all. I can continue being me. Loveable ol’ me.

Who knows when I’ll get to hang out with those guys any more. Everybody is so busy these days. Even Johnson, to be honest. Me and Johnson used to be tight. I would wake up around noon, give him a shout, and we would meet up for coffee and then hang out in his parent’s basement. Can’t believe that used to be what I did. Chilling. Now look at me, I’m an astronaut in space. I’m literally in space. Still chilling, though. Different setting same shit.

All that hard work and I simply found a cooler place to chill. Not that much cooler, Johnson’s parent’s basement did have an infinite amount of snacks. Mrs. Johnson is unreal. I don’t get that woman, she was pretty much that wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel. I mean, she herself was not wicked. I mean, she was wicked cool, but not wicked as in wanting to fatten me up and eat me. Maybe she did want to eat me and I didn’t get fat enough, fast enough… My crazy metabolism. That is something to ponder about later. Not now.

I mean, I was pretty polite, I didn’t go over there and eat the snacks. I hung out with her son as well. Johnson. Good guy that Johnson. It’s just that we had a falling out. He became an accountant or something, and I became a man of space and wonder and imagination and hope for the future. He makes sure that the government of one of those little countries on that little planet gets 30% of some hard working freelancer’s money. I get it. I get it. No, you’re right, I shouldn’t diss accountants. Taxes are unavoidable. I’m not angry at accountants. I’m cool with them. They’re an awesome occupation, and totally a job I couldn’t do.

See, I’m good with numbers, of course, I’m an astronaut. You think I used the calculator app on my iPhone to get me up here? Ha! Good one. No. I did some math and calculated the exact fuel and trajectory to get me into this orbit without blowing Astro and myself up. Blowing Astro (say that out loud, if you are reading in your head). Ha! Didn’t mean for those two words to come so close together. That can be dangerous if you know what I mean.

Anyways, I’m technically skilled enough to be an accountant, I just can’t stand the business culture. Wearing a suit and having small talk with your colleagues. Oh, small talk is a nightmare. I hate having small talk, I never have anything to say. “What did you get up to last weekend?”

“Oh, I was in space?”

“Really? How was that?”

“Oh you know, just spent a lot of time up there thinking about how my wife won’t divorce me, it was pretty awesome!”  

 

What you’ve just read is the seventh post in a series entitled “A Fan Fiction of My Life by My Number One Fan, Me.” Please check out the first five posts from the series:
Me, A Doctor
I Am A Controversial Artist, AMA
A Well-Respected Elderly Man, It’s Me
Bringer of Bad News, I’m the One
Yes, I Am Blind with a Broken Heart 
I Drive a $160 Million Ride

10 Canadian Writing Contests in 2019

As a writer, there is no better way to support a literary magazine and the writing community than to submit your work into a contest.

Writing contests are also a great way to get you focused on completing a piece of work to the quality where you get that little spark of hope that maybe (just maybe) it’s good enough to win, be published — and earn you some sweet sweet spending money.

Looking ahead to 2019 (OMG! Can you believe it’s already the end of another year?), I’m planning to return to my tenacious roots of accumulating rejection letters.

Winning a contest is a big deal because in a world where the hardest part about being a writer is being read. Having a revered peer not only read your work but regard it as worthwhile is something nobody can ever take away from you. That being said, it’s always just someone’s opinion, so whatever, right? The important thing is loving the process, not the accolades. 

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have some motivation.

So here is my challenge: enter as many contests as I can in 2019. I hope you will join me in this endeavour. Maybe I shouldn’t encourage you since you will end up being my competition. Either way, that’s not the point. The point is to write more, improve as a writer and yadda yadda. Good luck!!  

Here are 10 Canadian Writing Contests in 2019 (in order of deadline):

The Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction

Prize:

  • $1,500 grand prize
  • $600 runner-up
  • $400 2nd runner-up

Deadline: January 15, 2019

Entry Fee:

  • Canadian: $35 CDN
  • USA: $40 USD
  • International: $45

Max Length: 6000 words

More details at PRISM international

 

Let Down Your Hair Contest

Prize:

  • Grand prize: $1000
  • Second prize: $150.
  • Publication in an upcoming issue of EVENT
  • All entries will be considered for publication

Deadline: January 20, 2019

Entry Fee: $32.95

Max Length: 1,800 words

More details at Event

 

CBC Literary Prizes – Nonfiction

Prize:

  • Grand Prize: $6,000, publication in CBC Books, and a two-week residency at The Banff Centre
  • 4 finalists: $1,000 each

Deadline: February 28, 2019

Entry Fee: $25.00 (taxes included)

Length: 2,000 words

More details at CBC

 

The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest

Prize: $1000

Deadline: March 28, 2019

Entry Fee: $40

Length: No word limit

More details at The New Quarterly

 

Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction

Prize: $1,000 (CAD)

Deadline: May 1, 2019

Entry Fee:

  • Canadian: $25 CAD
  • USA: $30 US
  • International: $35 US

Length: 3,500 words

More details at Malahat Review

 

The Grouse Grind Lit Prize for V. Short Forms

Deadline: May 15th, 2019

Prize:

  • Grand prize: $500
  • Runner-up: $150
  • Second runner-up: $50

Entry Fee: $15

Length: 300 words

More details at PRISM international

 

The Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award

Prize: $1000 and a one-year Duotrope Gift Certificate ($50 USD value)

Deadline: May 28, 2019

Entry Fee: $40 

Length: no word limit

More details at The New Quarterly

 

Room Creative Non-fiction Contest

Prize:

  • First prize: $500 and publication in print
  • Second prize: $250 and publication in print
  • Honourable mention: $50 and publication online

Deadline: June 1, 2019

Entry Fee:

  • Canadian: $35 CAD
  • USA: $42 USD

Length: 3,500 words

Note: Open to women, trans, two-spirited, and genderqueer people.

More details at Room Magazine

 

Prism CREATIVE NON-FICTION CONTEST

Prize:

  • Grand prize: $1,500
  • Runner-up: $600
  • Second Runner-up: $400

Deadline: July 31, 2019

Entry Fee:

  • Canadian: $35 CAD
  • USA: $40 USD
  • International: $45 USD

Length: 6,000 words

More details at PRISM international

 

Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize

Prize: $1,000

Deadline: Aug 1, 2019

Entry Fee:

  • Canadian: $35 CAD
  • USA: $40 USD
  • International: $45 USD

Length: 2,000 and 3,000 words

More details at Malahat Review

 

Bonus:

Here are some notable writing contests that haven’t posted their set 2019 deadline yet. I will keep you posted when those are up.

Annual Lush Triumphant Literary Awards – Contest Opens Jan 2019

More details at Subterrain

Short Grain Contest – Contest takes from Jan-April

More details at Grain

 

Know of any other Canadian writing contest? Please share it in the comments.

 

Naming Your Characters: 3 Tips

Naming your character can be challenging. Unlike naming your pet or your children, a character comes with their own experiences and history.

While it might seem like a name can be something you can tack onto any person, that is not so.

A name can alter the way other people interact with your character and how your character thinks about themselves.

In order to find discover or create a name that fits, we must think less like the writer and more as the parents or guardians who named the character. Once you know the naming conventions of that society, the family within it and what external factors influenced the choice, you can be assured that the name you have given your character is one that fits.

When I wrote my story, I didn’t dwell too long in coming up with names for my character. I simply needed to get my story down and introduce my characters. Well, here I am at the editing stage and it’s time for me to think a bit more about what my character’s names should be.

In the video, I highlighted three characters, whose names were mere snap decisions. I decided to delve a little deeper into those names, understand why I picked them initially if I can unlock any hidden meanings behind them, and massage them to discover another level of creativity that might fit those character’s personalities better.

The 3 tactics I took — that you should try as well — towards finding a perfect name for my characters included:

Understanding the etymology and meaning of the name

One of my character’s name is Delaine, which means “a lightweight dress fabric of wool or wool and cotton made in prints or solid colors.” However, my character doesn’t resemble the traits of being lightweight or soft. He is tough, gritty, and vengeful. I should consider giving him a name that correlates to his personality… or I can keep it as such and find the irony in his name.

Thinking from your character’s parent’s perspective

Imagine what it would be like to be the parents of your character. Were they proud of their heritage and wanted to ensure that certain names were passed down from generation to generation? Or were they hippies and liked to give unique names? Getting into the mindset of the actual people naming their children will give you a clear direction on how to name someone or something.

Combining different words together and changing the spelling

My character Bernard Barnwell is a farmer: Barn-well. That’s by no means clever, but that was literally how names were created in the beginning. People simply received names through recognizing who they are or what they do. Such as Johnson, means John’s son. Nevertheless, here is where you can attempt to be a little more creative. Take Barnwell for example, what I decided to do was make it less obvious. So, I found the Old English word for Barn: Bearn, and combined it with the Norse word for skill (replacing well) skil. Combined I have Bearnskil. A name that is, generally speaking, unique.

Are you writing your story and having a hard time coming up with a suitable name? Give these three tactics a try and see if you get a spark of creativity. Don’t forget to have fun, and enjoy the process.

Follow my writing journey on YouTube!