Books and Writing

Things I’ve Learned While Writing Fantasy (That I’ll Probably Never Need To Know Again)

Timeline Planning

Some of you may know that I’m currently writing a young adult fantasy series based
around Scottish folklore. I usually have to spend quite a lot of time Googling seemingly random things while I’m doing it: How long does it take for someone to die of a stab wound? How were viking long ships made? Did everyone die have rotten teeth in medieval times?

So here I have made a list of things I have learned since starting to write that probably won’t be useful in any other setting. Maybe this will help other writers who are thinking about this genre.


Inveraray Castle

How to address royalty

By trawling through websites I managed to make a list of royalty and how to address them.

There is a royal family in my story and addressing each one correctly is important because they are observing rank and order.

Who How To Address Them
Emperor/Empress Your Imperial Majesty
King/Queen Your Majesty
Prince/Princess Your Royal Highness
Duke/Duchess Your Grace
Marquess/Marchioness/Earl/Viscount/  Baron Lord or Lady (then name)
Knight Sir (name) Wife would be Lady (name)
Dame Dame (name)


Oh and by the way, I’ve been to The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. So yeah, royal links.


How to name a place in Scotland 

Hiking in Scotland

I’m still learning about this one since I never did Gaelic in school (usually people speak Gaelic – pronounced gaa-lick – in the Highlands and Islands and not in Central Scotland where I’m from). Most places have a Gaelic name and an English name. For most of my places I went for a mixture of both.

Loch____head – A town at the top of a loch (lake). Lochgilphead is a town at the top of Loch Gilp. Other examples are Lochearnhead and Lochgoilhead.

Inver/Inbhir – The mouth of a river. So Inverness is built near the mouth of the River Ness. Other examples are Inveraray, Inverarnan and Invergarry.

Dun/Dum – A town that has a fort or used to have a fort. Dundee, Dunvegan, and Dumbarton are examples. Dunadd is a place in Argyll that still has a fort and this inspired a place in my story.

Kil/Cill – A place where a church or chapel was built. Kilmartin, Kilmarnock and Killin are examples.

For most of my place names I’ve taken these as starters and added on other gaelic words e.g. The city in my book is Dunrigh because it has a fort. Righ means king and this is where the king lives. Therefore it is “The fort where the king lives”.


How far you can travel via different modes of transport

For parts of the story, the main characters have to travel. I’ve had to research how long this takes and here are the results.

Mode of Transport Distance Traveled Per Hour Distance Traveled Per Day
Walking 3 miles 30-40 miles
Horse – Walking 4 miles 24-30 miles
Horse – Galloping 30-40 miles It probably couldn’t do a whole day at this speed
Sailing Boat 6 miles 120 miles
What we bring for a weekend hiking

The story is based around a journey to find The Stone of Destiny and I wanted to make it feel realistic. I go walking often and know how daunting long distances can be. In October 2016 I tried to do The West Highland Way from North to South but had to finish early because of an old hip injury. There was a part of day 1 when we were carrying our rucksacks (they were at least 16kg) and it just seemed to be going on and on. I named the stretch of the journey The Glen of Sorrow, which is just before you reach the hill that takes you down to Kinlochleven. I’ll probably use this in my story at some point.


If you have any ideas for things I should look at when writing or if you think any of this isn’t accurate, please let me know. I’ve learned these things through research and I know that sometimes the internet is not a reliable resource.







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