Lighting up the Forge

Writing tools is a term often applied to the intangibles of our craft; our knowledge, skills, and techniques which are applied in the process of developing outlines, hammering out plots, and spinning prose to amaze our readers. I want to talk today about the more tangible writing tools at our disposal: Pens, notebooks, laptops, and software. Most notably, I want to discuss one particular piece of online software that has revolutionized how I approach an important part of writing science fiction and fantasy: Worldbuilding. Today, I want to talk about World Anvil.

A quick disclaimer: Although my publishing company (Kyanite Publishing, LLC) interacts with World Anvil on occasion, I am in no way being reimbursed by World Anvil, its owners, or its associates in return for writing this article. I am doing so of my own accord in hopes of sharing useful information with the writing community.

What is World Anvil?

World Anvil is a website (www.worldanvil.com) founded in October of 2017 by Janet Forbes and Dimitris Havlidis. It is a place where authors, table-top RPG (role playing game) dungeonmasters, and hobbyists can develop, maintain, and display fictional worlds in a wiki-style system. Work produced on the website remains the sole property and copyright of the author, and it may be publicly displayed or kept private depending upon that author’s preferences. The end-results can vary greatly depending upon how many of the myriad of features each individual chooses to employ, ranging from simple text documents to fully customized and formatted articles with images, links, and interactive maps.

The Kingdom of Brisland, from my own World Anvil project: Istaria.

From the Notebook to the Forge

I started my own journey down the rabbit hole of worldbuilding some time in the early 1990s, in what some may consider through the lens of nostalgia the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons. The second edition AD&D rule set had just been released in 1989, and new settings such as Dragonlance and Dark Sun were inspiring many of us young would-be authors to craft our own unique settings to explore within the game.

Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. The resulting world may be called a constructed world. … Constructed worlds can be created for personal amusement and mental exercise, or for specific creative endeavors such as novels, video games, or role-playing games.
— Definitions.net

And thus did the spiral notebooks, three-ring binders, and hand-scrawled maps on graph paper begin to pile up. What began as a hobby became an obsession, and soon there were boxes of notes detailing everything from geopolitical turmoil to the mating habits of certain local waterfowl. As time passed and I adapted to our new digital age, I was certain that there would soon be a better way to accomplish these tasks. Thirty years passed, and despite options such as meticulously organized directories of documents, programs like OneNote, and even Scriviner (and anybody who knows me knows that I swear by Scriviner for writing my manuscripts!); I had yet to find a system that surpassed the utility of the good old spiral notebook and three-ring binder. Then I discovered this website called World Anvil, created by worldbuilders for worldbuilders with one thing in mind: Worldbuilding.

Stoking the Fires of Creativity

I was intrigued, to say the least. I had recently taken the deep dive into serious professional writing of fiction and I had several settings that I was maintaining simultaneously. Moreso than these, I had an epic fantasy project outlined that I knew would require a massive amount of worldbuilding, and I was prepared to fill another cardboard box with notebooks to achieve this goal. That was right about when I discovered World Anvil in October of 2018.

The site was a year old, and it was growing. I found it through a YouTube channel called Tale Foundry that had partnered with them for a writing competition.

The competition was to develop a world and set up the basics behind a story, and then Tale Foundry would write the story and read it on their channel. I was hooked!

Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”
Yes…yes, we do.

No, I didn’t win. I did get a shiny participation badge though; the first of many. I realized at this point that this site was much more than a tool for worldbuilding: It was a home for it. There was interaction, scheduled events, rewards, and a growing community of like-minded individuals all rallying around the World Anvil website and team. And as I explored other authors’ works on the site, I discovered that they were producing some amazing content! I was inspired to do the same, and I was pushed to do so with more quality than I had ever considered putting into my worldbuilding before.

“That’s all great,” you say, “but what about the website itself? Is it a useful tool?”

It is indeed! In addition to everything mentioned above, the actual layout and system of the World Anvil website is not only a useful way to produce, organize, and display information; but the templates built into it offer built-in prompts that made me think of things about my worlds that I had never considered before!

Should I have considered the major exports of the Principality of Remaria for my epic fantasy project? Yes.

Would I have thought of this if I was detailing it in a notebook? Probably not, but World Anvil reminded me to do it!

Breathing Life Into Your Setting

“But, B.K.,” you say. “I don’t do a lot of worldbuilding for my books. My stories are all character-driven, so I don’t have to keep extensive notes or detail minutiae that I will later need to reference and use in my writing. This sounds great, but it’s not something every writer can use. Why should I be interested in what World Anvil has to offer if I’m not a worldbuilder?”

What was the name of that gas station Jodie stopped by on the way to the lakeside cabin, where he had that conversation with whatshisname about that party down at whosiswhat’s house?

So, every writer has had that moment where they’ve had to scroll back three chapters in a manuscript to remember the name of some minor character or detail of a location. At the very least, World Anvil can be a place to keep notes like this. Admittedly, there are other options, but it’s worth a look.

If you’re not a worldbuilder or considering writing epic fantasy or hard science fiction, and you’re still reading this: Thank you for hanging in there! Don’t worry, this next part is for you!

Okay, so you don’t write science fiction or fantasy. Or, maybe you do, but you don’t develop sweeping and expansive settings for your books. Honestly, I’ve written several pieces that have bare-bones worldbuilding and focus more on character and plot, so I totally admit there’s some projects that simply do not need something like this. But, just because you don’t create entire civilizations down to what color is socially acceptable to wear after the annual harvest festival doesn’t mean that you won’t potentially get some use out of this.

And this is where I’m going to veer off the superhighway of worldbuilding and get down to what any fiction writer can relate to regardless of genre: Characters.

Liam Cobb, protagonist of The Eternity War, my upcoming epic fantasy project.

It has been said time and time again that there are three main facets of any story: setting, plot, and character. And, it is well known that character is the most important part of this equation. One need only do a cursory search online for writing tools (the tangible sort), and they will find a plethora of character sketch worksheets, questionnaires, and guides for developing rich and believable characters.

I argue that World Anvil has built into its framework everything you need.

The character template on the website has spaces for the usual questions, from physical characteristics to personal history. But it delves deeper and has fields that beg to be filled in; asking about personal taboos, mental quirks, physical mannerisms, life goals, and pretty much everything else you will find on the best character sketch worksheet, and then some.

In addition to this, World Anvil just launched a new aspect of the website called “Heroes“. I’ve played around with the new features briefly, but I’ve found so far that this is the most involved character creation utility I’ve ever seen. Moreso than this, it’s also a social network for characters! While you need not interact with others, or even make what you develop visible to the public, the potential of being put on the spot by other author’s characters talking to your own might make you dive deeper into the mind of that oh so important aspect of your story.

Brego, protagonist of Blood of the Desert, now has his own social media profile?
And he’s emo?

The number of fields to fill in on the advanced profile in Heroes outweighs even those in the character template in the main World Anvil structure. It’s definitely geared more towards short-form profiles rather than long biographies, but for many that’s as far as we ever get anyway. In addition, you can post thoughts from your character’s point of view, out of character posts such as the quote from Blood of the Desert shown above, and even journal entries. Want to have your character keep a journal of everything that happens while writing the book — either for later release, promotional purposes, or just to keep track? Here you go…thank me later.


World Anvil membership is free, and one can access the majority of the features offered without any monetary commitment. There are also several levels of “Guild Membership” that unlock different tiers of features, such as removing ads from the site or enabling a larger number of worlds that you can develop. I have been a guild member since November of 2018, and I plan to continue to be a member indefinitely. I am nothing but overjoyed by the services offered, the community, and the staff of World Anvil. Speaking of community, I should not neglect to mention that there is a very active Discord server with thousands of active users, weekly Twitch streams, a YouTube channel, monthly contests, and two large annual events all hosted by World Anvil. I digress to my point above: More than being a writing tool, World Anvil is a community.

I hope you have found this interesting, enlightening, and perhaps even a bit entertaining. I invite you to check out World Anvil and Light Up the Forge!


What Once Was Home: Cover Reveal

I’m very excited to reveal the cover for my first full-length novel: What Once Was Home!

When his world is torn apart, one man must learn to survive in What Once Was Home.

Jace Cox’s life is changed when an overwhelming alien force invades the Earth with no warning or provocation.  In the years that follow, he must not only fight to survive; but also learn what it means to be a man and a leader.  As the situation grows more dire, he realizes that his greatest challenge isn’t the alien invaders or even his fellow man; it is holding onto his own humanity despite living in a world gone mad.

What Once Was Home will be launching on October 25, 2019, and pre-orders are available now from Kyanite Publishing! Click HERE for more!

Genres: Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Alien Encounters, Military Science Fiction
Length: Novel – Approx 300 pages
Release Date: October 25, 2019

What’s Next for B.K. Bass?

As always, there’s a lot of exciting things going on in the B.K. Laboratory. I wanted to share a little of what is planned for the rest of the year and beyond, and some news about a change in direction for me as an author.

Before we get into what’s coming next, I think it would be best to take a quick look at what has come before. Last year I was plugging away at what should be a fairly long science fiction novel. I decided one weekend to take a break to avoid burnout, and wrote a dark fantasy novella.

Then I wrote another, and another, and an anthology, and a cyberpunk novella, and a heroic fantasy novella…. In the meantime, I had also started up a company and began a career as a publisher, not to mention launching my own literary magazine with the help of my business partners.

So, that weekend off turned into a year of crazy levels of productivity, but alas my novel was still simmering on the back-burner. I think this was the best thing for it, since I’ve learned lot about writing and editing over the course of the last year.

Which bring us to now. After receiving reviews of my various novellas, there’s been one common trend:

My biggest critique? I wanted more. 

I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for part 2.

I wish the next book was out already.

I look forward to Book 2 of the trilogy!

My only complaint is born merely of anticipation. I want more!

As much as I love being able to tell all these different stories, it is important to me that my readers be happy too! In the interest of that, I’ve rearranged my commitment to the publishing company to free up more writing time, and will be shifting my focus away from novellas and to full-length novels.

This first brings us back to the science fiction novel on the back burner: What Once Was Home. I’ll be committing most of April to finishing this manuscript and hope to have the revised draft to my editor by mid-May.

Find out more about What Once was Home here!

The other big change coming from this is that the project I was currently focused on – Parting the Veil – is going to be delayed. It was coming out this summer, but it will now have a release in the fall. This is not only because of the time being spent on What Once Was Home, but also because I’ll be making Parting the Veil a novel instead of a novella! The outline for the story already has a lot going on, and as a novella it was going to have to be a very streamlined plot that didn’t delve too deeply into certain things. The potential for a novel-length story is definitely there, so I’m going to make that happen.

Find out more about Parting the Veil here!

Now, there were quotes up there from readers anticipating the next book in a series or trilogy. Not to worry! Between these other projects, and contiguous with them, I’ll still be working on my novellas. The focus will be on delivering highly anticipated sequels, and I will not be starting any new series until these are out there. Among these projects are Companions of the Stone Road, the sequel to Warriors of Understone; and Night Life, the sequel to Night Shift.

All of these projects and more should be completed before the end of this year, and I’m looking forward to many more exciting things in 2020!

New Review!

Warriors of Understone has received another review!

M.E. II has rated it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Warriors of Understone is an excellent new novella crafted by the skilled hand of B.K. Bass. I was immediately immersed into the detailed society and caught up within the caste structure and setting completely. Each character spoke with their own unique voice and pursued a grounded agenda. Their interactions wove seamlessly into a rich tapestry of visceral reality.

Everything had a real and immediate feel to it. The story carried me along at a breathless pace, building up to a satisfying finale that I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. I devoured the entire work in one sitting, unable to put it down until I was finished. That, more than anything will tell you how deeply I was caught up in the tale. I was impressed by the detail of character and the depth of setting that Mr. Bass put into so few pages. It’s rare for me to encounter a novella that has such a solidly epic feel. I had the same, deep satisfaction at the end as if it had been written as a multi-book series. 

B.K. Bass is a master world crafter and this work shows his skills at their best.

Find out more about Warriors of Understone HERE.

Warriors of Understone by B.K. Bass

Molting Season

When an average office drone’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder leads to an odd malady, he undergoes a physical and psychological metamorphosis.

Molting Season is an original new psychological horror short story that can be found on the Kyanite Press Online.

Warning: This story is not for the squeamish!

Interview with The Wet Ink Project

My latest interview with J.D. Kellner of The Wet Ink Project is online!

Find out more about the creative process and inspiration behind The Ravencrest Chronicles, Warriors of Understone, and some deep philosophical questions such as “Who would win in a fight between Legolas and Gimli?” 

Read the full interview HERE!

The Ravencrest Chronicles Omnibus and Revised Editions

Today is a landmark moment for myself, as the very first works I published as an independent author are being re-released. Each of The Ravencrest Chronicles books are being presented by Kyanite Publishing in an all-new revised edition in eBook format and collected in an omnibus available as eBook, paperback, or premium hardcover special edition.

The Ravencrest Chronicles books by B K Bass

This is truly a revised edition, as the books underwent more than a simple proofreader’s edit before being re-released. I reworked significant portions of the prose – especially in Seahaven – to apply advances in my own writing skills with the purpose of bringing the city of Seahaven even more to life. The books also went through an intensive copy-editing process by the editors at Kyanite Publishing. The end result is a version of these books that is more polished and that more clearly represents the original vision of The Ravencrest Chronicles.

Without further ado, I proudly present The Ravencrest Chronicles, Wave One!


The Ravencrest Chronicles: Omnibus One

The Ravencrest Chronicles Omnibus One by B K Bass
The Ravencrest Chronicles Omnibus One Premium Hardcover Edition by B K Bass

In the city of Seahaven, dark threats loom around every corner. In such a desperate place, it falls upon the shoulders of thieves, pirates, scoundrels, and even orphans to fight to protect the people from things lurking in the shadows.

The Ravencrest Chronicles Omnibus One includes the first four books of the series: Seahaven, The Hunter’s Apprentice, The Giant and the Fishes, and Tales From the Lusty Mermaid.

Within these three novellas and a collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, the world of The Ravencrest Chronicles comes to life with a level of gritty realism seldom seen in print.

Premium Hardcover edition available with alternate cover art, character profiles, world-building notes, an expanded introduction by the author, and a piece of original and exclusive short fiction!

Seahaven

Seahaven by B K Bass

Gareth Vann is an accomplished thief in the city of Seahaven. He is mostly concerned with coin and drink, but does have an altruistic streak. He never intended to be a hero, though, until an encounter with vampires, dreaded undead creatures of the night. Now, he finds himself trapped in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest levels of nobility and must reluctantly hunt the creatures of the night the only way he knows how: from the shadows.

The Hunter’s Apprentice

The Hunters Apprentice by B K Bass

Miles is a young orphan growing up in Seahaven. The coastal city has always been his home, and the streets have always been where he laid his head. Now, he is learning the shadow craft from his mentor, Gareth. Life seems to be looking up for Miles until he hears news of grave danger in the city. Together, Miles and Gareth must uncover the secrets behind a most sinister plot. Miles discovers that there are deadlier things awaiting in the shadows than he could have imagined, and with Gareth’s help he must learn to hunt them down.

The Giant and the Fishes

The Giant and the Fishes by B K Bass

Fergus always dreamed of setting sail out on the sea, free of the confines of the city of Seahaven. He never thought he would actually get the chance until tragedy befalls his family. Suddenly, he is thrust into a world of violence, adventure, and coin! Fergus lives the life he always wanted as a pirate, but he is haunted by his past. As the shadows behind him grow ever darker, the challenges ahead muster like a furious storm on the sea. Will he be consumed by his own mind, or will he finally find the atonement for which he strives?

Tales From the Lusty Mermaid

Tales From the Lusty Mermaid by B K Bass

Pull up a seat and grab a full flagon of ale, because tonight is bound to be a night full of action, adventure, and romance! At The Lusty Mermaid, tall tales of all sorts are told every night. You’re in luck, because tonight is no exception. From a castle gala to a giant octopus, the city of Seahaven has all sorts of strange tales to tell.

Featuring an exclusive novelette: The Sparrow’s War.
Master thief Gareth Vann has trained an army of orphan children to act as his spies in Seahaven. When they learn of a foul plot targeting their own, they take up arms and fight the darkness from the shadows!