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Y is for… Youth

This penultimate Y post in the A-Z blog challenge journey through my WIP, ‘Prophecy of Innocence’ links back to two other posts. Firstly to C is for…Crystonal and Saturday’s post: X is for…eliXir.

To put you in the picture, if you happen to have only just stumbled accidentally upon this blog, Crystonal is a special magical compound made from crushed gemstones. Cinnabar (in old Chinese myths thought to be a main ingredient in the elixir of immortality) is it’s main ingredient. Crystonal is what gives the elflings (my little tiny inhabitants of the underground world Trelflande) longevity so that they live to be around 1000 years old. Or should I say a 1000 years young? Because…

A side effect of the crystonal is that it gives them a youthful appearance until  their death. Elflings are given a special dose of the compound at age eighteen and so, whatever an elfling looks like at eighteen, that is how they look at eighty and at eight hundred.

But ‘why’ I hear you cry? What is the point of that? Why have them looking younger? Surely this would cause an awful lot of confusion between generations?

Okay, well firstly to address the why: Aside from the fact  who doesn’t want to look young until the end of their days? (this is a fantasy story after all), there is a very good point to the crystonal having the effect of maintaining a youthful appearance. In fact it was actually one of the first things I invented in my world which links over to late on in Book 2 and more in Book 3. This is because the idea harks back to the very original beginnings for the story when I was twelve. It is actually vitally important to the plot that the crystonal has this effect. However, without giving too much away it is not necessarily important it has this effect of youthful appearance on the elfings. And that’s all I’m saying!

As for how do the elflings differentiate between generations if they all look the same age? Well this is done, firstly through their fashions. What? Yes, elflings have fashions. (Fashions also change dependent on the area of Trelfande they originate from you know.)

Secondly, although elflings all look eighteen, they do mature inwardly and gain wisdom as they age so this helps differentiate them. Finally the way they address each other denotes their differences too. For example the younger elflings will address their elders as Sir or Mr/Mrs followed by their surname

Similarly, the elder elflings may refer to younger elflings as, for example: ‘Master Toddington’, so they use first names instead of surnames.

Finally, elflings only call each other by the shortened version of their name if they are of the same generation. (For more see the W is for..Winklewell post.) It is through these rules of world-building the issue of all characters maintaining a youthful appearance is addressed.




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W is for…Winklewell

Okay, okay. Yet another crazy name to add to the A-Z blog post journey through my WIP ‘Prophecy of Innocence’. But wait. There is a slight twist on this one because Winklewell is not, I repeat not, named after any British place name or motorway service station.

And in that fact he and his wife, Clarentine, remain unique. He was the first elfling I named and in all likelihood he will need re-naming and this is why I chose him for today’s W blog post.

I have no idea where the name Winklewell came from or how it sprang into my subconscious onto the paper. If my memory serves correctly I think it was as simple as I typed it. His name were the first two words I typed for chapter one; I still remember the line now, though the line has long since been assigned to the recycle bin:  ‘Winklewell Snorsegrave smiled contentedly to himself.’ I believe I almost intended for him to be the main character out of all the elflings however if you’ve read my T post you’ll know how an why that changed as it did.

Anyhow. Winklewell’s name was where the three syllable thing started. I quickly noticed how the motorway service station names I’d chosen had three syllables too and then when creating new names I’d amalgamate place names I liked to keep to the three syllable rule. But Winklewell and Snorsegrave are both entirely made up, though not consciously. I didn’t spend ages thinking about it – more more like seconds.

And herein lies the problem. You’ll perhaps recall me mentioning in my V is for Villains post yesterday about myself and a friend laughing about Winklewell’s name? Well this was not so much the actual Winklewell part but more the abbreviation of it. It was not something I’d even thought about when writing the name a hundred times. Even speaking it out loud to myself when reading I didn’t think anything of it. However, it is often the case it takes another person to point out the bleedin’ obvious.

One convention or world ‘rule’ I have for the elflings is how they abbreviate each other’s names. That is, they shorten it to end in y and thus, a three syllable name becomes a two syllable name. Because let’s face it, if everyone you knew had a three syllable name, you’d shorten it. Besides, it doesn’t sound natural for them to refer to each other by their full names all of the time.

So for example Toddington becomes Toddy, Happendell becomes Happie, (conscious decision to not have y here) and  Edingworth becomes Eddy.

You can probably see far more clearly than I could where this is going with Winklewell.

Yes, I must have written Winky numerous times and never once made the link that winky is quite often used as a slang word for a little boy’s tinkler. (Despite my own little boy using the word frequently!)

So. Here’s the thing. Children will (hopefully) read this. But it is likely many children will make the Winky link straight away and won’t be able to stop sniggering to get to the point of enjoying the story. If Prophecy could be a book read only in the head I could possibly get away with it. But how many parents are going to want to snuggle down at story time with their children to have to read the word Winky over and over? (Not that it’s there every other page or anything, but still.)

Now, I have two options:

1) Change his name. Completely.

2) Don’t have anyone abbreviate it in the book EVER. (Middlewich and Shaftsbury as older and more serious elflings never have their names shortened so there is the possibility this could be a ‘rule’.)

But looking at option two I’m not entirely convinced I can get away with it. He has a wife and she is the principle character who refers to him as Winky (oh it just gets worse doesn’t it?) as does his best friend, Middlewich. But Winklewell is not an altogether serious character. he tells bad jokes and as the story progresses he acts on impulse so it suits him to have a nickname. However, now having just written this I think a name change might  be necessary.

I may well change him to Wetherby (although I had this name reserved for another minor character in book 2). Other than that I can feel another trawl through the AA road map coming on…

Thoughts? 🙂



Filed under Characters, General Rambliings, Writing

T is for…Toddington

So, we’re back to the A-Z blog challenge today and already we’re up to T in my walk through my WIP “Prophecy Of Innocence”.  I can’t quite believe I’ve gone this far and it’s nearly the end of April already. Phew.

So what or who is Toddington?

Well let’s start with what is Toddington? If you are in the UK and type ‘Toddington’ into Google, the first thing which will spring up is “Toddington Services.” Yes, Toddington is another motorway service station. (You’ll remember my love of motorway service station names in my first post A for Annandale.) This time the service station in question is situated on the M1 in Bedfordshire, the same county as Luton co-incidentally, (see the L post Lutonia for more). This is actually a happy co-incidence for my WIP and not one I planned at all, but I cannot reveal why as it would be a wee bit of a plot spoiler.

Anyhow, unlike the M5 and M6, my regular motorway haunts, I have only driven down the M1 once. It was back in 1999 when I was in my first car, a 1991 Vauxhall Nova 1.1 litre hatchback. I had been driving 3 years by then but was still a relative novice on Britain’s motorways, having avoided them for some time. (You’ll recall my previous anecdote in my M post of getting lost round Bristol for refusing to brave the M5). This drive was an even less pleasant experience as it was on a day where the rain pelted down none stop and the spray off the road was so bad, visibility was reduced massively. I had had trouble starting the car that day but eventually it had decided it was ready to go and so I set off south heading for Woking to visit a friend. I subsequently broke down on the M25, with a burnt out coil and had to call recovery. Anyway I digress. I do not recall Toddington services on this journey. In all likelihood I didn’t see it due to the rain. No, my knowledge of Toddington services comes solely from traffic reports on BBC Radio 2. Toddington services is constantly mentioned. It always seems to be snarled up. It is always busy or there has been an accident around there. I heard the word Toddington so much I did often think “that would be an ace name for a character” and lo and behold…

Who is Toddington?

Well Toddington is my main protagonist. Toddington Rainstone to give him his full name. Toddington is an orphaned, work-obsessed, progressionist elfling, impetuous by nature, yet resourceful. His work obsessed nature is actually a character trait based on two ex-boyfriends of mine. One of them is completely aware of this as I told him, so I don’t feel bad about sharing that. In fact he was quite flattered at the time. (He might not feel that way if he ever reads the book, but as a self-confessed ‘not much of a reader’ I’m hoping he won’t.)

Toddington Rainstone © by R. Blaikie


Toddington’s occupation of design engineer (he designs and develops products made from toadstools) came about because one of the aforementioned exes was a design engineer, though obviously not of fungi based products! So that’s where that came from. The idea for Toddington to make ‘stoolbrellas (elfling umbrellas made from toadstools) came, I think subconsciously, from the fact I used to work in a factory which made umbrellas when I was a student. I certainly didn’t plan that. It just happened. (I think regular visitors may be getting a sense that not much of this book was planned at all… and you’d be right!)

Another thing I didn’t plan but which was completely co-incidental, was that although Toddington’s main personality flaw (and strength) is his work-obsessed nature and that this was based on two of my ex-boyfriends, both of these men lost their fathers at relatively young ages. Toddington too is orphaned at 14. This is not a plot spoiler, it forms the basis of the prologue but it explains much of Toddington’s ways. I certainly didn’t plan this, but perhaps these things lurk about in the subconscious more than we know.

Toddington is, I believe, the elfling who provides a mirror for us to hold up to ourselves. On the one hand he is fighting against the threat posed by the Oomans and their desire to progress their world, in spite of the impact it may have on others, yet it is Toddington who is the one elfling above all others who desires progression for the elfings themselves. He is, like many of us humans, a walking, talking contradiction (although he is only a two inch walking, talking contradiction).

I also have a confession to make at this point. Originally I had no main protagonist. (*Gasps of horror!) This is because I had the idea for a plot about a group of elflings. I didn’t consider the need for a main character or a character arc. I didn’t know these things were basic requirements for a novel. Oh you see how naive I was when I began this journey. (Though in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, where this all began, there are 4 children, rather than one main protagonist and that worked. But I am not C.S Lewis and so this is at least one of the reasons why the first draft was so diabolically bad.) However as I wrote, Toddington  naturally emerged as the central character and so during editing and re-writes I went back to the drawing board and spent a lot more time fleshing him out, giving him goals and developing his strengths and his flaws. As a result,  I now feel Toddington is pushing the plot forward rather than him being pulled along by the plot. Which is how it should be. This is how life should be I guess. We are the characters and we develop our own plot. We shouldn’t leave the plot to develop us. (Sorry, wow. That was rather deep.)

I actually really love Toddington. (Thank goodness as I have to write him a lot!) He’s got his flaws but although he has a lot of rubbish stuff happen to him, he doesn’t let it get in the way of aiming for what he wants to achieve. If this were a book for adults I might allow him get a bit more depressed and despondent about stuff than he actually does, but kids need a hero and I hope in Toddington I have created one. I think now he develops well as a character who you do end up rooting for (no pun intended).

I know two readers, who read early versions of the WIP, said to me: “Nooooooooooo you can’t have that happen” at one point when it’s clear he’s not going to get his own way. The children who have read early versions of the WIP picked him out as their favourite character and this was before I’d even properly developed him as the main protagonist.

I’m looking forward to continuing with developing his story more in Books 2 and 3.

And I hope those of you who ever get to read Prophecy Of Innocence love Toddington Rainstone as much as I do.


Filed under Characters, Writing

S is for…Secrets

I realised quite early on in drafting Book 2 of Prophecy Of Innocence (subtitled Two Tribes) that many of my characters have many secrets. Yes, those sweet, innocent elflings living in a simpler place and time actually do have a darker, more sinister side and hide things from each other. Shocking I know.

I will admit, Book 2 is a darker book than Book 1 and I always intended it to be. There is a switch in main antagonists away from the ‘Oomans‘, who fade into role of the secondary antagonist, to being some of the elflings themselves.  Book 1 sets up a lot of what happens in Book 2, but it is only in Book 2 that many of the secrets are revealed.

So as not to give too much away, I am going to summarise some of the secrets which the characters are hiding, but I will try not to attribute them to any particular elfling here as there will be too much given away.

Secret # 1: A whispered conversation between two Lutonian elflings is overheard. But who is speaking and what are they up to?

Secret # 2: Who is the mysterious elfling who broke into a home in Treebay in the dead of the night nearly four-hundred years previously and why?

Secret # 3: Who steals crystonal and for what reason?

Secret # 4: Which elfling has royal heritage but doesn’t even know it?

Secret # 5: What information do the ancient archives of Trelflande hold and why is no-one allowed to see them?

Secret # 6: Why does one Lutonian surname ring a bell to the Treebayan elflings?

In short, one elfling above all others has more dark secrets lurking than any other. It is for this reason I am loving writing Book 2. But I will write more about this in the post for V.

This is the shortest blog post I’ve ever done. (Even shorter than that other short one I did last week!) I’m saving it all up for T on Tuesday which I’m really looking forward to writing.

Tomorrow I’m answering questions for a blog hop so a day off from the A-Z challenge.

Hopefully see you then. 🙂



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