17 July 2023

A Writer's Guide to Linguistic Worldbuilding: The Kickstarter


A castle sits on a hill. On the left, a dragon head is saying 'hello'. On the right, a princess says 'welcome'

What is linguistic worldbuilding? It's all the little details, like how people, places, and things get their names and what sounds can be combined into words, but also broader strokes, like how characters from different cultures or subcultures talk, or whether there's a dominant language imposed by an empire. It's all the things that exist in the real world but fly under the radar for many of us.

This project has taken a long time to get off the ground. Around the time when I started writing for tor.com, when I started paying careful attention to the use of language and linguistics in genre writing, I decided I wanted to write a guide on how to do good linguistic worldbuilding. I initially tried it via Patreon, but I never had enough backers to focus on it, so that never went anywhere. (If you ever backed my Patreon, you will get a free ebook, and we can discuss other rewards depending on how much you contributed over time.)

Now I've decided to self-publish it, but I have to write it first. For that, I need your help.

I don't want to give everything away before launch day, but here are some things that will be included:

  • How sound works and how to extrapolate from human vocal tracts to non-human ones
  • How you can do first contact without a universal translator
  • How you can give your characters problems using language and intercultural communication
  • How to make up culture-specific proverbs and cuss words
  • Examples from books I love 
  • Current linguistic research and theory

I have about 15,000 words written, and I expect it'll be somewhere between 60,000 and 90,000 when I'm finished with it. 

The Kickstarter is going to launch on August 15, so follow this link and sign up to be notified! Rewards start as low as 3 €, and I have some limited-quantity rewards that I can't wait to reveal!

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