EelKat Wendy C Allen - Dark Fantasy Author

The Princess Bride predicting Covid-19?


Please be aware that nearly every page on this website contains spoilers to something. I talk about a lot of fandoms, and go into great detail analyzing them when I do. If I am talking about The Witcher series, InuYasha, Disney Ducks, the Quaraun series, or any other fandom, you WILL encounter spoilers about it. 

Your World: Birds | EelKat's Guide To World Building - The Squidoo Series

Ads by Share-a-Sale

Your World: Birds | EelKat's Guide To World Building - The Squidoo Series

When I go outside the first thing I notice is the sound of birds singing and chirping and twittering. Birds in the bushes. Birds in the trees. Birds on the ground. Birds in the air. No matter where you go, birds are everywhere.

Are there birds in your novel's world as well?

You remember what I said earlier about the importance of birds in Stephen King's Dark Half, right?

You don't want your characters to just be talking heads floating on a white page. You want them to become real in the reader's mind. You want them to come alive. One way to do that is to have them interacting with the world around them. Birds are one of the quickest, easiest, simplest ways to do this.

Your character can be walking through a marketplace and trip over a flock of chickens that suddenly runs across their path.

Or you character could be sitting down to a nice quiet meal, when his wife's parrot starts squawking up a storm and stressing him out.

Perhaps he's haggling in the marketplace with a vendor and is very seriously trying not to lose his temper, but just then a pigeon, sitting on the awning poops on his head and that's just the last straw.

They could be camped along the side of the road for the night, and a screech owl is keeping them awake.

Sailors (and pirates) on a ship know that long before they see land, they'll hear seagulls screaming overhead.

Question here is, are there birds in your world and if so what kind? And how do they effect your characters' every day lives? Superstitions. Omens. Many are bird based.

Short of a cello player following your characters through the forest, how do your readers know when danger is around the next corner? The birds. People who live off the land (since as nearly all fantasy characters) are very in tune to the birds. Birds will be the first warning that a storm is coming and from which direction. Birds will tell you is there is something ahead of you.

Birds will warn of danger.



They stop singing. 

Listen to the forest. Birds - hundreds of them - twitter all day long. They sing when they are safe and happy... but the first sign of danger, they go dead silent. Medieval man knew that a silent woods was a dangerous woods - it meant a bear was just around the corner, or highwaymen were hiding in the bushes. Men knew to listen to the birds to know what lay just ahead of them down the road... but how often do authors write this all important skill into their novels?

Birds, like humans, have a very detailed and complex language system. Every twitter has meaning. I know personally know this because I spent many years studying birds and writing down their variations in tone and sound and what each means.

Modern man has lost the art of listening to birds, but Medieval man used the birds as a guide. When in a Medieval style fantasy you see characters walking through fields and forest and NOT using birds as their guides, I stop and ask, why didn't this author do their research?

Before the invention of clocks and calendars, it was birds who told man time and dates, but you'd never know this from the way most authors write.

Before tv weatherman, it was birds who told when it would rain and when it would snow. Every real life, real world man, woman, and child knew to watch and listen to the birds to get the daily weather forecast..

Did you know that today's calendar dates and season changes where calculated by bird migration patterns? Did you ever know that on September 1st of each year, a flock of some 300,000 blackbirds flies south for the winter, and pass over our house at exactly 5PM every single year?


Every single year on September 1st at 5PM I stand on the lawn and watch and seconds later they pass overhead, like a massive black cloud. There are so many of them in the flock that they block out the sun and the sky goes dark for the 3 or 4 minutes that it takes for the flock to pass by our house.

These birds have been using that time, that date, and that path for several hundred years, that we know of. No one told the birds what time it was or what day it was. They just knew the exact second of the exact day was time for them to leave and they left. All birds are like this. Like a well oiled machine all birds are that precise in their actions and movements. Because birds are so on schedule, Medieval man used birds to calculate time or day and time of year.

Now let's look at fantasy fiction.

Did your wizard say he had to be home by 5?

Uhm. . . did you know that it wasn't until the late 1800's that people started measuring days by hours?

Yes, they did have clocks before than, but few people used them, and those who did use them, set them at any time they felt like setting them at.

A more accurate thing for your wizard to have said would have been: I have to be home by twilight or I have to be home before the crow caws. (Crows gather in a huge flock and caw very noisily just before sunset every night.)

Remember, like mammals, your world would not be complete without birds. Like mammals not every fantasy story needs birds, but if your characters are outdoors a lot, than they should be taking notice of the birds. Remember too, that if you are writing a pre-modern style fantasy that birds were very, very important to man's daily activities.

A pre-modern fantasy lacking in birds and without any character talk of birds in daily slang, will stand out as EXTREMELY not realistic.

Ads by Amazon

Ads by Amazon

Ads by Amazon

EelKat's Guide to
World Building For Fiction Writers
The Complete Article Index

The list below are the original pages written in 2003, and republished on Squidoo in 2007:

<<< Back To

Or Head To Another Article In This Series:

For help in creating characters in genre fiction try:

Even more articles have been written for this series since then:

As there are now more then 100 articles for this series, it now has it's own index page on which to list them all, as there are just too many to keep adding them to this end of article list. You can find the complete listing of all the World Building articles here now:

More on Worldbuilding In Fantasy Novels:

Books I Use When Creating Fantasy Worlds:

*UPDATE: ADDED November 7, 2013 - I suppose one thing I should point out at this point, before we go any farther, is my use of the word fantasy throughout this series. The bulk of this set of articles was written 7 years ago in April of 2006, parts of it appearing on EK's Star Log and other parts of it appearing on my personal Squidoo account. In the 7 years since writing this I've received hundreds of emails regarding it. A common question asked being: "Why do you talk of building a fantasy world if you don't write Fantasy?"

ANSWER: Fantasy with a capital "F" is the name of a type of fiction, in other words Fantasy is a genre. I do not write Fantasy fiction of the Fantasy genre, that is correct. I do however create fantasy realms for my Science Fiction and Horror works. I write Dark Fantasy, which is a sub-genre of Horror and Space Fantasy which is a sub-genre of Science Fiction.

Did you see it? No? Let me point it out: I write about fantasy worls as the exist in Horror and Sci-Fi but I do not write about fantasy world as they exist in Fantasy Fiction.

If it is not real it is fiction, if it exists only in fiction it it fantastical, if it is fantastical it is a fantasy item, because it is not a real item, however being fantastical does not make it part of the Fantasy genre, just as not everything in the Fantasy genre is always fantastical in nature.

The word "fantasy" with a lower case "f" is a word that means "not real" and has nothing to do with the Fantasy genre (capital "F") at all. And therefore when I say "fantasy realm" I mean a world that is NOT the Earth on which you and I live on in the real world, and am in no way, shape, or form referring to the Fantasy genre.

The methods I use to create my fantasy realms can be applied to ANY genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Romance, Western, etc.

2013 World-Building Series UPDATE:

Due to issues with content scraping, outright plagiarism, some of my articles appearing on OTHER Squidoo member accounts without my permission, and many of my "Squidoo articles" being stolen off Squidoo and posted without my permission on various  blogs and sites including Wikipedia and Helium; all of my articles are in the process of being removed from Squidoo.

This series of World Building articles in one that has been heavily plagiarized over the years and as of September 2013, it can only OFFICIALLY be found here on - if you find it posted elsewhere, know it was stolen and I am not receiving royalties for it.

2014 Update:

As you know, or not, Squidoo owners Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn stole thousands of Squidoo articles from Squidoo members, and tried to pass them off as their own, resulting in the lawsuit against Squidoo owners for the theft of tens of thousands of articles.

More than 100 of my articles were transferred off my Squidoo account and moved to Bonnie's account,

while my authorship and writing articles, including this world-building series were deleted off my Squidoo account and transferred to Kimberly-Dawn's account!


I am shocked and flabbergasted at what these 2 women have done. That they thought they could get away with stealing so many articles from so many authors! Buying Squidoo from Seth Godin, did not give then the rights to our articles and these two horrible women had no right to delete them off of our member accounts and republish them on their own accounts, trying to pass them off as their own.

More then 100 Squidoo authors have gathered together in lawsuit against Squidoo owners, Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn. The result of that is, Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn, to avoid their asses being sued to hell and back, have now transferred the Squidoo lenses back to their original owners and deleted the entire Squidoo website.

Squidoo is officially