Challenge #12: In what story did you feel you did the best job of world building? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?
World building… hm.
I take it none of my fan fiction counts, since that’s building onto pre-envisioned worlds. Do historical fictions count? I guess the world is already in place for those, too.
Okay, I do have several fantasies written in totally made-up worlds that I feel quite proud of. The first that comes to mind is Wind Blessed because I go into the most detail of the settings and characters. It has the most complexities to work out since it’s a world with magic, and all the boundaries of my magic have to be consistently applied.
However, I feel very good about Brides of Plunder, as well. It has a Celtic-y feel to it, but being that I don’t like to be fettered by rules of historical accuracy, (except when it comes to Victorian England) I made it my own world and just go with names and the sort of structure that feels right.
As for tips on world building, I think this quote by Mark Twain says it best:“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
My advice to you would be…
I’m very bad at following my own advice in this case, but I have to encourage the rest of you to do things the right way. Especially if your world is historically based. If your sort-of-Celtic-but-not fantasy story has elements that go totally against Celtic tradition, but they make sense in your story, fine. But if you’re writing a story based on the Celts, and you mess up, that’s going to be embarrassing.
Base It On Reality
If you’re finding it tricky to figure out your setting–say you need to decide how the land is governed, or what sort of clothes the characters wear, or what kind of landscape would be ideal–find something that exists in the physical world to base it off of. For example, since Brides has that Celtic… ness to it, anytime I’m stuck on what a piece of weaponry should look like, or need a new name, I Google things of a Celtic nature, and tweak history to fit my fantasy setting. You can do this with any culture. Borrow from India for clothing options. Study the British monarchy for political intrigue. Visit New Zealand to write better scenic passages. Use things you’ve seen, and heard, and know a little about to make your setting more believable.
Throw All Advice Out the Window
I think the greatest and most frequently ignored rule of writing is that there are no concrete rules. If you have a good grasp of the English language, a vivid imagination, and an idea of what you want to create, do what feels right. Of course, if writing blindly is not working out, I do suggest reading books in the genre you’re planning on writing in.
Before us lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, with here and there steep hills, crowned with clumps of trees or with farmhouses, the blank gable end to the road. There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom–apple, plum, pear, cherry. And as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals. In and out amongst these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land” ran the road, losing itself as it swept round the grassy curve, or was shut out by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame. The road was rugged, but still we seemed to fly over it with a feverish haste.
–Dracula by Bram Stoker
Since we’re speaking of world building…