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World Building

November 12, 2016

 

I won't lie if you won't: creating your world is probably the best and most fun part of writing fantasy.

 

For me, the map was always the most rewarding thing I created.  It's a visual and corporeal image of this world that I exist in most days of the week.  Something to show other people: look, this is where I am.  This is where my mind and my heart are right now.  It's just as real as Middle Earth, Narnia, Pern, or anywhere else you can imagine.

 

Unfortunately, world building isn't all about the map.  There are people, animals, and creatures of various realities roaming this little (or not so little) planet, too.  There are ecosystems and biology to consider.  Elements, minerals, plants, and insects.  On top of that, we have religions, economies, social classes, and distribution of wealth to consider.  Democracy?  Oligarchy?  Monarchy?

There is so much that goes into world building.  Whether you realize it or not, your world is a character in and of itself.  The environment you put your characters into 100% affects them.  Especially in a fantasy novel.

In a lot of YA, geography is the major concern.  Mostly because a standard YA fantasy has something to do with a monarchy, powerful corruption, and the nations surrounding it that may/not be allies.  When we focus on the action, we don't always have to go into the specifics of how each nation is different from the others or how their societies work in comparison to the character's.  We should, however, know those differences.

 

Truth be told, there are a lot of other, more comprehensive, world building blogs scouring the internet.  And it is totally worth it to read a bunch of them.  However, there are some that you will look at and see the completely insurmountable task that is figuring all of these things out ... per nation.  Do you know the economic policies and trade agreements for the entire planet of Earth?  Neither do I.  Do I know them for Vassel?  Ha, ha, ha.  Never gonna happen.

 

So this is my friendly PSA: Don't sweat the small stuff.

You could know everything down to the tiniest detail of your world, and that would be amazing.  You will also find that a very tiny fraction of that will actually make it into your book.  Why?  Because it is irrelevant.

 

(You could also be a far more reasonable person and not try to create an entire galaxy in an afternoon.  But alas, what fun would the world be without us unreasonable people?)

This isn't a post to tell you everything you should know about your world.  It's not even a post to offer up suggestions or how-to tips.  There is but one goal of this post, and that is to remind you, Godly creature, to:

HAVE FUN WITH IT!

 

Did you ever read that post that says something like "Let's just be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week devoted to reading"?  I have.  So guess what I did...

There are eight days in a week.  Five of them are workdays.  They're named after Parnoan Gods.  AND THE WEEK STARTS ON THE EQUIVALENT OF MONDAY.  (Also called Sertida, named after Serti, Goddess of Pain.  Because it fits.)

 

Also, Vassel has six weeks to a month, though there are still twelve of those.  Oh, and hours?  There are twenty of them in a day.  They're also 100 minutes long, instead of sixty.  Which brings us to: fifty seconds to a minute.  You know why?  Because I like to go by fives, and this made a hell of a lot more sense than our timing system.  To top it off, Vassel has 576 days a year.  Doesn't that sound like fun?

 

When you look at our world and all of the things we have accomplished from the beginning of time, doesn't it just seem so incredible to you that we made it to this point?  The technology we have, and the things we have done as such an innovative, creative, ambitious race.  (Of course, there's always a ton of fodder for everything that we do wrong, as well.  But where would our heros be without their villains?)  Well, it makes you look at your own fantasy world and go: There's a future for this.  There's also a glorious, passionate past.  And I get to write it all.

 

Vassel has a calendar history of around 4,390 years.  I have chunks of it reserved for stories, but by no means am I going to be able to understand all 4k years of this glorious planet.  Not with all of the continents I have available.  Or countries.  Or people.  It's not possible.

You know what is?  Knowing what happened in the Dragon Wars of 2300 BI and how it affects everyone in the year 305 AI.  It's knowing people who will have important roles in The Dragon Wars years prior to the Wars taking place.  I know that BI stands for 'Before Illusion' and AI stands for 'After Illusion' and I know when and how it all came about, as well as when things change again.

That is what it means to create your own world.  It is writing its history, experiencing its present, and planning its future all at the same time.  It is exhilarating and will challenge you like nothing else.

 

That is World Building.

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