Saturday, August 22, 2015

World Building for Dummies part 1

Don't let the title throw you. When it comes to world building, I feel like a dummy, so I'm learning right along with you. I'll be researching, building on to what I have, learning through trial and error.

All fictional writers have to build worlds to some extent. Think about it. Setting is your world. If you are writing a mystery set in a small New England town, your world will be that town. Now, unless you are going to use an actual town, all the buildings and streets and bridges and waterways, etc., you will have to do at least some world building. So, how do you do it?

Good question. This is what I have been wondering for over a month. You see, my first urban fantasy-- Vampires Rule-- was set mainly on a farm. There was a town, so I made one up rather than use a town I've never been to. I mean, sure you can go to Google maps, but I don't like research that much. Plus, I'd rather write about a place I've at least visited in person. 

I've been to Nebraska (out in the middle of nowhere). That's why I chose it. Then, I invented the town of Bliss. Other than where the high school is located, graveyard, and Silver's house, I didn't make up too much about it. Which leads us to another interesting question. How much is too much?

While researching the art of world building, I came across several deferring opinions. Some say you have to know every single thing about your world (town, city, country, etc) before you begin to write. Think about Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling must have spent months (perhaps even years) created the fictional world so many of us would come to know and love. 

Others say if it isn't going to be important to the book, you don't need to know it. I've heard readers complain about too many details. Some authors--if they know it, they want you to know it--will give you ALL the details on their world whether you need them or not. 

Now that I am writing a book where I have to create another world and link that world to others, I am going to go with the second group of people and keep the world building as simple as possible. In fact, one author noted that the more complicated it gets, the more likely you are to screw things up and contradict yourself. I don't need that.

I've heard some authors say they create actual maps for their worlds. Well, I can't draw, so I think I'll skip that part.

My upcoming series is about a boy who travels to other realms in search of magical daggers, a dragon made of smoke, and the truth about himself. This is my first attempt at fantasy so I feel the need to make these worlds into incredible visions that readers will want to visit again and again. 

Where do I start?

Well, I know I need at least one other world. At the moment it doesn't have a name, but I know that is where Mount Olympus can be found. 

Yes, I'm using some Greek mythology in this series. 

At this point, I have Mt. Olympus. Now I need to figure out where the people live. Zeus resides in a castle on Olympus. Hades lives in the Underworld, and Poseidon is in the ocean. So, I know I need an ocean and a way into the Underworld. 

Viewing maps, especially the fantasy maps of other writers and of gamers is an excellent way to figure out what you want. It gave me a lot of ideas. 

World Building part 2 coming soon.

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