World Building

I have been jumping back and forth between working on The Spectre, and also an untitled fantasy idea, which has been refreshing and exciting. Without saying too much about the fantasy book (it’s still in very early stages) I can tell you that it’s been on my mind for a long time. Lots of meditation has been done, and I’m just starting to hammer down what the plot will be. It’s challenging to create something that feels fresh, and I’m hoping that as I go along, the story will continue to surprise me. I’ve been enjoying myself so far.

One way that I’ve been diversifying my fantasy is to do some world building.

For those who don’t know the ins and outs of fantasy writing (I’m just beginning to jump in myself) a large part of the process of writing epic fantasy, which is what I’m focusing on, is to create a world that your characters can inhabit. It’s not an easy task, and it can take a lot of your time if you’re not careful. It is essential to balance both the world building and the plot building, otherwise you will end up with a great D&D layout for your world with no plot or characters.

So, how am I going about my world building?

Firstly, I am using many real-world locations as inspiration. Some of these are local to Maine, and others are elsewhere in the world. Slowly but surely I’ve been collecting images, histories, and even some ideas for different societies and storing them in Scrivener and a massive notebook. I have also been creating a magic system for my characters, and that has been a lot of fun. This is the stage of the writing process that is most creative and most open-ended. It reminds me of art classes where you would start off with a block of clay and then slowly that block would be molded into what you wanted it to be.

A really awesome podcast that I listen to is Writing Excuses, hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. Recently they did an episode devoted to world building. I took away many pointers that have helped me as I continue creating my world. One of those points was to be sure that you don’t create the world solely around the “chosen one” or the being with all the magical abilities. There need to be places for all the other characters to live their lives as well. I haven’t forgotten my other characters, and I will be sure to give them a place to be important as well!

If you’re working on a world, whether it be for a novel or a D&D campaign, I wish you all the luck I can give. Like I said, it’s not an easy task. But, in the end, it is definitely rewarding!

2 thoughts on “World Building

  1. Writing Excuses is a great podcast. A lot of great stuff in those podcasts that have really helped me become a better writer.
    I found this recently: http://belindacrawford.com/2013/08/04/the-world-building-leviathan-scrivener-template/
    It’s a scrivener template focused on world building and story bibles.
    Good luck in your world building! Be careful not to drive yourself nuts trying to wrestle with all the specifics. I always find myself trying to figure out how the economic landscape works and that can be really complicated when you usually only need to make a nod to it in the book.
    I also find myself babbling on about something I’ve built in the narrative just because I want the reader to know it’s there, but I don’t even have a use for it technically. Careful not to fall down that hole either!

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    1. That’s a great link, Jim! Thanks! I just downloaded the template. I think I’ve already fallen into the trap of over-explaining a few times, so I’m being mindful moving forward. I just need to remember that it’s about the characters first, not the world around them. Figuring out money and measures of distance is the hardest thing for me so far.

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