Creating a world

Discussion in 'General Fantasy' started by FarSeeker, Aug 5, 2016.

  1. FarSeeker

    FarSeeker New Member

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    Hello.
    I'm new here, and this is my first post.
    My name is Mateusz, I live in Poland, and I'm 20 yo.
    To get it straight, some time ago I started creating a final version of the world I'm going to write about. I'm not bragging, but I have to say that everything in my world has to be original. That's why it takes me so long to do something. It can be hard to make something look original, and logical as well.
    Okay, I've got a question for you. How can I develop all the smaller things? Like small castles, towns, and everything that isn't important, but has an interesting story behind? Just like Faerun. Almost every single point on the map is for some reason interesting, and uncommon. I know, I know. It won't take a single evening to create that expanded universe, but I'm just asking for the direction. How to think, what to do, etc.
     
  2. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    As you said yourself I'm sure none of the places in Faerun, or at least the lore behind them, were created all at once. How far are you in your world-making process? What have you created already? Which places do you need for your story, and which ones would (for now) just be names on a map (or - where does your map have gaps, empty spaces)?
     
  3. anonymous

    anonymous the king

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    sup bro
     
  4. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

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    I am not a fan of developping everything at once. Fantasy settings are less tiresome to build up when you build them organically.

    Original roleplaying settings started with a base camp or city for adventures to explore a haunted megadungeon nearby, and the setting grew from there during play. After 9 years of continuous campaign you had created a rich region with its politics, characters and locations, in a very effort-effective way.

    A similar approach can be taken with books. Create what you need in the moment you need. If you keep up writting a saga in the same realm, after a couple of books you will have put together a nice piece of setting without having comitted a big investment in time and effort before getting started.
     
  5. FarSeeker

    FarSeeker New Member

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    Hm. I don't have much to be honest. The cosmology of my world is done (Finally the way I like it, I'm sure I won't change anything), religion is done, and one country. The country has a map, but there are only mountains, and four big cities (including the capital city). The problem is that I can think about names for locations, and place them wherever I like, but it will only be a small point on a map. Without history etc.

    Thanks, Richard Falken. You are right, but I think that it would be easier for me to have a plan before writing. Right now I don't know anything about my world, and I'm not sure if I'm that good to totally improvise.
     
  6. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    I suppose there's two ways to go about this;

    1. Create a world and then write stories about it or;
    2. Write stories which you confine to a single world as you go along.

    If you're a world builder, I suppose that's fine. Many great fantasy worlds came about this way. However, think about the countries, and places, their people, landscape and, I dunno, politics, as a story as well. Make it interesting. So, you need some mountains, right? Think about the people who you might find in mountains. What are they doing there? How do they make a living? How do regular people on planet earth make money? Will they herd Alpacas? Or will they have been made rich off tourism and sherpaing? Or, simply, lax taxation laws and constitutional banking secrecy? Maybe magic is particularly strong or focused around the iron content in the mountain. Or the iron content of the mountains was mined dry, having all the mages seek out other pastures green. Same with coastal folks; people of the estuaries; the magic wastelands, inevitably inhabited by the hapless few stuck in the infertile desert of the obligatory Mage War III of archaic ages long forgotten. Speaking of which; there's people of the desert. And island folk who keep democratically liberating themselves from any league or union the mainland powers might have cooked up in the past 70 or so years. Err. You can imagine a few others, I am sure. Maybe a country now devout with new found zeal and credence after having been delivered from foreign reign by a charismatic though recently deceased Patriarch. Things don't always have be imaginary.

    I am giving ridiculously stupid examples of course (I like Discworld, sorry) - but this is what feels mostly organic to me. Geographically, people find themselves in a location for a reason, and it does your world credit if the people, and kingdoms, nations, city-states, anarchy-syndiclist communes and other forms of sovereignty are thought through like that. I would also highly recommend introducing a few elements you will never use in any story. Just have them be part of the world - it will feel so much more rich if there's allusion to parts never visited or focused upon.

    If you decided to include either other sapient races, or magic in general, also please ask yourself what the native place is for the elements you introduced. Elves, Dwarves, pixies, cave trolls, sapient otters - they don't come falling from the sky. Make sure to include a backstory and a geographical navel for all of them. Equally so for magic. Magic is oftentimes dogmatic and, therefore, highly cultural in at least its use. That means it needs a backstory too, and possible a navel into the world as well.

    When you're done, and I think you will never quite be done, I think it's best to start thinking of short stories for various areas of your world. That way, you can discover for yourself what sort of people live in the places you created and, indeed, whether they are interesting enough to be included. Remember: every country could either be a great bay or lake if you don't like them though... you might think of switching around a few elements to recycle the land mass. You will probably find that your world will become a lot more rich through this exercise.

    Then, and only then, it would be time to get back to your hero country. Think about their foreign relationships with at least the neighbors they might have and think about how that might influence the story you were about to write. And then... just do :)
     
  7. FarSeeker

    FarSeeker New Member

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    Thank you all for so many replies. That really helped me.
     
  8. JNC

    JNC New Member

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    I am surprised that you have developed your own world to that extent, I know it is not easy to do that, but I still want to share an advice that some people gave me some time ago: when you write a story, it is usually better to describe your world little by little, because most people are more interested in the plot and characters than in descriptions. Sometimes, as you are writing you own story, you will come up with good ideas that can enrich your work.

    Good luck!
     
  9. FarSeeker

    FarSeeker New Member

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    Yes, that's true.
    But my world really isn't very expanded. Nearly everything that I have is a "place holder". I'm not convinced to the things I invented. I'm always changing everything. And that's my problem.
     
  10. JNC

    JNC New Member

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    Why don't you take a look at some of this planet's cultures, as well as their customs, language and architecture? The real world can be a great source of new ideas. Just keep on writing, and make the changes you need in the process.
     
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  11. FarSeeker

    FarSeeker New Member

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    True, true.
    Another thing is that I'm not sure what would be better for a beginner.. I think that writing short stories, but I would prefer starting with a big novel.
     
  12. JNC

    JNC New Member

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    Mmm, I think a story should have the lenght that it requires, so if it has to be long, make it long, though you may want to divide it in two parts if it is too long. Just do not force it to be unnecessarily short or long. Again, you will decide that once your story is done.
     
  13. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    Me and my wife write a lot together. First we started with fanfic, but we saw how that limited us. We write in an alternate earth, where you still have your countries like Italy, almost everything, just dipped in fantasy. Then we built our own world and we have different countries, we named a lot of places, but most have no real substance yet to be fair. But we wanted to make a map, which was very helpful. Mapping everything helped us how we wanted to start shaping the world and we wanted it to make sense. For example what the weather would be like, what light would be like in a very different world which has more than one moon, more than one sun.

    What's important, whether it's on a large scale or a small scale is to make each place, either a small town or a large metropolis, distinguishable by certain elements. This can be the presence of important characters, landmarks or occurrences like yearly celebrations which happen when the characters arrive. Maybe a beautiful fountain or a destroyed temple. And you have to give it some history, depending on how important these setting are imo. Dropping characters or landmarks in cities or other locations also needs its own history. Though to fill your world really up you can't do this for every place, but certainly for towns, cities or other settings your story takes place in.
     
  14. Detth

    Detth Wanderer

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    Hello, I am back ;) Recently i have been thinking whether anyone has tried changing the nature of their world? Or defined time/counting differently? Like as if a year had 16 months, each season would last like 4 months, or has anyone made up their own season? Just put something between the usual 4? Haha i love building up systems but i think this would complicate things too much and i don't think people would like it, i mean, a lot of readers love it simple and easy, but fantasy lovers know no boundaries, as long as things are kept in balance and interesting :D:D
     
  15. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

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    The problem with breaking standards, like the number of months or seasons in the year, is that it is easy to confuse the reader or player for no gain. Most narratives don't benefit much if the year has 13 months of 28 days each. However, people will get confused if you have to reference the month "thirteenuary" when giving a date in the narrative.

    Then you need to waste multiple pages for explaining non-standards that are boring to the audience.

    I'd rether keep it simple. I would not break an established regular truth such as a calendar the audience is familiar with unless it was for some BIG narrative effect. If I am going to work on something I might as well ensure it is worth it.
     
  16. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    As a reader I don't mind seeing a standard like that broken. It wouldn't even have to be explained in the narrative, but maybe in a glossary at the end of the book. (I think I remember some Tolkien books which had that, and it never bothered me to look unfamiliar words up while reading.) Obviously, you'd want a better name for a thirteenth month than "thirteenuary", something that sounds fitting (to the other months), and of course it has to make sense.
    The latter is what's most important to me. It has to make sense. As much as I liked the idea of ASoIaF's seasons that last several years, it can't be explained in a way that it makes sense (unless you pick magic as your explanation, which I find very unimaginative) and that kind of bothers me. I still love ASoIaF, so this detail in the world doesn't change much about my opinion about it, but if I were to create my own world, that's something I'd still try to avoid.
     
  17. Arkonian Doyle

    Arkonian Doyle Escapist

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    I agree with Richard Falken,
    If the changes you make don't really benefit the storyline then you should totally avoid it.
    I invented "many moonsday" (which is roughly translated, it sounds less silly in my language;)) because it's the day that the elves honour their King. He's referred to as "Luna", which is "Moon". The only day in the year where all the moons can be viewed from the sky is his day. People will then see him and get blessed. They offer him presents, often books and things they craft by
    Themselves.
    Luna is also known to be more powerful on that time of the year. He will bloom which shows as he will grow wings that one and only day. But yes, enough information! Just read te book when it's finished:rolleyes:
     
  18. Detth

    Detth Wanderer

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    I agree it's not a good idea to confuse readers with breaking standards but whenever i read a fanatsy work, i notice there's no Mondays Tuesdays etc, and neither are months as we know them. It's just winter, summer, fall and spring. But people have to be organized in some way, count years and days. So either it's up to reader's imagination but as that can be tricky I usually keep with our systems
     
  19. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Days of the week are like time on a clock in that its invisible information.

    Days of the week; months of the year all have meaning and hereditary depending on the country you're in. However building that into a fantasy story can add so much complexity that you can overwhelm and lose your reader. So sometimes you have to have minutes and seconds and hours in the day - the reader uses them more as a reference point to understand the pace and what's going on and when and how long things take. It's easier than first having to teach them that passons are seconds and devons are minutes and that horlings are 50 minute hours and etc.... -- quickly they get lost in the detail of the world and not getting into the story of the world.

    It's a pitfall those who worldbuild heavily can fall into without realising it. Sometimes you can get away without mentioning days of the week and such; it was 5 days later that the dragon attacked - yep that's all the reader needs to know. They don't need to know the day of the week or that weeks have 5 days only etc...

    In fact sometimes you can change up a lot of things by making them minor details and slipping them in regularly but in small bits.


    Also don't forget the appendix; footnotes (actually only Terry Pratchett uses those and he's only sold a few million books ;)); and also ntoes at the start of a story. Many books use a list of key characters and relations; most use a map with key place names; but some also include little world tips like days of the week or such.

    It's a way to info dump without taking up story; but one shouldn't abuse it - you don't want readers getting lost in information.
     
  20. MattII

    MattII Member

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    I'd say that different day/month names are fine, they can go in the glossary. Those will probably only be of concern in the cities anyway, small towns and farms are more likely to operate according to seasons.