Nation building, world building, and character building.

Discussion in 'Writing Workshop' started by Dreamscaper, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    Characters are the the most important aspects of the story, as well as the environment they are in. How do you go about building them, their quirks and interactions? What about the world, nations, and cities within the world? How deep do you go? How many do you go into? Any other tips on creating the environment and characters? I know there are other sources for this information, but I want to know what y'all think.
     
  2. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    OMG sooooo much stuff to consider!
    I did a lot of blogging on this back in June or July.... will see if I can copy and paste one of those posts here:

    Definitely stereotypical but food for thought anyway....

    Thoughts on Age and how it might affect characters
    Age is only one factor that might affect what a character is thinking, doing, or saying but it's definitely something to consider. There are of course, exceptions to every rule, but here are some of the age-related things I consider when I develop my characters:
    Children: Children tend to think about concrete things they can see in front of them and they sometimes have trouble perceiving or understanding the future consequences of their actions. Also, they aren't usually concerned with abstract concepts and ideology. For example, a street urchin cares only about finding a warm place to sleep for the night and might wonder about where his or her next meal is coming from. He or she might notice the disparity in wealth and power between people, but a child character probably wouldn't sit up at night thinking about how or why they came to be a street urchin until they were much older. Emotionally, children have certain characteristics as well. For example, toddlers have poor emotional control, especially when they're upset or angry. A child will also be emotionally attached to the adults that care for them, needing the guidance and assurance of safety they provide.
    Older Teens and Young Adults: tend to be the most tempestuous, passionate and headstrong characters you are likely to find. Entering the prime of their lives physically, youthfully idealistic, and still not having yet developed the emotional control of older and wiser members of society, they are the most likely characters to take on causes they feel strongly about. Add into this, that they are unlikely to have married yet or to have children of their own to tie them down ... and you have an age-group of characters that are likely to become heroes or heroines in a traditional fantasy story. These characters are also still suffering from an influx of youthful hormones, making them more likely to be involved in romantic plot-lines if the opportunity arises.
    Adults: another age group that is likely to be involved in defending a cause. There is often a disparity between male and female characters in this age group because of what I call "the kid factor". Heroines of this age group in fantasy stories either have never had children (for example: the amazon/ranger-types), have lost their children to some horrible fate, or have a plan to look after their children while they are off being heroic (for example: warrior-queens who have staff to look after these little details for them). Male characters have it much easier...they can just leave the child-rearing to the women while they go off saving the world. Adult characters tend to be less reckless and wiser than their young adult counterparts. Having learned from the experiences of their youth, they are more cautious about taking risks, considering their plans more carefully before they charge headlong into action.
    The Elderly: no longer physically capable of those epic battles, the elderly tend to fall into the role of advisor or overseer... using their experience, intellect and wisdom to reign in the younger hotheads around them. Many of these characters possess considerable power in their sphere of influence. There are lots of fun things you can do with elderly characters and I think they are often forgotten in favor of the younger ones. Don't forget about the old wise king, the battle wizard and the cantankerous old matriarch of the family who can match wits with the best of them!
    Extremely long-lived or immortal characters: deserve special consideration. They might not look very old, compared to the mortals around them, but they have a whole different perspective on life! They might not hurry unless they are in immediate danger, having all the time in the world to consider their options before making a decision on anything. They are likely to be extremely experienced and wise and (depending on their temperament) may consider the mortal characters around them to be rash and reckless. They might find the passion and energy of mortals exhausting, preferring to keep to themselves and their own kind if they can.

    I think you also have to consider stuff like biology, temperament and personal history too and then integrate all that stuff into one package...fun!
     
  3. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

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    I'm not that great at designing characters, but for nations I usually start with a single idea or image that I would like to have in that nation and then come up with other ideas based around that one.

    eg. I once designed an island nation called Falwyn based off a daydream of rangers walking through a forest and exiting the forest into a coastal villiage. I then decided that these peoples should trade almost exclusively by boat and that the inland trails of the island would only be for woodsmen, hunters, messengers, etc... After that it seemed like a natural choice to give them a culture that blended Norse, Welsh and North West Coast first nations peoples, with aboriginal style longhouses, norse style longboats, and welsh style longbowmen.
     
  4. NBalchemist

    NBalchemist New Member

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    I'm currently building my first world and originally, it started out as just a tiny little village from a roleplay I came up with. From there the idea just kinda formed. The Innkeeper in the tiny little village (my character in the roleplay) is cousin to the main character. My "notes" on this world are still in the early stages, but I think it's easier (for me, at least) to come up with the world than to come up with plot and characters.
     
  5. Anrisa Ryn

    Anrisa Ryn Author, artist, gamer

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    I usually try to create something within what already exists, but for my current novel, I created a small world inside the earth. It's a habitation of hummingbirds called Herald. I didn't delve too much into it - their light source is fireflies, their paper is leaves or parchment. I guess I don't do too much world building yet, but for my other novel, I'll have to!