Friday, December 22, 2006

World Building Part 1

Aside from whether or not a fantasy world is being created for the purposes of one story or many, it still goes through a building phase. For quick, high-level world building, draw in the aspects of the world as needed and ignore the rest. If, however, you would like the world to have more depth, consider this series of articles (which I endeavor to complete in the future).

In this first article, I want to focus on the world’s origin. How did it come into being? This certainly does not need to relate to real life (or whatever view you hold on our own planet), but if a world’s origins are too strange to understand, your story may find a limited audience.

Perhaps your world has no known origin. It simply exists, and that’s all there is to it. Keep in mind that unless something is eternal, it must have a beginning point, and it must have a cause. Even if you, as the author, have not determined how it came into existence, it isn’t plausible to say that it simply does exist without attaching the eternal property to it.

If you determine that your world is not eternal, consider what forces shaped its existence. Was it a random mix of elements? Did scientists or aliens create it? (I’m giving a nod to Larry Niven’s Ringworld even though it’s science fiction.) Was a god or gods behind the creation? Intelligent versus non-intelligent design can have a huge impact upon what your world is like.

Now, suppose that you decide on a responsible party for the world beyond chaos. Why does the world exist? What was it intended for? If it was intelligently designed, what is the character of those who did the creating? A world created by an evil god would be vastly different from one created by a benevolent god, and a world created by lazy, apathetic gods would be even more unique.

A world’s origin is the first block in building. It may not be necessary to explore everything to the subatomic level, but your story may depend upon that world’s dawn of time to some degree. Your characters may not know this origin (or maybe only certain ones do), but it will affect them. Consider this step before jumping on to the physical aspects of your world.

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