Tuesday, January 02, 2007

World Building Part 2

Now that your world’s origin has been determined, the next logical item to consider is the landscape. This is a global-level plan for the world and its existence. Think of extreme gardening.

It’s time to make some maps! Maybe it isn’t necessary to draw the fine points of every square mile on the planet, but take some time to daydream about the view from a plane (or dragon). Consider the world’s origin as you design it.

One other point I will add before you break out the crayons is that it should be determined how fantastical the world is. Streams running through clouds or lakes of honey can work, but only if everything else matches as well. If your fantasy world has a structure that we might associate with our own planet, it becomes more difficult to break the laws of physics without coming across as silly or ignorant. Invite the reader to laugh with you, not at you.

If the world has any similarities to Earth, it might be a good idea to make an area that resembles where you specifically live. You’ll know a lot about the climate, wildlife and vegetation from first-hand experience. It might also help you to avoid creating oddities like rivers without sources. Of course, if everything is identical to your stomping grounds, some reader will snicker and say, “That crazy elf lives in Iowa.”

Think of the resources available to different areas in your world. This will help determine where civilizations or fantastical creatures may live. Are there some lands that are uninhabitable? If so, why?

Remember that this is all clay; it’s malleable. If things don’t seem right, tear up that map and start over. The purpose of building the world is to give it depth, but if some of the details interfere with telling a story, change those details.

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