World-building. What is it? No really, what is it? Now Wikipedia, my old standby, has a really good entry on this that you can all check out if you want HERE. To me though, when I think of world-building, I imagine creating my own world. Sometimes it can be something completely new like the world Tolkien created, not based in our reality. Or it can be based in a world very similar to our own with slight differences. Now my second idea of world-building isn’t really seen as world-building as you aren’t creating a new world but in my opinion you sort of are. Why? Because in many stories based in worlds similar to our own there are differences such as magic or events in history that caused it to diverge from the path our own world is on. In such cases, authors have to take into consideration several aspects of world-building because they need to make it more realistic.
There are several different elements to world-building, these include:
- Geography/ Topography – This just means you have to know what type on landscapes you have and their features. It’s not enough for you to want to have a desert or a mountain range. You also need to know that deserts mean sand storms and not a lot of access to water and mountains point to the effects of plate tectonics. Lots of people advise going in depth in this phase especially if it’s a new world kind of thing. They suggest mapping etc. Frankly I believe it all depends on you and your story.
- Astronomy (for a lack of a better word) – Now some author take to designing the entire solar system etc. Thinking about it just gives me a headache but there are certain things that you MUST absolutely pay attention to. For example, your planet has three moons? That’s fine and dandy but consider their effect on the tides. Your years are longer? Exactly why is that? What does that mean for your seasons?
- Society – This refers not just to the people making up your world but their cultures, histories, religions, beliefs, traditions, values, languages, and so on. This is easily my favourite part of ‘world-building’.
- Something Other – Whether it be magic or technology, or alchemy. Many writers add something ‘other’ to their worlds. This could also easily refer to non-human races but then you’d still have to build them up like any other society. Think long and hard about what your something other could be.
Now, these are just very broad headings of different aspects of world-building and they are by no means the full deal. Under each there are many subheadings for you to consider in your journey. Also consider this: none of these things exist in a vacuum, they all interact and affect one another. For example, aspects geography will affect the society. How so? Imagine that you create one society that lives in a desert. Now water in the desert is scarce thus they could be nomads, travelling from place to place, or they could be permanently situated by a reliable water source such as a huge river. And so on and so on. I’ll let you guys mull over these points for a bit. Look out for my next post!
The fun is just beginning!
K, the Popinjay.