Lucid Writing Advice IV by Antavius S. Flagg

The five ways of creating a fantasy world

Create a good idea of your fantasy world
Naming characters, places, and religions.
Knowing when not to go too far
Remembering what you created
Creating a history of your world.
It would seem that writing fantasy would be easy, but yet there are an abundance of challenges that the writer must face. This article will give you a better grip on tackling the aspects of creating worlds, and the people who populate them.

CREATE A GOOD IDEA OF YOUR FANTASY WORLD

No world that is to sustain life exists without water, unless the people who inhabit it are completely bizarre in design. I’ve never heard of a world that doesn’t have a desert or at least a region cluttered by perpetual glaciers.

When designing a world its prudent that you at least have a means to keep the life on your world on-going no matter what such a source may be. The worst way of doing things would be to suddenly think up a story, start writing and describing details of your world as you go along, then suddenly forget everything-a stream turns miraculously into an ocean, a desert becomes an on going oasis, cities go through several different names.

Start by drawing your world out, denoting where you want cities, rivers, oceans, continents, forests, and mountains to be placed. But before you do this there are a few things you should understand.

Cities and water: In today’s era, cities are everywhere, such as Las Vegas. In medieval times, assuming that’s the time period of your fantasy, cities were built where the people could be best supported. Usually, this was near or around bodies of water, preferably rivers. In this instance, people wouldn’t dehydrate by walking countless of miles just to reach a river you drew too far south.

Most of the well populated cities, however, could manage a few miles from water because of the invention of aqueducts, or whatever you may chose to call them. If you go even deeper into thought, you can place a city anywhere, assuming your world has under-ground water.

Forest: They are inhabited by countless animals, which if you chose to send your characters to one of these, you have the great liberty to name some of the strange animals in your world. Forests can be as small as a couple of miles, to hundreds of miles. Unless your characters know every corner of their world good, don’t suddenly believe they will know the why out of every forest you put them in. Plan the scene first, and give discernible landmarks that may help them find their way.

If you decided to place a city inside of a forest, be sure that somewhere amongst all those trees there are streams. People can’t bathe in sap.

Mountains: When you think ‘mountain’, you probably envision a snow-capped peak smothered in wisps of white clouds-such a vision is good, but mountains are like people: some sort, some tall. Mountains can vary in size such as the Appalachia and Rocky Mountains here on earth. Mountains can be cold, but only if they are very high. They can be covered in grass or forest. Putting a forest there will mean some of the animals you would find elsewhere in the world would not be there because of the climate differences.

If you suddenly decide to force people in your story to live atop a high snow-peaked mountain, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do for the reader.

NAMING CHARACTERS, PLACES, AND RELIGION

You might have read a fantasy, or made one up yourself, and fall face first on the first sentence because you couldn’t pronounce a character’s name. Fantasy is full of fancy names, which tends to make it even more fantastic. Making up names in some cases is one of the toughest jobs about writing fantasy, unless your akin to sticking to more traditional names: Bob, Joe, Bubba.

If you decide to design a character’s name, you want to try and make that name worthwhile. I have devised a system to helping design characters’names below:

Start with a word, any word, as long as it’s more than five words. For the sake of this I will choose Decimeter.

Remove the consonants, they will be used later on: we are left with ‘Eieer’( a-er)

Now, switch the last two letters in the word: Reeir ( ree-er)

Now here is the fun part. Remember those consonants we uprooted? We’re now going to put them back where everywhere we wish. Note: Not all may be used. In this case I came up with this: Dremeir ( Drem-meer) Sounds kind of Tolkeinish.

Through this process I have made up a character’s name that is able to be pronounced and is not cluttered with outlandish strings of consonants such as ‘Lywnnccl ( Lun-ni-cul). If even this process fails, there are websites you can attend and find thousands of males and female names. Just be careful, some of the names are insane themselves, and you have 1 out of so many thousandths of a chance of somebody havng the same exact spelling of the word, such as those strange ones. Lywnnccl.

Places: Coming up with the names of cites can be fairly easy if you know what your doing. Their easier than people names, you rarely have to discuss them. When naming them you can go through the same process I described above.

Religion: In medieval times, there were many religions. People in one continent believed differently than those in another, or if they did, their interpretations of the religion was slightly varied. When devising a religion remember that it is something your characters will practice religiously. Religions have nuns, not women in knee high skirts and back-less tops. There were incense instead of smoking pipes, covenants and churches were rarely used as places to give lavish speeches on the governments behalf.

If you decide to make gods and goddesses, at least give your reader a hint what some of them are. If you so choose, you may even come up with places that are for those who worship demons. and the nuns are in fact back-less dancers who dish out information pamphlets when paid handsome rewards.

But whatever you do, remember its a religion, and your characters will follow it religiously.

KNOWING WHEN NOT TO GO TOO FAR

A sprinkling of salt on French fries is good, a little more; great ; more; bad,; more, terribly; more a disaster. If your not watchful, your fantasy world can become those French fries. You have to wield the salt shaker of imagination carefully, to much here, and not enough there can create disgusting eye food.

Just because its your own world, you should never free draw your characters’mother earth at careless random. Drawing a world covered completely in ocean, and having one tiny island inhabited with thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people, animals, plants, and buildings, will make it a rather disgusting place: too much salt..

Streams don’t appear in the middle of a world without flowing or coming from a collected body of water such as a pond. And for heaven’s sake they never vanish in the middle of no where, going nowhere, and coming from nowhere.

Deserts and polar regions never overlap, unless the sun in your world runs a supernatural course.

Never create a city of millions and have one tiny stream piercing through it. Rest assured no one will ever drink from it.

Animals were rarely kept as pets, and almost everything from mice to birds were eaten. Only the wealthy could afford lavish feasts. Nothing ever happened one hundred percent.

Never envision that a peasant’s house was decked with gold, carpeted in velvet rugs, and yet the family of the household slaving in troublesome corn fields. Remember that kings and queens are people, not ruthless goons out to scheme the populace and hold countless feast. They had family. More importantly they had emotions.

Create your world under heavy scrutiny. If your absolutely lost in the void of innocence, grab a map, a globe, fly in space and take a picture of the world, whatever, just so that you get an idea of what a world should look like. And never, ever, use more salt than you need to.

REMEMBERING WHAT YOU’VE CREATED

Drawing a map is good and healthy, but there are several disadvantages. It lists every place in your world from below or above sea level, yet fails to name the actors in your manuscript. Go out and by a journal and jot down every detail about your characters from eye color to the scars on their skin. You want them to be life like as possible, and most of all you want to remember what you described them as.

Flag the ones that are very important to your story as characters of importance. Note every character if you wish. Keep in mind, though, that some of them you may never hear from again, but it’s best to keep them around if you intend on writing a series.

Give the character’s origin in the world, their mother and father’s name, list dutifully if they have any siblings or other relatives. But never slow your narrative down by dumping all that information about a character in embarrassing paragraphs. You want to use and write it wisely, and as a matter-of-fact, all of it doesn’t have to be told to the reader. You can keep it for yourself.

Your own little secret.

CREATING A HISTORY OF YOUR WORLD

You can’t have ice unless you freeze the water first. Cupcakes wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t flour, eggs, or milk. Your fantasy world would be nothing but a daydream unless you had a course of history that made things what they where. Things come to be as the result of something that happened before them.

A continent, surrounded by smaller feuding -continents, couldn’t have peace unless a long history of wars granted them so. People usually come into a certain area through migration.

Wars were common in the ancient world. Things never happened without reason. Wars were never fought for foolish things because armies were very expensive to maintain.

You should create a believable enough canvas that you can paint your world on. But you don’t have to go in grave detail about it chose not to. Detailing to your reader from the point that your world was nothing but a clump of smoke floating in space, and then suddenly threading them through history until there are hundreds of cities with houses pluming smoke everyday, will result in quick boredom.

Just state how things became what they are today. What made the main city in your world that it is.

Bust most importantly you have to believe in yourself. If it sounds stupid to you, it will sound foolish to the reader. Research world history, and get a general idea of what shapes a continent and its people. The Internet can offer and abundance of ideas.

You can email the author of this article at antavius_1376@hotmail.com

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Antavius S. Flagg, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

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