I'm working on creating a world for my first "big" fantasy novel. I've done a little world building before, in bits and pieces, to work into smaller projects, but nothing too notable. My question is: How do you all go about organizing all the information for your worlds? Where do you write it, where do you begin? How do you go about laying out the histories of the various nations...etc? I'd just like to get an idea of your overall process.
Also, I'd like to get my hands on a fully fleshed out world so I can use it as a sort of template, or reference point for creating mine. Does anyone know where/if I could find something like that?
October 20th, 2004, 05:56 PM
You might want to start by going to Patricia C. Wrede's Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions (http://www.sfwa.org/writing/worldbuilding1.htm), I think its a great place to start. It gets you thinking.
I'll tell you more later.
October 20th, 2004, 06:25 PM
I've read quite a bit of that actually and will continue to refer to it. It's very helpful on its own but not with my current predicament.
Tell me more now!! :p
October 20th, 2004, 07:18 PM
I ususally draw maps like in J.R. Tolkiens LOTR: The Fellowship book.
It gives me an idea of what creatures live there, what seas surround it and other things.
As far as history, I usually dont plan it and instead build it as I write my stories.
Other things such as mountains and rivers could be drawn onto the maps.
October 20th, 2004, 08:32 PM
I keep looseleaf notebooks full of notes. I organize them by subject and subdivisions. I have a book for geography. I'm writing SF based on Mars, so along with the maps I've done up for my Martian cities, I have actual maps of Mars and research on Mars there.
Another book is for characters. Bios, character lists by name (so I don't repeat any) and by function (so I know who works with or is related to whom) and so on.
I figure out what I need to know. Sometimes, I don't know what I need til I need it. Then I stop writing and figure it out. I have a lexicon. I have notes on the culture, the military structure, the history, etc.
And everything is flexible til its written and sometimes, it's still flexible because I can go back and make adjustments.
October 20th, 2004, 09:10 PM
I have trouble world-building before or after I've come up with the story. It works best for me if the world grows up with the story. Mine is SF, so I focus on the technology and political atmosphere, attire and language. I go with whatever I think looks cool/sounds cool/works for the plot.
I'd think Fantasy would be easier, because you can base it on a mesh of pre-existing cultures. For instance, maybe your world is like ancient Mesopotamia, except there's a Japanese feudal system thrown in there, etc.
October 20th, 2004, 10:53 PM
Ok, to help build up the history of my world I draw a series of maps. My first map is a plain world map that shows the land and the oceans, mountains, forests, rivers, plains, etc. At this time I don't put in any towns or cities. This is Map0.
My next step is to copy the previous map, then add or remove details as I see fit.
Map1 - I add the first few cities scattered over the map, usually by rivers.
Map2 - I put in a few more towns and cities. Older cities have a shallow boarder around them to show they control an area a little larger than themselves. I also start putting in the first roads.
Map3 - I may remove a few of the town and cities and mark them as abandoned. I may do climate changes and alter physical features like adding a volcano or reshape a bit of forest. Some cities will have slightly larger boarders, stoping at the edges of rivers or other natural obsticles.
Map4 - I expand some city-states larger, making them capitals of tiny countries. Some towns have grown into cities. New towns form. I may add new roads to new towns.
Map5 - Some of my tiny countries merge into a larger country or an empire, there may be two or three. Boarders are often rivers or other natural features. Sometimes a boarder is just a line where two nations meet.
Map6 - Empires grow, taking over other nations and parts of undeveloped areas, trade routes form, new roads, new cities, ports and towns.
Map7 - One or more empire falls or divides, some towns and cities are abandoned, some roads forgotten or lost, previously abandoned towns have fallen into ruin, Old boarders appearing again or taking additional territory from the fallen empire, and so on until I reach where I want my world to be.
For each map I'm adding details to a copy of the previous map and every so often, removing something as well. And while I'm doing this, I'm writing down significant events in a world timeline. Some of the things have little to do with the story I'm going to be telling, some things have alot.
I then take the nation I'm doing most of my story in and take bits from my world timeline to add to this nation's timeline. I may add additional details like kings and queens, etc.
I then build my nation using that timeline as my history. I figure where I want the capital (and where it moved to sometimes), religions, political structure, who's at the top, etc.
I'll also do that layered map trick to build cities by stages.
Everything goes into a binder and in a folder in my computer organized how I like it.
October 22nd, 2004, 03:36 PM
Excellent, thanks guys.
I don't know why I didn't think about it but starting with a map is a very good idea.
October 22nd, 2004, 05:28 PM
A map's a great place to start because it gives you something to look at, something you can refer to. Start with the area you're going to do your story in first. Get all that figured out. Develop the rest when you need it.
October 22nd, 2004, 05:45 PM
When I started Earth Stone i didn't have a map, but I knew where everything was. However, I soon found that i needed a map for my own reference as the world got bigger and more complex.
In the sequel, Realm World, the relatively tiny Realm got turned into a whole world, so I expanded the map, but just enough of it to tell the second story and to hint at more lands with possibly more stories later on.
The Realm is an Earth like world, nothing different except that they have creatures we don't. As for magic, I went the "life energy" approach and life energy is like the "force" generated by all living things. However, using the life energy to do "magic" is limited by the fact that those who do magic are mortal an therefore limited. For example, I have people called "travellers."
Traveller rules- can teleport 30 times in an hour, need an hour to recharge or once over a LONG distance and need the rest of the day to recharge. Weakened states limit or erase their abilities, hunger, injury, etc. Using one's abilities costs them in terms of hunger, thirst or fatigue.
Another example is I have a character who can become ethereal, like a ghost. Can stay tha way for 4 hours if he wants, but passes into a semi-coma state if he goes tha long. Short durations make him EXTREMELY thirsty and he can not speak in his ethereal state.