On Writing Fantasy: Worldbuilding

July 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Middle Earth. Valdemar. Mythago Wood. Midkemia. Amber. A reader hears these names and it conjures images in their mind of Fantasy worlds where epic battles took place, quests happened and heroes triumphed. In Fantasy writing, world building is an essential aspect of creating memorable stores that remain with readers for a long time. It takes time and patience. Some of the steps to strong world building are reading, thinking and research.

Reading is an important step for help to build memorable worlds. Read in the genre is which you want to write. This will give you ideas on what is being done, but this can lead to imitation. Try to avoid this. Don’t limit your reading. Keep it general. Read many different things like history, geography, cultural anthropology, etc. Mythology is helpful for adding a mythic element to your world. I find “Archaeology” And “Discovering Archaeology” magazine inspiring for ideas. Reading different things gives your brain a broad base of information to create a realistic world for your novel or story.

Another important step that leads to better world building is thinking. Take the time to think through the details of your world. World building isn’t just drawing a map. You must develop many things like a magical system, cultures, religions, and many other elements that make up a viable society. Reading different things helps here, but be careful. Try not to rely on role playing game manuals for your world building. They are insufficient to a writer’s unique imagination. Keep a notebook and write down the details you come up with of your various creations. You might not use all of the information, but it will help you keep track of inconsistencies and bring your world to life. I keep such a file on my˛ computer to refer to while working on my novels.

Lastly, research is an important step in building your Fantasy worlds and cultures. It helps create believable worlds by using details about it. Also, it keeps a writer from making silly mistakes. For example, some writers have had horses that can run over fifty miles without rest. A real horse would die from such treatment. You can’t write about a sword maker without some idea on how weapons are made. Research is time consuming but very helpful. A good place to start is in the children’s section of a library. Here you can find books that explain things simply. From there, move on to other books, magazines, and the Internet. Try to confirm a detail you want to use by two independent sources. One caution: =Don’t let the fascination of research take you from your writing. Combining the three steps of reading, thinking about your Fantasy world and research gives a writer a foundation for building a memorable story. With time and patience, you can create a detailed world that will propel your characters to their destinies.

These are just some of the basic techniques for world building. A writer can pick up more as their experience grows. So keep writing and imagine your world to its fullest. Maybe some day you’ll find your world will invoke memories when its name is mentioned.


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