1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Developing a Fantasy World - Help

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Thomas Kitchen, May 17, 2013.

    So there I was, coming back from university on the bus when BOOM! Inspiration struck me. I wrote down everything I could think of concerning the subject, and once I had done so, I realised it would become a fantasy story. I'm not going to tell you the concept because I'm very protective of my ideas (even though I know you can't copyright them), but I'm looking for some help on the very basics of world-building, plot development, and character-building. I've written a YA sci-fi before so I know the general world-building way, but fantasy-specific ideas would be great.

    What I'm asking is, are there resources - books both fiction and non-fiction, websites, and so on - that fantasy writers recommend? I just need to get some ideas on where to start and how to go about it, and seeing as it's a different genre from sci-fi, I presume there will be different resources in which to consult. Any advice would be most useful, and if you need any clarification from me, just ask.

    Thanks. :)
     
  2. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If you google "fantasy universe resources" you will get enough data to last you five lifetimes of writing.
    I personally sometimes use generators like this one
     
  3. Gracia Bee
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    Gracia Bee Member

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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've been perusing Pinterest images for ideas. It overflows, pick a subject, strange worlds, architecture, there are many options.
     
  5. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I think this needs to be narrowed down just a bit. Is this going to be medieval fantasy? Urban (modern) fantasy? Victorian? Something not modeled on a historical era of humanity's? There's far too much information and advice available to go through for fantasy in general, I think.

    So I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm eager to help but need a little more direction. :)
     
  6. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Sorry, probably should have mentioned that. Well at the moment I was hoping to sort of mix the medieval era with a Spanish setting, with sandy stone, vines and plants, etc. I doubt I will be using any medieval castles, however, as I find that extremely cliché, so I will be creating my own architecture for that, which would possibly be other worldly. There is magic, but it was assigned to immortal humans at the earliest foundations of this world; no one but these posses the power. Death has not existed for over five hundred years (and I will be fleshing out the repercussions of that), but as this book begins, this threat seems to be returning. Hopefully I have given enough required information now. :)

    Also, thanks to everyone else who replied - I understand fantasy world-building is an encumbering task at times, but I like a writing challenge and love reading about other worlds. Thanks, all! :D
     
  7. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    And don't miss 'Limyaaels Rants'
     
  8. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    That's a great website, Sved, thanks. I did want to say, though, that I think your signature is awesome. I've only read Killing Floor and I've bought Die Trying, but I totally agree with you that Cruise isn't Jack Reacher, even when Lee Child said he was. He's just not that character, and never will be. Sorry, I'm digressing. :p Thanks, anyway!
     
  9. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    What helps me a lot, was playing RPG set in a fantasy setting because you can walk around in the world and see things. But you have to have the time for that and be willing to pay to play the games.
    Some games fantasy games with great world building: (World of) Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 (never played the first one, so no idea), The Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Skyrim. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that jumped into my mind when I thought world building.
    What also helps is deciding if you want to make something from scratch, or build on a historical period. You aslo want to know if you'll include other races, one giant kingdom or a couple of small ones. Is there magic? So yes, how does it work? Is everyone equel to one another or are there layers in the civilization (working class, aristocrat etc). Is the ground fertile or is it a desert? So many thing you have to think of! But world building can be soo much fun!

    Hope this helps to get you on your way :)
     
  10. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    You're welcome glad to be of help.

    As for Jack Reacher..... He is is 6'5" and between 220-250 pounds. 50" chest, 40" reach, 37" inseam, quite far from Tom Cruise. I know Lee Child said that Reacher's size was a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise could show in his own way... Oh well. Books are really good, Lee is an expert in suspense. Annoyingly enough the movie was still quite good too... :)
     
  11. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I actually never thought of playing games to almost be in a world; thanks for that! Fortunately I'm a big gamer myself, and I have Skyrim, Dragon's Dogma, Dishonored, and Dark Souls to sink my teeth into, so I should be fine. ;) Thanks again.
     
  12. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Haha no problem :D Sometimes you are too close to something to notice it can help you... if that makes sense :p
     
  13. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    That sounds really interesting, both the premise and the aesthetic. I don't remember details and don't really trust my accuracy but I believe there was an area in The Briar King by Greg Keyes (and I suspect the rest of the series, which I haven't read) that had a very Spanish feel to it. What I remember most from that story, though, is a cocky young fencer who thinks he's the best swordsman in all the world taking on a knight in full plate armor with a two-handed sword. I loved it. :) Total digression though!

    In hopes of this helping, I posted a really long thing on world-building here: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=60841

    I do a lot of research on real-life things to help me. I'm not the most imaginative person so having some sort of framework with which to work really helps me. I recommend Google Image searching stuff with the aesthetic you want (or looking through art websites like deviantart.com), maybe save in a folder your favorites. Look for architecture (or at least inspiration for it if you're going to come up with your own), plants, animals, geography, food, clothing, different crafts... I use Wikipedia a lot in researching stuff so I can, say, know whether cotton can be farmed in a region (and thus know whether cotton products are available or if alternatives need to be found). I'm not sure I'm saying anything other than what I listed in the linked post. :)

    Hope this helps!
     
  14. Mckk
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    But it's not a metaphor and anyone who's ever read it knows this! Reacher couldn't have got himself out of half of those situations if it weren't for brute strength. Reacher's supposed to be rough, and big, and imposing. Cruise is none of those. Cruise is a pretty pretty boy. A small, pretty pretty boy. Lee Child was only saying Cruise fits because he had to - c'mon, some big studio just bought your novel to make it into a blockbuster and honours it enough to cast one of the hollywood giants. To say anything else would insult far too many people and damage any future prospects and working relationship. I haven't seen the film - I didn't really expect it to be any good and Cruise as Reacher didn't motivate me anyhow, which is a real shame, because I remember back when I first discovered the Reacher series at age 14 or so I'd wished that one of the books would turn into a film.

    Anyway, back to the question at hand - you should have a vision of what your world is vaguely like, eg, based on the Middle Ages, China or something else. Start gathering pictures of these places and times that inspire you, start researching into any history that you could use and adapt from. I'd be careful about throwing in any real-world religion, esp if it's your own. Allegory is harder to write than it seems (I learnt it the hard way by trapping my novel within such a stricture and ending up with a half-baked story).
     
  15. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    First of all, I agree with you on Reacher. I've only read one book and I realise strength is his, well...strength!

    Second of all, thanks for mentioning religion. I have been thinking about it a good bit (as I am a Christian, and I of course believe there is a powerful God), but I realise religion is not a key part of the story, or even mildly important, so I will probably not mention it at all, or if I do, it will be vague and non-descriptive. I have a planet that 'speaks' to its inhabitants, but people do not worship it and there is going to be no mention of it being a deity. Thanks for bringing the question up. :)
     
  16. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    And thank you for this! Your admiration of the basic story helps a lot and I know I'm on some sort of right track...and your world-building post was an interesting read. Cheers. :D
     
  17. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    As a general tip, something that I've picked up, is, when building you world, is to build your world around the story, not the other way round. If you create your world first, and then create the plot, you find the plot is being restricted and that it's quite hard to make things fit. Decide, for example, that your characters are going to head to the north where it's cold where they'll visit city X and then have a battle in the nearby mountains of Y and then create your world accordingly.
     
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  18. sknox
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    sknox New Member

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    I sort of agree with TLK but for me it's a dialogue. I get story ideas, I get world ideas. Sometimes one drives the other, while other times one drives the other. :)

    The world-side ideas generally come in the form of 'what if' speculation. What if this were true, or if that couldn't be true? Something inside says maybe there's a story in there somewhere, and the wheels start to turn. Actually, that metaphor doesn't fit me very well. My imagination is more like bubbling ooze -- primordial soup, mysterious and pretty stinky at first.

    The story-side ideas generally come in the form of a character or a concept. Something intrigues me, worth exploring. What sort of world would this fit into? Sometimes a story will wind up in a time and place that surprises me, while other times it's anchored right from the start. I never know. That soup thing, again.

    So the origin can be on either side, but the development is always organic. If I push the story forward I find I need to backfill on the world. The more I build out the world, the more story ideas flow. But I try not to wander too far away. Again as TLK says, if it's a battle in the northern mountains, flesh that out, but don't get distracted by equatorial jungles or remote islands. Those will be cool places only if you write a story set there. Same goes for magic systems, social structure, all of it. A painter never tries to paint the whole world, right?
     
  19. heal41hp
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    Personally, I don't think this is the best plan. Religion is a big part of your life, yeah? Why wouldn't it be for your people? Whether it's a pivotal point or not in the story, I still think you should figure it out and see how it can be incorporated, even as slight shading here and there. It makes the people and the world more real when little details like this can be referenced consistently.

    If you're got a planet that "speaks" to its inhabitants, there's going to be a lot of reverence for the earth (I would think). People might go out of their way to be as little destructive as possible. Like if they're making camp, they might go out of their way to find a place where they won't trample plants or disrupt wildlife too much. They might take the apple core and bury it. They might say a prayer before/during/after hunting or harvesting food. There's a lot of (I think) fantastic flavor you could add by figuring this out and incorporating it, whether it's important to the overall story or not. :)
     
  20. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thank you! From your ideas, I managed to create a few of my own and merge them (with yours), creating something that will not be blasphemous to my religion! Much appreciated, good woman. :D
     
  21. Kaidonni
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    I'll echo the point on religion. It doesn't need to be the focus of the story, but we have all been impacted by religion in some manner, and our behaviours and personal rituals can be informed by religion, even if one is an atheist. My own worldbuilding (although it isn't specifically for a story, but to look at how certain cultures could work...it started purely as a conlanging experiment) features religion as a major part of the culture I've been focusing on, and there is absolutely no way I could leave it out.
     
  22. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I might be admitting to lunacy by saying this but... You have no idea how relieved I am to hear this. :D
     
  23. Lea`Brooks
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    Amen!!

    I'm also writing a YA fantasy novel, where I had to completely design my own world, my own race, everything. Being the first time I've written a fantasy novel, I made the mistake of creating my world first. =( Needless to say, I had to redesign it once I figured out where I really wanted my story to go.

    The main thing, though, that I'm not sure anyone else has said.. If this is a fantasy story (and not a historic novel where you want all the details to be precise), don't forget that this is YOUR world. What works for one person may not work for you and vice verse. My novel heavily relies on religion (one I created, of course), but what works for me or him or her doesn't have to work for you! Good luck! =)


    Blessings,
    Lea
     

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