1. Earthshine
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    Earthshine Member

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    Mapping and Geography

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Earthshine, Jul 12, 2014.

    Hey everyone. I'm currently working on developing the setting for my current fantasy novel and I'm having some issues with mapping my world. When I was younger, I used to create worlds without any thought as to how these worlds would work in terms of geography. For instance, I never considered that the presence of mountains would have an effect on the climate (e.g. the presence of a rain shadow). Now that I'm older, however, I find myself caught up in worrying about whether or not the world would work.

    So my question is...do you think it is important for the setting to 'work'? Or is it really not that important? And if you think it does matter, do you have any tips on creating a world that works?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think it doesn't matter too terribly much unless you really include a lot of elements that start to stick out to the reader overmuch, you shove it in their face, so to speak. The reader, unless forced by you the writer, isn't going to be thinking about these things anywhere near as much as you. In one of arguably the most successful Science-Fantasy (it has elements of both) franchises, the Darkover novels by M.Z. Bradley, the tiny pocket of habitable land on the planet of Darkover doesn't scientifically work at all, and on many, many levels, but it doesn't matter because her stories are so compelling and character driven that you don't care why there would be this one little temperate patch on an otherwise frozen world where entire forests explode into flame if someone farts too hard. :confuzled: She's even goofed on occasion with inconsistencies from one novel to another as to where things are located, and again, who cares. Her novels rock. ;)
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If you're writing fantasy, probably doesn't matter at all. If it's sci-fi or real world, I think it matters to a few people but it's not one of those things I hear many people say ruined the credibility of a novel for them.

    It did bother me that Tatooine seemed less than credible because it was too dry for life.

    I've built my world with one large continent and some islands. So I've been researching how that might affect weather, especially cyclones. I need my characters to be on the same land mass.
     
  4. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've set mine in towns and cities that exist today, but the setting is 200 years in the future, so I can take some liberties with street layouts, road names and other features.

    When creating a new world, you can choose to make it follow the same laws of physics as ours, so there might be an area with a lot of rainfall, like India, followed by mountains, like the Himalayas, with a dry desert area after those, such as the Tibetan Plateau.

    Or you could have a region with lots of geological activity, such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

    There's also the option of an Arctic area, where the winters are perpetually dark, even during traditional day-time hours, and the summers are always light, even during the night-time hours.

    The other choice is to have a world that loosely resembles ours, but with little regard to the "rules" of geology and weather, which can lead to more fantastical settings, such as a land of ice and snow immediately next to a rain forest, with something like a deep, narrow chasm separating the two areas.

    Another option would be to have an "inside-out" world, similar to the inner surface of a hollow ball. Because of the curvature of such a world, almost everywhere on that world would be visible from everywhere else, there would need to be a light source inside the "world" to act as a sun, and you could take care of the rest of the physics from there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2014
  5. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Maybe creating a map for your world would work. There are plenty of tutorials for this online using programs like Photoshop (paid) and Gimp (free). That way you can see the mountains and rivers and such and your city placement and everything will come naturally, creating a believable world. I do however, usually trust the author when reading books and I assume that the characters have their sustainability all figured out, so don't worry too much
     
  6. Moonbeast32
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    Moonbeast32 Member

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    The world I'm working on is a different planet from Earth entirely. That gives me more freedom to make up my own rules with weather and geography.
     
  7. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Given the diversity of environments on Earth, there should be plenty of unexpected things from which you can draw inspiration for your new fictional planet.
     
  8. Earthshine
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    Earthshine Member

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    Thank you everyone. Your answers were really helpful :). I'm off to do a little mapping...
     
  9. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Since it is fantasy, you could stick to how things work, or you could push for a creative stomp and stretch it out a bit...why not have magic manage those things?
     

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