1. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Settings in fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by DBTate, Aug 16, 2011.

    Hey guys,

    Just wondering (for those who plan, or at least thoroughly think out their story before writing) how in depth you go with creating your setting?

    As I'm writing a fantasy, and creating an entirely new world, I am having to come up with all sorts of things:

    - Flora and fauna
    - The climate
    - The landscapes
    - If this world has similar geological functions to earth (volcanoes, earthquakes)
    - Length of days, weeks, months, years... the list goes on!

    How much of this sort of thing do you work out before getting to work on the plot, characters, theme (depending on the order in which you work).

    Also, do you take any inspiration from other works? I'm not so much looking to create a map, just a solid mental imagine with some helpful notes to remind me where the characters are.

    Any processes you guys follow when creating new worlds? Any tips or tricks that can jump start your imagine for building the perfect setting for your plot and characters to live in?

    Much appreciated :D
     
  2. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    Personally, I don't do too much pre-planning with regard to the world around me. I'll draw up a world map, a continent map, a regional map, and maybe a town map, each more detailed than the last. As for animals or plantlife, I'll keep a list of notable mentions as I add them to the story. I don't bog myself down with minute details before I write. It seems, usually, I'll feel pressured to add them to the story in ways that clutter the story with unneeded bits of information.

    As for creating worlds, I'll be sure to add in places that cause conflict. It's the blood of any story. If my protagonist needs to go from A to B, I'm not going to make it a wide open prairy that he can skip through. There will be mountains and wild animals, storms and dangerous passes. Conflict makes a story, and it's good to keep that in mind when creating a world. Keep an Atlas nearby. It's a good way to make realistic coastlines and island shapes, as well as coming up with names for different regions or landmarks.
     
  3. Hollis
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    Hollis New Member

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    Oh how I love settings~:love: It's what I live for.
    I do a good bit of gardening/botany so a new location in my fantasy writings usually starts with some neat function of a plant that I become completely obsessed with for a few weeks.
    For example, I've recently become engrossed in studying the relationship between strangler figs and the trees they strangle.
    So I'll think something along the lines of "What if strangler figs could attach and graft themselves into the circulatory system of any plant?" or some other crazy thing like that. This leads to an ecosystem around that concept (some varanus to feed on figs and spread the trees), a climate to fit into (figs need zone 8-ish tropical/semi-tropical), geological features to make that climate logical (mountain ranges trapping moisture and convection cells to bring it in), a global position in relation to other settings), and then just add people! The human aspects of the setting would reflect the environment through its industry, life-style, dialects and idioms. The birthplace of characters plays a particularly important role. In any sort of adventure-y story it's often appropriate to strike up comparisons to their current situation vs. place of origin, so make sure it's a place you like to write about. :)
    It may seem like a bit much, but world-building is just about my favorite part of writing, even if the reader only gets a glimpse of its intricacies.
    In the fantasy I'm working on, I exclude any sort of magic/dragons/vampires/etc. It almost hurts to write about things I can't explain in terms of plausibility. xD For me, above all else, it must make sense. :)
     
  4. DBock
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    DBock Member

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    I think with fantasy it's important to spell out the basics of your imaginary world first. You can always add little details and ideas here but make sure you write them down in another notebook so that you remember them later (describe them in detail --- taste color touch, all senses in relation to the imaginary item --- i.e. The Googly Bear - Soft and squishy plant that makes baby noises when poked. Resembles Wilt Chamberlain from a distance). You get the idea. Things like gravity, planets, hours of the day, all these things need to be decided upon before writing as they affect your characters choices throughout the book. But just the big stuff for now. :)

    I take a lot of inspiration from other sources but what's important is to make it your own. If you suddenly find yourself in a magic world involving rings and short people you've gone too far. ;) However if there is a magic item that must be protected by a group of xenophobic spider people you've made it original.

    I start big and go small on creation --- World, Country, City, People, Plants, Animals, Bugs, Air quality, Sunlight
     
  5. Evilyn
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    Evilyn Member

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    Interesting, I too share your passion for world - building however isn't the point of fantasy that it doesn't have to make sense ;) I know vampires have been overdone of late and I admit that in my own fantasy novel the main characters are humans but I do like including the odd mythical creature in there.

    Evi
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I build what I need. Start from nothing and build on it.

    My world is a near empty canvas. My main country, the "enemy" rogue country,
    and just for a change an ally nation to the first.

    When bored I search through art and photos of terrain and special locations I can put in my world. I look at pictures of the terain and describe it, then look to see how it can fit into the story.

    Let me see if I can find a quick pic.

    http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=old%20buildings%20of%20europe&order=9&offset=216#/d143kji
    Then I think how to describe this into the book. Basically this would be a great church or Nobles hallway.

    Basically, there is no right or wrong, just how you put the information into the book.
     
  7. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    In my fantasy world I went as far as to create a new calandar and religious system. While I know the geography of my world I don't go into explaining the area if I do not intend to use it at the moment. No reason to explain a location that will not show up in book one if it shows up in book six.

    I must say the calandar was the biggest pain in the a** I ever attempted. Trying to find a good naming system that didn't create long names and could be shortened in everyday speech if needed. Then you have to come up with the months and what season each month is and how long those respected seasons are. Then to top it off since my calendar was based on my made up religion and the months named after the gods, I had to make sure that say the god of fire was not sitting in the middle of winter. Sounds simple until for instance you have the God of Doors? What the heck season does he fit in with???

    If you go to this depth just make sure you look at all the small details but it is by far not necessary unless you want to increase immersion. I enjoy the process of creating worlds so it was all fun for me either way.
     
  8. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    My best tip is to think about what you want the world to be like at its most basic level, and then look for similarities in the real world to research.

    For example, you might imagine your characters living in a setting that is vaguely reminiscent of medieval England, whilst the "foreign enemies" come from a culture that has some similarities with ancient Egypt.

    That will form the basis of your research. You'd find out everything you could about medieval England (e.g. the types of building you would see, the class system, the technology available at the time, etc.) and everything you could find out about ancient Egypt too (right down to the differences in language and religion).

    That would give you a pretty secure base on which to build your own setting.

    The next step is to be creative with the building blocks that history has provided you with. For example, we know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped the river Nile, and buried their dead in pyramids. It only takes a small tweak to have your foreign civilisation worshipping the sea instead, and building tall towers to commemorate the dead. The culture is still preserved, but you've got your own twist on it. Also, this is a good way to think about the terrain of your setting, and how the civilisation has adapted to it. It's all there in the history and geography books!
     
  9. Hollis
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    Hollis New Member

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    WORLD-BUILDERS, UNITE!
    There are creatures alright. ;) My current story has a grassland ecosystem including a four-legged, earth-bound relative of the hawk. xD In anything I'm writing, the creatures must have their place in the food web, evolutionary chain, and their biology must be solid (no giant, flying creature with tiny wings), or its back to the drawing board.
    I find the evolution of my creatures to be particularly interesting. It works nicely if you can connect a familiar animal with your creature. Like snakes evolving from lizards, the end result may seem completely bizarre and impossible, but if you can show the connection -either by way of explanation or any other creative means- without getting in the way of the story, it's really satisfying.
    I also like to throw real, but strange and largely unheard of, plants and animals into the mix so readers have to really squint to see what's "fantasy". :)

    I can tolerate a bit of nonsensical discrepancy, but only if said nonsensical discrepancy makes sense. xD Like if magic is present in your world, it should be /very/ clear how it works (especially when involving time-travel) and what role it plays in day-to-day life. Few things bother me more than a society that has magic, and is informed of magic, but not utilizing magic in the very human ways they would. Like if your people can teleport, even if it takes training, why the **** would they still bother with cars and roads and all that nonsense?
     
  10. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    World building is fun, but time consuming. I try to add only what's really needed and leave the rest of it vague enough that I can elaborate later, but if I'm tired of writing for a bit I'll go off making the world more detailed etc.
     

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