What Is Geofiction?
Geofiction is a hobby in which people design imaginary places: cities, countries, worlds, even entire universes! Unlike most worldbuilders, geofiction hobbyists do not necessarily create their worlds as a background for a novel or role-playing game, they create them for the fun of creation.
Geofiction can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In addition to geographical details, many hobbyists enjoy creating constructed cultures (concultures), languages (conlangs), or species. Geofiction is usually based in the science fiction or fantasy genres, but can be set in a realistic setting as well. Some geofiction hobbyists enjoy working with "alternate earth" or "alternate history" scenarios as well.
One of the most famous geofiction hobbyists was J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was a linguist by profession, who invented several languages and then created the cultures that spoke them, and the world his new peoples inhabited. Tolkien's hobby eventually resulted in his Lord of the Rings series, one of the most influential fantasy series ever written.
Getting Started With Geofiction
Geofiction is one of those wonderful hobbies that is completely free. All you need to get started is an idea. Well, at some point you might want some paper and pencils to write down the details, but even those aren't urgent.
So, how do you get an idea?
Well, lots of geofiction enthusiasts start with something they love. Tolkien loved languages so much he created his own, and then built an entire world around them. One of my most elaborate countries is set on a vast sea of grass that bears a totally non-coincidental resemblence to my beloved Nebraska Sandhills.
Many other geofictioners start with a doodle. Many of us are inveterate doodlers, and sometimes those doodles produce something really interesting. The famous science fiction author Orson Scott Card wrote his novel Hart's Hope about a world that began as a doodle of a walled city.
Still others start with a question or concept. What if night lasted for a hundred years? What if unicorns existed? Another of my worlds started when I offered up "werewolf apocalypse" while playing a game of Horrifically Undignified Ways To Die with a friend, and then started thinking about what a society being exterminated by werewolves might look like.
So, there are many ways to come up with an idea. Once the world has been developed in a little (or a lot)more detail, many geofictioners like to share their work. Some, like Tolkien and Card, end up writing novels or role-playing scenarios. Others buy webspace, or take advantage of wikis and other sites that offer inexpensive or free hosting for geofiction projects. And of course, some people keep their worlds for their own private enjoyment.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have fun!
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Things to think about, by fantasy author Patricia Wrede
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