Because Creating a World is Hard Work
Wheel of Time: Book 1
As I have said before, anything to do with paper and pencils has intrigued me. To this end it was not too far into my life that I decided to try my hand at writing. I am competing in the 2010 Nanowrimo challenge, and if you do not know what it is, and you enjoy writing I suggest you look into it. I would like to preface this article by saying that I am far from being a great author. I have not been published, and thus have less experience than some. However, good advice is good advice if you take time to give it an ear. One of the best pieces of advice that I received for writing is “To know more of how your story works than you tell your readers. Know the main characters past, their family, where they live, and how all of this affects them and their decisions.”
That being said, I will continue. One of the essential ingredients to creating a good Fiction book is having a unique and well thought out world. There are different levels of world building, as an overview we will stick to the lower levels, such as what a peasant or random adventure would see of the world. Some of the more complicated aspects or layers of world building would be economics and politics.
The Landscape ~ The first thing to make sure of is that you don’t have your terrain changing too quickly, take time to look over some maps of different parts of the world. Far too many times in books you will see adventurers ride their poor horses from grass land to murky wooded depths (murky elf invested woods) jaunting quickly though a never ending dessert, and mucking through the following swamp, all before lunch. In a car or airplane it is quite easy to cover terrain changes quite quickly, however; on a horse it is rather harder. If you have space ships, or dirigibles, or even flying geckos, this is still something you need to keep in mind.
If you are looking into a futuristic space type book here are some things to watch for. Stay away from planets entirely consisting of the exact same terrain, or weather type. They look cool on paper, but when working out the details of such a place it gets harder to pull off. When you are working with a place entirely consisting of one type of terrain you hit such problems as: Food, water, natural resources. A planet of snow and ice, would have a lack of farm land for food, as well as the water all being frozen, and there not being natural resources such as fuel. The same would go for a mountainous, swamp, or extremely hot planet. One of the best parts about creating fiction is that you have limitless funds. So feel free to splurge and make a few billion dollar miracle grow farms. If this is the direction you want to go, look into hydroponics (Farming without the land). Space stations would be in the same situation for needing everything delivered.
The Cities ~ Next on the agenda is to give the planet some
life, starting with some cities.
Villages are pretty easy to build.
Give them a pub, a blacksmith (or laser-smith) and your good to go. When it comes to big Cities there are some
things to keep in mind. The first
question is why did they build the city where it is? Harbor? Trade Rout? Easily defendable?
The Second question is how is the ”import export” handled. How do they get their water? Where does their food come from? How is their garbage handled?
The third question is what about the defenses? If you are having your story take place in a military based land, you are going to have to make the defenses logical. Visibility is a large factor in defense. In the medieval ages you needed to be able to see where your enemy was coming from a good distance, so you could prepare accordingly. Thus castles were built in fields as opposed to being built in forests, or on top of hills instead of in a valley.
In a present day or future setting you can cheat with radar and such things, but you still need to keep this idea in mind. How violent your world is depends what your cities look like. If it is a peaceful land more than likely there will be a sprawling village out around your city. Walls were often not made to encircle the entire city, but only the inner city. Poorer communities would sprawl out past the walls, staying near in case of attack. If the city is in a hostile area than more than likely the city would all be packed into a smaller space behind the main walls, or there would be multiple walls to protect everyone. Again in a modern or future setting you wouldn’t necessarily have walls, as much as you would need to defend the sky.
In the City ~ As for what is going to be in your city here are a few shops that might be in your city, or at least some things that you need to figure out where they come from.
*Shoes *Cloths *Weapons *Restaurant *Pub (you always need a pub) *Vehicles *Artisan *Building Supplies *Merchant *Veterinarian (farm, pets) *Place of Worship *Entertainment/Sport *Homeless *Fruit Farm *Hats *Baskets *Rugs *Graveyard *Doctors (Specialists?) *School *Bank *Repairs for: Shoes, clothing, weapons, buildings ect.
That is about it for this first look at World Building. There is more you need to look into such as I mentioned before, about politics and economy and such like that. There are many authors who do this very well, in my opinion one of the best authors for world building, politics and economy would be Robert Jordan