I’ve been asked, since I do art, if I do fantasy maps. Er… no. Honestly, I’ve never really tried. Mapmaking looks cool, but doesn’t spark my imagination the way drawing a dragon does. For my Mom, it’s always been all about designing buildings, especially houses. She used to spend hours designing energy-efficient, flowing use-space houses, and still does using SketchUp. Me? I came to art late, and digital art even later, and my focus for traditional media is botanical, and for digital I’m deep into creating space scenes. However, I completely grasp the coolness of having a map to help visualize the world your characters are going to tread, if you want that to be something other than a mimic of our own. And this week I discovered a nifty way to randomly generate both world maps, and cities. Read more
Posts tagged ‘world building’
I’m feeling better, but the fiction is still not playing. I spend a lot of time dealing with the Wee Horde’s needs, even when they’re in school. Errands still need running, food still needs cooking, and the gears of domesticity continue to grind. I’m not the hugest fan, meself. And I’m feeling a bit ground. I say this every time Mrs. Dave travels, but this one feels different, and I’m not thrilled with it. But enough about that.
A commentor here observed that the Merchant and Empire books are set in a small world. It’s an interesting observation, and one that deserves some thought, because a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books seem to sprawl. They cover an epic-worth of territory, sometimes by design, sometimes just because it seems traditional.
But not all stories need sprawling worlds. Some books, even novels or series, fit better in a small space, a human or other person sized space. Which is sometimes difficult to do.
I recently finished slogging through a non-fiction book for Day Job. The book is very well written, but has a cast of hundreds, covers at least six states, and provides no background. The authors are telling the story of a small group of people involved in the Civil Rights movement, so their focus is appropriate. But I kept falling out of the book thinking, “Sheesh, I know why this happened, and I know what that term means, but I bet other folks are really going to be confused.” Unless you already know a great deal of history, the adventures take place in a vacuum. Read more
A friend was bemoaning the necessity of making a world the other day. Now, since I happen to think that is one of the fun parts of pre-planning a story, I found his reluctance baffling. So I decided to think about how to do such a thing in a methodical fashion.
With my gaming dice. 😀
Now, first and foremost are the plot requirements of the story that’s being planned. They can load the dice at any point, including backing up and rerolling four steps ago.
So let’s start with the big picture.
A star, or stars. Roll a die. Read more
So, you have amazing nifty sources and details for your world. Now all you need is a story to stuff them into! That is, without having too much of a good thing. James A. Michener was (in)famous for starting a novel about, oh the Front Range of Colorado with the Laramide orogeny and then working forward 70-80 million years before introducing his first human characters. OK, maybe not that bad—he starts in the Pleistocene*… That’s taking world building too far, unless there is an in-story reason for it. You also don’t want a series of info-dumps loosely connected by a character. (Parts of Dune might be an exception, but most of us are not Frank Herbert, and he was writing a milieu novel that happened to have an adventure story tucked into it.)
So what do you do? Read more