Friday, July 6, 2012

World-Building ups and downs

I am a little ashamed to admit this, but I have a hard time with world-building... I know, what kind of a fantasy writer AM I? I get myself confused and turned around trying to figure where things are and how long it takes to get there, and what happens in the meantime... 

Although I love being able to break "Earth rules" in a truly fantasy world, I find it's easier to set my fantasy on good old planet Earth, in exotic locations. The distances and basics suddenly write themselves! Of course, I still can't decide which island and town my MCs hail from... and that will matter in the long run... but at least I have a starting point.

My current WIP is set in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. I visited last year... of course, I've been smitten with the islands for years now. I first read about them in Mary Stewart's Merlin novels... then in T.H. White's Once and Future King... and then when I looked them up, I stumbled on Orkneyjar, the most rich and fascinating website! I've spent hours falling down rabbit holes and following my nose... and the research that I've done has really helped me to see the settings I'm trying to write about.

The Orkneys really are thrilling, beautiful, and full of folklore. Who could ask for a better setting for a fantasy? And then! Something amazing like this happens. I could've made that up, but having it be REAL is so much more exhilarating! Don't you think?

What do you do about the details of world-building? Does it come easy to you?


  1. That's so cool. What an awesome setting for a story.

  2. Wow! That Doggerland article was fascinating! I definitely have trouble with world-building. I've only written one fantasty and it was in a make-believe medieval-type basically like the a medieval setting in England. I'm such a hack :)

  3. When it comes to world-building, my advice is just to pre-plan everything in your mind beforehand, but don't force out anything else. Odds are when you're writing everything will fall into place. Of course, you'll probably have to go back and severely edit some things to make it all match up and agree with one another, but it beats sitting in front of your notes going "uhhhh". XD

  4. My fantasy (and SF) worldbuilding got so much better when I started basing it on real places. The name and a few details may be changed, and details elaborated... but my worlds are based on locations like the Greek mountains, the skeleton coast of Namibia, and the Sargasso sea...

    Just the name, Orkney Islands, is wonderful. I know almost nothing about them!


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