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Today was the first of two consecutive days off. It’s been good. Some time with the girlfriend and her family, a nice lunch out, and some genuine relaxation. I’m not sure how I am going to react tomorrow, when I realize that I don’t have to go to work. It won’t be a bad thing, that’s for certain.

Now, just because I’m not working doesn’t mean that I’m not being productive. Far from it, actually. I’ve been, as today’s post title might hint, building a world. I’m intrigued by the procedure. I’m beginning to flesh out some details of a setting I created in college and then clarified a little more as part of a sociology project. I’m trying very hard to keep this from becoming cliché. I want it to be realistic. I’m quite grateful to my sociology class , actually, because it focused on various cultures and their different takes on communities. This gives me a lot of room to work. Various villages and city-states are going to be present in this story. Some are going to be areas of great focus. Others will merely be referenced in passing. Regardless, each one needs to be unique in order to have some value in this world. If each one of them can prove it’s own significance to me, then they can/will stay. The characters who inhabit these places will be under similar scrutiny. Call it perfectionism. I mean, it’s worth it in the long run, if it makes the story better. Maybe there will be one or two little things out of place, just to see if my readers are paying attention.

Without getting into too much detail (no spoilers will be found here, dear reader), the world I’m crafting is one set in another system, far beyond Earth. I’m intentionally avoiding any references to Earth, at least whenever possible. I want the people of my world to have nothing to do with Earth. It’s completely irrelevant to what I’m writing, and will therefore, be without mention, unless it becomes absolutely critical. I don’t predict this event.

Despite the distancing from Earth, the characters are human. Or, at least, they are mortal beings with some great resemblance to humans. Maybe an ancient colony, populated and forgotten thousands of years prior to my story. Either way, they have no idea where they came from. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve always lived there. No real explanation necessary. It’s not like anyone else has done that before. No, I’m not talking about George. As much as I am a Star Wars fan, there’s a lot better sci-fi out there.

I’m afraid I may be overextending myself. I’m about to wrap up one D&D campaign, as I’ve said, and I’m going to be starting playing in another as soon as the former one ends. In addition, I’m running a Star Wars Saga Edition game for some of my friends who are still in college down the road. While this is fun, it’s kind of stressful. There are reasons I don’t generally DM. Situations like this least among them. I’m doing these things in my free time, on top of work and hunting for a 2nd job and trying to write a novel. Oh well, I suppose. I’m young, after all. Now’s the time to make mistakes, while I can still bounce back from them. Besides, all of the extra random shit I do just serves as inspiration for characters and plot events. Let me tell you, you could write a novel about 90% of the customers you get in retail. It’s a strange world. All the better to populate my fictional one with these kinds of people, right? I mean, honestly, who would ever come up with some of these kind of things on their own, without some basis in reality?

I wonder how it is that Tolkien and Lewis set about creating the layout of their respective worlds. Both of these men created realms in which I spent hours on end in my youth (and even still today). I think that there’s something to be said about the absolute physical structure of the worlds. They both have an incredibly firm foundation, and I think that a good portion of that lies in maps. Tolkien especially loved them. He knew exactly where everything was in Middle Earth, and how far different places were from one another. He knew Middle Earth better than anyone else ever will, even if they devote their lives to it. Honestly, do you know how far it is from Cirith Ungol to Near Harad? Yeah, neither do I (not without relying on one of Tolkien’s own maps). I want to have that kind of an intimate knowledge of the world I create. I want to know my world so well that no one can read something and tell me that I screwed it up. It’s MY world, dear reader. My own. My precious…

5 Comments

  1. World-building is akin to having a child, a labor of love, and must therefore start from a subject that the creator loves. For Tolkien, it stemmed from a love of language and of mythology. He sought a mythology for the country he loved, and created the language to compliment it. I don’t know Lewis as well, but I know that in his search for deeper faith (he was an unbeliever whom Tolkien converted to Christianity…but not quite the whole hog to Catholicism) he wrote many books on the subject, and his stories are meant to be allegorical. I hope you find it within yourself to create a place you love to that extent, because especially for any kind of fantasy writer, love of the world they create or write within is reflected in the work they produce. I look forward to reading about your world.

  2. I would heartily concur with Angela above. One thing, however, on the topic of having a few things out of place to test the reader: do be careful. If you do it, do it as cleverly as you possibly can; if it’s sloppy (which isn’t likely, considering your abilities, but still) it will irritate rather than amuse the reader. It’s easier to forgive an accidental inclusion than a bad joke.

    Keep in mind my near-inarticulate rage and disillusionment upon noticing Ursala K. LeGuin’s clumsy mention of “Ainsetain of Terra” in “The Dispossessed”. Haven’t picked it up since. Perhaps I’m being too exacting, though. I’m sure someone found it funny.

  3. Those are exactly the kinds of things I don’t want to do. Part of this actually came from our conversation about those aforementioned references. Any such references I make will be relevant, and may actually answer a question or two, rather than setting up more. I’m not the guys who wrote Lost, after all. 😀

    • Oh, I know you’re not; you know how it is, I comment on what jumps out at me most forcefully and, let’s face it, I still haven’t forgiven LeGuin. Besides, Angela took all the good, non-preachy comments. 😛

      Also, on the subject of maps: I have determined that they are a time consuming pain in the ass, mostly because I suck at them. Best of luck if you intend to do one of your world. Mine is going to take longer than my book to finish at this rate.

      • I’m more than willing to help with the map aspect. Back when I was working on some D&D stuff, I came across some nifty cartography software.


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