ironanimal asked: Do you have any advice on constructing the geology and biology of a fantasy world? It's the one aspect of fantasy writing I can't seem to wrap my head around as everything always seems a little too close or too far from 'home'.
Deidre: This is quite honestly one of my favourite parts of writing a fantasy story! The best way I can think of tackling this answer is by giving you a brief step by step on how to create a map (and thus, your world) and some ideas on how to fill it, as well as linking you to some resources for it.
So, let’s get started, shall we? :)
To create your map:
- Get a piece of paper (durr)
- Get a pencil (normally I’d say pen, and I’ll explain why after, but as this is a thorough step by step, I’ll be nice)
- Draw a geometric shape lightly (it can be as complex or as simple as you want — though if this is the first map you’ve tried making, I wouldn’t go too overboard … or maybe do; it’s your world!)
- Go back and start filling in your shoreline — AKA squiggly lines!
- Awesome. You’ve got your basic map. Now what? Add in some mountains and rivers! All those details are what gives your map it’s life.
Creating a map is legitimately one of the easiest parts. Don’t sweat over what it looks like and just do! This is the starting outline of a map I did for the story I’m working on right now (it’s got it’s towns and various other details filled in, but I felt this stage suited my purpose best):
I didn’t start out with a geometric shape and instead just dove right in because life’s too short for a safety net. I’ve already got the dot of a town in there, and, hey! Look! There’s a lake. :3 Also, ignore the cruddiness of the mountains — 15 minute breaks at work don’t exactly make for the neatest of maps.
Usually when I draw my maps I use a pen. Why? Well, why not. It gives you the opportunity to discover things about your world that you might not have previously known. Say you’re trying to draw a river, and you accidentally make a corner instead of a curve. Maybe the inhabitants of your world put a dam there. Or maybe there was a fight and that was where a safeguard was. Say you’re trying to draw some mountains and one of them doesn’t turn out quite so well — maybe a dragon crashed into that mountain? Who knows! World’s are endless in their possibilities. Erasing just makes them boring (in my opinion).
As promised, here are some links you can follow to get more of an idea:
^Those were all found with a simple Google search (Google’s your best friend when finding out things like this!)
For the make-up (biology, botany, etc) of your world, there are several aspects that can influence the world and it’s construction:
- the inhabitants
- the wildlife
- natural disasters
Think about how the above can affect the make-up of your world, and the way the environment interacts with the living creatures (beast or otherwise).
When you say that everything seems a “little too close or too far from home,” you should realize that sometimes that’s not a bad thing! If you can associate yourself with your world, then you can make it more believable (unless you’re an exceptionally vivid writer). If you’re not familiar with x, y, or z then how can you effectively write it?
The sky is only the beginning when you’re creating your world, so have fun!
Happy writing, and world-building! :)
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