World building is perhaps one of the most challenging and greatest thing about fantasy novels. Even in urban/contemporary fantasy, there is world building (of course, all novels have it to some extent). What does the world look like? What are the people's customs? Language? Religion? Seasons? Clothing? The list goes on and on about figuring out characters' worlds.
Worlds can be mundane to the fantastical. Beautiful to dark. Under the sea and on top of mountains. It's all up to the writer to convey this new-to-the-reader world.
Even if you aren't a plotter, I do suggest lists to keep track of your world. Plus, the writer doesn't have to add every detail into the book. The fantasy worlds writers create are often even more complex than what is mentioned in the book, and this is probably how it should be too.
I think one of the best fantasy world builders was J.R.R. Tolkien. His lands were amazing, and he put so much into them, so readers would feel like they could live with hobbits or elves too. Readers could even learn and speak some Elvish.
For my own writing, I like to play off of things in our own world or history and bring them into my fantasy world with new names. For example, the city of Amora (a Roma, or "to Rome" backwards) is similar to ancient Rome. Foxwick is like a mini-Medieval realm.
What's your favorite fantasy world to travel to? If you're a writer, how do you approach world building in your books?
I like Tamora Pierce's world, and think I'd quite like to visit Tortall. I enjoy the detail she puts in, which never seems to be over the top.
I can't say I've had too much world-building to do. The most is probably in "Racing the Dark", and it was more to do with thinking how civilisation would have changed and why, and what's used for money now, etc. than with creating everything as your world that features Amora must be.
I'm not a plotter but I do keep notes about my characters and the world. It makes things so much easier than having to reread parts to double check things for consistency.
And JRR Tolkien was definitely the best world builder there ever was.
Favorite would be Shannara.
World building can be really intense in science fiction as well.
Does the Harry Potter world count? That's definitely my favorite world by far. I love world building. Most of my novels take place in the modern world, but I like building up the secret paranormal underground. And yes, I really should take notes. Heh.
Hmm... I'd say it's a tie between Narnia and Middle-Earth - if we're not counting our own creations. ;-)
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