Worldbuilding Series: History
Click here to read the first in our series: The World and Maps
Click here to read the second in our series: Populating the World
Click here to read the third in our series: Cultures and Languages
Why do our characters do what they do? Why is their world as it is? The past plays such an important role in why we do what we do. Depending on the story, we will have to decide how much of history actually gets into the book. History, of course, is what happened before the start of the book. And fantasy novels tend to have a rich history because we often create new cultures and lands for them.
A good question to ask is "why"? Why does this character do the things they do? Why are the laws of the land such? Why is this place called such-and-such? And the whys will vary for each story.
For example, in my un-published novel The Phoenix Prophetess, Yssa's birth goes back to a prophecy uttered almost 2500 years before her birth. Amora, the first Phoenix Prophetess, claimed that every 500 years, a female child would be born dead but revived by the god Apenth. This child would have special powers of foresight. Without this tidbit of history and Yssa being chosen as the sixth Phoenix Prophetess, then the entire story wouldn't happen. It also creates conflict because gods aren't supposed to meddle with Fate, and Apenth does. Also, because Amora was not only the first Phoenix Prophetess but also the first queen of her self-named city, then she set a precedence that there are only queens of Amora, never a king.
A more current and non-fantasy related example is Americans' distrust of kings. It's so ingrained in our society back from 1776 when we broke away from England that it has caused quite a bit of problems even today. It's why we have the government we have, for better or worse.
History can play a vital role and in order to create that history for our worlds to ring true, we must ask why.
Have you created a history for your novels? Or used history that we have of this world for them?
Next month on October 8th, we'll have our last entry in the Worldbuilding Series. So stay tune for Worldbuilding Series: Rules and Laws.