Worldbuilding Series: The World and Maps
Today we're going to talk about creating the world and maps in a fantasy series. Of course, this will work with all types of fiction writing.
So you have an idea for a novel. Characters and plot start coming at you, but where will these characters live?
Building the world can be an arduous task. There are so many things to think of. What is the climate like? How is the terrain? Is it a large world? As small as a house? Is there water nearby? Etc. The list goes on and on.
When I had the idea for The Phoenix Prophetess, I knew I wanted to place it in a secondary world similar to our own but not. As a Classics major, I knew I wanted Amora to be like ancient Rome. Even the name "Amora" backwards becomes "a roma" or "to Rome." So I began drawing a map to get the outline of not only the city but the entire Amoran Kingdom.
|Please pardon my lack of drawing skills. I tried.
Although I wanted Amora to be modeled after ancient Rome, I didn't want my world to look like Italy. When I created my map, I also tried to think like a map maker living in the Kingdom of Amora.
When I want a particular climate or landscape for a novel, then I do some research. Need a desert? Look at the Sahara, the Gobi, or even Death Valley? Our own world has a lot of information we need to create new ones.
Naming places can be the tricky part. I used my language skills to create quite a few places in The Phoenix Prophetess. Find ways to change up a name. For example, the Ocean of Luquis comes from Liquid and Aqua. Sometimes a place name can crop up from a history of the place, but we'll discuss those things later in this Worldbuilding series.
Fantasy worlds don't need maps, but I'm a visual person. When I read Lord of the Rings, I often looked at the map to see where they were at in relation to where they had been. If you build a complex world, a map can really help out a reader. It doesn't have to be elaborate. A quick sketch can help.
The best thing about building the world is you don't have to know it before you write. A lot of place names, places, etc. came while I was writing. Some happen in edits. As a writer, you will also know more about the world than any reader will, but remember: not everything needs to go into the novel. So what if I know the true name of the Great Beyond in The Phoenix Prophetess. An Amoran calls it the Great Beyond. I don't need to tell a reader its true name. Same goes with all details about your world.
Do you have any questions? Have you created a secondary world before? Have you ever drawn a map for it?
Next month's Fantasy Chat: Worldbuilding: Populating the World.