OverviewA Lesson by Matthew Smith
A brief examination of topics. An introduction to what will be covered.
"The House of Fantasy is
built of stone and wood and furnished in High Medieval. Its people
travel by horse and galley, fight with sword and spell and
battle-axe, communicate by palantir or raven, and break bread with
elves and dragons.
The process of building a
fictional world is something all speculative fiction writers
should acclimate themselves with. They should learn as much as
possible, as fast as possible, getting as much of the aforementioned
learned material as jumbled as possible, and then, only then
can they spit it back out to make something "unique".
He who writes fanfiction denies his nature for creative thieving.
While all forms of speculative fiction can benefit from world-building, these lessons will deal primarily with the Fantasy genre. Don't let that stop you from reading this, though. It isn't necessarily genre-exclusive--you may even walk away with something. Of course, that depends on you.
Topics will include:
Religion - The gods and goddesses of your world
Good and Evil - Where to draw a line.
Politics - The kingdoms, empires, and realms of your world
History - Does this need to be clarified?
Military - A big topic--one of the more important
Magic? - A topic any fantasy writer must deal with
Geography - The clever use of mountains can save you a hassle
Characters - Where do they fit?
Examples - The who's who of world-building and examples of their work
Personal Tips - My personal tips on the subject, some tried, some tested, none worth your time
*Some may be added later
There is no denying that building a (hypothetically) living, breathing setting can be daunting, tiring, and just freaking boring (unless you enjoy it--like me). It is a requirement, though, and any fantasy writer who skips out on the details will probably flounder and fail. I'm not saying you, dear reader, will flounder and fail--it's just a big possibility. Who knows?
But don't shoot the messenger. I'm just here to help.
What I like to call the "Up-down" method is pretty
straightforward--start at the top and work your way down. Pretty
The "Down-Up" Method is the exact opposite. You start with your characters, the central factors of your story, and work your way up from there. You can build as you go, running with the story head-long. I can't do this--maybe you can, and, if so, good for you. Many Down-Up fantasy writers lack depth in their worlds, however. If you're not willing to go the whole nine yards in your creation, at least take a little bit from these lessons and add more depth to your fictional world. It always helps.
Any lesson in this course would qualify as "Up-Down", that is, starting above and around the characters. To you, the characters will tend to be minor players in the scheme of things.
Hold on to your teeth. This is going to be a real snooze-fest.
I hope you enjoy--or not.
*images created by my brother, Andrew Smith
Added on April 14, 2011
Last Updated on April 16, 2011
AboutHello, I'm Matthew Smith. I write. I read. My main-stay genres are fantasy, science fiction, horror, and historical fiction. I haven't been on this site for a long time. I plan on revamping m..