Thursday, August 20, 2015

Creating New Worlds

Posted by: Unknown

The two speculative novels I’ve written took place in our world…well, technically. Of course, our world doesn’t have telekinetic teenagers who are trained by a secret society or healing diseases that turn college students’ eyes purple. I also made up an island off the coast of Maine (Nashquittin) and a college town nestled in the mountains of Virginia (Allan). So yeah, I took a lot of liberties with reality with those books. But, they’re based in our world. The environment, cultures, and politics around them were, for the most part, real.

Recently I embarked on my first full-fledged fantasy. I am working on creating an entirely new world, and, whoa, it is tough! How would a country by the sea relate to a neighboring mountainous country? What’s more valuable, fish and goods from the sea or the minerals mined in the mountains? Who has the upper hand? And what about that largely urban country to their south? What’s going on there?

Our own world’s geopolitical situations are often difficult to keep up with and have many nuances and different perspectives. To make a world feel authentic, it too needs nuance. The relationships need to be complicated and derived from hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history. Perhaps there are even generational divides that work in. And the geography needs to match the culture. Cities should probably be near natural resources, because that’s how populations naturally develop. Or maybe your world has its own Las Vegas or Washington, DC, towns that were intentionally designated and built. But then those histories need to be nodded to as well.

Any who, I’m definitely enjoying thinking through all of these intricacies, but I’m still very much a newbie to all this. I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts or resources related to this? How do you create entirely new worlds?


  1. One source to draw on is history. In Gate to Kandrith, one of my societies is rather Roman-like while the other has a more Celt-ish feel. Lois McMaster Bujold's award-winning Curse of Chalion novel is partly based on Spanish history.

    It's intended more for role-playing games but Aria is an interesting system for world-building.

  2. I agree, history is a great source of inspiration. I'll have to check out Aria. Thanks!


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