Writing a fantasy novel world building
Wed Mar 16, 3: You remember those word problems from high school? If Valyn is flying west on a Kettral, covering miles a day, and Ran il Tornja is riding north-east on horseback, covering miles a day, and Gwenna is running due south, covering 50 miles a day, will they all actually meet where they need to meet at the end of the nobel book, or will you need to rewrite the whole ass end of the thing?
When you start thinking about the nuances of travel, there are all sorts of variables: How fast is a trireme?
What about in a crosswind? How much do those Mongolian steppe horses eat, anyway? How long did it take to navigate the length of the Erie Canal? At a certain point, you can forgive Robert Jordan for deciding that every major character in the Novell of Time could just cut a hole in the air and step directly into whatever place they wanted to go. In spite of all go here odious algebra, however, there are narrative and dramatic opportunities inherent in the necessity of all that travel. Most obviously, travel is fun.
We like to go new places in our own lives, and we like to follow characters as they do the same thing. Imagine the loss if, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo wold. No Bombadil or Rivendell, no Mines of Moria or Lothlorien.
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For a certain type of story, the voyage is the adventure. More than that, travel gives the characters some down bhilding. Compared with sword fights and orc-icide, down time might sound somewhat… less than enthralling, something to skip over, even. I think such skipping would be a mistake. There are other places to find this time, of course, but travel offers the perfect opportunity, removing the characters as it does from a set scene for a set period of time.
On a more global level, bullding brute necessity of travel will affect almost all aspects of world-building.
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The politics and trade of a fantasy kingdom with easy access to shipping lanes will look radically different from those of one without. Of course, when we come to war, this plays out dramatically. Authors who focus on the battles while neglecting the necessary build-up—build-up that involves the travel of troops and transport of material—sacrifice golden dramatic possibilities.
Finally, authors of pre-technological fantasy can—in fact, they almost must—exploit for dramatic effect the informational asymmetry resulting from the difficulty of travel.
Even in our modern world of Twitter and Instagram, not everyone has access to the same information at the same time. The problem is compounded many times over in a world that requires a woman to sit her ass in a saddle for a month in order to get a message from one place to another. A war could begin and end on a distant border before the capitals involved have any knowledge of the violence.
If your countryside grows wine grapes, someone probably makes a living exporting wine. What if a fundamental aspect of life as we know it was to change suddenly? Column by David Haira New Zealand-based author of three fantasy series. A key decision to be made when writing in this genre is how you will treat the apocalyptic event itself. In spite of all the odious algebra, however, there are narrative and dramatic opportunities inherent in the necessity of all that travel. The cataclysmic history of your world should play a part in the story, or not exist at all.
The misunderstanding, terror, and acrimony that result from such knowledge asymmetry and uncertainty make ripe territory for exploration, not to mention dramatic irony. The brute facts of travel can become, in the right hands, the ingredients of human failure, triumph, or betrayal.
Writing world fantasy novel a building way
After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decade, Brian began writing epic worls. The second book in the trilogy, The Providence of Firewriting a fantasy novel world building also a Goodreads Choice semi-finalist. The concluding volume of the trilogy, The Last Mortal Bondis available for preorder now. Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order.