What the Heck is World-Building?!

Seriously.

So I started my next novel recently, and it’s admittedly very, very different from my first. For one, FAIRY TALES is a YA Contemporary, and this new one, VINDICTA, is essentially a post-apocalyptic, dystopian light fantasy/Magical Realism (I think? Maybe? I’m not quite clear on what Magical Realism is) novel. And secondly—and most importantly—whereas I just half-ass built a city based upon an actual city in Southern California for FAIRY TALES, I actually have to create a fairly different world for VINDICTA.

And that’s kinda scary.

This is unchartered territory. None of the stories I’ve written before—previous failed incarnations of VINDICTA non-withstanding—involved a lot of world-building. Most of the original stuff I’ve written doesn’t even name a location, partially because I’m lazy and partially to let the reader choose, and in fanfiction I was always tinkering with already-made worlds. FAIRY TALES was the first story where I’ve given a location, and the closest I’ve come to even writing in a different “world” was this short historical fiction piece on the Iroquois Wars I wrote for a contest in grade eight. So now, writing a world with little technology, magic (there’s maybe a little Celtic mythology/culture mixed in) and a lot of fight scenes? Yeah, scary.

It seems pretty easy in theory. But then you’ve got to think about, like, law and government and military structures (particularly if you’re writing in a wartime, which I am). Who holds the most power? Who’s next in line? What’s taboo? What holidays and occasions do they celebrate?

I’m lucky, in a sense, that I have a couple ancient cultures to fall back on—the village my main character’s from is influenced heavily by Ancient Celtic culture and mythology, and the “enemy” place draws inspiration from Ancient Rome. I’m also lucky that I have a lot of great fantasy and sci-fi writers to look up to and Google to stop me from stressing out about how the actual hell am I going to structure my military force????

So it’s scary. But it’s also pretty wonderful. Creating characters is fun, but creating new worlds to tinker in is even more fun. Playing around in this proverbial sandbox and holding swordfights and making characters explode (not literally, I assure you; I’m not that evil) is one of the most exciting things ever.

(But still scary.)

And, for all of you in the same boat as me, I’ve found some links (because I’m cool like that):

Hope they help! 🙂

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