Welcome to the Friday Feature of our Fantasy writers group, A Drift of Quills! I have sad news: Kristie has bowed out, but hopefully we will see her again soon. We will miss her amazing perspective, but wish her the best in all she does.
Today we’re delving into world-building trickiness:
As writers, what rules do you follow (if any) of “things” your magic world can/cannot include, or the “words” your world can or cannot use?
On the surface, asking about the things or words my world can or cannot include sounds fairly straightforward. I am, after all, the Grand Architect. But who knew how complicated that job would be? Perhaps the first element is easiest to address. Since mine is an epic fantasy setting (You’re surprised, right?), it won’t have guns, cars, spaceships or most things common to our modern world. Tairenth has elves, but no orcs or kobolds. I have not yet met a dwarf there, but I suppose there’s a possibility. There are other strange creatures. There are dragons. There is unusual plant life. Most books of this kind seem to be based on a “medieval Europe” setting. I am trying to pull away from that, though not extremely so. What makes this really exciting for me is that my character, Sherakai, is a world traveler. I have the opportunity to stretch my virtual setting wings — what fun!
I am having a ball picking threads of one culture, changing them up a bit, and braiding them with others. In Sherakai’s homeland, where the first books of the series takes place, language is very loosely based on Japanese, the religion revolves around a thirteen-god pantheon, the climate and geography are somewhat Mediterranean.
What words can my world use or not? Again, since it is set in a time before the likely invention of guns, cars, spaceships, and such — it obviously won’t use words relating to what we view as a modern culture. But in this world there may be things our own world has no word for. One of the challenges of using languages, situations, or things is that overdoing it can become confusing to the reader. At the same time, using those very same items (when they are “foreign”) adds to the richness of the tapestry we are creating. It is a delicate balance. But these words — oh, the words! — are beautiful and amazing and so full of power. I love words and the way they can paint incredibly vivid pictures. What a wonderful creation language is!
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Author of Oathtaker
When I first started writing, I spent some time reading about what others had to say about the subject. I learned a couple of important things right up front: (1) no matter where you start, you’re in the middle—of something—so stop stalling and get started; and (2) there is nothing new under the sun, which means that even what we “create” is our manipulation of what we already know. I cannot, for example, create a new color. But, I can create the physical characteristics of new things, by changing up those things I (and my readers) already know. So, I decided . . .
… (Read more!)
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What books have you read that leave you marveling at the weave of word and setting? Share below!