fantasy worlds

Posted by Thomas Madden on 18:43 4/2/02

In reply to: (none)

What advice would you give me in creating a new fantasy world?


Mark responds:

Hmm, it depends on what you're doing it for; but since you're asking me, I'll assume you mean, a fantasy world like mine-- that is, insanely complicated. (Follow this advice only to the extent that you find it useful.)

First, read a lot... and I don't mean read fantasy. Read history, basic science (geology and evolutionary biology are key), economics, military history, linguistics. If you want to make a world, you should know something about how this one works. Read books about other cultures-- Islam, China, Japan, the Incas, India; otherwise your world will be one more faux-Europe.

I love Tolkien, but in this biz I think we all have to exert ourselves to make sure we don't produce cheap imitation hobbitry. At least be conscious of what you want to imitate and what you want to reject. For instance, I try to match his linguistic and cultural depth; but I try to get away from his eeevil empires and his epic language. (I'm now writing the Cuzeian chronicle, the Count of Years, and I keep hitting myself to not fall into that elevated, Biblical style. There's nothing wrong with it, but there are more interesting models to follow.)

Don't shy away from revising. Much of what you see in Virtual Verduria is a third or fourth draft. Frankly, I think many of my correspondants don't want to hear this; they want a fast recipe. But quality takes time.

Don't try to explain everything. This may seem contrary, since what (I presume) attracts people to my site is the depth of detail. But I proceed differently when writing stories or running a campaign. A guy I know is drawing comics, and he keeps wanting to explain the neat details of his world. I don't think that works-- especially not in comics, which are primarily a visual medium. Put in enough detail to make it vivid, but don't lecture.

If this didn't address your question, feel free to ask more...

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