I’m at that stage of my current project when I’ve just finished with my preliminary world-building and starting to write. World-building is important for the writing that I like to do, which is fantasy and science fiction, because neither of these genres come with a built-in framework like contemporary work does.
There are so many things that one has to consider for world-building, and these details might not even make it into the story.
The story I’m working on right now has dragons that interact with humans. They are on a somewhat equal political and social standing, which affects how this world developed, and how it develops in the future.
Questions I have to ask myself:
How does having aerial power affect their world?
Why are dragons and humans on equal political and social standing?
What kind of social structure does this world have?
Is that social structure different in other parts of the world?
There are many, many more questions to ask than just that, but those are an example of the types of in-depth questions a writer must ask themself. This world isn’t just a facade, it must still be able to function if you go rooting around behind the scenes if you want it to feel real to the reader.
My setting is an important thing to consider: where is this story taking place?
I’ve decided on a late 18th century to early 19th century European-esque country. What does that mean? This is the Industrial age – think trains, factories, advances in science and medicine, fancy balls. It is also the age of revolution – The Revolutionary War took place in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1792-1802. This is Romantic era literature – Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Mary Wollstonecraft. This is the age of Mozart and Beethoven.
Now imagine that, except dragons.
Think of steam power created by dragonfire. Think of the fact that the easiest way to travel, move goods, or explore is to hire a dragon. Think of the type of building that would need to exist in order to house dragons.
I wanted to explore the idea that dragons can have a social hierarchy similar to humans, and that there are dragons that have privilege and dragons that are working class. After all, this is also heading into the age of worker’s rights.
It’s a lot of work to put together a world like this, and it should be mentioned that not everything a writer thinks up will end up in the novel. I am in the middle of inking a map for this world, and most of the story takes place in the northern half of the continent. However, I know where all the cities of this world are located, what those cities do for revenue, and what path a dragon would take to get there. But no one really needs to know about exports out of a southern port town, do they?
I also may have accidentally created a family lineage that is far too complicated that won’t really be explored in the story that much. That was probably a mistake I will have to fix later.
If a story is supposed to seem as authentic as possible, a lot of world-building needs to go into it.
That’s it for now. I hope a lot of you are out there writing about fantasy worlds!