One of the things that bothers me sometimes when looking at world-building is the way people don’t think about where objects come from. What is the industry that fuels the region? Where does all that paper come from in Battlestar Galactica?
So this essay on the origins of a pencil tickles me no end, and not just because it’s written in first person. What I like about it is that it points out all the different jobs that you don’t even think about which are required to make a pencil.
Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.
Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.
So next time you’re doing world creation, think about where all those objects are coming from. Even if you don’t put that detail down on the page, it can add a richness to your fiction.