World creation and the source of objects

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.

Pencil Question
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.

One Response

  1. ryan

    Americans were producing pencils even as far back as Henry David Thoreau’s day. There was no shortage of pencils before Bretton Woods, GATT, NAFTA, or the WTO.

    The enormous property re-distribution policies of the federal government in the 1700s and 1800s and America’s long tradition of tariffs served America well. American history is the best argument against Austrian School Economics. Fantasy books and online role playing games are the best argument for Austrian school economics.