The following list of questions is meant to aid authors of fantasy fiction who are seeking to create believable imaginary settings for their stories. While many of these questions may be helpful or crucial to certain stories, they will not all apply to every story. It is not necessary for an author to answer all, or even any, of the questions in order to start writing, (or to finish writing, either). The idea is simply to provoke people into thinking about the ways their settings and backgrounds hang together … or don’t. If it’s useful, use it. If not, don’t.
Archive for the ‘The Craft of Writing’ Category
By Patricia C. Wrede General How do ordinary people feel about foreigners? Non-humans? How ready are they to accept different ideas? How cosmopolitan are they? How much social mobility is there? Is it easy or hard for a person born a peasant to advance to the middle class, or a middle class person to the […]
By Patricia C. Wrede General Which peoples/countries/races fought, allied, traded, or were traditional rivals? Where are there still hard feelings about old events? Is there a “trade language” that facilitates commerce between countries that don’t speak the same tongue? Is there a “universal language” spoken by educated or noble persons, as Latin was in the […]
- Where is scientific and/or magical research done — universities, private labs, under the auspices of the ruler/government, etc.?
- Does it require a license to be a wizard? If so, is it more like a driver’s license (something nearly everyone in our culture gets upon coming of age) or like a doctor’s license (something only a small percentage of the population will ever get)? Who certifies wizards: government, wizard’s guild/AMA, local priests?
By Patricia C. Wrede Copyright © 1996 General Do average people believe old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact (e.g., Troy)? Do wild and rebellious young people dress any differently from anyone else? Are they allowed to? How do most people make a living here? Customs Does the weather […]
Rules of Magic
What things can magic not do? What are the limits to magical power? How do magicians try to get around these limits?
By Patricia C. Wrede
I. The World
Are the laws of nature and physics actually different in this world, or are they the same as in real life? How does magic fit in? How do magical beasts fit in?
In which geographical areas will the story take place? How much ground will the story cover? What are the most striking features of landscape, climate, animals, etc. in thisarea? How will these features affect travel time, communication, etc.?
If you are writing fiction that’s set at any point in the real world’s history, the subject of research can take up countless hours of time. The nitty details can tie up you up while writing anything from alternate history to urban fantasy. Sometimes though, you just need to know a quick date to set the background of your story.
Check out the Google News Timeline, as a quick place to start your search.
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 […]