Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fantasy World History

Every world has a history. It's part of what makes a place interesting and unique. Use the following categories to help develop that sense of history while writing your fantasy novel.

History: The back story in a Fantasy novel can give depth to an epic tale. Each Fantasy author should know in detail the background of each landscape they create.

Landscape: It is not only the characters, created to people the Fantasy world that need a history, the author should create the landscape from the ground upwards. Geography, topography, flora fauna, climate and seasons need to be defined, within the author's mind. Although they may not be mentioned as such in the epic saga, these concepts will help sculpt the terrain through which the characters move and interact. From the origins of the dirt, to the star systems above, the phases of the moon and the passing seasons, the author must manage the calendar as they write.

Culture: The histories of the people of the world need to be considered. The successful Fantasy author will know the reasons for specific cultures, particular deities, and conflict between countries, states, or villages. They will know of any tyrants, biological threats, plague, storms that have affected the culture and progress of their world.

Industry: Economics, access to trade, education, mining, and industry must be considered if the author wants to create a world that readers can experience. The Fantasy author need only have an idea of these concepts but being able to refer to such things while writing, adds another dimension to their writing.

Once the world exists in the author's mind, they can move closer, as if zooming in on the action.

Using Backstory: Introducing back story in a fantasy is a skill the successful author must learn. If the author has the information clear in their own mind, it is not always necessary to relate it in depth for their readers. Small snippets of detail can be used in dialogue, internal monologue, or narration. This can give enough description without becoming boring, detracting from the action or, more importantly they don't become an information dump.

'Tonight is the Feast of Beloved Brothers.' The hero cast his mind back to the legend that elders told through the long winter nights. The tale told of the brothers who fought off the fiends in the wilds around Wherever, to save the people of the small hamlet from certain death. Then people thought the Longest Winter would never end. Faces pales as memories roused. All around the table knew the fiends gathered again, as winter deepened and game became scarce. 'Gather one and all and let us give thanks.'

If the information is not vital to the story, leave it out. The reader doesn't need to know the whole story, just the vital bits. The what and the why, rather than the what came before. See how the next example gives the same information without the info dump.

'Tonight we celebrate the Feast of the Beloved Brothers and remember their heroism.' The hero glanced around the table. Faces paled knowing that as winter deepened and game grew scarce, the fiends the brothers drove off, again threatened the village. 'Gather one and all and let us give thanks.'

Things To Do
1 Create a Fantasy world.

2 Decide how long each day, season and year lasts. What class is the rock below the ground? Is it one readers would recognize? e.g. limestone, granite, sandstone.

3 What type of trees, crops and herbivores can the people cultivate or hunt?

4 What threats do they face?

5 How advanced is their economy, architecture, steel making, medicinal knowledge? Do they have a monarchy, autocracy, or democracy?

6 If there are countries at war, why? Is peace possible?

7 What else can you provide as historical reference material for your unique world?

Keep this information handy to use for reference.

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