Wednesday, December 4, 2013

World Building! Huzzah!

I confess, I'm letting my attention wander off my WiPs at the moment. It shouldn't come as a surprise given that I wrote a whole post about my current writing ennui, of course. But what has been fun is that instead of wasting all my time on The Sims (did you know that The Sims 4 is coming out in a few months? This could be bad news for my writing!), I actually have gotten involved in some world-building. I've had several flickers of inspiration for a possible new series, though I won't say more than that because it's not even half-formed in my mind yet. The world I'm working on will include Odalnord, the land of Myadar and The City Darkens, but it will also possibly be the setting for this new story. I'm toying with a medieval setting and I've been using some pretty fun online utilities to create a land in this world that adheres to some realistic aspects of a medieval European setting. It's still very much in the preliminary stages, but I spent a couple of hours last night working on a map and figuring out where the climate zones would be.

The utilities I have been using are intended for role-playing games a la Dungeons & Dragons, but of course can be used for fictional worlds in novels, too:

This link provides a list of Mapping software, some free, some not. I used "Fractal Mapper" to create my map.

This one is a "domesday book"-- doomsday books (that's the spelling I'm more familiar with) were essentially censuses (censi?) of medieval communities, and historians get very excited about them nowadays. This site allows you to set a couple of parameters and it then gives you calculations for how many cities, towns, etc., and how many professions in a town or village as you choose, would exist in your kingdom.

I also just looked at a climate map of Earth and followed the latitudes and other patterns (Oceanic climates on west coasts, for instance) to work with my fantasy world map. I'm probably not going to get it 100% right but it's fun to have a guide. It opens up story possibilities just knowing what the climates are, and, paired with the domesday book site, it makes a difference as to which areas are more densely populated and have cities and such.

Another aspect of the domesday book site that's fun to think about is the history of the land and how long people have been building castles there. That impacts how many castle ruins there are, and castle ruins just provoke all sorts of interesting ideas in terms of adventures that could happen there. What terrible hauntings could be taking place in some castle ruins near the town my character might live in??? Mwahahaha.

Anyway, it's not techinically writing, but it's not so far afield that I feel like I'm abandoning writing completely. And as long as that's where my energy is flowing, I'm going to go with it.

Do you enjoy world-building? How much detail do you like to put into it? Do you have any cool utilities that you use? Recommend them in the comments, I'd love to check them out!

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