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How do I Make a Fictional World?

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How do I Make a Fictional World?

Post by The Architect on Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:03 pm

[Additional tips for world building: When you are making a story hopefully the world that the character lives in comes to mind. Map the story out if it helps. Present your world to us in your post (optional). Often times the main story I present will be in a specified world already. You will have the opportunity to create your own world when you make your own stories. Please take time to read the content in order to enhance the stories we write together.]


6 Tips for Mapping a Fictional World






“I wisely started with a map, and made the story fit (generally with meticulous care for distances). The other way about lands one in confusions and impossibilities, and in any case it is weary work to compose a map from a story.” - J.R.R. Tolkien



If you've ever read or written a story that seemed unintentionally ethereal—where the descriptions did not paint a vivid picture of the setting but instead a more vague dreamscape that the characters meandered along aimlessly—then you know the problem of not having a real and tangible setting for your story. The problem is not simply that there isn't enough description for the reader to paint a vivid picture, but that there is no original picture for them to piece together. And what creates a real and tangible setting? The things that create a tangible setting in a story are the same subtle but real details and barriers that form the reality we see around us—walls, ceilings, floors, doors, mountains, trees, asteroid fields, and all of the space and dimensions between these that form reality. Without them solidly represented in your story, your characters function within the world amoebously—moving between spaces with none of the walls and doors and cliffs that would limit us in reality. Or they traverse forests and fields that are simply convenient filler space between the dream bubbles where plot events takes place. Today, we're going to take the first step of making your dream-world into a real place, by mapping; so get out your crayons and colored pencils!


Tip 1: Create all of the maps relevant to the type of story you are creating.

No matter what galaxies, dimensions, realms, mazes, or buildings that your characters traverse, you need to have them mapped out so that they become tangible places that exist of their own right instead of merely for plot convenience. Take The Lord of the Rings as an example of this, and imagine how unreal and short the story would have been without the natural land barriers—forests, bodies of water, hostile cities, enemy territories, mountains, etc—that really brought the journey to life and made it seem like a real place in our imaginations. Make as many maps as you need for your story. If you are writing a murder mystery, for example, this will include the city, all of the locations of your crime scenes, complete with details of how many bathrooms, closets, and floors there are, with approximate dimensions for each. If you are writing sci-fi, map the galaxy of all known life-bearing planets, and map the planet that the characters happen to crash on—even down to details that will barely affect them. And if your are writing in modern Earth, remember that this can be as simple as printing a page from Google Maps.



Tip 2: Note the natural environments of your world, color code them, and create a map legend.

What are the physical factors that will affect traveling through your mapped area—the weather, the flora and fauna, availability of food and water, the condition of the ground and whether it is good for walking or camping? If you are in an enclosed space, are there carpets that you can easily sneak on, are there locked doors, are the doors thick enough to resist being knocked down, are the walls soundproof? Mark every physical factor and determine how it will affect the characters within it, even if it is as simple as the fact that there is an open meadow that will make the characters feel a little more at peace. Then, use colors and symbols to mark the terrain in your map, and create a legend that explains the colors and the symbols, so that you can use and remember them later.



Tip 3: Use your map as an extension of your plot outline, and use a pencil.

Soon we will be working on creating plot-outlines for our stories, and you likely already have an idea of where you want your characters to go. Use your map and mark the path of the characters, as well as to annotate which chapters and plot-points happen at which part of the map. Doing so will improve the pacing of the story (so that you don't spend a chapter going 5 miles, and then the next three chapters going a quarter mile, without reasonable cause), create a sense of newness in each chapter, make setting descriptions much easier, and help you to keep your characters mobile. Don't feel compelled to have your characters move in a straight line toward their ultimate destination, but take into account that they may not know where they are going or need to travel in such away that allows them to camp in relative safety. I advise using a pencil because these destination markers are very subject to change as different obstacles show up in the story; meaning, you will need that eraser.



Tip 4: Address the question of language/dialect/culture in travel.

When I was growing up, I learned that there were certain tribes of indigenous people who still do not wear clothes because clothing symbolized the heart of the colonial slaver; and at the time I could only imagine how most other cultures would clash with that idea, even in attempts at humanitarian medical aid. Whether the story of these tribes was true or not, the point is that diversity, even within humanity, is rich with distinct cultures, different ways of thinking, and often places where cultures can easily clash. Even someone going from the the southern United States to the northern United States will become angry when they try to smile and wave at strangers and receive nothing back but suspicious glares. Unfortunately, such rich diversity is rarely reflected in literature; even in sci-fi and fantasy, the many species and people groups will share culture, language, and sets of social norms, with attitudes, religion, and politics being the most you'll get as far as diversity. Using your time-line, figure out how many different cultures and subcultures that your characters could expect to come across, what the nature of those cultures would be, and how the meeting of your characters' culture with others' would go.



Tip 5: Be realistic in your exposition of dimensions, space, measurements, time, etc…

Remember that a story is told through the eyes of the Point-of-View (POV) and Narrator characters; and that character will only note oddities and mapping details as they become relevant and visible. In other words, note which of the two above characters you are telling the story through, and use that as a scope of description. For a Narrator, you can discuss as much or as little mapping as you'd like—down to measurements and details that even your active characters cannot see. For a POV character, you'll want the reader to see and know what the character does. Additionally, the details should line up with the character voice and perspective you have chosen; for example, I will less likely to accept that the main character notes that she walked 12.4 miles, than if you tell me that she felt like she'd walked 20, but thought it was probably more like fifteen. However, if your character is a cartographer, a soldier, or someone else who might be concerned with precision, I could certainly believe exact details given in that context.



Tip 6: Create a map before you create your story, but be open to editing.

Good stories, in great part, come from writers thinking of creative ways to deal with the challenges at hand—reflecting in ingenuity and resourcefulness in their characters. Furthermore, nothing you write or create is set in stone until is published—and sometimes not even then—it is finished when it is perfect. So create your map, and then write your story. If there are conflicts, then change your plot or your map—depending on which change will result in a more dynamic storytelling experience.



Weekly Recommended Reading: Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds



Write-A-Novel Exercise 3.2



Create all of the maps and legends that you will need for your upcoming novel. Use colors and symbols to codify your maps, terrain, objects, planets, etc, as described above. Then, upload them to the group gallery.



Critique other peoples' work by looking for missing details you think would be relevant to their plot, and by finding gaps of missing information in each map (e.g..If a person maps a house but there is no bathroom, or a landscape with wild animals but no source of water)


Source: http://josephblakeparker.deviantart.com/art/6-Tips-for-Mapping-a-Fictional-World-576072598


Last edited by The Architect on Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: How do I Make a Fictional World?

Post by The Architect on Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:13 pm

[Use these tips in order to enhance your writing. The topic is mainly directed at novels, but can apply to our type of writing as well.]

8 Tips Describing a Story Setting





Another tricky skill to master in writing is setting description. Setting description is often the first thing that a reader encounters in a story, making it an essential skill to perfect if you want to hook your readers. To make matters more complicated, it is often difficult to calculate the right amount of description in settings—too much or too little can either leave the reader bored, overwhelmed, or confused. Today, I'm going to talk about how to create engaging and appropriate scene descriptions that will best serve your story.


Tip 1: Start with the lighting.

As important as what we see in any setting, are the extent and medium by which we see it. Think of this as the lighting on the set of a movie—it exists to set a tone and to create limitations. A dark scene, lit by the red light of a flare, not only creates a dark and potentially scary ambiance, but it limits how much the protagonist can see; this creates an opportunity for any monster or villain to easily work within the shadows, without either your protagonist or audience seeing exactly what. Lighting is the means and the lens through which reader sees (or doesn't see) all else; so start there whenever describing most settings.


Tip 2: Engage as many senses as you can—utilizing unusual comparisons.

You've likely already heard of the importance of engaging the five (or six) senses; by describing the smell, taste, and audio-atmosphere of a scene, you put the audience firmly within it—far more than if they would be if they could only see what was happening. However, it is important to remember that as audiences re-read the same descriptions over and over (the copper taste of blood, the chilly wind, the rancid breath on his neck), they begin to gloss over them—to just accept the description as opposed to actually allowing themselves to feel it—simply because they've heard them so many times before. Strive to create original comparisons and descriptions (she heard a sound like a bottle of carbonated drink being sloshed around—slowly building pressure) so that they will be striking enough for your reader to sit down and think about them for a brief moment—putting them there in the scene.


Tip 3: Give a sense of color and texture.

Similar to how light is the medium by which we see, color and texture are the visual representations by which we understand all of the sights which comprise the world around us. And just like the red flare in darkness caused an atmosphere of fear, other color/light combinations will have different effects on the reader's brain. Greens and blues with a high amount of natural light can mean an oasis, or a deadly swamp or jungle if that light is diminished. Texture can have the same effect. Blocky steel buildings with polished and regulated surfaces can be used to create intimidation for a powerful dystopian city; whereas irregular, twisting metals that form into buildings through spirals and asymmetry, can create a sense of whimsy in a technologically advanced utopia.


Tip 4: Filter descriptions through your Narrator or Point-of-View (POV) Character.

Make sure that the way that you describe a setting is parallel with the character who is describing it—whether Narrator or POV character. For example, if your POV character is an assassin, they should note the details of any setting with an emphasis in how she can use it to her advantage. If your protagonist is a farm-boy, he may not have the necessary vocabulary to describe the exact names of the components of a space-ship, or even the names of the pieces of a knight's armor. Just be sure to take these elements into consideration as you paint the world around the characters, through their eyes.


Tip 5: Continue with obvious physical details relevant to the plot.

Right from the beginning of the scene, find a way to describe all of the setting information that is obvious and immediately relevant to the plot. If you are writing a murder mystery, for example, your protagonist is going to notice, immediately upon entering the room, how many people are there, the condition of the room, the body on the ground, how big the room is, and maybe how many exits there are. We describe the obvious elements in the setting both because it turns an empty plain of imagination, color, and texture, into a tangible place, and also because it keeps the reader on an even field of knowledge with the protagonist. More subtle and less visible details that exist for world-building or the plot (such as a bullet embedded deeply within the wound) can be interwoven into the action and dialogue later in the scene.


Tip 6: Use the size of what you are describing in each sentence to serve as a camera in the mind's eye.

When, in a single sentence, you describe an object, you trigger the scope of your reader's imagination. For example, if I describe a skyscraper that towered over the rest of the city, you will begin to imagine a setting that is as large as my description. Even if you know a little about what the city is like, that sentence about the skyscraper will cause your imagination to picture the city as a whole, not that which is within it. To narrow the scope, you must create a new sentence that “zooms in” on something in particular. If my next sentence is a description of a dark alleyway with an occasional hooded figure passing through, I narrow the focus of the reader's view quickly, and to a degree where they can notice individual people or other small details that they couldn't have when imagining the city as a whole. Utilize the first object you describe to determine where the camera is for that sentence, and then use that angle and scope to show the reader those things that can be best described from that vantage point, before changing your focus.


Tip 7: The genre will determine the level of detail in your descriptions.

Remember to keep your descriptions appropriate to your intended audience. If you are writing high science-fiction for adults, you are perfectly within your right to create long descriptions of settings and technology that span into paragraphs and maybe even pages. By doing so, you create a more dynamic and engaging story for that type of reader. However, if you are writing low fantasy for children, you will want to be as brief as possible with your descriptions, and weave most of them into the action and dialogue so that you do not bore them.


Tip 8: Have your Writing Partner or Test-reader critique your descriptions, and then redraft them until they are perfect.

As with so many other aspects of writing, the creation of a setting is something that has few universal standards of quality. It requires lots of feedback and tinkering to get just perfect, and depends on so many factors that achieving success means experimentation, trial, and error. So work closely with your writing partner, and take their feedback into serious consideration as you create your settings.


http://josephblakeparker.deviantart.com/art/8-Tips-for-Describing-a-Story-Setting-567158534
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Re: How do I Make a Fictional World?

Post by Boxcomma on Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:46 am

Thanks for this information Very Happy

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Re: How do I Make a Fictional World?

Post by The Architect on Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:46 pm

Glad you like it. There is more to come. Very Happy
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Re: How do I Make a Fictional World?

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