"I can show you the world; Shining, shimmering, splendid." -‘A Whole New World’ from Disney’s Aladdin
Before I can start writing my manuscript I have to have a solid idea on the world that my writing takes place in. And that means I have the exciting, yet daunting, task of creating a fictional world. I’m finding it to be quite more difficult to build a world that I did with coming up with certain characters.
It’s easy enough to come up with names of places and things. In fact, I have my world named with a few prominent cities/towns and landmarks. But it’s harder to realize it. For readers to feel that the world is real - that it matters - it has to be real to me, the writer. It has to be as real in mind as our own world.
Tolkien did brilliantly with developing Middle Earth. He wrote extensively on the history and cultures that pre-dated the events in The Lord of the Rings. And I’m talking thousands of years before The Lord of the Rings. That world was as real to him as our own and I can only hope to emulate that feel and detail.
That means creating ancient cultures and peoples, religions and politics, the how and why of magic, societal hierarchy (or lack thereof) and how it works… There’s much more to the task that coming up with place names and fancy descriptions of settings. To that end, I’ve picked up the D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide and am slowly reading through it taking notes.
For those who know me, and my interests, it may come as a surprise to learn that I’ve never actually really played a tabletop RPG. I’m more into the tabletop war-games myself. But I appreciate the effort and creativity involved in RPGs and would one day love to give it a try. But for now I’m using it as a valuable resource in making my world seem real.
Which details do you look for in stories that make the written world feel real to you? What allows you to escape reality for a while when you pick up a book? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to know what I can add to my world that would make it just that much more believable.