Guest Post: Worldbuilding – Seeing The World In Different Colors
The possibilities of the human mind are endless. Man’s ability to imagine & manifest its thoughts into action has given us the ability to understand and create worlds. Literature has given us access to many worlds.
For centuries people have been reading and telling stories about Camelot, Shangri-La, and Utopia. Children have been in and out of Neverland whenever they hear the story of Peter Pan. Ancient Norsemen have always believed that if you die fighting on the battlefield, it secures you a place in Valhalla. During ancient times when science was at its infancy, people believed worlds such as Hades, Tartarus, and The Abyss were real.
Although these worlds are now used in science to represent the state of minds that are in anguish, their origins have always felt real. Why so? These stories seem real to many because it is rooted in our imagination, told over and over again through time. That’s why fiction has always been fascinating for everybody.
Worldbuilding is essential when creating a fantasyland. The works of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the perfect examples. Their written work was so vivid, and it has become an inspiration for modern creators who make use of interactive aural & visual media, such as films and video games. Bring out your colorful rainbow lenses because, in this article, we are going to tackle the crucial elements of how to create our fantasyland.
Let us start with the most obvious:
It is one of the most important elements of worldbuilding. It lays out the world’s basic landscape features. The best way to depict geography is to create a map of your fantasy world. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, he wrote and described the map of “Middle Earth,” where it’s divided into hemispheres.
Physical geography is going to be the baseline of how the world you created would be. For example, in the futuristic world of “Elysium,” there are two major locations. First, the futuristic arc-like space station, and the rugged, post-apocalyptic remains of planet Earth. They equipped this space station with facilities that constitute the perfect living conditions for man, while the other shows the exact opposite.
Culture plays a major role in portraying how characters in your storylines get their act together. It starts by giving a backgrounder on the origins of the characters, what influences them, their customs, and the things they regularly do. In a nutshell, it shows the character’s civilization.
Here are some important features to consider when creating a culture for your fantasy world:
Power: This facet of culture shows the hierarchy of who has the control, influence, and authority. It may also show the struggles each character must go through and how to achieve it.
Religion: Though it may become controversial to a certain point, this facet of culture may create an added impact to your world. By creating deities and the methods of their worship, it adds definition to the storyline.
Government: This facet of culture makes any storyline more interesting, especially on how they manifest power. It should tackle systems within your storyline, and the laws that govern the world you created.
Relationships: It is what makes every storyline to every person. Relationships give colors to the characters and add depth.
This element of worldbuilding shows how the characters thrive in their world. It shows the diversity of the people within the story and creates a picture of people with different cultures, and how they handle their situations.
Like for example, in the game Starcraft, there are three different species (cultures), each with different social classes. There are several social classes, namely the warriors, healers, thinkers, slaves, and kings. These are similar to real-world social classes, which makes them relatable to many.
A good storyline can become more interesting if a major historical event is behind it. So if you’re planning to create a series for your storyline, it would be great if you could link a piece of history (from previous works) to your present and future production.
You could consider traumatic events, like, for example, on George Martin’s “Game of Thrones” character, Daenerys Targaryen. Her story starts as a royalty who was given by her brother to the Dothraki as a “gift” to the Khal, who later emerged as the queen of many kingdoms as her story goes. With this kind of history, linked to the characters in the world you created, would make your storyline very fascinating.
Adding something unexplainable in worldbuilding is the makings of a good storyline. Magic makes people wonder how certain mysterious powers came to be. Like many fiction works, magic comes from many sources; it can come from magical beings bestowing its “powers” unto another character. It can be something that the character was born with, but he or she doesn’t know it yet. It can be artifacts or things that heroes wield.
For example, the Norse god of thunder, Thor uses his magical hammer, Mjolnir, to create thunderstorms and summon lightning bolts. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when Thor’s hammer was lost, “Stormbreaker” an enchanted ax was forged for him. This magical ax has the same powers as Mjolnir and can summon the Bifrost, a bridge that connects Asgard (The realm of the gods) and Midgard (Earth).
In worldbuilding, this is the opposite of magic because technology explains how something works, and why it works. Although it may be fictional, it is based mainly on science. Adding technology into your storylines can make younger generations appreciate your work more.
A good example of that is the Iron Man suit, based on Stan Lee’s works. In his work, billionaire Tony Stark created a suit of armor that attacks like a tank and flies like a plane. This technology was explained further in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; a world created based on the works of Stan Lee.
With all of these elements incorporated in your worldbuilding, you can create a masterpiece out of them. These details you created from each element may not suit every storyline, but you can always use them later. Make sure that each of these elements complement each other in the storyline you are making, and your worldbuilding won’t go amiss.
Lydia is a fashion blogger. She works at a tech company and writes as a freelancer for several fashion magazines both local and international. She has a pet terrier named Fugui. Follow her Twitter.