Worldbuilding Questions: Post #3: Physical Features

Welcome back! It’s been a while since I posted a worldbuilding post, so I wanted to come back to help out my fellow writers! Tonight, I want to talk about building the physical aspects of your world. This is CRUCIAL to any well-written fantasy story for several reasons. Now, the importance of physical aspects should be obvious, especially if you’re covering a wide area of your world through your writing.

If you need a refresher on the link I’m working from, click here!

Now to start off, you need to determine how much ground your story is going to cover. Are we operating in the context of a singular town, or are we traveling all across a realm? This is going to determine the detail of which you craft individual areas as well as the full universe as a whole.

Next, let’s talk about climate. What does the climate look like in various areas of your universe? Is it consistent everywhere (could be an interesting concept to play with)? What areas have the best climate for farming? Which areas have a climate that makes them inhabitable? How do the differences between your universe and our Earth affect your world’s climate (for example, having multiple suns)?

Now for the fun part! Building the landscape. Anything you can think of is fair game. Mountain ranges, valleys, plains, deserts, islands, rivers, oceans, lakes, forests, ponds: and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (ooh, maybe some sort of ice land mass?). What areas have the most fertile farmland? That question is going to be important for establishing economies. Certain areas are going to have economies that are fueled by cash crops and others that have to import those crops to feed their people.

Where are natural resources located? Various minerals, valuable assets like gold and diamonds, industrial assets like oil and coal, where can you find those? What economies are going to benefit by having proximity to those resources? Where are water resources running through? Is it freshwater? Salt water? Is there any sort of water purification system in place for places that don’t have access to the purest water source? What are those water sources used for primarily? Drinking water, irrigation, used to run things like a mill wheel? Think about how that affects the people of your fantasy communities.

Once you’ve addressed the questions above, among a few others in the questionnaire, you’re going to have a really good idea of the physical aspects of your world. Of course, you’re going to need to refine these basic ideas into something a little more detailed. Remember, throughout this whole process, we’re getting you ready to communicate your world effectively in your story through description. Knowing more about your universe is better than knowing less.

I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s edition of Worldbuilding Questions! Stay tuned for Post #4 where I’ll go over building the history of your universe!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #2 – The World

As promised, I am starting my Worldbuilding questionnaire walk through off with a bang! Today, we’re going to be looking at the first section of questions, which encompasses the most basic questions about the world you want to create. I want to give you just an overview of the questions (because obviously, you can go to the link and read them yourself), but I also want to give a bit of commentary about why these details are important when crafting your fantasy universe.

Section A: Basics

When I started using this questionnaire, the very first question took me a while to think about. You wouldn’t necessarily think about whether the laws of nature and physics still applied as your first step. I actually had to go look up what these laws were (I don’t do science very well. >.<) But believe it or not, your universe could entirely flip on its head (perhaps even literally) due to changes like these. Does gravity apply? Do the laws of motion apply? Where does magic fit in? Are the laws different because magic exists, or is magic limited by these principles? This will start you thinking about the limitations of your magic system, which we will get to in a later article.

Then you need to make a decision about what type of world this is: an earth-like world or not like Earth at all? This not only will decide which sections of questions you look at next, but it is also going to affect things related to suns and moons, shape of the world, and terrain.

Next is the basics about people! Or non-people, if that’s your preference! These questions are meant to establish the main players in your story. Elves, Fae, dwarfs, demons, sprites, mortals, and many, many more magical creatures can grace the pages of your story, and establishing who those are early on can make things easier for you later. Marking the differences between these types in terms of habitats, living conditions, and magic now can also be useful in formatting your terrain, cities, and your magic system in later worldbuilding.

Finally, you’re going to create a very basic outline of the magic system in your universe.

  1. Where does magic come from?
  2. How much magic is available?
  3. What are the long term effects of magic on a magic user?
  4. What are the differences between magic among different races/species, if any?

Very simple questions to start off. No details yet. However, if you look at them, you can see why this author chose to include them in the basics category. The very existence of magic has to have been established somehow, whether it’s during the timeline of your story or thousands and thousands of years before.

Section B: Alternate Earth

Writers who view their universe has being an alternate version of our Earth should take note of this section. Here, you will establish where fantasy diverts away from history. How similar are the histories and cultures of our planet in comparison with yours? What makes them different? Is there a specific point in time where our knowledge of our world ends and yours begins? If not, show where things diverge slowly over time through everyday life changes. If magic exists, how have the inhabitants of Earth been unaware of it this whole time? This set of questions works particularly well for historical fantasy.

Section C: Not Earth At All

Everyone else! Join me! My universe, the Three Realms, falls under this category. You will find that this set of questions is not focused on history and culture (we will get to that later), but instead on the physical aspects of your world. Obviously, we need to establish shape, terrain, and celestial bodies (if any) circling around your world. I didn’t realize it until after I had already built my universe (which only has one sun and moon) how much it would affect aspects like the wind, the tides, and the weather if I had chosen to add something like a second moon. If you set the moons on the same side, the tides would be thrown completely out of whack. If the moons were on opposite sides of your universe, could you create an ocean that stays still? Lots of interesting things to think about.

Comment below with any questions or ideas about your own fantasy universe! I’ll see you next time where we’ll be discussing physical and historical features.

Chasing Fae: A Summary

This website will be more than just a place for writers to learn and perfect the craft of fantasy writing. I want to introduce the world in which my novel, Chasing Fae, will be set: The Three Realms. It’s definitely evolving as I write, but the major pieces will remain the same. I want to bring you, my readers, into the fold of a world that until this very moment, has only been in my imagination and on the pages of a Google Docs document. I am working weaving in a lot of details as I move forward with revisions, but of course, I won’t be able to weave in every single aspect without the writing feeling like a bunch of infodumping (which is something you want to avoid and will be touched upon in a later post).

I want my audience to be absorbed in my world before the book even releases (and before it’s even picked up by an agent). It would be a great indicator if my story is worth telling. 

First, however, I should probably explain what my novel is about. Below is my current query summary. Let me know if it’s any good in the comments below. (Summary Updated July 11th, 2019)

Chasing Fae

Grace Richardson is a young mortal woman whose only concerns are providing for her family, playing her violin, and spending as much time as possible with her brother, Leo. When Leo goes into service in the Fae’s world as a mercenary, she expects him to return with the honor that he deserves.

When Leo suddenly dies in an unspecified accident, not a word, medal, or penny comes down from the higher ups. Suspecting foul play, Grace disguises herself as a Fae and sneaks into the Upper Realm to get some answers. She anticipated being in way over her head, but the Fae soldier who catches her fleeing an angry bar and discovers her identity only a day in? Not so much.

Now Grace is forced to drag Aiden along as she tries to work out exactly how and why her brother died. Along the way, she has no choice but to confront her prejudices against the Fae as she attempts to sort out the difference between the honest and the dishonest. Political conspiracies, demon realm escapades, and family secrets will all lead Grace to the answers she’s looking for… and some that she isn’t.