Worldbuilding: An Interesting Approach

Hey everybody! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy on another wonderful Saturday. I signed my publishing contract on Thursday, and I can’t wait to get started this coming week with the publishing process! It’s so exciting. Today, I want to talk about worldbuilding! This is one of my favorite topics to talk about, and I haven’t written about it in a while. At Fluff About Fantasy, I have touched on questions to shape your world, naming places, and drawing out your own maps, to name a few. Today, I want to talk about a technique that spurred my creation of the Twelve Houses in the Upper Realm. I hope it will inspire you too!

The Twelve Houses

Now, just for a brief recap if you haven’t read about my universe yet: the Upper Realm in Chasing Fae is made up of twelve noble houses that have control over different portions of the land. Think of it like twelve separate kingdoms, but lorddoms instead. (That is actually a word! It’s a very old word, but it’s a word.) When I first began conceptualizing these, I wanted them to be distinct lands with their own cultures. There would be similarities between them like the agricultural production of one area in comparison with another and the governmental style. But the intimate details of each House would be unique to that area.

To accomplish this, I chose to pick one element that would be the essence of the House and then build every other detail of the culture around it. I really like using this method because it allows all of the details to fit together cohesively. Let me give you an example.

The House of the Evening

This is my favorite of all the Houses that I’ve created, and it is the one that I personally would want to live in the most. I wanted to make sure that the House of the Moon and the House of the Evening were very different places, so I let the House of the Moon center around the mystical, magical properties of the moon in terms of spell-casting. That created a more intimate, mystical society with priestesses and one of the highest concentrations of magic in the entire Upper Realm. For the House of the Evening, I decided to go with nightlife.

I grew up with my dad taking me to bars and restaurants to listen to live music most weekends. I fell in love with the atmosphere. Even as an introvert, there’s something about blending in with a crowd that’s all tapped in to the same rhythm, the same beat. It was the same thing at school dances; sometimes the animosity between people can disappear for a night when the bass is turned up loud and everyone’s jumping up and down to their favorite song. I wanted to capture that feeling in the House of the Evening.

The House of the Evening has the best nightlife and the best festivals you will find in the entire Upper Realm. Every night, there’s live music pouring out of every tavern. This is the place young musicians come to try their hand at the craft. You can travel all over the land and hear every genre of music you can think of. There are shops for craftsman instruments of all kinds, but particularly violins. (This becomes relevant in the series.) The House of the Evening brews the best beer and grow grapes to create amazing fine wines. People in the House of the Evening go about their own lives during the day, whether that’s in the home or out at their job. But in the evening, everybody comes together to spend time out on the town. Community comes alive in the nighttime. It’s late nights and late mornings in the House of the Evening. Looking over the towns at night lit by candlelight or tiny fairy lights, looking up at the purple hued mountains covered in snow, it’s just beautiful.

Thanks for reading, everybody. If you’re curious about the House of the Evening, you can read a profile here!

Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

Every story that I have ever started has drawn upon inspiration from my world, whether that be my family, my friends, or events that have happened in my life. The first book I ever wrote was actually about a fictional version of my family and their adventures in a strange, slightly fantastical land (but cut me some slack, I was only ten). Big moments and important people in my life do eventually manifest themselves as book characters, albeit with some significant modifications. Today, I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces of Chasing Fae that have been created from significant elements of my life.

Grace

Grace is a strong, independent woman who has found herself in a situation that she has no idea how to remedy. She is taking care of her mother and their home by working full time, and she’s planning this grand adventure to find out how her older brother died. She has this indomitable stubbornness that just radiates throughout everything she does. She’s honestly my favorite character that I have ever written.

Grace started out as the person that I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to take charge of my own life and stand up for everything I believed in with confidence. When I started Chasing Fae midway through my senior year, I was still very much hiding in the shadows. I had a lot to say, but no real way to say it without feeling shut out from my peers. I never seemed to say or do the right things, so there was a long period of time that I just stopped trying. Grace wouldn’t have stopped trying. She said what she thought without any care for the consequences, and although she does have an introverted side to her, she had no problem being bold when necessary.

But as I continued to develop and work on Grace, she took on a whole new life. She was a living, breathing character with rough edges and an emotional side that I had never anticipated her having. Her sadness manifests as anger and frustration, and when she keeps it tampered down for so long, she is bound to break. That emotional rawness that’s hiding behind this stubborn surface is something that I really admire about this character. I’m very proud to have written her into existence.

Leo

Leo is Grace’s older brother who has just died at the beginning of the book. I’ve touched a lot on where the inspiration for him came from in Sibling Bonds, but I want to dive in a bit more into what the character means to me.

The friend who acted as an older brother to me has been in and out of my life over the last year and a half, and it hasn’t been the prettiest. Every time I try to walk away and let it go, there is always that emotional side that ties me to answer one more text, send one more message. There’s this love and appreciation that just seems to override my instincts sometimes, to my benefit or detriment depending on the situation. I know that he is anxious to read the book when it does finally get published, and I do wonder sometimes how he will view the character, whether he will see any of his past self in him.

Leo, for me, is the closure that I needed. It is very critical that he is dead initially. Grace and Leo’s relationship has had its ups and downs, luckily more ups than otherwise. But she takes away this purely good, strong, and loving memory of him that she carries with her throughout the trilogy. In the first book, she’s chasing his memory, chasing whatever brought around his death. But readers are going to see her really connect with that grief and be able to open up as a person eventually.

The Upper Realm

The Three Realms was actually my first real attempt at worldbuilding, and the universe definitely has taken on a life of its own.

I’m going to focus on the Upper Realm because of its depth and richness in detail. I spent nearly four months on the Upper Realm alone as I was formulating my ideas about where the book was going to go. The Twelve Houses are based off of the twelve signs of the zodiac; I’m a intermittent fan of reading my horoscope and attributing zodiac traits to book characters. I never saw myself creating any less than twelve. Once the idea was there, it stuck, and I couldn’t do anything else. I liked the idea of incorporating opposing elements to create this perfect balance. Those elements became incorporated into the main alliances as well. Elemental magic has always been one of my favorite types of magic to read about in a fantasy novel, so I wanted to incorporate as much of that as possible.

The logical ones came first: Fire, Water, Wind (as a substitute for air), and Earth. Then light and darkness followed by day and evening, sun and moon. Then I was up to ten. I had to think for a while about what the last two elements would be. I finally came up with peace and war because I wanted to create two societies that would truly represent the balance. The House of Peace would not possess a standing army and would focus on education and the arts. It would be a universal trading partner. The House of War would be situated in a place with natural defenses (the mountains and the river) and be primarily cut off from the other eleven Houses. They would be entirely self-sufficient in a desire not to rely on anyone for assistance, and their soldiers would be the strongest in all the Realms.

The Upper Realm is what made me realize how much I LOVE worldbuilding.

I’d love to hear about what elements from your story draw from your experiences in real life. Please share in the comments below!