In last week’s post, I discussed some world-building basics for science fiction and fantasy writers. How to Build a World, Part Two.
These included tips about rules and consistency for information dumping, character point of views, and an in depth look at rules and magic.
This week I will point out the physical world, including the geography and cities in your fantasy/ sci-fi novel.
Climate and Seasons
As we all know, any location looks different season to season. Climate influences everything: the flora and fauna, what people wear, the types of buildings, you name it. Understanding the temperature, humidity and local weather is important, especially when writing about a location that is vastly different than what you’ve personally experienced.
The type of landforms tied to your location are a big part of the story. Urban or Rural, knowing natural (trees, rivers, plants, etc.) or manmade (buildings, infrastructure) elements creates realism.
Researching the different features and dangers inherent to a landscape will help you turn your setting into an obstacle course, creating conflict and blocking the protagonist from his or her goal.
Social Issues, Language, and Culture
The people who live in a real-world location influence the shape and structure of it (colors, styles, government, local events, food, entertainment, modes of travel, etc.). Slang, customs, gender roles, religion, and dress will likely be unique to this area. For example, at the height of summer living in a coastal town you would wear boardshorts and a shirt. But, if you lived in a rugged mountain town with a strong culture of active living, you’d more likely wear light hiking shoes or treaded sandals, footwear suited to the activities people there engage. Local readers would know this and expect the author to know as well.
If we cut corners on the research, or make blanket assumptions, we can break the reader’s trust.
Next week I will look at the elements of fantasy and how the affect your characters story.
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