Friday, 9 March 2018

WIP Special Part 2 of 5 || this is when I wish I spent more time on worldbuilding

*frantic typing at 10pm*

So I knew this post was coming. And I should have planned ahead. But hey, what's life for if not last-minute panic? And mentally kicking yourself? because this post is about worldbuilding and yours is nonexistant?

Welcome to -

5-part writing special (Part 2: World/setting)

(Thanks to Lila for making the awesome graphic! <3)

The March 5-Part Special

Part 2: World and Setting

–{{What would we immediately notice upon stepping into your storyworld? (What would stand out the most?)


...I have decided to skip this week's post.

Most of my story is set in a house (of some sort) that's in a forest (of a cliche sort)?? My storyworld is rather thin?? I'm focused on the characters, okay.

Also where exactly are you stepping into my storyworld? If you arrived in the capital city, which would probably be a good spot for tourists to start at, you might notice that it's very elegant and has lots of white stone buildings. If you were in the three sisters' cottage, you'd notice the log walls' rough edges and gouges from inexperienced hands, but also the colourful braided rug and the unevenly dyed green curtains. (And probably two pairs of muddy boots left haphazardly by the door. That's Josie and Billie.)

If you were in the forest, though, you'd notice... trees. Lots of trees. Some narrow trails, worn down to dust; a lot of bird activity high in the treetops. You would not notice the bandits, because they're hiding.

Side note: As a companion to this post, maybe go read my post on settings from the last 4-Part Special, okay? I started it basically the same way... by threatening to leave... Reading back over it, the thing I'm most noticing is that I recognised that I needed more worldbuilding... and almost five months later, I've barely added a thing. Regardless of that - or perhaps because of it - that post is still very relevant. In fact, you can read the whole series here!

–{{What place in this world (Earth) reminds you most of your world? (Or provide a picture that you think best defines your story world.)

So I go on Pinterest for research, looking for pictures of forests with the right mood. And I get lots of dramatic misty forests!

Normally those colour schemes aren't next to each other so don't look so bad??

Buuut they're all tall spindly trees. When I wrote the scene in the forest, there were people in the trees and they had their things up there and basically lived there. In my mind, the trees were more like this:

 This is a banyan tree.

Except I need it waaay bushier so people can hide in it. And I don't know about you, but I've never seen a suitably dramatic aesthetic picture of one of these?? But I need the trees to be flat-branched and spreading! Not round and bristly like a pine tree! (also I have no idea what the ground cover, and therefore wildlife, would be like for a forest of banyan trees.)

Annnd I've completely gone off the topic. 

–{{Are there specific foods/dining habits particular to this world?

I don't know about particular to this world, but the Beast truly enjoys his tea and his scones with honey. For some reason that feels more modern than most fantasy? I believe another country has coffee... but I don't know how I'd go about writing coffee appreciation, since I don't drink it.

Polite meals at long white-draped tables are important to the country's culture, I think? (Politeness - however forced, and covering whatever sort of conflict - is important. Keep up appearances of civility, basically.)

I will consider this question when worldbuilding in the future. So I can put lots of food in and have it build setting too because that's killing multiple birds with one stone and what about having small flightless birds that people eat?

–{{Are there biases in your world, and how do they define the people? Is there a class structure and how would it affect the characters?


My characters haven't interacted with many people so far?? so I... don't know?

I'd say there's a bit of an upper class that's composed of royalty, merchants and well-educated people. (But that's what I literally just came up with, so I'm thinking it's a bit cliche? and I'd like to twist it a bit, somehow.) The Beast doesn't care what class the monster who's smashing his china is, though.

I'd also say that politeness and the appearance of friendliness is important mostly to the upper-class - not that anyone else is necessarily impolite, but in the upper-class it's quite likely not sincere. But they'll still judge non-upper-class people if they're not polite. They also appreciate a good education, since that's the mark of a more upper-class person.

I know nothing about what the "common" people think about that.

–{{What belief structures or worldviews do your characters hold? What are some philosophies of your story?

Billie believes strongly in being responsible for your own actions and being responsible for anyone who relies on you. 

A commonly-held belief - handed down as some old tradition or ancient law or something - is that if someone freely offers to pay another person's debt, the person to whom the debt is owed must accept that offer. Even if that debt is a life. (And in that case, you cannot harm either the one who owed the debt, or the one who offered to pay it.)

–{{Describe the general infrastructure (i.e., cities and what are those like?) What are the main locations in your story? (Bonus points: include a map.)

The forest where most of the story takes place is called Ranwood, although I typically refer to it as "whatever-I-called-the-forest-anyway". The small town outside the forest doesn't have a name. The capital city doesn't have a name. The entire country doesn't have a name.

I very much dislike naming things.

I do have at least two neighbouring countries - Norcross (which is cold), and the country that Zephyr came from (the one with coffee).

I need to name things. It's getting awkward. 

–{{How is trade carried out through the story world, and how do the cities and nations interact with each other?

The country Ranwood is in [see I said it was getting awkward without names] has a fleet of ships and merchants. They trade with the country Zephyr comes from (mostly by sea, but there's a spot where the other country between their borders is narrow so they also use that as a land route). They also trade with several other countries that they're friendly with, but these are unnamed and I'm completely vague on them.

(I'm brainstorming a list of things they trade. It includes marble and sandstone, pearls and opals, oranges and mangoes, and livestock and furniture. [I should get super-specific and make different areas specialise in different products.])

Nations send ambassadors to visit and live in other countries. These ambassadors talk politely, and send messages back and forth, and it takes a long time to get anywhere. There hasn't been an open war for a long time, and most countries would like to keep it that way - war is messy, and spoils their trade.

–{{Are there any special or unique traditions or ceremonies that your world is known for?

Ah... no?

*adds to To-Do list*

–{{Are there any significant historical events which affected the way your story world is now?

I can barely handle the current events. Why would I have a clue about the history?? I mean, yes, history shapes the way the country currently is and why people act the way they do... but it's just too big for me to get a handle on. I mean, the thought of how much could happen in one or two hundred years is overwhelming. And then you get further back and it's like, okay, how did this become a country? where did the people come from?? how did the world come to exist??? and then I have to make up an entire religion-slash-belief-system as well. And it's too hard.

So. The current king became the, uh, current king.

That's about as much as I know.

–{{What do you love most about your world?

I love the feel! Teacups and tablecloths; high-roofed halls of white marble; light and airy rooms; ferns; rough log cottages with hopeful curtains. And smiling people and gently inclined heads and calm words. And honey on scones and tea in delicate teacups (did I already mention the teacups I think I might have).

[Oops, the forest didn't make it into this description; hahaha, what can I say? I have an uncertain relationship with it. The Pinterest pictures are certainly aesthetic... but how much forest can I write before it gets boring?]

.... That's the end of Part 2! ....

Here are the participating blogs you also need to check out because these bloggers' stories are amazing:


Sooo. How's your worldbuilding going?? Do you find it easy to create a whole world? (Do you find it easy to create a scene's detailed setting?) Do you create a history to go with it? What's your favourite detail ever in your worldbuilding? What point of worldbuilding do you think was the best in all of the history of fiction?? (or, y'know, what's one you simply like? because "best ever" is hard.) 

If you're botanically inclined, what kind of trees do you think would work well for my forest? 

And do you know who that gif is?


  1. Oh my word, this is wonderful...XD

    Your worldbuilding sounds similar to how MINE usually goes! The only reason I know anything about my world at all is because one of my characters likes to internally rant about how much she hates occupation. Ugh.

    I do not know who that gif is. I never know who's in the gifs so don't ask me! Ugh! (*realizes she said that twice* *is very tired* *will leave now*)

    Awesome post, Jem! <3

    1. I know - if the worldbuilding doesn't affect my character, I never get around to it... :| Your worldbuilding post was great, though, Faith! Don't sell yourself short. :D

  2. lol! Have you thought of redwood trees? Like the ginormous ones in CA? IDk.. great job describing your worldview and I can't wait to see more!

    1. Ooh, I have heard of redwoods - they get pretty big, don't they? I'll have to look into it. Thanks, Ry!

  3. I dearly loved this post, Jem :). I have a lot of trouble with histories too! I'm great with little details like seals and stuff, but if you ask me to create a timeline, forget it...

    I honestly think Tolkien created the best worlds ever. THE DETAILS. HOLY MOLY.

    (as for trees, have you looked at either really old oak trees or an aspen tree? those are fairly straight-branched and they are both pretty bushy trees :) )


    1. I agree, Catherine; timelines intimidate me! I mean, whatever I add in, it's going to affect everything after that. And then I'll undoubtedly have to go back and adjust dates over and over just so everything fits together...

      And yes, I think most fantasy writers aspire to reach Tolkien's level of worldbuilding. xD Although he didn't even start it with the intention of it being a novel's setting, did he?

      Oaks and aspens. Okay, I'll look them up! :)

  4. I was writing a reallyyyy long comment yesterday, but my internet stopped working?? Xd

    Anyways, your world is so cool! Teacups and tables clothes and airy rooms are the best vibe ever!!

    1. Aw, no! It's so frustrating when that happens, Gray!

      Thanks! <3

  5. THOSE FOREST PICS, THOUGH. *heart eyes* Your forest sounds sooooo wonderful!!! I love forests, if you couldn't tell. xD

    This story... Oh goodness - I cannot WAIT to read it!! The more I hear about it, the more I want it in my hands so I can read about these three sisters! (and duuuuuude, Robin Hood is EPIC, so I can't wait to hear more about him either!!)

    You are NOT alone in not liking world-building, girl! And besides, it's a THOUSAND TIMES BETTER to have a character-driven story than a world-driven story. (Is that even a thing?? How does that even work?? Let's just pretend.)

    *cough* Anyway, love your answers. Love your stories. Can't wait for part 3.

    Lila @ The Red-Hooded Writer

    1. I'm actually trying to avoid forest scenes at the moment, though? ;P Maybe I should print the pictures out and look at them while I write? so I can get that feel into my words.

      THANKS, Lila! I can't wait for yours either - those fairytales twisted together are going to make something so much fun. :D

      (I have no idea how world-driven stories would work either. And no one commented to inform me, so I'm unfortunately going to remain in the dark about it.)

  6. That S. Stan, perfect!

    But I think your worldbuilding is great, considering you're mostly writing as a pantster. I actually doing worldbuilding after the first draft or two. By then, a few things have played out in the story, and I can start with that.

    (Being a horse breed spotter, I love to make up what kinds of horses would originate from where, and how they were used, and what the breed standards are, and so on, lol)

    As to the /can/ just create your part of writing fantasy(ish) books.

    1. (I was actually thinking of you when I asked who knew who the gif was, Julian! ;D)

      Ah, you create your story's history from the starting point of horse breeds? Fair enough. xD

    2. (Mwahahahaha that makes me feel well as makes me wonder if my Bucky fangirling has gotten a little out of hand...)

      It's totally logical. From a horse girl's POV. Because what horses you use says a lot about the terrain, how the horses are trained says a lot about the people, and more! *cackles*

    3. (Only a little out of hand... and it's not like you don't have plenty of company...) (who, me? no haha of course not??)

      It is logical! and it would fit into so many aspects of worldbuilding. Like what kind of work people do, the terrain (as you said), the people's priorities, and entertainment (trail riding, racing, Lipizzaners).

  7. I would really like to meet Billie. She sounds great in question 5. I can't wait till I can read your book! Everything sounds so fresh--the Characters, the plot, and the tea-and-crumpets-vibe!

    Is that S. Stan I see? BTW, I agree with Julian. MAKE U SOME TREES, GIRL!

    1. Well, you get to "meet" Billie in part 3, Evan! :D And thank you for saying it sounds fresh - that's really encouraging. <3

      It is S. Stan! It's from the video of him and Anthony Mackie doing the Ice Bucket Challenge - they're just leaving to get in costume, although quite grumpily.


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