Now you have a story and the characters in it, but what about the rest of your world?
Most people think that only fantasy or science-fiction writers have to create a world for their writing, but even writers who create contemporary stories create their worlds. They just create a fictional world based more closely to our real world, which is pretty subjective in any case. I’ve been assuming that you are following these posts in order this month, but there’s certainly no reason that you should start with a story and not your world. I know that I often start with a setting when I’m thinking of stories and, especially when I’m thinking of fantasy stories, a map is often a great place to start. In fact, in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Orson Scott Card writes about starting a novel by essentially doodling a map. And, thanks to the internet, there are an almost endless number of pages about making maps. Let’s start with A Guide to RPG Mapmaking. It’s focused on fantasy role-playing games, but everything in the guides and tutorials are applicable to other kinds of fantasy maps. And, if you like that, check out Observations of the Fox: Map Tutorials for even more details on creating detailed maps. Most of the techniques there are pretty applicable to any tools you might use, and there are many to choose from, but if you’re serious about making maps and aren’t a professional artist, I highly recommend ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer. It’s not incredibly expensive, and there is a bit of a learning curve, but I think it’s worth the investment in time and money for some of the results. To see what some of those results can be, with practice, as well as Campaign Cartographer specific tutorials, be sure to visit Ralf Schemmann’s site Maps and More.
And, if you just want some inspiration, check out Fantastic Maps or Fantasy Cartography by Sean Macdonald.
Of course, you may not need a map at all, but want to create some other details about your fictional world to make it seem more real. For that, I humbly submit Fantasist.net’s own World Building resources for your use, which includes, among other things, an on-line Timeline Generator to create a little history that your characters can refer to in conversation. It also has a link to the incredibly complete Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions by Patricia C. Wrede, who covers pretty much every detail you could ever ask yourself about a fictional world.
As much as I love worldbuilding, in recent years I’ve realized that I can easily get so lost in world and setting creation that I never get around to actually writing fiction! Don’t fall into that trap! Make enough world to get your story going and then let the world create itself as you go. For some more helpful worldbuilding ideas along those lines, take a look at Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things You Should Know About Worldbuilding. It’s a very up-to-date approach and I found it quite helpful!
So, now you should have characters, setting and plot nailed down and you can start letting that marinate before actually starting National Novel Writing Month in November. But, come back next week to see what final tools I have for you before you launch your NaNoWriMo project!