Which way do rivers flow?
It seems like such a simple question, doesn’t it? But, it’s not quite as easy as one might suppose. For instance, I’ve been told numerous times that rivers generally flow North to South. But, this FAQ on About.com that’s just a misconception. (Here’s another link that also dispels some river misconceptions.) Really, what matters is elevation, the degree of change in elevation, and the material over which the water travels. The flatter the land, the more the river will wander or meander, and the slower the speed of the water flow. The reverse is true as well, the steeper the elevation change, the faster and straighter the river will run. (For more details, see this article on About.com.)
So, essentially, rivers tend to flow “down” in the sense of the lowest elevation. That might be toward the coast and ocean, or toward a lake, or even toward an underground cave complex. The important thing to remember is that water in general, and rivers, flows toward the lowest point of gravity on the landscape, where ever that might be.
Well, you maybe asking yourself, that’s great but who cares? Anyone making a created world, country or culture. Rivers are a great way for people to move resources quickly and efficiently. They also tend to be sources of useful animals and plants. Water, after all, is one of the most important ingredients for life, so water attracts life. Rivers teem with life, both on their banks and in the river itself. Any place that attracts life in great quantities also attracts civilization as well. That, in turn, brings interesting things to write about. And, that, after all, is what I’m after!
So, let the water flow and the creative fiction ideas flow with it!
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