I recently had a discussion between three of my friends. Part of this conversation drew out one of the reasons I write. I love to create things. New things. When given a blank piece of paper, I enjoy that what gets put on it is something that perhaps only I could have created. Sure, I could draw a picture of a flower. Lots of people have drawn flowers. But this flower could be wholly imaginary. The flower can become my flower.
I don’t have to stop with the visual. The flower, in addition to looking unique, could have properties purely fantastical for use in any narrative. It’s pollen could induce blind hysteria. Eating it’s seeds could let you see extraplanar beings that aren’t phased in with our reality.
The possibilities are limitless. With the tool of imagination, I can make anyone, anyplace, or anything I choose.
Worldbuilding is usually where I start though.
I guess I’m big on the nurture side of the nature/nurture environment. Where you live and how that place treats its people you is going to tell you a lot about any people and cultures that come from those places. So when I want to tell a story, I usually need to know where it is. So, last night, I started to work out the world in which the characters in the new collaborative project I’m working on are going to come from.
I had a loose story – one of revenge – only loosely planned out. The characters weren’t coming to me though beyond my two protagonists. I needed something to help me bring more lives out, so I started with their environment and worked my way out. Before I knew it, I had a city in mind, as well as the non-human entities that lived there. I started to imagine what life there would be like. It would easily kill any but the most cautious of humans, but the spiritual, non-human residents were attuned to it. They’d be similar to us in a lot of ways though.
I pushed further. Who were their neighbors? How did they interact? What was the rhyme and reason for their cosmology? How do they feel about humans and their strange home called Earth? How did they interact? And after asking these questions, I felt the supporting cast crop up like seeds planted in good earth. Now I had a mentor for my two protagonists. Soon I had an enemy. Then others who would make life interesting for friend and foe alike. And before I knew it, the story was starting to find itself.
If only it wrote itself – that’d be a trick!
But this is a part of the process for me. Sometimes to work out the little details I have to start big and not be afraid to step into that large world I’ve just created.
So I’m making the world as big as I want. The more the merrier.