World Building: Where the Muse Strikes

Breaking away from Turned/Red to look at a new project I’m working on: my epic paranormal fantasy.  You read that right.  Paranormal.  Fantasy.  A “I see dead people” meets Tamora Pierce world.  I’m very excited; the characters are starting to come into their own, and so is the world, which is never easy.  World building is very difficult, in case you didn’t know.  This world has been particularly interesting.

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Places To Travel Before You Die:
Dubrovnik, Croatia

When I started out, I knew I didn’t want a typical European-like medieval fantasy.  Oh sure, it is pre-gunpowder, so there are a lot of swords, and knives, and staffs.  But there’s no “winter.”  There’s no wool.  It’s all silk and cotton.  There are veils, and gold coin jewelry, leather armor, and sandals.  The air is sweltering most of the time, but the nights are cool.  The food is Croatian, or Slavic.  There are droughts in the plains, trade routes being block, and border wars.  And it’s a lot to organize, but so much fun to build.

There’s always a gateway for me into world building.  Sometimes it is an image I find on Pinterest (we don’t want to know how much time I spend on Pinterest), or a recipe, or a phrase a friend of mine says.  In the case of my new project (I’ve lovingly titled Ghost Crown), it is my little known Croatian heritage.  I’ve spent so much time investing in the Irish/Scottish side, that I wanted to dive into the Croatian, and the more I did, the more the world built itself.

It started with an image of the Grand Palaiska (the royal palace) where it had this very Roman feel with stone pillars, silks draping about, the dress code is delicate, draping about them, silks and cottons, leather and studs.  Everything is open.  The moment that image solidified, the moment I knew I had a place, a time, and a story.  I knew I was taking my love of Roman architecture, and mixing it with Croatian, or sometimes Slavic words, foods, names.

Then I drew a map.  I hate maps.  Half-way through a story, I ignore them to re-write

Ivy covered arcades at Mirogoj  Zagreb, Croatia - Beautiful long outdoor corridor !
Mirogoj Zagreb, Croatia

them how I want/need them to look.  But I did it.  I drew a map with town names, and mountains, and lakes, and neighboring countries.  Oddly enough, this time?  It stuck.  So far.  I’m only 30k words into the story.  There’s still plenty of time for me to chuck it out the window.

But the world is there now.  I know my country’s name: Srebrov.  I know their neighbors.  I know there are docks that my POV character can see from her balcony.  I know there are mountains, and plain-lands where food is grown.  I know there’s a bit of land in dispute between my country and their rival/enemy.  I know the south could care less about the north.  I know these things, and once I know them (and it takes some time.  It isn’t over night), suddenly, I have a story.  The people show up and populate them.

My stories are character driven, but I have to create their world first.  And it’s fun.  Creating a world from scratch means you get to make it up.  You get to decide.  I mean, once the characters show up, I lose all the control, but at least I made their world…  I can still pretend like I did something.

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