So, I should probably have more to say. Or I feel that I should have more to say. But the main thing I can think of is a revelation I had regarding mapping the world where my stories take place.
I’ve done various maps over the years. There’s a certain continent that’s pretty solid, in terms of its geography and coastline. But the rest…it’s been a migrating, inconclusive tableau for a few years. Just when I think “I’ve got it!”, I’ll make another one that, yep, “That’s right,” and so on.
The thing that I finally realized was that all this time I’ve been trying to draw a world map. Or half a world map. Like one half of my writing world’s globe. And…that’s way more than what my stories encompasses. So figuring out that my map only needs to cover a quarter of the globe helped a lot.
Of course, I know of other countries and islands and kingdoms and what have you that don’t feature on the main map. But those places are elsewhere on the globe and I don’t feel a need to place them in relation to the rest because 1. they’re far away and I don’t know everything that exists in-between, and 2. they’re not as involved in the network of history and culture that exists among the main places.
(There are exceptions to this, but the handful of places off the map that I know of, while important for different plots and characters and locational history, are only integrated in very specific instants, rather than spread out through 20K+ years my story world has been around.)
As always to anyone reading this: Best wishes and writing!
I’ve realized why my writing often lacks a “spark”. Most of the writing sources I follow or consume (and how my mind interprets them) indicate that fantasy — culture, customs, history — are just copies of this world. And copies are just reflections. More to the point, it’s hard to believe a copy-world is real on its own terms. Which makes it hard, I’d wager, for others to believe in fantasy world that doesn’t feel real, that is only a copy.
On one hand, I want to create real imagined fantasy, advice and convention tell me I have to copy. But if that’s all I have to do, why would I write at all? (If I wanted to do historical fantasy, that would be great, but I think I lean more toward imaginary fantasy. That is, fantasy that isn’t heavily historical.)
Once I started trying to “get serious” about writing a lot of the spontaneous imagination dropped out. While research is necessity for good writing, if the initial groundwork is just trying to copy the exact replica that is (or might be) the inspiration for a fantasy culture, will that seem real?
For me, a lot of rooted worldbuilding comes from percolating off nature and creating myth (the moon is a dragon’s eye, four bats created the world). Or if not nature, than fairy tales. And if not fairy tales, than just…ideas? (flurma birds that roost on the tips of crystal trees where fluff grows, whose plumage turns blue before they migrate)
The trouble is figuring out what this-world culture I’m inspired by and taking conscientious actions. Often with humans, I do know, but that’s in a copy-&-paste way, rather than deep roots. (Other than one or two fantasy human cultures.)