So, put up with me again. Yes, I know I’m not an expert, you didn’t like blah blah book of mine, whatever. This post isn’t for you. It’s for those just trying to write their first (or maybe second) book.
Most of you know about worldbuilding, but here I mean Romance Fantasy worldbuilding. By that, I mean not SciFi. Definitely not. I don’t have the cahones or skill. But the run of the mill, Lord of the Ringsish, questish, other world that doesn’t exist.
I know how to cheat. Yep, and it’s so freaking easy.
One thing I’ve received high marks for in reviews is for worldbuilding. Especially for Lords of Ch’i, in which I had to make up a world ruled by the Elements and with a different look and feel to each part.
See, the trouble with fantasy is that you always, always tend to put your people in the Wood (with a capital W). It’s green and leafy and full of elves and fairies and whatnot. And guess what? We’ve all read it and seen it. A bazillion times. It can be really dull. But if that is the only thing you have in your toolkit, use it. Because when it comes to cheating on worldbuilding, the key is to….Write What You Know. Yup.
Here’s how it works. You’ve been to, let’s say, Jamaica. Think for a moment about Jamaica. Lush. What crops do they grow in a lush environment like that? What do they wear? Flora, fauna, mountains, waterfalls, turquoise water, dramatic skies. What are the “native” houses like? You’re not expecting a lot of white marble or Indiana limestone. Probably not moted castles. BUT–what would a fortress look like in Jamaica?
How about food? Drink? I’m not suggesting you have your elves sit down to a round of Red Stripe beer.
Try another location–Iowa. Yep, I said Iowa. Flat, lakes, pig farms. And some pig farms. And then a few farms.
Because, you see, a world is believable when all the parts go together. The anthropology/sociology/archaeology/all the -ologies work. And it will be fresh, because your dragon-fighting sword wielding dude won’t run into all the other dudes from the other Nano’ers in the Wood.
Try it. Pull together a place that makes sense. Places on Earth mostly make sense. Egypt, camels, the need for water, tents, stone. We tried it on this planet and found what worked. Oh, did I mention you can pick any century, even millenium on our planet and it still works. That gives you a lot to work with that doesn’t look like Lord of the Rings.