Sunday, February 26, 2012

World Building Part I

I'm constantly updating this, so look for changes in underline.

It hit me yesterday that there will be some moments coming up in TL where I need to do some world building. (TS could also use a bit, but that can be put off for a while.) I can't just think "Well, think early 1900s, and you have Cat's world." I need to start thinking of things that make Cat's world unique. That said... What do I need to think about? Here are things other authors have suggested in other world building posts, as well as things I have thought of:

  1. Geography 
    • Making maps is a good idea.
      1. How many islands does you world have?
      2. Volcanoes?
      3. Mountains?
      4. Where are towns?
        • What kind of people live there?
        • What jobs do they offer? Are towns set up in certains areas? 
          1. Farming towns?
          2. Mining towns?
          3. Fishing towns?
    • Are there any unexplored/blocked areas? Why?
    • Don't be afraid to base one country off another, but be careful not to make it so obvious you offend people. 
    • Where are farms?
      1. What do people farm? 
      2. Who are the farmers?
    • Oceans.
      • What kind of sea creatures live there?
      • What kind of boats travel the sea?
      • Are there pirates? Who is the most and least fearsome?
      • Are there any major ocean liners? (Think Titanic.) What are they like?
      • Are their any famous sinkings?
  2. Food.
    1. Do they eat meat?
    2. Vegetables?
    3. Do they go on diets?
    4. Do they eat much unhealthy food?
    5. Where does the food come from?/Who makes it?
  3. Wars.
    • Why are they at war?
    • Do they have enough supplies?
    • What countries are their allies?
    • What weapons do they fight with? Don't be afraid to make up new ones.
    • Do they have a good general?
      1. Who is the general?
      2. How do people feel about him?
      3. How experienced is he? Etc.
    • Do people support the war? 
      1. Are they making any scracfies for the war? 
      2. Do they make things to support the war?
    • Has your MC lost anyone fighting? How do they feel about it?
    • Who are the soldiers?
      1. Men?
      2. Women?
      3. Can anyone serve? What keeps people from serving? Why or why not?
        • Injuries.
        • Gender.
        • Religion.
        • Past history.
        • Sexual orientation.
  4. Religion
    1. Are they monotheistic?
    2. Polytheistic?
    3. Atheists?
    4. Reincarnations?
    5. Do they worship animals?
    6. Nature?
    7. Also keep in mind creation stories, how they think the world will end, etc.
    8. What rules do religions have? Do people care more about those or a relationship with their deity(s)?
    9. Does the religion your characters follow really exist, or is a fake one that is made up? Whether or not the characters know they are right is up to you. ;)
  5. Customs
    • What rituals do they follow? 
    • How to they observe them? 
    • Do they get days off? 
    • Are they followed for for:
      • Government.
      • Religion.
      • Military.
      • Celebrated leaders. (Think Martin Luther King Jr.)
      • Themselves.
    • Manners. 
      1. What is rude?
      2. What is polite?
  6. Government
    • Monarchy?
    • Democracy?
    • Theocracy? (Government based off religion.)
    • Do people like the government?
    • What are sub-departments?
      1. Foreign affairs.
      2. Sports.
      3. Creatures.
      4. Food.
      5. Religion.
      6. Jobs.
      7. Law.
      8. Protection of people.
      9. Basically, brainstorm real-life government departments.
    • What is the army, military, navy, etc like?
      1. Is it a draft?
      2. How to people feel about the army/navy/etc?
  7. Fashion. 
    • How do people dress? 
    • Do they dress for comfort, work, or style?
    • How does location effect dress codes?
    • How do morals/values effect dress?
    • Do men/women dress different? 
    • Does it look like a certain era? 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1970s. 
    • How does religion effect dress?
    • Do people wear tatoos, earrings, etc? What about jewelry?
  8. Politics 
    • What is controversial in your world? What is their equivalent of abortion rights debates, for example?) Why is it controversial?
    • Who are the politicians, what do they believe? Are they corrupt?
  9. Currency.
    • Who do they put on currency? Politicians? Religious leaders? Someone else?
    • What color are the coins?
    • What are they made of?
  10. Disasters.
    • Where do natural disasters occur in your world? Do they have lots of tornadoes, hurricanes, or something else?
    • Have they ever had a mass tragedy, such as a mass murder, or terrorist attack? Were those people caught?
    • Does the government help clean up those tragedies or someone else?
    • What was the worst disaster to ever happen in your world? How did it effect your characters, if at all?
  11. Races/Appearances.
    • What do you people look like? Do they have the same hair/eye/skin color as us?
    • Do they have anything out of the ordinary about their appearence such as fur/scales/claws/something else?
    • Has your character's past effected how they look, dress, etc? (Example: Harry Potter having a lightning bold scar from the night his parents died.)
  12. Health.
    • Do they go on diets?
    • How do they exercise?
    • What do sleeping patterns look like?
    • Do people even care about keeping fit?
  13. Transport:
    • Cars?
    • Wagons?
    • Magic?
    • Boats?
    • Animals?
    • Planes/other flying machines.
  14. Architecture
    1. Big or small.
    2. Stain glass?
    3. Skyscrapers?
    4. Stone,wood, clay, or brick buildings?
    5. Teepees? 
    6. Do they live underground, or in homes dug in hills?
    7. Architecture isn't really my thing, so the best advice I have is trying googling pictures of buildings you want to describe.
  15. Large Gatherings
    • Weddings
    • Funerals
    • Graduations
    • Religious Holidays
    • Birthdays
    • What are decorations like?
    • Anything else I might not have covered?
  16. Hospitals
    • How are they ran?
    • Who is on the staff?
    • What do they use to treat people?
      1. Magic?
      2. Medicine?
      3. Something else?
    • What do they treat?
    • Who is allowed to be a doctor and who is not?
    • What illnesses can't be cured?
  17. Sports
    1. How many people play them?
    2. How do you get fouled?
    3. How many balls are used?
    4. Do they use animals?
    5. For fantasies, is magic involved?
  18. Jobs 
    • Who does them?
    • Do men or women work more?
    • Are there any "dirty jobs" that people look down on characters having?
    • What jobs are popular/glamorous?
  19. Schools
    • Where are people schooled?
      1. Do people go to boarding schools?
        1. Where is the school?
        2. Where do students sleep?
        3. How often do they see their families?
        4. Is technology or magic allowed?
        5. Do they play sports against each other, or rival schools?
      2. Are they homeschooled?
      3. Do public schools exist?
    • Behavior
      1. How well to students behave? Do they do homework?
      2. How are students punished if they don't do work? Follow rules?
    • Is the school known for its teachers?
      1. Are they strict?
      2. Do they give lots of homework?
      3. Are they good mentors?
    • Or is it known for a certain subject?
      • Is there anything that school is forbidden to teach about?
      • Are they forced to teach something that is untrue?
    • What about cliques? 
      1. Who is popular?
        • Is it because of money?
        • Family?
        • Social status outside school?
        • Jobs?
        • Good looks?
        • Hobbies?
      2. Who is nerdy?
        1. See reasons for why kids are popular.
  20. Magic and its limits (If you are writing fantasy)
    • Can it run out?
    • Do you need to say a word?
    • Do you need something to channel it? (Like a wand.)
    • Is it genetic, or can you "steal" magic? If you can get magic, how? Is there a souce?
    • Do only people or animals have magic? Is is gender-specific?
  21. Technology(If any). What do they have in place of:
    • Computers.
    • Telephones.
    • Cars.
    • Refrigerators, ovens, etc.
    • TV.
    • Radios.
    • Keep in mind that if you throw one thing in, something else might have been invented too. Such as, would an ipod exist without the computer?
    • Also ask yourself what if X hadn't been invented, such as the phone?
  22. How People Come of Age
    1. Do they threw parties?  
    2. Is it not a big deal?
  23. Family Life
    • Are people even raised by their families? 
      • How close are people to their parents, siblings, etc? 
        1. Does age affect closeness?
        2. Birth order?
        3. Something else?
    • How close are they to extended families?
      • Do they even see extended families?
    • I know I'm going to get cyber-shot for this but... What about incest? 
      1. Is it taboo?
        • Who hates it?
        • Why do they hate it?
      2. Okay to a degree? For who?
        •  Royalty? 
        • Poor?
    • Adoption. 
      1. Do people frown on it? 
        • Why?
      2. Are all people adopted? 
        • Why?
  24. Class
    • Who is rich? Poor? Etc.
    • How do they view each other?
    • How are the lives of the rich/poor similar? Different?
  25. Prejudices
    • Don't tell me your world doesn't have any prejudice, because sadly it happens.... Look at how many different times the US has been prejudged:
      1. Against black people.
      2. Against Chinese people.
      3. Against Native Americans
      4. Against Irish people.
      5. Against Mexicans.
    • Are people in your world prejudged over looks?
    • Jobs?
    • Customs?
    • No matter what they dislike, think about why.
  26. Celebrities
    1. Do they have any privacy?
    2. Do people look up to them?
      • If so, do they care about their morals?
      • Looks?
      • Fashion?
      • Home life?
      • Religion?
  27. Prisons
    • How do people view prisoners?
    • Has anyone ever escaped? Were they caught?
    • What guards the prisons?
      1. Animals?
      2. People?
      3. Something scary(Example, soul sucking dementors from HP.)
      4. Does location make it hard to escape?
        • Is their prison even on Earth?
        • Underground?
        • On an island?
        • In a mountain?
    • Are there any famous prisoners?
  28. Methods of Communication
    • Do they use animals? (Think owls from Harry Potter.)
    • Do telephones exits yet?
    • Texting?
    • Newspapers?
    • Or just plain old word of mouth?
  29. Time.
    • Does your characters' world run on the same time schedule ours does?
      1. How long is a day?
      2. Month?
      3. Year?
  30. Hobbies.
    • What do people do for fun? This really depends on how advanced your society is. 
      1. If in modern-like times:
        • What kind of TV shows do they watch?
        • Movies?
        • Radio? 
        • Etc.
      2. If in the past:
        • What do they like to read?
        • What music do they like(be warned, I have a whole other category coming just for music.)
        • Mostly, think about what kind of world you have so far, and then ask yourself, "if I was in this world, what would I find to entertain myself?"
  31. Music.
    1. Do they have many instruments? Are there some of ours they don't have? Do they have anything totally new?
    2. Who performs it, singers, an orchestra? Traveling minstrels?
    3. What kind of songs would your character know? I'm guessing if they are from the country, they will know different tunes than the prince of their land will. 
  32. Cultures. How are various countries different?
      1. Does your country run any territories, like how the US "owns" Porto Rico?
      2. How to they dress differently?
      3. Do they speak different languages, or just have different accents but the speak the same language? What do the accents sound like?
      4. Do people have similar, or different names?
      5. Do they follow different religions?
      6. Do have practice different kinds of medicines?
      7. Do they have different methods of communicating?
      8. Are they located in different geographic regions?
      9. I could probably go on all day here, so I'm going to cut this bit off and say that main my advice is just to look at the stuff above and ask how you can make the main country the story is in and other countries really different.
  33. Names.
    1. What kind of names do they have?
    2. Are they similar to our names?
    3. Are they hard to pronounce?
    4. Could you borrow names based off of real-life cultures?
    5. Is it customary to name a child something specific, like naming them after a relative? I once saw Jill Williamson say online, maybe it was on GTWs, that she gave her characters names based off location, like if they lived near the sea, they were named Aljee.JK Rowling is also good at naming characters, if you want to take a look at her naming process, Families in her books tend to have similar names, such as the Evans sisters being named Lily and Petunia, or all of the Black family being named after constellations, or even a character in the epilogue naming their children after loved ones(If you're read it, you know who I mean, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers, for those who haven't read.) Basically, think about what your character's parents might have valued. 
  34. History.
    • What wars have been fought?
    • When were new countries/objects discovered?
    • What are some of the famous inventors/politicians/etc of your world?
    • Are there any dead civilizations? Why?
    • Have there been any civil rights movements of any kind?
    • What have been controversial things in your worlds history? (Like slavery in the US.)
    • Are there any famous disasters?
    • Think about the history of food, fashion, technology, etc. (Glance around this list for ideas. What about the history of medicine? Governments? Etc.) My good friend, Jessi, once gave me some great advice and that is to make sure that your country is changing. It shouldn't be frozen in time forever. New technology should be invented every now and then.
    • For more, I would go to history websites and look at timelines for countries like the US and Britain, and make notes about their history.
  35. Furniture-is it made of...
    • Wood.
    • Glass.
    • Plastic,
    • Stone.
    • Etc.

Wow, this turned out much longer than I thought! Do you guys have anything you want me to add?

Also, I'm thinking of making a series about this. :)

This post was inspired by the following(because you can't make a post this long without some inspiration, trust me! 90% or so of the ideas are mine, but I was inspired by a few people):