Building blocks of creation
We as writers set about creating our worlds, building cities, creating religions and generally building societies from the ground up. Most of us have learned a lot about world building from other authors or from reading history books.
I’m a history nerd. I have books on ancient Rome, London, Greece, general world history, U.S. History. I also have a few that deal with different sections of world history–Fall of Rome, one on Theodosius about the holy trinity–U.S. History–Civil War, Federalist Papers and the Constitution.
Learning from history
When I bought these books it was for no other reason than I wanted to learn about these things. Now that I’m writing every night I’ve discovered that knowing all of these things about these societies has helped me do world building. It wasn’t something I thought of until recently. Staring at my notes for my epic fantasy novel and the sixty plus pages of drawings, notes, characters bios, city biographies and names I realized that I’d been learning this stuff my whole life, just never knew it.
My grandfather traced our family back to King George, yes the King George that ruled during the U.S. colonial times. He also told my dad and I that we have had a family member in every war since the revolution. My grandfather fought in Leyte Gulf during World War II, he received a bronze star and a purple heart.
I’ve always found that when I learned something about a society it made me want to learn more. When I learned more about it I understood it. As writers we world build to understand our creations. If they have laser swords (Star Wars) we want to know how they work. If they have suits of armor that let them jump great distances (Way of Kings-Brandon Sanderson).
Making our religion
We also world build to understand our own world, our own religions, our own societies.
Creating a society from scratch gives each of us the god feeling, which is what we are to our creations. Do they ever look up and say, “Hey, why did you kill my mother with that big axe? She wasn’t doing nuthin.”
Nope, just like us. Our creations go along with their lives ignoring that we are there. Sure they pray to their gods in the same way we do. They may do things a little different than us, but we always take something about ourselves, our society or our religion into our writing.
Finding my religion
When I set about writing my epic fantasy book there were things I wanted to put in it, things I knew were me. I also did my research on Magic Systems and use law 1 and 2 and have a magic system that is different from anything I’ve read about. When “good” writing happens you know it. When “good” world building happens you know it. It is something that you can’t explain. Finding my religion and how it relates to magic and what comes about including consequences, magic always has to have consequences.
The one thing I realized after creating the tiers of the religions, the societies and cities is that they resembled places I’d been in history. They were in Rome, London, or Colonial Virginia. But everything I wrote I could relate to something I read from a history book.
We really do write the history of worlds, whether they are ours or not.