Oct 14, 2009

World Building - Where the Action Happens!

My last family workshop for NaNoWriMo focused on Character Building. I'm still in pain over my heroine's name, instead of something mysterious, I kept creating names that sounded like female anatomy or flatulence. Darn it, they can all be called Bob and Sue until I do a naming workshop.

My next workshop for the family will be the first step in World Building.

You may have more than one world to build. My fantasy story will move from the real world to a magical realm. Emily's (miss 11) story will have her character travel through several different magical worlds. She will do a world building exercise for each of those.

Worlds are big things to create, Rome is just one city, but we all know that took longer than one day to build. My intial focus will be solely on the habitat.

I've broken this workshop into two parts, the lists and the drawing. You can do either first, I love the lists, my kids will probably want to draw theirs first. 

Download the free world building PDF form CLICK HERE (download the PDF, then you can edit it to suit your needs or print)

 Step 1: The Written World Description
I will create a worksheet with questions to answer about our worlds covering the following points. Everyone will fill one in for each world.
  • Binaries and Parallels - What's the same as our world and what's different?
  • Temperature - Is it below freezing or really humid? The temperature of your world will affect the type of vegetation you have, and even the action that can take place (imagine The Wizard of Oz without a tornado). Is your weather seasonal or is it always like this?
  • Landscape - When your character stands still, what can they see and how far can they see? Can they see Mountains, ranges, hills or a horizon?
  • Ground cover - Dirt, rocks, pebbles, sand, grass or snow? How does it feel to walk under your character's feet? What sound is made when they walk on it?
  • Vegetation - Tree varieties, weeds, shrubs, edible fruits, mushrooms and flowers. This can create scents and colour to your story. Plants are used for more than shelter and food. Sometimes they can be medicines and sometimes they are just for enjoyment. Do your characters like to pick flowers? Or maybe there's a plant like tobbacco that they smoke? And maybe it's not good for them and they find out they could die from it. Maybe some yummy looking berries are poisonous.
Now beyond the ground.
  • Laws of Physics - Will your land obey them? Is there gravity? How might this affect your characters?
  • Sun/Moon/Stars - What is the natural light like or what alternatives are there for light? Does sun or moon or stars play a role in your character's religion?
  • Civilisation - Is your world built up or entirely natural? Are there pathways, roads, houses, airports, industry?
Step 2 - Drawing

  • Draw rough maps of the entire area and show how your different locations meet up.
  • Draw up an outline of each town, where are the homes, the shops, the tavern, etc.
  • Then go wild and paint or sketch lots of views of your world, be as artistic as you want!
Want to visuaslise your world but don't have crayon skills?
  • Make a virtual world in a game like Sims3 or Second Life or perhaps you can suggest one?
  • Search online, steal National Geographic magazines and travel brochures. Cut out all the elements that match your world and glue them onto a large sheet of cardboard. Layout the pictures to align with your map, showing where the rainforest is compared to the Castle and what you pass when you travel from one to the other. You can keep this by your desk while you write.
Next it will be time to populate this world with wildlife and people.

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