In the past I’ve started just writing a story with or without a (rough) outline. I had some ideas of a world in my mind, but that was as far as it went. I wrote the stories, but I always felt they were missing something. It turned out they were actually missing a lot: World Building & Research
Why do I do World Building?
First of all, Dragon Rider’s Seer is a High Fantasy novel. According to Wikipedia, High Fantasy is
defined as fantasy set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than “the real”, or “primary” world.
And that is exactly what the world in Dragon Rider’s Seer is: a completely fictional world that has no relation with Earth. This means that although some things may seem similar to earth they are not as they are on earth. In this case my novel is set in a pseudo-medieval world with hints of Roman influences. To be able to write a believable novel I need to know what that world looks like, feels like, smells like. Only then can I show it to you.
In a movie or a TV series you are shown the environment, just like in video games. In a book however, there are no pictures to show you what everything looks like, besides the occasional map. As an author I have to be creative in using ONLY words to show what the world looks like. I can tell you a building is made up of stone, but what kind of stone is it?
I can tell you a woman is wearing a dress, but what kind of dress is she wearing?
In addition to the above there are dozens if not thousands of little and big things to know about. It may not all be described in detail in my books, but to set the right mood and environment, world building is needed.
Why do I do Research?
From the moment I had the idea for this story I always felt the Dragon Riders would be more then Riders in a group. They would have a much stronger bond, stronger than a band of brothers even. But I also knew it wouldn’t be something like a Soulmate bond. But what was it? I couldn’t put my finger on it yet.
That was until I read Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices and Immortal Instruments series. There was one thing that intrigued me a lot: the Parabataì phenomenon. The only real historic thing that was mentioned, was that it was supposed to be a Greek thing. But what exactly was it? What made it so special?
The short description I did have was enough to convince me I might be onto something for my Dragon Riders.
And that’s why I started my research on Parabataì. I will tell you one thing already: there is precious little known about Parabataì. In a future article I will go into more depth about this bond, but for now I’ll leave you with a translated image from Plutarch.
How to Research and Build a World?
I’m using a combination of different sources for World Building:
- Fantasy World Builder Guide by Stephanie Cottrell Bryant
- 7 Deadly Sins of World Building by Charlie Jane Anders
- Creating a Story Bible by RJ Blain: The Basics, World Building, Characters
- What to research when writing Fantasy by Brianna DaSilva
Even though I already have a rough outline and an idea of my characters, this process helps to define these better and to understand my world better. Only then will I be able to explain it to you.
As for Research, Google is my friend. I’ve found lots of inspiration, resources and photos & drawings through Google. The image above this article is a nice example of this research. I was looking for an entrance to Dragon City that could give access to an underground city and remain hidden at the same time. But it also had to have the possibility to get there. Now, for Dragons it’s easy. But for those who are not on a dragon…… Well, you’ll need to read Dragon Rider’s Seer to see how you get access to the city.
What do you do?
Are you a Fantasy Writer? If so, how do you go about your world in your story? Do you make it up as you go? Or are you a full out world builder and research? Or perhaps something in between?
Or are you a Fantasy Reader? What do you like most about the worlds in your favorite fantasy books? Many details, or less? Thorough descriptions? Maps? Or do you perhaps prefer the “real world” with a hint of Fantasy?
Let me know in the comments!