Cultures and Children

We don’t often think about children in speculative fiction or our games—at least, not once we stop reading entirely in the children’s section. They might be incidental characters, might possibly serve in a MacGuffin role, but they’re not likely to be the protagonist. As such, it’s easy for us to forget about them in a [...]

World-building: Some Travel Questions

One of the nice things about the modern world is that we can take travel for granted, and never realize how much it helps us. There’s a lot more impact to what’s available than you might think—even owning a car vs. taking mass transit can be the difference between a half-hour trip to get groceries [...]

Thought Exercise: Fantasy World Weapon Control

Most cities in fantasy worlds have a vested interest in people not getting into fights to the death at the drop of a hat. It isn’t that different from the real world in that respect, after all. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to limit access to weapons. So that got [...]

Five Interesting Questions When Building a Society

Most of my posts on building worlds have been at least one post per topic, sometimes a full series—which is nice and all, but not very good when covering things that don’t need ages of explication. So instead, I’m looking at simple questions with far-reaching ramifications that make for an interesting way of characterizing a [...]

Weather and Vocabulary

Yesterday, I talked about narrative uses of weather. When I discussed this with my mother the linguist, she didn’t hesitate to point out another—the interesting things that weather does to a cultural vocabulary.
There’s an Old English word, wederian. It means ‘to be good weather.’ Think about this a bit. What does it say about that [...]

Three (and a Half) Narrative Uses of Weather

Weather is one of the easiest things for a writer to forget. It’s all around us, but while it impacts us, it doesn’t always impact us much—modern conveniences tend to work around the worst of it, unless it’s reached the point of catastrophe. As a result, a lot of us—particularly those of us in “Weather? [...]

Not Just What They Look Like

Remember when we were kids, and they’d introduce us to professions with the little Platonic Member of Said Profession? The doctors in their mint-green scrubs and their hats (often red-crossed), with stethoscopes about their necks and bandages in their hands, the police officers in uniform with badges and whistles?
We remember that. So most of us, [...]

Reprise: Writing/Worldbuilding Exercise: Three Things You Can Find in a…

The reruns continue. This one was originally posted on March 30, 2009.
One of the things that makes a world seem more like a world and less like a static backdrop is the presence of things that are suited to the location and aren’t directly relevant to the action. In some cases, this [...]

Reprise: Water, Water

It’s finals week. A perfect time for reruns. Regular posts will (most likely) resume next Sunday night.
Originally posted July 13, 2008.
It’s one of the classical elements, and necessary for life. In legend, it has been credited with births and deaths, healing and disasters. It’s been walked through, walked on, and floated over. [...]

Map, Elaborate, Question: From Characters to World (and Plot!)

Yesterday, I talked about building a world around characters, rather than building enough of a world to mold characters into and moving outward from there. I’ve been toying with this recently, and I’ve found a pretty good sequence for trying to grow outward from one or two characters to a plot and a world.
I start [...]