Saturday, January 9, 2010

Worldbuilding woes

I'm toying with the idea of creating a fantasy world in which to write some of my stories. I've always loved science fiction and fantasy stories (J.R.R. Tolkein, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey and David/Leigh Eddings rock!). I was so into it that I was involved in the Pern fanfic world for a number of years.

So, creating a world of my own isn't outside the realm of possibility but it means coming up with names. Country and town names. Names of species of animals. Gods and Goddesses. Even more, you have to create maps. Climate. To write one short little novella set in that world, you have to create the world in the first place so that future stories remain consistent. Needless to say, I'm finding this a little daunting.

I've posted on the FF&P loop asking for some assistance and they've been great. What's FF&P you ask? It's an online chapter of the Romance Writers of America specifically for writers who create Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal stories.

One of the FF&P writers suggested I start with which was indeed very helpful. It's mostly for gamers but it works for authors too. While on that site, I found an interesting link for a place name generator at . Lots of good ideas there. I'm still having some trouble creating the names of some animal species though. Do I stick with tried and true "earth" type names or do I make something up. And if I make something up - how do I start with that?

Also, I like to know where I am so I want to try to create a map. I've actually done this in the past - and I hand drew it. But I really don't want to sit down and try to hand draw a map anymore. I want something quick and easy - so sue me. :-) I think I may have found something.

I pulled up a trusty search engine and typed in fantasy mapping software. What came up was Profantasy Software. I'm not endorsing these guys as yet, but I am considering a purchase. Their Campaign Cartographer 3 looks really awesome! I downloaded a demo of the Fractal Terrains. It was really fascinating - but I think it might be a bit more advanced than I am. CC3 looks like it might be manageable. I just wish there was a demo of that software to download. It would be really great to test drive it to see if it will work for me. Someone has created some YouTube vids of how to create a map using the software and what I watched looks pretty darn cool. So, if I buy it. I'll let you know. And the cool thing is—aside from being fun—this is a business purchase.

So when you're creating worlds? How do you do it? When you're reading fantasy, do the maps and naming skills help or hinder your reading enjoyment? Let me know what you think!


  1. I like maps and such, but I'm not as fond of twisted spellings, hyphenations, apostrophes, and the like. Whether you are writing about a world that speaks "English", your book is in English and... It gets very meta if you think about it too hard.

  2. Wow! So many great ideas. I'd like to come up not with names, but with phrases and words in a kind of english/fantasy language mix. Language is so cool and I really believe it's a reflection of culture. Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to figure my "creole" out. At least not yet. So I feel your pain with your naming problems...