Creating a Fictional World

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Llair
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Creating a Fictional World

#1 Post by Llair » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:46 pm

I was wondering how you guys go about creating a world for a VN. I watched an interview where R.A. Salvatore was talking about the process he went through to create the history and cultures of Amalur, and I picked up a few things that I'll hopefully be able to use. Salvatore's method seemed to involve asking a lot of questions like "Why does this exist?", "How would people react if this happened?", and "If they had this, would they really need that?"

Here's the link for anyone who's curious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDFvR3NjEUc

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LateWhiteRabbit
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Re: Creating a Fictional World

#2 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:17 pm

I've always used what I call the ASPIRE method. It was taught to me by an old college professor, mainly for studying historical cultures, but i have found it invaluable for creating cultures as well.

It works like this:
A - Aesthetics / Art
S - Social
P - Politics
I - Intellectual / Science
R - Religion
E - Economics

By breaking down all the component parts of your fictional world (and its culture) like this, you determine how all the pieces fit together. After you've determined all those different aspects of your fictional culture you will know everything about it. The way the different components interact will also tell you a lot about your fictional setting.

Let's take 'R' or religion for example, using the Western medieval world:
Religion affected art, inspiring large ornate cathedrals and massive murals depicting religious themes. One of the largest patrons of the arts was the Church - but the Church also stifled the free expression of the artists, punishing artists that chose to depict obscene or blasphemous topics.

Religion also affected politics, with the Pope supporting kings and crowning the Holy Roman emperors, or even directing holy wars be undertaken in the name of the Church, thus in proxy commanding the large armies of the various monarchies.

Religion effected economics, with monarchies and commoners alike expected to support the church through tithes and offerings, making the Church one of the wealthiest powers in the world.

Socially, it was unacceptable to stand against the Church, blaspheme it, or disagree with its practices. Even kings had to make social concessions to the Church. The village priest often acted as an arbitrator for townsfolk and the church was the center of town life.

Intellectually, the Church stifled many scientific discoveries that threatened or contradicted Church dogma. However, they were also seats of learning, with the Church teaching many people how to read and right, and preserving books and knowledge in their monasteries.

As you can see, each part of the ASPIRE model effects all the others. Get this detailed or more with all the interactions between the components of the model in your fictional setting and you will literally find how your society ticks, and be able to answer any question about it.

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Re: Creating a Fictional World

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:45 pm

I've been learning a lot from the people at Writing Excuses about fictional worlds. Right now they have several free audio discussions about world building. Hopefully someone will find these useful.

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Llair
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Re: Creating a Fictional World

#4 Post by Llair » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:24 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:I've always used what I call the ASPIRE method. It was taught to me by an old college professor, mainly for studying historical cultures, but i have found it invaluable for creating cultures as well.

It works like this:
A - Aesthetics / Art
S - Social
P - Politics
I - Intellectual / Science
R - Religion
E - Economics
I like it. My story idea is going to involve at least two different races with different cultures, and hopefully I'll be able to use this effectively.
gekiganwing wrote:I've been learning a lot from the people at Writing Excuses about fictional worlds. Right now they have several free audio discussions about world building. Hopefully someone will find these useful.
I'll definitely listen to them when I have the time.

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Re: Creating a Fictional World

#5 Post by crGrey » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:40 pm

As a person who has created two, VERY in-depth worlds for Pen and Paper RPGs (although that isn't exactly the same thing), the ASPIRE model works nicely. Another thing you have to take into account, though, is how ALIKE your world is to ours.

When you write a story, you have to connect the reader to what's going on. Without giving that person a whole book on the history of your world, you need to have them understand what is different in your character's world.

A good example:
"Jastim didn't realize he was being watched, for all who travel into the Watchtower at night were observed by unseen eyes."

You don't have to tell them WHY he was being watched, but you could add one thing and make it more descriptive to the world the reader comes from.

"Jastim didn't realize he was being watched, for all who travel into the Watchtower at night were seen; trained on by unseen eyes from the dark corners of the stone walls."

In the second example's case: we liken what is watching him to the security cameras we all have probably seen in the uper corners of rooms. It doesn't matter if it's just actually trained security personally on hand to observe but not be seen, or it's something more fantastical.

The more different from our own world it is, the more time you are going to spend relating the reader to the scene and the characters. When you create your own world, you have to be able to both see the ASPIRE from the point of view of a god (3rd person, omnipotent) and from that of the ordinary individual as well. Just because something in the ASPIRE model is true, does not mean that the character doesn't think it's false for whatever reason.

I also like to create a map of parts of the world that are important. Geographic location is very important to understanding how groups of people realate to eachother. Are they too close, to far from eachother? Do they mix or are the people segregated? By any of the ASPIRE aspects? What other influences have major affect on their ASPIRE traits? Climate and proximity to resources?

If you are playing the Romeo and Juliet theme, is it JUST their race that is an issue? Think about the background science aspect of it: can their species procreate? Is it genetically possible to have a child between the two? Has it ever been tried? Did it turn out ok, or were other factors a large part of the issue?

Anyway, hope I helped.
If you need any ideas on geography just PM me, I can send you a map and some ideas on what affects groups of people and why.

-crGrey

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Re: Creating a Fictional World

#6 Post by Gavrilo » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:55 pm

These are very good tips on fictional world building. If you are unsure how to start anything, just think about the role of the world within your story. If your main character is a rebel, fighting against the system, then an authoritative government quickly comes to mind. It can make the reader feel sympathetic and horrified by his situation. On the other hand, maybe things are not so bad, but there is a rebel group trying to seize the power. Maybe the reader could choose which side is right? Finally, if there's absolutely nothing wrong at all, then the main character is just an insane conspiracy theorist. That could be a nice twist! Once you've decided where to start, it's time to work on the details.

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