World Building: Fantasy-Lands, Nations & Administration in ‘The Precipice Dominions’

Any Way is Possible

Some writers have great fun with literally creating lands, others skirt around preferring to deal with the persons and circumstances. As with all writing both alternatives are fine, if handled correctly. ‘Correctly’ being that for the former, the reader enjoys or is interested by the visit, for the latter that the reader doesn’t notice it too much. And there of course are varying degrees of both. For I would never claim one approach is better than the other. As for myself I work in the middle ground, this may be due to a certain impatience to get selected things done. Always looking for flexibility and trying to avoid anything which might to bog down the narrative

Setting Up A Land

Since my ‘world’ could be fixed in a sort of future of this world AND my personal current location is on the western edge of Europe there was a tendency to look to this continent as a basis for the lands and nations. There were a few obvious similarities to the current distributions of populations and shapes of the continent, but great detail was avoided. Justifying this was quite easy. There had been ‘The Ethereal Arrival’ and in consequence a number of upheavals in climate and land masses (the latter probably caused by flooding and changes in sea-levels; the records are still sketchy). Overall though I had ‘A Europe’ in mind.

Any Maps?

I have some seen some marvellous maps portraying the lands in which fantasy books are set. I did try this on a couple of occasions, but the narrative tended result in far too many re-drawing of boundaries, there were even a few rather pronounced geological events, so the idea was dropped as not conducive to my processes. It was hoped folk could roughly envisage the overall picture from the narrative.

Peoples and Nations

Having set a background of a past Great Disruption allowed me to play fast and loose with the general population spreads as suited the narrative. Actually a positive minefield should these books ever became good sellers. Whereas places such as Tuscatalia had some sort of vaguely recognisable Italian base and some could be identified as sort of Germanic this was not always so. I fear some people of some communities and nations would be upset that they appeared to have been supplanted by others, for this I apologise, there was no slight intended. Bear with me, your turn might well come in future volumes. On this subject I would cite our own….

Deep History

A journey throughout history will show that folk tend to move around a bit. Consider Burgundy, currently identified as being a central France, to the east. The folk started off somewhere in Scandinavia, were in part of Poland and moved westwards. In the turbulence ‘my’ world experienced `, once more I cite upheavals.

Politics

Since a great deal of Fantasy which is not ‘Urban’ tends to be set in eras prior to the era we would recognise as the late 17th Century, empires, kingdoms and princedoms proliferate. I decided on a ‘Europe’ wide empire. HOWEVER since I personally find all encompassing (and suspiciously efficient) cruel empires places where clichés tend to lurk, my option was for somethings little more chaotic and resembling the Holy Roman Empire. In my empire The Oakhostian the standard administrative unit is a princedom (with large smattering of city states and other favoured units). The princes themselves have to be wary of their grand dukes who are often the ones with the vicious backbone. Emperors in all shapes, sizes and levels of effectiveness have come and gone, often reliant of the ‘organs of state’ to hold the whole thing together. These backgrounds allowed for a degree of flexibility in an era where no one is totally in control, states within states conduct their own agendas, princes try to survive their own grand dukes and a young emperor who no one rates plans his own means of imposing his will. This avoids the often ghastly cliché of the ‘Emperor’s Finest’ who are either from a religious office or some proto- palace guard and if not handled properly pop up like a clutch of pantomime villains grinning (possibly twirling moustaches) and picking on usually defenceless folk, with no one thinking to pick them off in guerrilla warfare.

Religion

First I am a Christian, by choice Catholic, with beliefs on Inclusivity which would probably get me finger wagged by a bishop and this I daresay has some sorts of influence. Historically once a religion becomes subsumed within the state apparatus there can be a tendency to become moribund in fervour of faith and more concerned with inconsequential minutiae. Thus was created in my world The Ecclesiastes. Whereas religion and its apparatus is all about the place its influence is mostly by convention, its feet on the ground The Translators are a mixed bag some heroic, some benign , some mean, others quite hopeless. There are the Custodians who are a sort of Inquisition and do scare folk when they turn up; Meradat is one but is scathing of his own brethren for avoiding the foremost threats. This area was something of a platform where I could poke a bit of fun at the needless excesses of all sides of the argument (including having positive figures in the religious organisations….that does annoy some dreary and sour folk, though they’ll probably not get to read my books). And there is The Libratery, the convents, if you like, who are quite independent, what their exact agenda has not been made clear, readers will have to either guess or wait. As per usual in Human Interactions there are also schisms and heresies none of these have figured much, yet.

And of course there are those who worship The Zerstorung (Demonish….). Well those ‘believers’ are idiots for a start off. Anyone who reads Vol I & II would realise those creatures are not going to give out any prizes to the bozos who show adoration to them. The Zerstorung are simply another bunch who have taken their place in and around the world and want (or ‘wants’) it. Nor do I care how ancient they are; they take their chances against things which in a very big way go ‘bang’ (Shadow Lords and Humans being very good at producing them).

Conclusion

Overall, once more, a lot of fun in creating this and again being flexible and avoiding too much detail, which with a sneaky thing such as The Ethereal/Stommigheid makes matters easier. I assert World Creating should be enjoyable, if you have to write up a small encyclopaedia of your world then I would advise you plan to do at least fix or six volumes otherwise your characters will never get a word (literally) in edgeways amongst all that detail being mentioned or explained.

Hope gives you some ideas on how to go about your own creating process.

World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Fiction and World Building

The Precipice Dominions- One Writer’s Journey

 

 

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13 thoughts on “World Building: Fantasy-Lands, Nations & Administration in ‘The Precipice Dominions’

  1. Fictional worlds rooted in the values and interests of their creators are more realistic than those thrown together without much thought. And I agree that we writers have to be careful not to overwhelm readers with details, histories, etc. We can put all that into a separate document for our own use, so as to keep track of this stuff.

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  2. I wanted the time luxury to reply in kind, but not to be, therefore let me say that your article here is informative and interesting at the same time. Who thinks about these things when the idea to write some sort of novel shows up? I never did, so it had to be “fake it ’til you make it” sort of thing for my world of T’Sing Tarleyn and particularly the one fortified city called Hyrete where, oh lucky me! much of the action takes place. I don’t think I could have handled the grand vista you have presented us with in your trilogy based on the Oakhostian empire. A ‘tour de force’ indeed.

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    1. Thanks so much Karlyn…
      Here’s the secret.
      I took all of the history I’ve ever read, mixed it with an equal measure of all the science I’ve ever read.
      Added a few teaspoonfuls of sit-coms.
      Sprinkled a measure of bits and pieces from ‘Westerns’
      Curled in a few opposites of clichés in comic books.
      Cook in my perpetual half-waking dream state.
      Anndddd then
      ‘Fake it, ’til you make it’!!
      You keep up your own good work. There is as much effort in there as in any ’empire building’ set up

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      1. Thanks Roger… and to be identified as “Karlyn” by the very author… that was an unexpected (even if possibly inadvertently done) honour!!! We tell our stories as they come; as they appear; then either they are accepted and loved by the readers or they remain our own private domains of certainty. My own writings, apart from the obvious observations of current times, are about remembrances, some of the past, some of the future for in stories time becomes our servant, nor our slave master. Our stories can make time move backward just as easily as forward. The well-told story shatters the limitations of the expected while remaining not only believable, but encouraging.

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      2. “All right…..Which one of you three got your hands on my keyboard….
        Don’t blame Wigran, Arketre ‘Whatever-Rank- You-Currently- Are’ Beritt, I see you sniggering,”
        I’m beginning to feel I spend more time in the Oakhostian than this world…
        “Stop looking over my shoulder Karlyn…I daresay it’s funny to you……Yes I know you want to get down there and help Antierra, and you’ve explained how several times, I wish you wouldn’t while I am eating….But it’s not our narrative. Now be patient and read the rest with me…yes you have told me how many paces of innards there are in a male body…”
        See what I mean?
        I agree there Sha’ Tara (‘don’t you dare Trelli…I expected better of you…what do you mean ‘Girls Just Gotta Have Fun’???)
        Take Two….
        I agree with you there Sha’ Tara.
        We do tell our stories as they come, from wherever, whenever and every whichway in between.
        If folk enjoy them, then I am happy. Sometimes the thought drifts across, should there be more effort in getting them out there into print? Then the notion of someone trying to edit or manage my work creeps in and as Sheila often tells me as regards writing ‘You will not be told. Will you?’.
        Then comes back the other notion. These are my words, be they imagination or be they picking up on a vibe from across Time and Space. Typos I can accept, sometimes guidance on a short story (not an area I normally work with). When it comes to anything else, heels dig in, teeth grit and eyes narrow.
        And so there we are….I will caste forth my work into the Realm and leave it to be mulled over in times ahead (Four books to do).
        Keep up with the good work
        Best wishes
        Roger

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      3. I will “keep up with the good work” – whatever that is, indeed, Roger. Some of that could be writing though for the time being it’s personal interaction with people with certain needs that my skills and resourced can be helpful with. My main goal: to enjoy life as I “attract” others to find that way as well, regardless of their circumstances. As I said many times, I use my writing to help me discover more of myself and to keep a check on the directions I take day by day. When I express ideas as in the “Manifesto” I ask myself the question: can I be that? Would I accept such a challenge? When push comes to shove and the answer is an honest “yes” then I can keep on writing it out and letting others share in it. I’m increasingly amazed at how much we can be, could be, if we just allowed ourselves such freedom as we so liberally give our characters.

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      4. ‘The Good Work’ ? As I see this, it is any writing which does not promote Hate and Intolerance. Beyond that we are into the areas of indiviual freedom to write or read.
        Whenever I start to try and explain why I write it ends up a bundle of contradictions.
        Maybe it comes down to the urge to entertain mixed with a sneaky desire to annoy those who desereve to be annoyed….maybe I will never really find out.
        One thing I am sure of, I want to write.
        One of the attractions and fascinations of ‘Manifesto’ is that within the story there is indeed a manifesto melded in with a warning. Keep on with this, show to the world the dangers ignorance and viciousness can bring and how indeed we can be so much more.

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