Building Fictional Worlds Part I: Setting and Characterization
When building a fictional setting, the connection between your characters and the world they live could make or break the believability of your creations. Therefore it is very important to deepen the connection between your characters and their landscape.
Setting Impacts Character
It was 5:45am last Wednesday when I drafted a scene between two characters having an argument about their beliefs. Each character came from a different regions of their fictional world – one from a well-developed medieval city, and the other from a seaside fishing village at the end of Sothgren Reach.
These two characters have vastly different experiences, and to make matters more complicated, their perspectives are shaped by regional differences. Their stories converged in my work in progress The Witch’s Uprising, the first in nine novels about my fictional world – Brylennia.
Crafting Brylennia has been an exhilarating experience, resulting in characters that share a rich history, with a variety of perspectives.
The following eight questions were useful in my development of Brylennia. These questions have helped me flesh out different aspects of Brylennia, and of each other regions “on the map.”
My goal was to strengthen the connection between the setting and the characters inhabiting it, resulting in a detail-rich experience for readers. Also, I wanted to have some fun creating a fictional world. Hopefully you can use these questions in your own projects or as a way to spark your reading curiosity.
Here are eight questions to ask yourself to strengthen the connection between the setting and your characters:
- How has the landscape changed over time?
- How has the geography influenced the beliefs of your characters? For example, if they are polytheistic, is there an emphasis on one god or goddess over another?
- Does geography influence the inequities in your societies? (If there are inequities).
- Are any particular people in direct access to resources that others do not have? How does all this influence an intelligent person from the region, or an ignorant person for that matter? Does this cause prejudice between groups of people?
- What freedoms or privileges does one group enjoy over others, if any?
- Do people dress differently in each region? Is this due to fashion, practicality, some other reason, or a combination of these reasons?
- Where is the most dangerous place to go?
- What’s the safest way from one place to another in your world? Who has made it through, and who has not?
So you know, I hope to explore each of these questions individually in future posts as part of a world-building series. You can stay updated on these posts as they are published via this blog.
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I hope these work for you!