Seeing Through the Fog

Creating a World.

The fantasy setting that I’m currently writing in sprung up around the story that was in my head. At first I just needed locations for characters to go to, and then I filled in the blanks. There were also some basic ideas that I knew about the world before starting the draft:

1) Magic is real, in the sense that there are wizards that can command the elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The afterlife and the existence of a spirit is just as unknown as it is in our world, today.

2) That gods were a real and active part of the lives of the people, and that prayer had measurable, tangible results. The gods were, however, silent on the matter of an afterlife.

3) Elves were in there somewhere but they weren’t really known to humans (though I didn’t know why at that point).

Into that world I wanted to put a group of skeptics that go around exposing fake psychics and spirit mediums.

Learning as I go.

As I sat down to write the draft, the fantasy setting became fleshed out through character conversation and from just writing what the characters were seeing. For example, at one point the main characters go to a city that’s decorated. All the inhabitants are wearing bright, colourful clothing. However, their all so run down and sad that it’s obvious something is wrong.

While I knew what was going on in the town at the time, and had a vague idea that the people in the town would be sad because of it, I had no idea about the decorations and the clothing the people were wearing until I was actually writing the scene through the eyes of a character while he explored the town.

Another good example is the circular shape of the realm itself. In the beginning of the story there are three characters looking over a map of the land, and I saw it as resembling a pie chart. After writing the scene, I planned out this great idea about how the borders could shift and change based on which political party was in power at the time – as people won and lost seats in parliament the borders of the three factions would shrink and grow. Later on, I realised that it’s just not relevant for this story. After trying to cram it in to the draft, I realised that it had to go.

The road is still being laid.

The story world is still changing, evolving and being created. Nearing the end of the draft, I know that there’s still a lot of shadows on the edge of the world that I’ve created. I can’t wait to get in there and shine a light on them when it comes time to editing. The thing is, I don’t think a lot of the background would be the same (or as good) if I had sat down and tried to figure it all out first. A lot of what I wrote in the draft created the history and the geography of the world, which then dictated the way the locals act.
There’s still words like “CAPTAINNAME” and “CITYNAME” throughout the draft; placeholders which I will go through and change in the edits, when I actually know what the name of the captain or the city is. If you’re writing a draft yourself, try to not get caught up on the details that really don’t matter. Names, locations, things like that, shouldn’t stop you from writing. Leave a distinct placeholder and do a ‘find and replace’ later.
And after all that, I still have to actually come up with a name for the series, too.

***UPDATE: The draft of the entire first series is complete!! Yay!!***