Sunday, April 11, 2010

Inventing Your Own World

I love worldbuilding.

It's one of the most rewarding and fun exercises I do as a writer. Cutting my teeth on fantasy fiction, I got a real taste for losing myself in governments, religions and social structures not familiar in this world. Or rather an amalgamation of several systems we know but peiced together to create something new.

I don't always start in the same place with an idea for how my world will be. Sometimes I just jump into the action and let it develop as the characters tell me about their world. That's a bit more freeing, but it's also a bit disorganized. In order to reel it in, I jot down little kernals of knowledge about the world in a notebook for later use. This has helped so much in writing sequels. Coming from someone who used to be so anal that I'd actually name everything before I started, it's a major step in a different direction to work backwards. My office walls are filled with maps my husband drew and framed of some of my fantasy worlds. (It's really quite cool!)

In my novella, Private Negotiations, soon to be released from Liquid Silver Books, I've married classic fantasy settings with high-tech gadgets. The courtiers of the Vanden captial are straight out of the French court of Louis XIV. Though we see them only in periphery, they are an important force of discord within the palace. Then there are the Ashlin warriors, who are straight from the tales of the samaurai. And these varied people reside in only one of the two countries at war in this book. The country of Telesia is more modern and military in their culture. Even the heroine, the daughter of the chancellor, has been conscripted to fight in the war.

The more I wrote this story the more I loved it. Working off the cuff, I allowed myself to create scenes that kind of poured forth from the characters.

Here's a tiny excerpt for example.

Set up: Loden, Regent of Vanden, has taken the Telesian emissary, Rinalda, into a tower in the Vanden palace gardens. Loden and Rinalda had met and fallen in love four years before. Though they were on opposing sides of a bloody war, they managed to find common ground. However, Loden used an alias to woo Rinalda, never expecting to fall in love with her. Now he has taken his place as the Regent, he wants the peace their fathers fought so hard against. He also wants Rinalda as his wife and consort. Showing her a glimpse of his family history is only a small segment of bringing her into his life.

Excerpt: (May vary slightly from published version)

The first flower bed they came to had vines that rose up along the walls of an old tower.

Rinalda glanced up the expanse. She pulled a bloom to her face. "Lovely."

"Don't take in too big a breath. They are a sweet lethargy inducing fragrance. The Seduction flower."

Rinalda raised a brow. "Is this the reason you brought me here?"

Loden laughed, but didn't defend or deny the charge. "It was rumored my grandfather kept my grandmother locked in the top apartment as a prisoner before she finally consented to marry him. At night he'd go to her, making love to her until morning then steal away to the palace proper. During the day, he'd ignore her. Her frustrated cries would fill the yard. At sunset, the blooms would open, sending their haunting scent to her window and lulling her into a state of carnal desires only my grandfather met."

Rinalda frowned. "Did he love her? Or just wish to drive her mad?"

"With his every cell and fiber he loved her. When she died, he followed not long after. The rule then passed to my father."

"If he loved her, why lock her away in a tower? Why not show her respect instead?"

Loden started walking again, this time to the far side of the tower to the hidden door. "She was a political prisoner. A spy caught in the act and condemned by her own admission."

Rinalda stalled behind him, a hand on his arm. "And your grandfather didn't execute her?"

Loden unlocked the tower door. "No. She was brought to him and thrown at his feet. The guards had worked her over pretty badly. Even bruised and bloody she turned defiant eyes to him and spit on his shoes. She tried to kill him with his own weapons and he fell in love."

Rinalda followed him into the foyer and up the stone stairs. "You aren't about having me locked away are you?"

He turned to look down at her as they ascended. "It hadn't even crossed my mind."
"So, how long did it take for your grandmother to fall in love with him?"

"I asked her that once." Loden moved to the side, opening the upper tower door and allowed Rinalda to enter ahead of him. "She said he was like a virus she couldn't shake. He was always there, below the surface of her consciousness."

"That's a little unromantic." Rinalda stopped and made a turn in the room. "This is beautiful."

It was. He hadn't intended to bring her up here, but now he had it seemed right. He smiled at her reaction. "It's been kept the same as it was during her imprisonment. I was told that sometimes after they were married, they would return here at night to recapture the magic."

Loden watched as Rinalda's glance moved over the bed and then she turned to him. "I think she did love him."

"Very much. My grandmother was a warrior. Tough. Cynical. Hard. But she loved with her entire heart. She just didn't like to show it to outsiders."

"You sound like you loved her."

"I adored her. She's the one who taught me how to shoot. And when she taught, you didn't miss."


From Private Negotiations by Kathleen Scott, soon to be released from Liquid Silver Books


I love that scene because it protrays the grandmother, not the grandfather as the warrior. She was also an assassin who had come to kill him and instead fell in love. Loden uses the story to illustrate that if his grandparents could overcome such a conflict, so could they.

And that scene was created with what I knew of my characters, but not planned. It was as if I were writing a true history. That was the way things were and had always been. I love it when that happens.

This is only one small sample of the worlds I've built and civilizations I've created while marrying my sci-fi with fantasy. But you know what? It definately won't be the last.

Happy Writing and Reading,



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