Today, my guest is fantasy author, Nick Giannaras. His fantasy trilogy The Relics of Nanthara is available from MuseItUp Publishing.
Creating Fantasy Worlds
When I wrote my first trilogy, The Relics of Nanthara, the story came from a D&;D adventure I conjured years before, taking form in my mind with all its features, climates, terrain types, and people in vivid color. There are many ways to design a world for your characters to live in. I’m going to chat a bit on how I create a fantasy world like Nanthara.
First of all, allow me to say this. When creating your characters’ environment, do not limit yourself to your minimal thinking. I say this not as an insult, but many times, even in life, we limit ourselves by our negative thoughts. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. I prefer making my fantasy worlds with more of a historical flavor, minimal magic, and a low potential of running into a plethora of crazy creatures. But this is me. If you want floating castles, dragons and unicorns zipping around every tree, and glowing warriors with wings in every city, then go for it!
To begin, I drew a rough outline of a continent capable of hosting a variety of climates and land features. Once I was satisfied with the outline, I added the individual provinces, realms, and kingdoms. Now, a key factor that must exist in any world is names. Names have to sound real; words which sound good to the ear as well as resound off the palate. One peeve of mine is reading a story filled with poor names. From the realm names to the characters, if it sounds cheap, it takes away from the story. While creating names, the kingdoms come to life in my head, bringing forth visions of the races, economy, landscape, etc. Therefore, I try and make this part the best I can.
Once the names are in place, I then add major land features on my map. Use variety in creating these land features and mix them up if possible. Can you have one feature dominating a land? Yes. Yet the more features you add, it creates the potential of new ideas. For example, by adding several mountain chains to a specific realm, I created the opportunity for a once thought extinct race to exist, thus making Book 3 of my Relics Trilogy more exciting. Try not to start a land feature in one empire and suddenly stop it at the borders of the next realm. Flowing one into the other helps create a realistic flow of terrain, and prevent your map looking like a child’s jig-saw puzzle.
Despite the starting point of your project, you always have room to expand by adding or subtracting details. Consider sculpting moist clay. Once the main shape is formed, you can improve it by carving here and adding there until you have your masterpiece. Since I started creating Nanthara six years ago, I am still adding to it.
A world must have variety. Building a large continent comprising scant features with the same climate and people strewn across it surface is quite boring. Each realm you create should carry distinctions as diverse as the countries of Europe. Crossing one border into another brings you a different culture, different foods, people, strengths, weaknesses, terrain, etc. The diversity I’ve created in Nanthara has allowed me to introduce two trilogies and at least three other works in progress, all taking place in different places involving new races unique to those areas. And this is not taking into consideration the potential of ideas from having friends, foes, and all those in between intermingled in your lands above and below the surface. Again, it is your imagination, create.
One thing I designed to organize my ideas was a flow sheet with the names of each realm, their capital, their ruler, and their chief liaison. On a second chart, I listed the name of each realm, the description of their flags/banners, and their alignment (good, bad, or neutral). I now have quick reference when speaking about armies, a realm’s designating colors, or key figures for political interaction. You can also list currencies, types of goods produced, specific units of the army’s composition, races; the list goes on. This is another factor that has allowed formulated ideas on stories to become current works in progress.
Once a world is created, coming up with races would be next. Originally, I had the typical Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Humans as key races in my Relics trilogy. But in brainstorming with my wife and by taking suggestions from a fellow author, I decided to tweak it. I kept some of the races and created new ones. With this, I had to develop a history of how the new races came about. Doing so helped mold my trilogy. New, lesser confronted races were sometimes created as the stories developed. In Book 3, Dawn of the Apocalypse, one race was created at a sticking point in my story where a transition was needed into the next scene. The neat thing was this race also played a part toward the end of the book as well. As I’ve stated before, the possibilities are endless.
There is a lot more to discuss and much more that other authors could contribute, so I will bow out for now. I hope I was able to spark some ideas and quell some fears on moving forth in your writing careers. If you have a question, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.