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EDIT: If you like this journal entry, check out The Sarcastic Guide to Writing ebook www.amazon.com/The-Sarcastic-G… for exclusive content on world-building, character, and dialogue!

World-building, for me, is one of the biggest things about fantasy.  It has, in many cases, saved a book from sucking.  Conversely, poor world-building can drag a brilliant plot and excellent characterization down.  What is world-building?  It is consistency of logic and the new rules that you introduce as part of the story.  Easy to say, hard to do.  World-building, in good fantasy, more often than not, provides some kind of critical plot point.  (If it doesn't, that's okay, but really good fantasy usually takes an established rule and gives it story stakes.)  
Examples?  Phillip Pullman establishes the rule of daemons in his His Dark Materials trilogy, so that by the end of Book 1, when someone grabs another character's daemon, it horrifies the reader.  Because it was so heavily established that touching another person's daemon was anathema, forbidden even in battle, a betrayal of a cultural value.  Another, different, example is in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, with the seven bells of necromancy consistently behaving as they are described: the bell Ranna always puts someone to sleep; it never does anything different.
This is a two part series, but the first part will be an overview.  For the most part, I build my races and worlds through a series of questionnaires.  Over the years I've narrowed things down quite a bit, to about 10-15 questions.  But if you're looking for a good place to start, Googling world-building questions will help you discover more about your race/culture than you ever wanted to know.

1.  Laws and boundaries need to have some kind of ramification for the characters. This rule is at the top, because it's the one I see broken the most often.  People take the time to establisha brooding council, an evil king, a cadre of badass soldiers, or what have you, and the characters skip right past them.  A country that cuts the hand off of every thief?  The hero steals indiscriminately, without fail, every time, and always has.  A mansion guarded by the biggest, baddest bunch of guards the world has ever seen?  Well, the hero and friends send a grappling hook over the wall and climbs on up.  Mostly, this happens because someone is giving detail to a
world, but not willing to explore it further because it's inconvenient to the plot.  After all, you want your heroes to confront the evil chancellor in the mansion, because that's a much more interesting scene than killing guards.  As tempting as it is to write an anti-hero who plays by his own rules, please keep in mind that societies have rules for a reason, and it's very, very difficult to survive on your own outside of them.  A sub-problem of this is having a very strict society, like, say Victorian England, and having a product of that society flout its rules without consequences.  If a woman decided to throw off her corset, get drunk, and cavort nakedly in the street in Victorian England, I can't even begin to tell you how badly she'd be beaten.  But a lot of people write the sassy heroine with a smart mouth because it's more fun.  This bugs the crap out of me.  I hate seeing an established society that a "speshul" hero is allowed to give the middle finger to.  Not only are you moving into Mary Sue territory, but you're also passing up a prime opportunity for conflict.  Show me a hero struggling to operate within a society he doesn't necessarily agree with, and I'll show you a hero with reader sympathy.

2.   If "Oh, my God" exists, I want to know why. Religion is one of the major driving forces in the real world, especially the further back in history you go.  It's influenced politics, war, and economy, whether you like it or no.  Examining religion and its place in your fantasy world is very important, because a world made of atheists is going to have just as many rules and regulations as a world of a thousand gods.  Whether your God or gods exist isn't necessarily important, but the way the culture treats them is.  Even in our world, an atheist says "Oh, my God" when he's freaked, because there is a cultural backdrop behind the exclamation; our culture has religion in droves.  If there are no established gods, talk of an afterworld, or even a chat about metaphysics, and someone says "Oh, my God", it makes my brain short circuit.  Where did this God come from?  Is it just the one?  Is he mad at you for taking his name in vain, or just his priests? Are there priests!?  Either find something else for them to say, or establish that there is religion somewhere.  Religion is so closely tied with cultural values that to overlook it, whether because you hate it or are attempting to be PC (see Rule 3), odds are that someone, somewhere, in your fantasy world looked up at the sky and said, "Why are we here and what happens after we die?"  Differing religions, naturally, make for great conflict.  Especially if the gods are real.  Keep religion in mind when you're world-building, because it's a massive piece of the puzzle.  This doesn't mean you have to go on author tract about it, or even make it a major part of your story, but allow it to be part of the backdrop.

3.  Politically correct is not a necessity. Pressure from contemporary cultural norms encourage things like equality, fair trials, and not being racist.  Unfortunately, it's only been in
the last hundred years that crap like that has actually become the norm.  Women could vote before black people could sit in a restaurant next to whites.  Before that, you could put up a sign
that said "No Irish", and before that, you could work children in factories for 16 hours straight for ten cents a day.  Before that?  A lord owned your ass and the asses of your kids and great-grandkids, and could throw you off your land to starve for getting mud on his doublet.  Before that?  Well, you were just on your own to keep marauding barbarians off your mud farm.  Even Ancient Greece and Rome treated their woman pretty bad, and don't even get me started on stuff like the handicapped or mentally disabled.  The Middle Ages are looked upon with a highly romantic air, and don't let that stop you from writing in it, but do a tiny bit of research, please.  I love the Middle Ages because it was so different; I love how they made bows, and glass, and built cathedrals.  I don't need to see peasant women being treated as valuable member of society, because they weren't; I know it and you know it.  Again, that these societies, by our contemporary standards, were unfair gives a lot of opportunity for conflict.  Don't skip over it.  You need not emphasize in the other direction, like in Monty Python, but show us your world, the dirty and the clean.  The good and the bad.  It'll make it more believable, and if you don't, odds are you're in cliche' territory with all the other morons.

4.  Warfare drives technology; in fantasy, magic would do the exact same thing. A lot of people seem to forget this.  If there are people out there who can throw fireballs, I can just about
guarantee you that there's a king out there, with a lot of gold, that he's willing to throw at their feet in order to burn his enemies.  And if the fireball throwers refuse, well, they have families, don't they?  Or, if they're too dangerous to be allowed to live, a king with an army wouldn't mind trying to wipe them out.  And maybe capturing some of their kids, so the kids can be raised to be fireball-throwers for the king.  It applies to just about everything.  Invisibility?  Shapeshifting?  Talking with animals?  Espionage.  Teleportation?  Flying?  Sneak attack.  Energy blasts?  Dragon-summoning?  Head of the army.  I never understood how Paolini's so-called golden age of Dragon Riders wasn't really some kind of military junta, especially since punishment for things like murder and theft would be meted out by flying, scaly death tanks.  I mean, maybe your wizard is the one in charge.  Magic and what it can do has to be considered very carefully, because it has huge ramifications.  Magic is power, and power is everything.  Just ask businessman and politicians, and look at what they do with it.  I hate seeing heroes with super-awesome destructive powers, who A) never get blackmailed, bribed, or asked to do some fireworks by the folk in charge, B) never get mobbed by people or towns who are
terrified of what they can do, or C) imprisoned for blowing shit up.  This goes double for someone whose powers haven't been seen in a thousand years, were responsible for the death of a civilization, or mentioned as having a hand in the end of an age/world by a prophecy.  Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series treats very powerful magic in a realistic way, because the main character becomes embroiled in squabbling factions that each want part of her power.  Same with the concept behind X-Men.  Don't just give your hero abilities and go with it; examine what kind of ramifications that kind of power would have.  I mean, if people freak out about a gun in an office building or high school, imagine how they'd react to fireballs ...

5. How people get food must be examined. Many fantasy writers overpopulate their worlds, not just with a human and elven and dwarven populations, but with massive, immortal dragons, marching orc hordes, and perverted centaurs.  First of all, starving people = not fun.  Ask anyone who saw or wrote about the French Revolution.  In fact, riots in Rome were a big reason why bread and circuses was developed to keep the people happy.  If a populace is well-fed
and entertained, it's less likely to riot on you.  Conversely, a town under siege usually breaks because it runs out of food, in many cases after they've eaten the horses, dogs, cats, rats, and the dead.  One such town gave their guy in charge to Genghis Kahn, because he wanted to keep fighting and they didn't because their families were starving to death.  Long story short, I have no
idea how Sauron kept all those Uruk-Hai fed.  Conversely, if you have a so-called evil king, who is willing to let Urgals- er, I mean, orcs, march all over the place raping and burning, pretty soon you're going to have a pissed off population.  And I don't mean an indignant population, I mean a "I'm so hungry I'll throw myself on a knight in plate mail for the chance to eat his horse" population.  Same goes for dragons, who, if they're bigger than elephants or even some whales, would have to eat meat.  Meat was a rarity for peasants, who saw it maybe a couple of times a month if they were lucky.  Sooner or later, if no one has anything to eat, it all breaks
down.  The ones in charge may live, but a lot of people are going to die.  The aftermath of the Black Plague saw famine on a scale so massive that harvests literally rotted in the fields.  So, if
you have marauding hordes, tectonic plates shifting in a matter of seconds, reality torn asunder, earthquakes, or dragon attacks, you'd better show me what kind of aftermath occurs.  Again, story stakes and conflict come in here, but don't just have it for the sake of the hero.  Show us the world the hero is defending and why, and we'll be much happier.
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Add a Comment:
 
:iconwallofillusion:
WallofIllusion Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This seems really useful! I'm working on worldbuilding but I keep getting distracted by the story itself, so hopefully this will help keep me on track...
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:iconworldbuilding:
WorldBuilding Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2012  Professional Writer
If you're interested in ensuring a balanced population then you should check out Medieval Demographics Made Easy - it has a great section on how many acres of land a population needs to support itself. Not only that but it also breaks down the population required to support certain types of industry.

You can find the article at the following link: [link]
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:iconmbartelsm:
mbartelsm Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012
Everything was nice, till you brought up the lord of the rings, dude, it is THE LORD OF THE RINGS! you think the greatest worldbuilder ever didn't thought about food? did you even read the books? or just watched the movie? behind mordor there are vast fields meant for growing food, and yes it is not enough, but even in the movie orcs fight for food amongst them.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012
Yes, like I haven't had a LOTR fanboy jump on me about that before. As I recall, Tolkien himself gave a Shrug of God about the orc horde in question. Orcs also apparently eat meat, "all manner of flesh" and I've also heard the argument that they "ate filth". Not corn or crops, though.
Don't know, don't care, but it's still a mistake worth thinking about in your own writing.
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:iconmbartelsm:
mbartelsm Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012
Sorry if the comment was a bit rude, I was a bit sleepy when I wrote it
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:iconpumpkin13:
Pumpkin13 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Hey man, this was really useful! I'm working on a major project at the moment and I have at least four worlds to build =S A "standard" Earth, a Celestial equivalent of Heaven (kinda cross breed between Christian Heaven and Norse Asgard), a hellish realm, and there's vast desert rocky wasteland realm in between the second two which is populated by nomadic creatures and the suchlike. I mainly wondered if you had any suggestions on building Celestial realms. As you've touched upon at many points, if something is perfect or too easy it becomes uninteresting, it's the conflict or imperfections that draw our attention. Which makes creating a supposedly celestial heavenly realm one of the most difficult type of world's to create.

My Celestial Norse vision of an angelic heaven (working title "Alterheim" but for now I'll just use christian references) is in a bit of a twilight phase. God (Vasha) has left, for reasons of her own beyond the comprehension of lesser minds (it is revealed why she left later on) and so the Light of Heaven is slowly fading, and they fear the growing strength of Hell's legions. So one of the four Archangel characters (Raphael, the female Radha in my work) constructs a plan to "re-ignite" the Light of Heaven. The main plot is about how that plan goes down, how it is hijacked and how they try to save it. It goes without saying that the construction of the celestial world will greatly influence the construction of the human world (currently thinking a fairly crapsack world split between super powered Corporate conglomerates and a an almost fascist-esque Religious faction).

Sorry for all that, thought I'd try and give you a brief run down... so yeah any thoughts or suggestions on creating heavenly or celestial worlds?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
I think I'm due to post either something on religion and something on role of myth in fantasy worlds, so you can keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, I'd say buy my ebook The Sarcastic Guide to Writing and see if it helps.
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
"Conversely, a town under siege usually breaks because it runs out of food, in many cases after they've eaten the horses, dogs, cats, rats, and the dead."
-> Don't forget cannibalism. And that's not all - people in St-Petersburg when city was under siege during WW2 used to eat really weird stuff such as glue, leather belts and etc.


Also when it comes about magic - who runs the society when magic is a real power? Is it "magocratic" or mages are sort of "grey eminence"? Or maybe they aren't interested in ruling at all.
If magic affects lifespan of the user (say, it makes you live for centuries) what kind of influence it has on society?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
Those are some excellent world-building questions.
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
Thanks. I love asking such questions.
I've dedicated a huge guide to the questions of the world building.
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:iconlittlemissxxx3:
littlemissxxx3 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011
Have you ever read the queen's blade series?? If you haven't, you should! It is probably one of the best examples of a well-thought out and fleshed out fantasy world! It's from smashwords, and you can read it ONLINE!! :D
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:iconnightiingale:
Nightiingale Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011  Student Digital Artist
This is just a little thing on your warfare point (and world building in general), going off on a tangent but..

Warfare drives technology, but so does medicine. People try to figure out how to blow each other up, then bandage themselves up and stop dieing from everything. Personally, I feel that medicinal and medical practices have evolved just as much, if not more so than warfare has. A king would throw mountains of gold at someone who can blow the shit out of their enemies, but would probably throw even more at the guy who can cure his son of Haemophilia.

I've seen so many fantasy stories where you have magical healers and there's no justification, explanation or ramification of healing spells, and magic. Just “you get better, because this guy here.. is this guy and he's got the magic touch”. It’s one of my pet peeves. It’s like I’m looking at a final fantasy fantasy game with cure spells and healing potions! No one stops to think of what the positive and negative impacts of society such magic would have, let alone the impact it'd have on the story in general. Sometimes, I see good examples of healing magic (when someone's sat down, and thought out the limitations and the rules of said magic), but most of the time nuuh. It's stupid.
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:iconzada2011:
Zada2011 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2010
I'm currently trying to make a story and have set aside all plot aspects in favor of making the world first. Especially since dragons are involved in mine I have to look at how it affects the territorial behaviors, concentration in areas depending on habitat and availability of food, not to mention getting the whole thing laid out in some order and starting to make societies and how they function in areas.
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:iconzada2011:
Zada2011 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2010
So in other words since I forgot to mention it above, your journal posts about this have been a life saver.
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:iconalyeskabird:
Alyeskabird Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010
Actualy, its not well documented in the books but Sauron had vast farms operated by slaves to feed his armys. Thay would also eat literaly anything. He could get by feeding them horse shit. But partly when thay won a battle thay would eat all the dead, no matter wich side, or in what condition.
I beleve it was mentioned maybe once in the books, but there where a few minor notes about it in the apendexxes and some of the background information books.
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:iconkeaze:
Keaze Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2010
These are some great tips because I often see such bad world building in books and especially manga, where the culture just seems like a mish-mash of different concepts the author thought sounded cool.

Now, this might just be me, but you seem to want everything to be too realistic. Why would children or women really have to be mistreated in a fantasy world? It's fantasy, just because it happened in our history doesn't mean it has to happen in fiction too unless the writer is writing a historic novel or wants to address that particular issue.
And you seem to look at everything from a western perspective. Some western societies did have these norms but that doesn't mean every other society had them as well. Some cultures treated women as equals and many weren't racist. The problems that existed in USA and Europe didn't exist in every culture and there's no need for them to exist in a fictional one either. Even if someone is making a quasi-medieval Europe fantasy world chances are they're making it so that they can break some of the conventions that actually existed, not abide by them.
Lastly, cultural conventions weren't set in stone. For example, in the family of my ancestors both men and women could inherit and posses land even though it was normally only men who had that privilege. My grand-grandfather came to propose to his wife alone, even though it was customary to bring friends when you do it. Life of people in the past wasn't as set in stone as we are so often made to believe, otherwise different cultures wouldn't evolve in the first place.

I've always seen "Oh, my God!” as just the same as "Oh, no!" because some made up exclamation just sounds stupid when said in a dramatic scene. But, then again, I usually assume people don't speak English in fantasy world. After all, Latin was the thing back in the days and half the words used in fantasy wouldn't really exist in the past.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2010
None of these suggestions are hard and fast rules; nothing in writing really is. If your theme and plot have nothing to do with the equality of women and children, you wouldn't be serving the story by putting it in. And while cultural conventions certainly weren't set in stone, my intent was to address the obvious rules being set up just so a hero could skip over them or knock them down.
I can't help corrupting my own perspective, because I am from the West, but I do understand that bigotry, misogyny, and racism are and were global problems. (And most stories are all about conflict, so it's not much of a leap to find it.) While I know that places where races mingled freely and without conflict existed, by and large they were exceptions, not necessarily the norm. But, if one's world-building supports that all races get along and women were treated as equals, that's fine; the point I'm trying to make is that it's easier said than done. You can do anything you want with world-building, just do it consistently. Note that I didn't say believably; the Varjak Paw series is way out there in believability, but I adored the story's world-building and the plot itself was beautiful.
The "Oh, my God" thing would seem very out of place in a world without gods, a god, or religion. It creates a domino effect of fridge logic for me(the moment after the TV show where someone goes to the fridge to get a snack and realizes, "Hey, wait a minute, that couldn't have worked!"). If the characters have wandered through 50 pages without seeing a church, a priest, or a psalm, and when a dragon appears they say "Oh, my God!" that's not consistent world-building. At best, it's some kind of pseudo-Christian backdrop where monotheism has, for some reason, suddenly caught on. Admittedly, if I were writing in Latin and hadn't mentioned gods, I'd be more inclined to have one of my characters utter "Merda!" Short, sweet, and it does the exact same thing.
Granted, not every fantasy novel has to have the kind of level of detail that I'm going into here, but I figured folks would like help with the complex kind.
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:iconkeaze:
Keaze Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
I think your journal will be helpful because I see so many works (and not just ones done by amateurs) where the main hero acts like he doesn't come from the world he was put in.
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:iconstarhorse:
Starhorse Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2010  Professional General Artist
It's like a mini-fix between massive book-talks. :pat:
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2010
That doesn't mean you're off the hook, missy!
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:iconstarhorse:
Starhorse Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2010  Professional General Artist
pah! Of course not! But I don't think my parents would appreciate a three hour long distance call -more- than once a week.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2010
Oh, right! Because I demand that you talk to me for 3 hours at a time!
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:iconstarhorse:
Starhorse Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2010  Professional General Artist
don't be ridiculous. of course it's you.
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:iconsnaphance93:
Snaphance93 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Droemar, you have become the next Limyaael :D

No, seriously, these things are useful. It's good to know I'm not alone in this world when it comes to world-building and research.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010
Hey, I remember her! She was on Livejournal, if I recall. She did some hilarious crits of Eragon.
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:iconsnaphance93:
Snaphance93 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Her rants are awesome. She updated her InsaneJournal in December, but I dunno if she's still around.

Kippurbird - [link] does also have some hilarous Eragon-reviews - chapter by chapter, at that.

By the way, would you mind sharing the world-building questionaire? And what books/websites do you use for research? I have some books, but I like asking around.

Wonderful journal. I, as many others, wish it was possible to fave them.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010
As far as books:
On Writing by Stephen King
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont
The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy by Darin Park and Tom Dullemond (I have an older version of this, that I think was vanity press, but it gives really good advice. A lot of experts on various subjects like warfare and religion, etc. all contribute to the chapters.)
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, both by Noah Lukeman

I don't use websites, unless I'm Wikipedia-ing something real quick. Like, the other night, I need to know how to use a bo staff, so I took notes and watched Youtube instructional videos. If I don't know about a subject, like at all, period, I usually tend to get a kid's book on it. Like: Nuclear Fission for Kids! Eyewitness books presents: ROCKET SCIENCE. But other times I look for historical fiction for character, context, and story references, and nonfiction on the subject just for knowledge's sake.

I'd have to post my questionnaire separately.
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:iconsnaphance93:
Snaphance93 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
I own a few of those books (On Writing, How To Write Sci-fi and Fantasy and The Complete Guide), and now I really itch to go and look for some of the others.

I usually don't trust websites, for some reason xP Kid's books are very good, really. Thanks a lot!

Hehe. It would be great to see it, in any case.
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:icononyxdragonarts:
OnyxDragonArts Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
Thinking about it did women not sometimes follow an army in to war, they would stay at the camp and do well um womans work, and then there were the smithies amourers wepons repairers and builders, Tanners, traders cooks, seemstresses, ladys of free vertue. In fact I recon if those following the army for work or other reasons had joined the army wooww what a force! but then who would darn their socks? Livestock would also be brought by civilian workers for trading and such, oxon would be very importaint as food and transport. Theres just so much to consider. gosh my little brains buzzing now. Thanks for making me think.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
That's also assuming that every army had the funds and provisions for that kind of following! Sometimes a soldier just came in from battle and had to take care of himself. Also, a favorite tactics of the Danes in battle was to attack the women and children that followed the armies of their enemies, in order to split their forces.
But you're thinking! That = great!
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
re 1: couldnt' agree more. heroes aren't heroes because they operate OUTSIDE the rules/laws, but because they sruggle within them.

re 2: i struggle with this constantly! it's almost reflexive to write in, "My god!" "jesus!" "Lord in heaven" etc. troublesome because my hero might best be described as a militant agnostic!

re 3: here is the advantage of building our own worlds, far enough removed from earth history, to justify our transgressions. ;p

re 4: a very good point! i hadn't really thought about it! many of the authors i read address the issues with such finesse that it hardly registers! it feels absolutley natural in their universe.

re 5: an army travels on its stomach!! ;p definitely something that bears deep consideration.

thnx again for your comprehensive analysis! :wave:
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
Just about guaranteed: if a hero starts making his own laws, he stops becoming a hero and turns into a tyrant or worse. Especially when there's an "ends justifies the means" attitude, and it gets worse with informed ability! "Oh, yeah, Eragon killed a guy pleading for his life in cold blood, but he's a hero, I say! A hero!"
Depending on your background, even a militant agnostic could say "Oh, my God." I mean, if it's set in a real world, like an urban fantasy or something, or even a world where there is established religion and agnosticism. I always like how Bender in Futurama said "Oh. Your. God." or the Indian dude exclaimed "Oh, my various gods!"
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
heheheh. good point! but my 'hero' is far more likely to invoke profanities than deities. ;)

i miss Futurama, i'll have to dig some up. :)
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:iconkaxanthedragon:
KaxantheDragon Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Student General Artist
I totally agree... Kinda bothers me when one comment a co-author made was that he was the 'mastermind' of the whole story we were writing when he didn't even think of half the stuff that makes 'his' world tick... I have a natural knack for know these things and gave him several ideas... but w/e... He still thinks he's the mastermind... Learned my lesson with co-authoring anything... XP
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
It has been my experience that when someone wants to co-author, it's because they're lacking something intrinsic. Mostly that they're too lazy to sit down and write themselves, and want someone to hold their hand and motivate them to write. There's a reason that authors collaborate professionally: because both of them have complete works that impress the other.
Someone at one of my video game asked me if I was interested in collaborating; I asked him what he had finished, and as he started to sputter this idea he had, I was like, "Then, no."
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:iconkaxanthedragon:
KaxantheDragon Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Student General Artist
^^ You described him perfectly.

I even tried to get him to read these helpful journals of yours... But he didn't like them because he didn't need help and because he didn't like your blunt nature... Ah well... I find these very thought-provoking and helpful, so thanks so much for taking the time to create them! \o/
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
Yeah, the whole "I don't need help" thing tends to go hand in hand with a lack of discipline, or really, reeeeally terrible writing. ;)
I write these for those who want to write, listen, and improve!
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:iconkaxanthedragon:
KaxantheDragon Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Student General Artist
Wow... You're good. You've got him down pat. :lol:

Well thanks for all that you do! I look forward to your next journal!
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:iconredmagesalyre:
Redmagesalyre Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
This is the reason why journal must be faved!

I like the second point in there, especially when you get to a lot of sci-fi or fantasy written by people who don't give any achknowledgement to their own creations. I tend to hate athestic societies in fiction, they tend to be either the perfect, technologically surperior society of Mary Sue love, or they are suppose to be morally surperior to everyone else (as a part of an Author Tract). I had to take two classes in relgion, one of them was a class about Christianity in America, which is a really eye-opener for anyone who's never really read anything about the various Great Awakenings in American history, or the effects it had on politics. Especially when you consider how religion plays a significant role in every society that has ever been on planet Earth, a detail that actually gets played with in Avatar with how the Na'vi react to the concept of Eywa or how religion and religious orders are treated throughout the Crown of Seven Stars series.

Oh and the third rule is a pretty good one to take in mind, even if your society is an athestist society of crystal spires and togas, there's going to be some kind of unfairness (perhaps to people who still believe in an afterlife or believe in God(s) or maybe to people who question the reasons behind the whole society).

Fourth rule, very good points made there, in fact it's perhaps one of the most important rules ever to be put forward here. I've heard people complain about certain societies that they explain should be very advanced if they're so peaceful. A peaceful society, or at least a society that has never experience too many wars wouldn't build extremely fortified walls, unless there was a need to do so. I've actually came across a story in which a person had a peaceful kingdom create a very fortified wall and asign knights and generals to protect them, yes defense is not offense, but in all reality, how does defense become necessary? To protect. For the whole superpowers thing, I actually decided to make a rule that has those who have certain magic powers are to be treated as living weapons, especially those with Fire related magic are believed to be REAL living weapons, since there is a group of people who have the belief that Fire Elementalists are born evil(this is proven to be false), which has the main character in a very dangerous deliemena, since she's a Fire Elementalist by birth, she just never known she was, and to protect her, she has to live in a mostly isolated village, and be protected from the supersistion by living on the other side of the fence so to say. Elementalists of other elements are treated like weapons or healers, in fact Water Elementalists are treated soley as healers, even though they are as capable of outright destroying entire villages if they wish. In another story I have, people with magical abilities are required by law to go to a higher education, and certain abilities literally are sought after by various kingdoms for various wars.
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:iconallmadland:
AllMadland Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I liked your second point there on the phrase "oh my god".

I agree that that phrase bothers me too sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly nit-picky.

The phrase has such a long history and is so pervasive that even atheists exclaim "oh my god", even when they're convinced that there is no such being. People use it out of habit, mostly, and because the phrase has sort have lost its meaning over time and with use, no one ever bothers to think about what they're actually saying. I would argue that the phrase is overused to the point of being invisible or subconscious.

The thing I'm wondering is, would saying something more realistic in the contexts of the created world be too distracting to the reader? If "oh my god" is so meaningless a phrase that even atheists use it without a second thought, then wouldn't it suffice? Because when someone says "oh my god", they aren't talking about God(s). What they're saying is that they're surprised or scared. And really, that’s what the writer is trying to convey with such a phrase—emotion.

In my experience, description is best written as clearly as possible—not necessarily simple prose, but clear prose is best. And so I wonder if using a different expression, which is foreign to the reader but which makes sense within the fictional world, would be too roundabout and therefore unclear.

Would it jolt the reader out of the story more than a well-known phrase such as “oh my god”?

Sometimes I solve this problem by simply shortening the phrase to “oh my!” or simply “oh!”, but I wonder if I even need to.

Short of writing the entire story in the applicable fictional language, there is probably no way to write it one-hundred percent accurately. There will always be English words that don’t make sense for a fictional world. English was developed on this world, and so it describes things pertaining to this world—this culture, really.

For instance, the word “disaster” is Latin for “ill-starred”, from dis- ("away, without") and astro ("star, planet").

People used to believe that bad things happened because of a misalignment of heavenly bodies. Few people today truly believe that the positions of the stars control fate. Likewise, a fictional culture may have any number of theories on fate and stars and everything else, and “disaster” would therefore be a nonsense concept to them. However, the fact remains that the word “disaster” is concise enough for the reader to understand, regardless of the fictional culture’s beliefs, which may very well be difficult to explain to someone who has never lived in this fictional world.

So, in short, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I agree, “oh my god” is probably a non-sequitur in some worlds, but what sort of phrase would you replace it with without sounding like you’re trying too hard?

:twocents: These are my two cents. You make some really good points. I look forward to seeing Part 2.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
I think you have to establish your world well enough to justify a different kind of phrase. Scott Westerfeld, who wrote the Uglies series, talked about new words and phrases needing to be easy to remember and easy to say. I personally find the Warhammer 40k cry of "For the Emperor!" too difficult and long to be a catch phrase. Not that it stops White Dwarf from using it, but that's their business.
If, for example, you had something like "By Kakaros's mighty horn!" as an exclamation, you'd better have established who Kakaros is and why his horn matters so much. (Not that it would save you from being in camp territory, but whatever.) I find saying things out loud helps to establish whether it would catch on as a swear or an exclamation. "Oh my God" is fairly simple to say.
In my high fantasy world of The Dragon Rose, there's an established legend/understanding that the Gods made humanity from their bones. So their swear is "God's bones!" or "Bones of God!" (which is actually derived from an old British saying "Bones-a-god!"). Not too complicated, but still different enough to be unique.
Bottom line: if you feel like you're trying too hard, you probably are.
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:iconallmadland:
AllMadland Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm so used to seeing things like "By Kakaros's mighty horn!" and I had always thought that "oh my god" would be such a simpler way to go, correct or not. But I like "God's bones!". It makes sense with your explanation, but even without it, I still get the gist of it.

That's the trick then, to explain the origin of the expression and make that explanation relevant to the main plot. But it also has to be fairly simple. Sounds reasonable. Though it's probably easier said than done. :)

You've mentioned The Dragon Rose in your previous journals and I was wondering, is it published? Because I'd be interested in reading it. I just can't seem to find it anywhere. If not, I think an excerpt of it would be really nice. You do a fair amount of journals on writing advice, and I was curious to see what your writing actually looks like. :heart:
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
The Dragon Rose is not published, but it was a finalist in the Writer's League of Texas Manuscript contest. I haven't really tried to market it since then. More fool me, I suppose, but sooner or later I'll get around to submitting to agents/editors.
Sometimes I look for Ideal Readers, people that I think would be able to give me good feedback because what I'm writing is what they want to read, so I can keep you in mind for my next rough draft.
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:icongoredguar:
GoredGuar Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is fantastic, thanks SO much for doing this!
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:iconpaperiapina:
Paperiapina Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Student General Artist
This was pretty interesting, your text got me to think about my own comic. Specially that part where you talked about war, I realised that pretty much everything in Wurr happens because there has been a big war in the past.
Most characters, who are "hellhounds", are missing family members who died in battle between the hounds and dogs. The war and the loss of huge amounts of capable hunters caused serious famine that forced some packs to join together to help each other to gather food for survivors who were mostly sick, injured, old, pups and mothers. The pack of the main characters first got to know each others while their former packs joined to better hold on in the time of need. And like Morri's mum, who had lost her whole pack in the war, and who's mate was killed in a hunting accident (the two of them just weren't enough to kill large prey, smaller prey was pretty much gone back then) had one of her two pups starved to death before she joined Badjaw's pack.

But I think the most visible effect is the attitudes. There are gateguards at every possible place where people can get out or in the Crater, the land of the "hellhounds", and the "leaders" of the whole Crater, the so-called Old Ones are so afraid of a new war, that they are almost paranoid in how they want to guard the border mountains, which has shown in the story in a way that there has been sent a pack of warriors ("cliff hounds") after just three hounds recently got out. And there is a HUGE tension between the hounds and dogs when the main characters get out to the lands of dogs, as the dogs sure haven't forgotten the huge monsters that invaded their land and killed their people. And there's no way to easily shrug it off, as one of the main characters is a huge monster, at least three times the size of an average dog, with seven fiery red eyes. That's not something to make friends with the first time the dogs see him.

I think that war is pretty interesting story element; it can have a huge affect in the story without actually having any war going on exactly.

Umh, sorry for the big text, I got exited...
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
No, it's an excellent of example of good world-building! Folks should read it, because it outlines how you can have an event as a backdrop, instead of something actively going on. Not everything has to be an active element; sometimes it can be passive and still have story stakes and impact.
Which is, of course, why I love your comic so much.
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:icononyxdragonarts:
OnyxDragonArts Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2010
awsome great to see someone also thinking about these things. I often wondered how the big armies got fed on films since they ransacked the land and burnt things? As for dragons i recon they eat anything cause of their strong stomac acid so like the people of the land meats a treat, perhaps the people don't sacrifice a madien girl but a maden cow??? when they have one spare? Please keep it up and i look foward to reading more of these.
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:iconumbbe:
umbbe Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Student Digital Artist
OR maybe they sacrifice a maiden girl instead of a maiden cow because the cows are worth more than girls? I mean, humans can breed like rabbits anyway, so why not give a few of those excess girls to calm a dragon instead? :D
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:iconkara-tails:
Kara-tails Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Hear Hear!
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:icononyxdragonarts:
OnyxDragonArts Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
More meat on a cow though or maybe a cows weight in rabbits?(those giant ones) they are easy to breed all you need is one!hahaha there are so many other food out there as well, like stoat sofflay, and you know the only reason cooks went mad on spices and herbs was to make rotten food taste good. so tecnicaly a dragon could live of a cities rubbish heap and have rats&rotch suprise for pud. They could also be the population control for evil people. then the cities would not have to waste money on prison and could spend more on agriculture. it's a win win situation.
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