When I was a child, my mom started me off on the Lord of the Rings… I think I was in the second grade at the time. I already knew I was something. I didn’t have a word for it – that would come much later – but I knew I was different.
Tolkien’s world, though it was devoid of LGBT characters, gave me a place to escape to. Somewhere I could wander and explore and not deal with the real world for a little while.
A few years later, I graduated to drawing my own maps of my own little worlds, inspired by how Tolkien and others like him had not just written a story, but had really constructed their own fully-realized worlds.
I would spend whole weekend afternoons drawing maps of my own little places, so much so that my Dad grew concerned and signed me up for youth soccer to get me out in the world a little more.
He didn’t understand me then. He gets me a lot more now. :)
I’m writing a story now that’s a offshoot of the first world I ever created – Antana – where planet-wide flooding every 60 years was finally arrested by a massive climate project, which itself ultimately led to the end of the world. In telling the new story, I needed to reference that old world, and so I broke out one of my old notebooks, and was amazed at the detail there – timelines, maps upon maps, drawings of characters with their history.
And on some level, I realized it was often easier to draw a new world then to actually write about it.
So for your Fantasy writers out there, how do you go about world building? How much time and effort do you put into creating the world behind the story? Do you have maps, timelines, pictures of your characters?