Some of my favorite pages in fiction are those describing the creation of a world. The opening chapters of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the ending of Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis come to mind. Both offer a glimpse into the foundation of the conflicts which play out in other books. We understand the struggle between Sauron and the Free Peoples and Aslan and the White Witch better because those lines are drawn during the creation accounts.
And yet, worlds are not built once into static things and left to dry. They are living, breathing, ever-changing entities which unfold as we explore them. They are impacted by the events and the characters within them. Kingdoms rise and fall. Rivers move and change course. Sometimes whole islands sink into the sea.
Worlds of questions
I love to read about world-building, but I love building my own worlds even more. Naming cities and waterways. Inventing histories and cultures. Mapping out the topography and geography and seeing how it impacts the economy and the ideas of the people who live in it. I love it all.
I get to answer questions like:
- Who are the rulers of these lands?
- What does a day in the life of the average person look like?
- What sorts of coins or commerce are used?
- What is the climate like?
- How does the calendar work?
- What wars have been fought recently? In the past?
- What are some of the poems and songs of this land?
- What sorts of creatures and peoples live there?
- What unique plants exist there?
- What foods do people eat?
- What kinds of clothes do they wear?
- Do they have any unusual inventions in use?
- What are the histories of the important lands?
And so on and so on…There’s so much to discover!
Let’s explore together
In this journal we’ll get to answer many of these questions. You’ll get to peek over my shoulder as the worlds take shape. And my hope is that you will feel the wind in the hollows, grow dizzy at the cavern depths, bask in the glow of the flowered meadows, and come to love these worlds as much as I do.
Because this world is not all there is. And knowing that, we would do well to cultivate our senses to better perceive the worlds beyond the one which comes to us through the windows of our immediate experience. We need a sense of longing that will challenge our materialistic tendencies and our utilitarian impulses. We need places that will shake us in a good way, wake us up to the wonder and mystery at the back of every moment, wonders which routine and bland familiarity have sadly taken from us.
As C.S. Lewis put it:
“…the fairy tale stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: The reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.”
Ready to be enchanted? Then lets find some secret paths into the deep, deep woods.
The world-building journal will consist of a series of posts. Each will be linked below as they come out. So check back often and happy exploring!