Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building a World: Week 4

Settlements – Going Deeper

Last week, I talked about creating a template for designing settlements. I talked about the information that I would need in my templates and how to figure out and organize that information together. That information though, isn't enough for worldbuilding. This post is going to talk about how using information from your world building of one settlement can be used to better develop out your world. In this particular case, I'm going to use the created settlement of Salicard from my last week's post in order to improve the worldbuilding of not only Salicard, but the two neighboring settlements.

Salicard is one of the locations that I need in my story, but I know little about it. It is located on the southern portion of my world, another area that I know very little about. In my previous attempts to write my epic fantasy, the lack of understanding of this section of the world has been a road block that has interfered with my writing.

I indicated that there are two road ways in Salicard. Plot wise, it is important that Salicard have restricted access. Later, as the story progresses, it is important that this city location be difficult to reinforce. Just declaring that the city has two roadways is not sufficient worldbuilding. I can use this unique detail about the city and play around with possibilities to understand the city better.

I could simply declare that the city has terrain that makes it difficult to traverse. As it is, the city already has a crevice located to the north. Having two complicated terrains is a stretch and it is a simple way out. In my notes, I indicated the High Lord Raiz is in charge of the local province and that he resides in Salicard. As a more interesting piece of history, he restricts the roads as a means of controlling trade. The less roads to navigate around, the more travel is required for merchants. The more roads the merchants need to travel, the greater the tolls they need to pay.

Additionally, there is another reason for not expanding the roads. To the east of Salicard is a large forested area. The forested area, while a valuable resource, is plagued with a hostile species. It is quite possible for the High Lord to build a road through the forest and supply it with protection, but to do so would require he spend extra money from his coffers to fund the protection. So, instead of creating a new trade route, he just tolls his existing roads and enhances the income.

With this information about Salicard, it gives me additional information that I can use for building the neighboring cities. To start off with, the settlement to the southeast is going to be a larger trade destination. Any merchants going through there are going to want to buy supplies, possibly trade in that location, and will need a place to stay. When you have a major trade route, it establishes other businesses. So, by knowing that the city to the southeast is a major node in the kingdom, I can infer that the city is larger than Salicard. The city located to the west would have the opposite impact. It is more isolated from the rest of the kingdom. Merchants would definitely trade in Salicard, it is where the rich family lives and would attract business. But, the merchants are rarely going to travel further. The tolls are already devastating them. So to the west, you will have a smaller settlement. Also, food is not the best commodity for shipping long distances. For that reason, it would make sense that a settlement west of Salicard is going to be agricultural based.

Now, in my epic fantasy, I had a nobleman who was in charge of a small settlement and was below High Lord Raiz in stature. This smaller settlement becomes a better choice for his home than what I had originally designed. He's located to the southwest of the Fae Kingdom and from an isolated section of the world. He would be in charge of providing soldiers for the High Lord and the King's Army, and would likely lead that himself. He would also certainly be the Lord in charge of the settlement. I don't have a settlement name yet, but by worldbuilding one settlement, I was able to establish details about two settlements, including finding a way to link in an existing character to one of the newer settlements. This information was established simply by looking into the trade routes of Salicard.

Just as a reminder, the idea behind this series is not to share all of my world, but to show you how worldbuilding can help you improve your writing and get yourself on track again. Next week, I'm going to talk about storing and organizing the information in both a hard and digital copy in order to make finding information simpler when doing your writing.

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