To Build A Story: World-Building

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but have never gotten around to it. So here it is!

For a long time, I never really considered world-building when I wrote. I focused on plot and characters, and the world was just kind of a backdrop. I think a lot of writers overlook world-building, or don’t give it enough attention in their writing. I wrote this post about the importance of world-building, and some things that great books do to bring their worlds to life. You should definitely go read it if you haven’t already, because I take a deeper look into what makes a good, realistic, deep world. Now I wanted to give you some of the resources I’ve found to be helpful as I develop the world for Nightfire. 

This is the first WIP that I’ve really spent time developing the world, and it’s shown me a whole new side to writing. I really love the process. Even if half of this never makes it into the actual book, it has helped me understand the characters and story so much more, and made it all feel real.

1. Name Generator

One thing I am terrible at is names–you may have noticed from the multiple posts asking for your help choosing names. There are many different generators, but this is a great one that I’ve used for Nightfire. I like to use generators when I need variety, or for non-English names. I don’t usually use the exact names they produce, but it’s a great starting point.

2. Character Generator

Now I know this isn’t exactly world-building, but this is another great resource, especially for those side characters that help flesh the world out (which I wrote about in the previous post mentioned above). Seventh Sanctum has a whole bunch of great generators, like this one for characters, or a couple others for settings and combat.

3. Map Generator

Similar to the name generator, this map generator is a great starting point. I never realized before how helpful it is to actually have a concrete mental image of how the world is laid out. It makes logistics so much easier, and the action feel more real. Instead of them journeying from point A to point B, they are travelling from Cinder Lake to the Anvil Mountains. I could never come up with all the landforms and names on my own, so the generator really helped me get started.

4. Map Making Software

This is a little bit more technical, but don’t let that scare you off. AutoREALM is very easy to use (It took me less than an hour to figure out the basics on my own) and is amazing. Seriously, amazing. Creating a real map to have as a reference has been so helpful, and even inspired different storylines and aspects in the book. Not to mention they turn out pretty awesome looking, for such a simple software. Here’s mine for Nightfire (which I did in three hours, including the learning curve):

realmap

Pretty awesome, right? Not bad for a couple hours and limited technical skills.

How do you world-build? Any resources of your own to share? What do you think of these–did they help at all? Let me know!

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To Build A Story: Nameless

Names can be tricky. Sometimes I’ll go days, weeks, or even months without being able to choose a good name for a character. If this happens, I use some kind of placeholder, usually the first name that pops into my head. It works in the mean time, but it’s just not right. 

Right now, I have two characters in my WIP Nightfire. They are ferals like my protagonist Kera, which means they are basically a native people who mostly live in tribes outside of civilization. They are brother and sister, and skilled warriors. The girl is small, sharp-tongued, and quick, and she loves knives. The brother is large and strong, serious, blind, and very spiritual.

As of now, their placeholders are Namri and Nayo. They work, but they just don’t feel quite right for these two. I have been working on a lot of world-building lately, and have started to base the feral culture around Eskimo and Inuit people. I’ve started adapting the Eskimo languages into words and phrases I can use in Nightfire, and would love for these two characters to have Eskimo based names.

Now it’s your turn to help me! I’ll put two polls below, one for the brother and one for the sister, with some of my options and their meanings, though some have been chosen just for how they sound. Choose your favorite, and hopefully we can find the right names together 🙂