It started with a short story, which turned into a novel roughly based around Irish history, which then plummeted straight into an epic high fantasy.
No, seriously, that’s how this whole Swans novel was birthed.
And now I’m smack in the middle of world building for this fantasy novel, which I have to admit is harder than I remember it being.
I remember doing this before, I really do. I even remember liking this part before. I have a whole notebook full of family histories and medieval crests I had drawn up for one of my trunk novels and I distinctly remember having fun with that one.
Well, I can’t say that I love this part, but I do enjoy little bits of it.
A lot of my concentration has been on the political aspects of the world, which is probably why I am dragging my feet through it. I sincerely dislike politics.
Politics make people ugly.
Just one glance through social media these days and I can prove that statement.
I decided to try a different twist on political world building.
I’m building it two-fold, from opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ve started with my antagonist, who happens to be in a position of power, and gone through a list of the reasons why he is in power and what that power means he can do by way of plot.
And on the opposite end, I’ve got the poorest of the poor, the seemingly powerless character, and have been listing out the reasons why she is so powerless. What/who took that power and what that leaves her with.
Because this is a new thing for me, and because it seems to be working, I’ve opted to give an example so that any fellow authors out there who are struggling with world building might give it a go. If they want, of course.
The list goes something like this::
Character A – Antagonist. Highest echelon of society.
Why is he so revered?
This one’s easy, he’s the King’s cousin and with the King’s children missing/presumed dead he stands to inherit the throne.
What does this mean he can do?
Well, he has control of the guards and the prisons. He also has a lot of money, so even if said guards need to be subverted for propriety sake, he can bribe men into working for him.
What can threaten his power/position?
The King’s children coming back would severely cut his power reserves.
If several of the nobles banded together they might be able to sway the King.
What can he do to make sure those threats are never realized?
… Well, this would be getting into PLOT. But you can see how it works.
I think it’s important to note here that I’ve actually started with my antagonist this time instead of my protagonist. Understanding who this man is has given me a stronger hold on the story structure.
The only thing to remember here is that I have to spend an equal amount of time on the protagonists. If I don’t, then I’ll have a terribly lopsided story.