As a Fantasy author and lover of many epic fantasy series (like The Lord of the Rings) and also a fan of role-play gaming, I’ve always had a fascination for world-building. Building a fantasy world can involve very little, or quite a lot, depending on how you approach it and what you want to do with it. Details can be scarce, or prolific.
With my gaming experience in the past, I only had to create enough of a world to deal with the adventure I was creating for my players. So I only needed a coastline, or a mountain range. Perhaps a desert or forest where all the action took place. In my first novel, Dragon Rising, I limited myself to a single kingdom, Almar, and left references beyond its borders purposely vague and without a lot of detail. That novel was re-written and became Dragonblood Throne: Legacy, and while I didn’t expand the map further, I did consider more of what actually lie beyond the boundaries of the map.
When I began to think of my current series of novels, the Rangers of Laerean, I knew I wanted something far more rich in history, rich in lore and with great detail. I thought about many aspects of the world I wanted to create; the politics, the races, the creatures, the economy, and more. This involved a great deal of time and contemplation, and lengthy note-taking sessions.
If we look at the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, which he called Middle Earth, we can see how deep the rich detail and history he put into that work went. It was more than just drawing a map. There are political systems, racial cultures, economic systems, and within that world are many kingdoms and creatures. He detailed not only those elements, but also how they all interacted with each other. Middle Earth is a massive undertaking, and my hat is off to Mr. Tolkien, for he not only did it, he did it with such fantastic and imaginative detail that his world now lives on today, in the minds of fantasy fans everywhere.
This is the kind of world I wanted for the Rangers of Laerean, and I spent many hours writing down thoughts, drawing maps, and considering how the political and economical factors would come into play, as well as how each race would have their own culture and history, religions and politics. It is a lot to deal with, and in fact, is an ongoing process that I don’t think will ever truly end.
Creating a section of a world takes less work, but to truly create an entire fantasy world is a huge undertaking and requires much work and enormous amounts of energy and imagination.
I started out by creating four races for my world, though I will likely add others later; from other continents, perhaps. What I’ve created so far is something about the size of North America, but the world is a much bigger place, so there is room to continue to grow. I added many common and some strange creatures, and yet, the continent I’ve created is so large, it’s quite possible there are areas where creatures and things that haven’t yet been discovered may be revealed in later stories.
When it comes right down to it, I’m nowhere near finished creating the world I now have, and I will continue to add to it, modify it, and develop more lore and more history, which in turn helps define the present and the future. It’s still being developed, in the stories I write, and in the notes I write down for later. Constantly increasing in size and scope, and constantly evolving.
I doubt it will ever reach a point that I can say, “It is done!” My only hope is, that in the far future, long after I am gone, that fantasy fans will know about the world I have created, and enjoy the stories I have placed within it, and say, “What a fantastic world he created!” Just as we do for past authors, like Tolkien, today. I believe Middle Earth was Tolkien’s dream world, and in the world I have created, my dreams can come true as well.