This post begins a blog series about aspects and ingredients that go into world building. The creation of a world can be an enjoyable, and time-consuming, part of writing speculative fiction. Before any characters are chosen or journeys are decided upon, we have to construct the place in which our characters live and the story occurs. What is this world like? Does gravity work the same here? Is there magic? What about this world is memorable?
When I consider the worlds which have stood out to me, the places I want to revisit and the adventures I want to relive, one commonality I have found is a history with a sense of loss. In each of these stories, the world has experienced the fall of some golden age and the characters are living in the ruins of an older better world.
This memory of a lost greatness gives a sense of sorrow to the story’s background and can convey to both reader and character this story’s setting is bigger, older, and scarier than previously known.
It also builds tension into the story. If the world has already experienced a deterioration this demonstrates the fragility of the setting the characters must navigate. The world having endured a past hurt removes the illusion of safety and gives a taste of what could happen should the characters fail.
A post golden age world is also relatable. Our own world and in our own lives we have encountered hardship and loss. We can recognize and respond to the similarities between the story’s history and the hurts we have experienced.
What is your fictional world’s history? Does it include the memories of a lost past? How else have you found to use the nature and history of your world to add depth to your story?