The physical features of your world
Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Last week, we touched on the subject of whether your world was going to be based on Earth or not. Today, I want to continue that in more depth and talk about the physical features, climate, and natural resources. Any of my proposed questions and ideas are based on the assumption you’ve chosen to write an Earth-like world.
Why is it important?
The way your world is laid out in terms of geography, climate, and natural resources will affect everything from how your people will migrate, communicate with each other (we’ll talk about this in a later blog post), evolve as societies, and trade with each other. I’ll hold off going in depth on trade for its own blog post; otherwise, it’ll make this blog post inordinately long. Each one of these tie into one another to the point where it’s almost hard to separate which effects what.
She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain
I had a hard time choosing which topic I wanted to talk about first, but I settled on geography because it will affect the climate and where your people are willing to live. I’ve found what helps is to draw out your map first, divide it into countries, and put what land features you want where. This will help you dictate what the area will look like in terms of how people will live, what the climate will be because of the geography, and what kind of resources there will be.
For example, you might have an extremely mountainous country where your people have made their home. Now, this could go one of two ways: you end up having people like Nepali sherpas who have evolved to be able to breathe easier at higher altitudes than someone who lives at sea level, or you end up having cave dwellers who burrow into the mountains to make their homes closer to the base rather than higher levels. Likely, the latter would make their living mining for whatever they can out of the ground.
You might also have an island nation in which part of the population whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, and they’ve evolved to be able to dive deeper and for longer in order to catch fish. A people that does not live by the water would likely flounder (pun intended) if they had to do anything water related.
It’s getting hot in here
But please, don’t take off your clothes. We’re friends, but come on; we’re not that close.
When you’re planning your world, it’s very important to make sure that the climate matches the geographical features. Each type of geographical feature will come with its own type of climate. For example, somewhere near the ocean or with a lot of lakes or rivers will see far more rain than somewhere landlocked. Each country doesn’t necessarily have to have its own unique climate—you can easily do regions of climate—but you need to understand how climate will affect the people, flora, and fauna.
You’ll also have to figure out if the people have affected the climate. For example, deforestation will raise the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and raise the temperature. The same can be said if your people have started an industrial revolution that produces loads and loads of smog. Cities are generally warmer than out in the country anyway, but the amount of smog and pollution exasperates the longevity of that heat. I mean, you’ll also be choked by hazardous gases, but that’s not the issue we’re talking about.
There’s gold in them there hills!
Your natural resources can range anywhere between the minerals in the ground to the wildlife surrounding us. One thing that I often see go by the wayside in fantasy novels, and sometimes SciFi, is natural resources. That is, with the exception of the resources that their currency is made of or jewels.
What can I say about minerals? Well...they’re there, and you’ve got to find them. There are so many of them that you can easily get overwhelmed when you look them up. Here’s a list that breaks down minerals by classes, here’s a list that you can search minerals by color if you want a certain look, and here is a massive list from A to Z. (Not even sorry it’s Wikipedia—you can follow the sources on there to verify the legitimacy of them.) A lot of these can be made into jewelry, currency, building materials, etc. etc.
But...where’s the coal on those lists? Fun fact: coal is not classified as a mineral.
There are plenty of things to consider when you’re thinking about minerals: Are they tradable? Are they difficult to mine for? Are they rare? Where are they found? How are they found? What uses do they have in society? Does the demand for them create more or less jobs—do they boost the economy? Are they easily depletable? Will the economy tank if the mineral goes away?
Take a deep breath before we continue; that was a lot questions in a row to assault you with.
This is everything from the herbs that people can use for healing medicine to the types of flowers that grow in a specific region. What a lot of authors do—and I’m guilty of it, too—is finding something you like such as a particular flower and have it grow in a climate where it should not and would not succeed. This is fine if you’re having it grow by magic, but otherwise, your flora should obey the laws of nature.
Another important aspect of the flora is your farmland and the crops that it yields. This will supply your food for your people—I promise it doesn’t magically appear in shops because it’s convenient—and it can be an interesting way to show how the population can handle any sort of plight on a certain crop or a general famine. Hungry people become angry people, and angry people can become rioters or revolutionaries depending on how the governing body handles the situation.
We all know that certain animals have certain climates in which they live and thrive, such as polar bears in the Arctic and other extremely cold climates. Other things to consider when creating your world is if there is any overpopulation and what that can do the crop yield. If you have deer coming in through and eating the crops down to the stem, your people will suffer in the long run, and might have a hunting spree to control the population before it’s too late to recover..
Another thing to consider with animals in your world is what kinds of beasts of burden you will have. In founder B. C. Marine’s A Seer’s Daughter, rather than horses pulling her mode of transportation, she has dogs or moose pulling them because her world doesn’t have horses. Lastly, I’d like you to consider the predatory animals within your world and how they interact not only in the food chain but with the population as well.
Next week, we’ll be having an author interview with A4A author Kenneth Barber about his novel, A Knight of The Blood, and in two weeks, we’ll resume our world building series when I talk about the history of your world.
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