Worldbuilding

Giving Your World Fantastic Skies

Earth is consistently used as a setting for fiction – even speculative fiction such as scifi and fantasy. This may have something to do with all known authors and readers being from there; Earth is a friendly, familiar, ready-made planet to dump characters and plot onto. But … read more »

Obeying the Celestial Speed Limit

As a genre, science fiction frequently runs roughshod over the hard limits of the universe as we currently understand them. Above all else, science fiction writers consistently forget, hand wave away, or blatantly ignore what is perhaps the most foundational rule in the universe: nothing … read more »

Starting a Fictional Culture

Culture encompasses almost everything we do. Language, religion, and social structure all shape and are shaped by the prevailing culture. The cultures you create for your worlds will make a permanent imprint on the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of the people in them. With so many strands in … read more »

The Four Rules of Using Fake Words

If your story takes place in another world, none of your characters are really speaking English. They aren’t telling stories or recording history in English; they’re doing it in the language you invented for them. An English language book describing their journey is clearly an anachronism. Read more »

Costuming Your Characters

Costumes reflect both a character’s culture and personality. Everything in their environment shapes the way they dress. Unless you have a professional costumer to defer to, costuming is left to the worldbuilder. When done right, a costume tells a story all on its own. Read more »

Creating Rites of Passage

Depicting rites of passage is a fantastic way to show off your fictional culture. That’s because these rituals combine the most important elements of a culture into a memorable event. Chances are very good that social roles, moral values, lifestyle, and religion will all make an appearance. Read more »

Using Animals for Transport and Labor

Whatever your setting, you’ll probably need animal transportation and labor. Only in the past 100 years has overland transportation been dominated by machines; throughout history, most humans have relied on some manner of large beastie to haul around their stuff or themselves. Read more »

Poisons: How to Use Them

Your characters have to face death at some point. Why not let chemistry help? Ah, but not all poisons are created equal, and not all poisons will be available in all settings for your murderous plot devices. Read more »

Creating Matriarchies

Human societies are overwhelmingly patriarchal. That means it’ll be a long time before matriarchal societies get boring. Unfortunately, many depictions of these cultures feature a simple role reversal. A matriarchy isn’t just a patriarchy with women in place of men. Read more »