Worldbuilding

Overcoming the Myth of Barter

Many assume that before currency existed, people would trade goods through a barter system. But in reality, we have no historic or anthropological evidence that this ever occurred. None at all, even in isolated societies that don’t have money for their internal exchanges. Read more »

Eight Natural Phenomena to Use in Your Stories

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page trying to come up with a first sentence, then you know how useful it can be to have something to jump-start your story, a kernel around which the narrative can form. That spark can be a plot hook, or it can be something just outside your door. Read more »

The Mechanics of Dystopian Settings

The skies are darkened with soot and ash, and marauding bandits are ravaging the countryside. Sound familiar? Dystopian worlds focus on failed governments and societies where things can range from bad to worse. Dystopian settings are gritty, grim, and have a heavy focus on decay … read more »

Crafting Plausible Maps

Building a map for a fantasy setting involves a lot of details – most of them fun! Art styles, fonts, and icons need to be chosen. But some mapping concerns go beyond mere aesthetics. If you’re building a sizable chunk of continent on an Earth-like … read more »

Designing Your Spaceship

Star Trek has the Enterprise. Star Wars has the Millenium Falcon. Battlestar Galactica has… Battlestar Galactica. Each of these ships fulfills a different purpose and so has a different design. If your work features an important spaceship, then this is something you have to think about. Read more »

Looking Under Your World’s Skin

Last month, we covered how the ground below a constructed world can behave. From the gradual shaping of continents to the rapid devastation unleashed by volcanoes and ice dams, geological processes define and destroy civilizations. Now that we’ve seen your world move, it’s time to see … read more »

Adding Dance to Your Fictional Culture

All human cultures include dancing – with the possible exception of groups that specifically forbid it. Not only is dancing intrinsic to our nature, but it’s an amazingly versatile activity. Dreaming up some dances can add a splash of realism and interest to your creative … read more »

Tweaking Your World’s Geology

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

Chances are your world is built on something.  If it’s anything like Earth, your characters are living in a thin veneer of air and water sandwiched between a dark, unforgiving void and a churning sea of white-hot iron. We’ve already looked at what’s above; now let’s … read more »