So You Want To / Build Your Own Fictional World
is the process in which an author adds the finer details to his or her setting. Also check out Be Original
and The Trope History of the Universe
- It's Been Done. You need to brainstorm long and hard to make your setting truly unique. Or just cherry-pick bits from other works that you like, toss them in the metaphorical pot, and see what boils up. But be sure to boil long and hard so it doesn't look messily ripped off and stuck on with gore.
- Recycled IN SPACE!. If you want to (for example) make a reimagining of your faforite treasure hunt-story, but as a political satire, or it happens in an urban setting, really put effort in to it. Most of the popular *some character but in SPACE!* type of stories feel worthless, because the storytellers haven`t put much thought in to how the story would change, if their Aquaman really WOULD go to space. How would they react? To underthink it, is the pitfall, not using the said trope.
- Standard Fantasy Setting: Everybody who thinks "Hey, I can write a fantasy epic!" usually plagiarizes Tolkien or D&D, complete with Medieval Stasis. There are comparatively few Weird West fantasy epics, for example, which can be counted on your fingers (The Dark Tower, Wild ARMs and Deadlands are the only ones that springs to mind); Same with Sci-fi/fantasy crossover settings (Warhammer 40,000 and Spelljammer). Even if you want to keep the medieval flavor, you could set it somewhere more like the old Near East or Precolumbian America.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are usually all short, fat, mildly agoraphobic drunkards who really like mining, eating, drinking, gold, and fighting. The most different dwarves usually get is that "oh, my particular dwarves have Steam Punk tech and /or guns because they stink at magic." Done to death. So how about trying something different with `em?
- ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Warhammer 40,000's human ships are giant, flying gothic cathedrals with weapons mounts tarted up to look like gargoyles. Johnny's ship from Won Ton Soup is spherical. There's no reason to go for the standard flying-box-with-riveted-plates look.
- Spikes of Villainy: Armor types are rather neutral. It'd be great to find out that, just this once, the Tank in the jet black, spined armor with-skull-mask-helmet is one of the good guys.
- Five Races/Fantasy Axis of Evil. Orcs (Or Orks, however you want to spell it), Drow/Dark Elves, Goblins, Undead and Dark Dwarves (or necromantic humans, whatever) get a bad rap in most stories, simply because of What Measure Is a Non-Human?. Mix it up a little. Stories like Goblins, Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, and Drowtales explore the "Bad guys" side of it. One could also have the Five races/ Axis of evil completely flipped, with noble orcs and brave goblins vs. bloodthirsty humans and ruthless elves, or peaceful Undead fending off religious nutjobs who consider them "Unholy."
Suggested Themes, Plots, and Aesops
Too many, so I'll just toss you the Genres
- Whatever classic races you want to include, and any new ones you dream up.
- A heroic deed here and there (up to and including wars) in the history to keep it interesting.
- And scandals, humorous or serious, to add drama or humor.