Building a World for a Novel – Part 33
Part 33: Do You Have Horses?
We’re getting close to the finish line. Any time now you’ll reach out and flick the switch that starts your world rotating and orbiting its star. The clouds will begin to scud across your bright skies… but wait. Let’s check out a few things.
We’ve spent a bit of time creating, putting things together, over the last days. So far today we’ve looked at time and space (measurements). Now let’s check out the logic of our world.
It is common for new world-builders to base their planets on what they know. To a large degree, this isn’t just a good idea, it is an imperative. That said, it is easy to carry the known world into the new world by dressing up Terrestrial components in Halloween costumes. And that may be going a bit too far, or rather, not far enough.
For example: does your world have horses? How do your early people get around? A pre-industrial world won’t have trains or cars, so what have you done to help them cross distances too far to walk in a day?
If you go back through Fantasy and Sci-Fi literature, you’ll see no end to the types of creatures used to replace horses.
Now, I’m not talking about “the special creature”, the creature your main character(s) recruit to get a leg up in the fight against the baddies. Dragons, Rocs, and one of a kind creatures don’t count (in this discussion, at least).
Do you have horses or a close analog of them? The problem is that even a six-legged horse (Direhorse, Avatar) is a horse.
I would like to caution you about doing lateral transfers of flora, fauna, inventions, and concepts to your new world. If this sounds at conflict with my admonition to keep your concepts approachable–not too alien–guilty as charged. It is. The trick is to pick sparingly from the components of the world you know and change them enough to be serviceable while still giving the impression of being alien. Go too far one way, and you look unprofessional, juvenile. Too far the other way, and you have a world that your reader cannot identify with. There is no doubt that this is the hardest part of world-building.
Tempted as I am to make suggestions here, I don’t think it would serve the new World Builder. It is time for you to make a list of the types of creatures, concepts, inventions and ideas that your new world will have, and then to sanitize them so they don’t look like they’re borrowed.
By the way, while your race may have a flag, there’s a very good chance they will not have a “Pledge of Allegiance”.
Continued in Part 34