Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.

September19th

fantasyland5

If you’ve ever looked at our world with discontent, unhappiness or a feeling of ‘I could do better than that!’ then fantasy writing is for you. In a lifetime of reading Fantasy and half a lifetime writing it, I’ve compiled a number of hints, tips and techniques for novice world-builders. And since I’m not loathe to offer advice, here’s a pick of the best of them.

  • Don’t place your Forest of Terror right next door to your Mountains of Doom alongside your Chasm of Eternal Fear. You can have too much of a good thing.
  • Remember: rivers flow from the mountains to the sea, not the other way around. Tempting though it may be to have water running uphill, the laws of hydrodynamics are fairly well understood and if broken, will have unfortunate consequences for urban sewerage and waste water disposal.
  • Weather happens.
  • Never try to have a capital of the Evil Empire of Doom without a Z, K or X in the name. It just doesn’t work.
  • The Web of Life is really tricky in imaginary worlds. Dragons as your top-level predator play hell with the food chain.
  • Never put anything interesting in the middle of your imaginary world. If your map goes to two pages, you can lose really interesting things in the gutter.
  • Cities are where they are for three reasons: protection, trade routes and ‘lost in the mists of time’. Always handy.
  • ‘Wetlands’ is a more congenial name for ‘swamp’.
  • There’s no reason why the north has to be cold and the south hot. Such an approach is Northern Hemisphere-centric.
  • Remember: you have to stop map-making sometime and start writing.
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