Category: Writing – Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/13/17: Houses of Ill Repute

happy times in a bordello

How do (mostly male) adventurers spend their hard-won leisure time? They might visit a brothel. Game of Thrones has shown fantasy fans what such a brothel might look like, but whorehouses, or rollicking inns¬† filled with willing (or working) women have long been a staple of the genre, especially in sword and sorcery. Straight female …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/6/17: Barbarians

A barbarian ready for action on the battlefield. Note the cleanly picked skeletons. (Conan the Barbarian, by Uncanny Knack)   Without dispute, pulp author Robert E. Howard invented the fantasy character trope of The Barbarian Hero, specifically with his creation Conan. But the roots were laid before that in the Tarzan tales of Edgar Rice …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/30/17: Mundane Fare

Let’s face it. Most of the food in a typical Medieval European kingdom wasn’t very exciting. This is better than most, folks. Historically, the peasant staple in Europe and the Near East was porridge, which is, basically, a form of oatmeal —¬† whole grains boiled in water or milk, decanted into a bowl and eaten …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/23/17: Jungle Girls

Jungle Girls are the female counterpart to Tarzan, Sabu, and countless other wild men and boys clad in flapping loincloths swinging through the trees. Modern interpretations of her began with Rima the Bird Girl, a character in the 1903 novel Green Mansions, which makes her older than Tarzan who debuted in 1912. Like Burrough’s creation …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/16/17: Dragon Names

Dragon Names No other creature is as evocative of the contemporary fantasy genre as the dragon. They combine snakes, lizards, dinosaurs, large mammalian predators, and human intellects into one massive, armored, fire-breathing package. (Their drives, however, are their own.) The current version of the dragon dates from within the last 100 years. Tolkien gave us …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday, 8/9/17: Bureaucracies

Portrait of Auster Denoerval, by Virginie Carquin   Fantasy organizations are not limited to the grandiose and world-shaking. Scores of bureaucratic organizations run silently beneath the surface, serving to frustrate and stymie your characters in pursuit of their goals. Terry Pratchett, Franz Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Stanislaw Lem, and J. K. Rowling all used them …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday, 8/2/17: Inns, Taverns, and Eateries

The Granddaddy of all Fantasy fiction tropes must surely be the Medieval Inn, with its open hearths and wenches in low-cut bodices, unsavory characters lurking about, and bowls of hot stew. (No less a luminary than Tolkien created the seminal template with The Prancing Pony.) In truth, inns served a vital function in the Medieval/Renaissance …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/26/17: Secret and Arcane Societies

Necromancy, by Lyndsey Hayes Secret and Arcane Societies Secret societies are a mainstay in popular fiction. (Just look at Dan Brown.) In fantasy and science fiction, we have the Bene Gesserit, The Dharma Initiative, The Talamasca, The Sith. In mundane life, there are many, from the sinister to the accepted. Freemasons are one. But there’s …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/19/17: Civic and Community Organizations

Not as glamorous as evil societies or those dedicated to dark magic. But every sizable town and city in a typical Medieval European society has them. There are guilds devoted to workers and tradesmen, merchants’ leagues, secret societies like Freemasons, civic leagues dedicated to improve some aspect of city life, and even rebels lurking below …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/12/17: Organizations Clearly Up to No Good

Fantasy fiction (and science fiction, for that matter) is full of secret societies, thieves’ guilds, Hellfire clubs, and other associations for like-minded individuals. Often these are major drivers of the plot. Frank Herbert’s Dune would not be the same but for the Bene Gesserit, or The Wheel of Time series for the Aes Sedai. H.P. …

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