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Little things I'm not thinking of

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Chasejxyz, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    I have a week left until I can start editing my manuscript, and one of the things I've been doing to fill the time is to do worldbuilding. I've done everything on my to-do list and all the really obvious things. The sort of things I'm looking to do are little things you might see or hear, like the kinds of fruit trees you'd see in a greenhouse or what the currency would be called. Nothing earth-shattering, but it adds flavor and all that good stuff.

    Basic facts about the setting: there are multiple sapient/intelligent species, most being found in the country the story is set in, and not all of them are human/human-shaped (i.e. bipedal, dextrous hands etc). Some tech is medieval-y, some renaissance-y, others completely different because of magic. There are multiple religions and languages. The climate/biome is most similar to north America or eurasia during the pleistocene, as are the animals and plants (except for the things that have been domesticated, so they're closer to our modern counterparts).

    I'd love to hear any and all suggestions you might have :)
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    Kinda sounds like a blender... it could work, but you'll have to put a lot of thought into it.
     
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  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    When world-building, I consider the various realms and start with the big stuff like government, armies etc... when that is done, for flavor, I answer questions.

    1. How do they get along with their neighbors? (Diplomacy)
    2. What are their historical borders? (Geography)
    3. Do they have any distinctive natural landmarks in their territory? (Geography)
    4. What are their principal trade goods? What do they usually trade for? (Economy)
    5. What is their coinage consist of? Where does the materials for money come from? (Economy)
    6. How do normal people get around? What about wealthy people? Merchants? (Aesthetics)
    7. What sort of clothes do they wear? What color and style? Jewelry? (Aesthetics)
    8. How is the government arranged? Who sees to law-enforcement? How is it carried out? (Government)
    9. How does education take place? Is it a formal academy with instructors, or is it a guild system where they study with a master on something they want to learn? (Aesthetics)
    10. Cuisine? What sorts of things do commoners eat? How about wealthy people? (Aesthetics)


    That's just a smidgeon of the work I put into world-building, but I like to focus on aesthetics as much as the practical aspect of things.

    Scribes member Miles Lacey has a series of worldbuilding prompts that might help you out. I have done a few of these myself, at least the questions I find relevant to my world.

    The "Daily" Worldbuilding Prompt. Chapter 3
     
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  4. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    I can put a little more thought into 3, 7 and 9. 1, 2, 4, and 8 are pretty plot-relevant so they've been thought of in quite a bit of detail. I'll definitely check out the thread you linked, too, thanks.
     
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  5. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    Saigonnus - It was Ban who came up with the world building prompts, not me.
     
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  6. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    OOOHH!!! My apologies to BAN! :(
     
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  7. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    BanBan has been summoned! He shall ban thee noweth!
     
  8. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    No banning. Good to hear folks are still enjoying the old worldbuilding prompts.
     
  9. Maria Heath

    Maria Heath Dreamer

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    Have you considered how your languages might interact? For example, for the non-human species, do they have the same vocal production biology or are their languages impossible to speak fluently by other species (or vice versa for them speaking human languages)? Are there different languages and dialects of languages within each species? If so, which dialect is the privileged dialect, and how do its speakers perceive speakers of less privileged dialects? Do the different societies have different stereotypes about other groups that show in their language attitudes (i.e. "Ew, he has a ___ accent, he must not be very educated"). How about signed languages, do they exist in your world? There's always plenty of linguistic worldbuilding that can be fine-tuned!
     
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  10. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    I always love running into other people who have a very in-depth knowledge/interest in a niche thing like this. Mine is zoology, as you'll see in a minute.

    The "ruling class"/species is birds, which have different dialects/styles based on their home region and the situation (like the "singing" to find a mate isn't the same thing you'd use to conduct trade). They can (mostly) talk human due to their syrinx; how well is up to how much effort they want to put into it (I mean, would YOU want to hold a conversation with some random farmer?). Non-birds can only manage really to say basic, surface-level meanings and it almost always earns a "ugh, stop, you sound horrible." There's also a more bird-y human shape species that can speak both human and bird poorly, so they mostly use a creole of the two. But people are generally very mean to them and are surprised that they can speak anything intelligible.

    There's also dragons; the very big ones are hard to understand just because of the physics of something that big but with telepathy that's not an issue. But there aren't that many dragon characters in my current WIP so I haven't put a ton of thought into it. Same with humans from other countries; there's other human languages but things are in the local human language. Signed languages would only be a human thing but I haven't thought about it at all (which is a shame since my college had a huge Deaf population and I still sign "thanks" to service people). Same deal with (most) dialects/accents. I've been thinking about things biologically/anatomically and not through linguistic stuff...mostly because I don't know a lot. I'm really bad at conlang-ing and struggle with coming up with new words. But I'll definitely think about these new things, thank you!
     
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  11. Maria Heath

    Maria Heath Dreamer

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    It's true that human signed languages would be restricted to species with hands and human faces, but if there's any possibility that your bird species could be deaf or need to communicate non-verbally, they might have a visual modality as well. Maybe something to do with feather configuration, body position, or movement? May not be relevant to your story, but could be an interesting tidbit to include!

    And when it comes to thinking about languages in invented worlds, it's always worth considering the social function of language and how languages reflect the cultures, like in naming systems, interaction between dialects, and how languages have developed over time with inter-species interaction! Ooh, and if some of your species don't have hands, do they have a writing system for their language? They certainly could, but it would have to be pretty unique!
     
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  12. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    Birds needed a unchanging/"permanent" form to record information for extremely long periods of time; they saw early (i.e. "cave") humans doing cave painting and refined the idea into writing. You can get some pretty good manipulation with a beak and (zygodactyl) talons, but there's obvious limitations, plus as they grew larger as they aged it was more difficult to write. And humans are just dumb animals, you can't expect them to do this. But birds had magic, a lot of time, and a strong desire to solve this problem. After many (many) failures, one of them figured out how to transform into a human AND be able to go back again. As you can imagine, things started to get complicated with their human neighbors, one thing led to another, and that's why humans are p.o.'d enough at the birdgeoisie that they're willing to burn it all down.

    So! I've thought a lot about the writing and how inter-species communications/interactions have gone, since that's the source of the conflict of the story. Why couldn't everyone just be illiterate, then we wouldn't have all these problems.
     
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