World Building Based on an Unknown (to oneself) Place?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by summondice, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. summondice

    summondice Journeyman

    I debated whether to put this in "research" or here. Feel free to move if it's more appropriate elsewhere :)

    I am thinking about basing my world on Mykonos, Greece (for the first part of the story I don't need a ton of space and can expand it later), and was wondering how you all go about learning about a place and its history, from scratch? I know very nearly literally nothing about the place other than that it has piqued my curiosity for no good reason multiple times and I get eerie-warm fuzzies when I listen to Mykonos by Fleet Foxes - I'm working from next to nothing but gut feelings :) I want to avoid cultural appropriation as much as possible when incorporating real-world elements into the fantastical but don't even know where to begin reading about the place from a historical point of view.

    Thoughts, opinions, experiences, and advice? :)
  2. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Lore Master

    If you can, research the civilization that was there before 'the Greeks'. Ancient people usually incorporated stuff they liked that other cultures were already doing, or rediscovered (so I guess that is a form of retro-active assimilation?). History usually repeats itself, and some trends never die.

    Try the region's tourism and visitor's guides. They might be a bit sugar-coated, but it offers an excellent jumping off point for endemic regions. They may also have a local museum with a website to information and resources about the history.

    If it is a "real" place, I use Google Maps/Earth street view of cities and towns to virtually walk the streets and neighborhoods. Go visit the historical society (most have a website these days) to learn about the residents, businesses/industry and events of a place. Genealogy websites can also be helpful.

    Look to surrounding regions, and do the same. Were there grudges or blood feuds, disputes, or allegiances with the place you're interested in? Urban legends? Unsolved murders? Other scandals?

    Culture is a bit trickier to research, but well-appointed tourism books can help. If it can help a stranger in a strange land through their travels, it can probably help an author. I think...was it "DK"? Guidebooks Publishings would help you. If I can find the books I'm thinking about I'll post a link for you. They covered cultural norms (with a history as to 'why' these are norms), spoken languages, religious majorities/minorities, ethnic groups-- the whole history of a place. And- of course- stuff you'd want to see and experience.
  3. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Lore Master


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