marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

ordering the world

There's a limit to how you can arrange the sequence of events that confronts your character.  Even if you send him on a road that runs according to its own internal magics and can do the loop-de-loop if so inclined.  Even if you confine him to a city where he can run around and around in circles.

And if you've gone for a less wild world or a more wandering tale, world-building constraints can bind more tightly.  Plus of course the need to provide appropriate settings for the incidents of the plot.  Plus the need for variety, required for aesthetics, to provide contrast, and keep the readers awake.  (Yeah, there are other things that can keep the readers awake.  It's unwise to neglect any of them.)

Enormous cities out in the middle of nowhere need a reason.  The pass through which all the merchants must travel.  The only source of water in the desert.  A port city would be less likely.  The prevailing winds would have to be odd for there to be no farmland, and hence farms, and anyway, a port would have to be in an odd location to work as a waystation, which would be the only way to isolate it.  Very concentrated and very isolated locations, lovely though the contrast is, do not make good juxtapositions on maps.

Culture shifts rarely, too.  Long distance travel, whether airplane or dirigible, or starship or magical portal, is needed to get it juxtaposed.  Indeed, places that are easily accessible to each other -- and have been so for a while -- are very prone to have very similar cultures.

Poor and rich can be contrasted more easily, especially in times when cities had to be concentrated enough for everything to be within walking distance, or at least riding a horse distance for practicality.  And, of course, only those with horses -- or who could rent them -- found riding a horse practical, and many of those would send servants, on foot, to buy what was needed.   Most people would have to buy stuff close by them, and that meant lots of trades, close by, and all sorts of people from the richest to the poorest.

Rural and urban, too, though many cities would not look very urban to us.  For milk before there were milk trains, there were cows in the city.  People kept pigs, and gardens, and hens, and other such practicilities where feasible.  Still, the effect was confined.  And since a lot of foods can't be moved far, there were farms close to cities.
Tags: aesthetics, complexity, plotting, setting (scene), travel, world-building: economics, world-building: geography, world-building: social classes

  • Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight!

    Story time can be an issue in the most linear of stories. Time travel, on the other hand -- A lot of time travel stories act like there's hard…

  • plot devices in retelling fairy tales

    Nothing is more difficult to deal with in retelling a fairy tale than its plot devices. Because they have the dreadful tendency to drop them like hot…

  • the eyes have it

    When writing description in a story, always remember the point of view. And when NOT writing description in a story, always remember the point of…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded