While designing my world, with multiple cultures and languages and stuff - whole globe - I found designing the religion to be the hardest. I can't seem to go any further until I name all the deities. I don't want the names to be random, like a bunch of letters put together even if they sound the right language. I want to give some of the deities' names meaning, like Erikson's "Mother Earth" goddess named Burn because of the fiery planet core, but I just can't seem to find any inspiration. Ideas?
Sorry this took a little while, I’m smack in the middle of finals week unfortunately.
Hmmm. Maybe you can make up a language (or at least snippets of one) for your world? I have a story with deities in it, and while their names appear to be a bunch of letters put together that sound nice, they have meanings. For instance, my fire goddess’s name means “Burner,” and the name of the region she guards, which has a similar name to hers, means “Burning Lands.” The language these deity names are in isn’t spoken too often later in the world’s timeline, and is regarded as an ancient language that’s different than the common tongue. It’s still nice to use for meanings, though! You might want to use the same approach, so you can still have names that sound like names, but don’t appear to be especially literal at first sight.
Every so often, I do an article about the technology I use to help me worldbuild/write. This is the second in that series of articles.
A lot of writers use generators to worldbuild, and I certainly find them useful. In case you haven’t heard of the ones I use, though, I figure I’d share them, because they’re awesome and help me a lot. They’re definitely more than just name generators. Click the read-more, and we’ll begin!
These are intended to be short challenges to help you practice your worldbuilding skills. Write as little or as much as you wish, and feel free to reblog and spread these around. More challenges can be found here.
Here is your challenge:
We’re coming upon a season with many holidays, so I believe a holiday-themed worldbuilding challenge is in order. Pick a storyworld that you have been developing, and brainstorm some major holidays for it, if you haven’t already. If you already have some holidays, expand on them. Why are the holidays celebrated, and in what context? Are they religious or secular? Do they celebrate events, or people? What sort of foods are served? How many people celebrate them? How old are they? And if you really want to go in depth regarding food, I just did a post about that a few days ago. :) Go into as much detail as you wish.
Regarding "reverse racism." I am working on a setting that is inspired by Africa, and most of the characters are "of color." The empire, similar to the roman one (in how it in conquers and colonize, not so much in language and culture). One of their colonies is set in the far south, think scandinavia but south instead of north. Would you call it problematic to portray the colonization as morally ambiguous, or even to portray colored people as conquerors? It's not a major plot point, but I worry.
Hmm. That’s kind of tricky. I think it would be problematic if the people your empire were conquering were white and you made a big deal out of that particular detail (because it can seem like you’re trying to be preachy about reversing a power dynamic, even if you don’t mean to). I think portraying it as morally ambiguous would be all right, but I’d make sure to make both sides somewhat ambiguous. Real life is complicated, so there’s not going to be an ultimate good side or bad side. There can be a better or worse side, but no group of people is perfect. It might also help to make it clear that while this power dynamic definitely affects your main characters, it is not the only thing affecting those characters, and there are a lot of other factors in play. This was a bit difficult to figure out acceptable advice for, but I hope that helps, nonetheless.
This is the thirteenth in a series of posts about important aspects of worldbuilding. You can find a compilation of all these posts under “Worldbuilding Basics” on my blog.
Characters are people too, and obviously, people need to eat. Depending on what their culture is like, though, their eating habits and customs definitely vary, and it adds some more interesting detail to your story if you brainstorm what one of your particular society/culture’s food customs are like. They obviously aren’t the main focus, but these are the kind of details that can make a storyworld seem just a bit richer. Click the read-more, and we’ll begin!
How do you run a blog on world building and not know that there is no such thing as reverse racism, only racism? And you're offering people advice on building societies?
Sorry, I should have worded myself more clearly. Reverse racism isn’t an actual thing in real life (I get that, because from what I’ve been taught, racism is prejudice + power). However, in those books I mentioned, reverse racism/oppression of straight people and other privileged groups/etc is written about as if it is actually a real thing, and that’s what’s problematic about them (since they just further prejudiced and antagonistic attitudes, by being preachy about problems that don’t actually exist).
Anyway - I hope that cleared things up, but I’d also like to mention I’m not a social justice blog. I try to handle issues like these with as much knowledge and caution as I can, but I’m not about to get into an argument about them either.
Hiya there! I'm working on a world that has several different sentient species, including subgroups of humans. One such group has the ability to store static electricity from the atmosphere and discharge it as lightning from their fingertips. They store the electricity in body fat, and females are more powerful than males, so I'm envisioning their society as very female-dominated. Can you offer any advice on how to deal with their culture? I'm afraid of making it sound too unrealistic.
A society can be matriarchal/female-dominated and still be pulled off well, although there are some things you should probably keep in mind. If the men are somehow oppressed, and you make a big deal of this, it will sound similar to reverse racist books like Save the Pearls, and whatever that one book was that had gay people oppressing straight people. Something like that usually cannot be pulled off well, and ends up just being extremely offensive. Females can be dominant in a society without the men being oppressed, though.
For instance, with the static electricity thing, you could maybe make the divide because of the different levels of electricity between genders. Females might be suited to more powerful/blunt uses of the electricity, whereas if the males are less powerful/have less powerful electricity, maybe they can use it to do more fine-detailed, specific things. This could manifest in the way the careers for your society develop. The men wouldn’t necessarily be considered “lesser” by society, just different. You could address the struggle to come to that more equalized viewpoint, I suppose, as long as it doesn’t reek too much of “but the poor men!1111!!!!” and become preachy.
On a slightly related note, you might also want to look at different kinds of matriarchal hierarchy in animals. I’m studying biology, and we were studying how chimpanzees (who are male-dominated in their hierarchies) are significantly more violent and aggressive than their close relatives, bonobos (who are female-dominated). But then, you also can have matriarchal dominance as seen in badgers, where only the dominant sow gets to reproduce, and everyone else answers to her (and therefore, the strongest offspring get reproduced since she’s the most dominant). Obviously it would be strange to model directly off the animal hierarchy structure, but it’s at least some food for thought. Maybe if you look at that, think about the “why” of that animal’s behavior. Matriarchal dominance by bonobos increases peace and cooperation among their family groups, which is important for them, so they don’t have to invest as much energy into defending/fighting in conflict. Matriarchal dominance in badgers doesn’t necessarily keep the peace, but it ensures that the strongest offspring will be reproduced for the next generation. I guess what I’m saying is that the “why” is important when considering why a certain gender/whatever else is dominant in a society, and it should probably be more than just “the females are more powerful.” Sorry if that was a bit rambly, I tend to go on biology tangents sometimes.
I'd suggest clothing. For example, the country I'm creating will have a lot to do with the middle east. There are a lot of do's and don't's, and clothing can show a lot of the place's geography, history, beliefs, culture in general.
Noted, and put on the list! That’s something I hadn’t even thought of for my own storyworld, so that’s going on my to-do list as well. :)
Hello! Another worldbuilder here! I suggest writing about architecture, how anatomy of sentient creatures, available resources (or lack or them) and climate influence it. Because there is a terrible lack of articles on this topic.
Oooh, that’s a good idea too! I will put that on my list, and hopefully this week I should have at least one post up from the things that have been suggested to me.
It would be super cool if you could do a comprehensive review of food in culture. You've got feasting, fasting, types of food, types of meals, drinks, forbidden foods... I think it's such an extensive topic that it could serve several posts all by itself! I think adding "special" foods can really help lend credibility (and allure) to a world.
I will definitely put that on my list, thank you! Although it might take a while, I’m nowhere near an expert on food/food customs and would want to make sure I did a fair bit of research first. :) Definitely a fascinating topic, though!