Tag Archives: Worldbuilding

S.A. Partridge’s YA Worldbuilding Masterclass at Open Book 2015

S.A. Partridge, who writes contemporary YA invited Zimkhitha Mlanzeli and myself to join her in a YA Worldbuilding Masterclass and mini-workshop at Open Book Cape Town this year.

We looked at world-building from both the real-world position of contemporary and historical YA, where you are not “building” a world as such, but realistically incorporating a recognisable setting into your narrative, and from the aspect of fantasy world building, that is:  “from the ground up.” On many points we overlapped and agreed, despite our different approaches to genres.

I took some notes from the initial talky-talk section, so here’s my attempt at a write up.

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On Building a House

I don’t update this blog very often because I feel like I never have anything to say, but people do occasionally ask me for world-building posts which I never do because I’m all…uh…I dunno, it just happens.

This morning I was avoiding my actual work by mucking around with my Hobverse wiki* where I try and keep track of all the tiny pointless details of the When the Sea is Rising Red universe. Naturally, I tweeted about this because I have no life, and that prompted Dante of Doom to ask me to make him into a House.

So I did.

This is kinda an insight into how I tweak actual things to make them work in my fantasy universe. Note that this is simply how I do things, not how anyone else should, but if you see something that works for you, that’s brilliant and I’m glad.

I looked up the name Dante, and I discovered that it means firm, enduring.

First thought – tower, defence

Second thought – I can’t call the house Dante, it wouldn’t work in-universe.

Turns out Dante’s actual name was Durante, so I played with that and changed it to Derand (based on the pronunciation of Durand). House Derand is born, and I have a tower.

I tweak, I get a white tower on a blue ground. Needs something. Defence again, and magic, so I bring in a black dragon coiled on top of the tower, and since Pelimburg is where Derand would have settled, I make the bottom of the House symbol blue and white waves. So we have a tower at sea, and a dragon, and after that the motto is piss-easy. I Will Defend.

House Derand might not even make it into a Hobverse novel, but they exist and I *know* they exist, and my world-building will be richer for it.

*I use zim wiki for this and I love it.

You bustard.

I’m finally making actual pen and paper notes of all the rather nebulous Hobverse stuff that’s either been floating about in my head, or was lost in the Great Accidental Wiki-Deletion*.

I’m working out the suits for the cards, and they were pretty obvious to me, and each has an elemental and House symbolism tied to them, and it all makes sense and it all works.

Except the one suit is bustards.

And yeah, I can just imagine Poor Reader going “What? Is this some kind of outlandish spelling of bastard of which I was hitherto unaware? Why are all the other suits birds? WHY DOES THIS STUPID WRITER KEEP MAKING UP WORDS?!”

So, a bustard.

*I did indeed have an entire database of info keeping all the wordbuilding straight, and yes, I accidentally deleted it. I’m slowly rebuilding it but dear god it’s painful. For those who are interested in that sort of thing, I use Zim Desktop WIki