In this guest post the author of The Brotherhood Saga, Kody Boye, tells about creating the world of Minonivna.
Information about Kody Boye
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and The Brotherhood Saga. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror), while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years (Bitten by Books). He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.
Click here to visit Kody Boye's official website.
World-Building: Creating the World of Minonivna
The world that The Brotherhood Saga is set in evolved from a basic teenage concept into a fledging world over the course of several years. With the majority of the story taking place both within the coastal part of a continent and a series of island chains, it's any wonder that the map of the world known as Minonivna covers only a section over a much broader world.
The main challenge, in deciding to rewrite The Brotherhood Saga, was recreating the world.
During the initial stages of the story when I was thirteen, the world known as Minonivna was but a single continent, where the variety of environments were smashed together in a small, broken sphere that bore little to no beaches or any dividing terrain. This obviously was not realistic, as not only on our own world, but a planet like Mars there are obvious divides within the geography that make landmasses much more complex (in this case, think of mountains and how they rise, fall and separate land.) In looking on the map I drew when I was thirteen, it took me but a moment to realize that in order to make not only the world, but the political and country system work, I had to create a world where there was obvious distance between location A and B.
How did I go about starting it?
I did what most online guides about creating worlds suggest — start with a piece of paper.
My main objective was to create a world that, while different, was somewhat realistic. I also decided that I was only going to take choice details from the real world and then mishmash things together (i.e, the Hawaiian islands for an area known as the Judarin, the Caribbean chain for another known as the Tentalin, Antarctica/the poles for a frigid wasteland called Neline, and choice locations in the Middle East and the deserts of Africa and Australia for a dry, arid climate known as the Cadarack Desert, as well as some of the greater areas of Europe for their stunning heights and sweeping savannahs of North America and Africa for some of the lower sections.) Having decided not to focus intensively on real world aspects, I began with a simple piece of paper and started to draw shapes — hard lines, concentrated beaches, that sort of thing. However — I realized that, in doing this, I couldn’t set about creating realistic coastlines. For that reason, I turned to the internet.
The first thing I found was Jay French’s tutorial from JayFrenchStudios.com, which you can locate on the eHow.com website here: http://www.ehow.com/video_4979307_draw-original-fantasy-maps-fiction.html
In this tutorial, he outlined a few basic things that I now believe are crucial to the overall development of a world — he said that rivers flow out from the ocean and down from the mountains, that coastlines needed to be jagged and mish-mashed, and that island chains, while not needing to necessarily bare a resemblance to the mainland, needed to have some sort of iconic structure. This five-minute long tutorial was what eventually led me to create the rough of my map that takes place in an area known as the Three Kingdoms.
Now — from the original teenage perception of this idea, there was no more than one country. Rather, there was one massive one that took up the entirety of the island and was divided into areas. This, I felt on second examination, wasn’t realistic, so the next thing I had to do was divide the map into territories. I did this by drawing lines separating three different areas — Ornala to the far west, Germa in the middle and then Kegdulan to the far east. Shortly thereafter, I began making circles for each individual town that I felt was necessary to this five-book series.
One of my biggest problems with fantasy maps is the fact that many of the locations presented were not crucial to the plot. To remedy this situation, I made it clear from the characters’ point of view that there are ‘several unmapped villages and settlements’ across the land. I fueled this idea by placing locations only when they became necessary, giving light to the fact that there were places that had been abandoned, struck by vicious calamities or who held no higher interest in the overall political system.
Map-making is incredibly difficult and grueling. My biggest combatant in recreating this world was to make it feel at least semi-sensible. There are, of course, liberties that I’ve taken in order to make the world adjust better. One of said ‘liberties’ was the fact that a majority of the Three Kingdoms were plains land, ruled by marshes and forests in Ornala and bare to the jagged cliffs of Germa and Kegdulan. I also depicted a desert terrain called the Cadarack in Germa which only covers part of a territory instead of a whole — which, while seemingly-unnatural, I felt could work in a fantasy scenario. As I’ve mentioned before, my goal was to make a semi-believable world, but not trap it in reality so much that it became dull.
Creating a world is extremely difficult. Unlike real life, where cultures and traditions evolve on their own, fantasy novels have to be built from the ground up — from races (humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc.,) to religions (in my world, those who worship Gaia, the nature Goddess; Shiva, the God of Ice and Rain; to a deity who is only considered ‘God’ in the religion of New Haven,) to the conflicts that come with them (in Blood, there is a very-real sense of tension and the possibility of war between two of the Three Kingdoms countries.) In the end, it is extremely difficult to craft a unique fantasy world that is both comfortable to the author and bearable to the reader. It is, however, quite an accomplishment when you know that your world is set up and that you can continue to work with it as the series or world progresses.