My content regarding Tertia has come to a halt for now, it is time to move onto something new. I put my best efforts into having every cult and faction expand on the world of Tertia, adding something new and making the world feel more dynamic as a result. There’s a lot going on with that setting, many potential stories to be told, but before that there’s something else I want to talk about. The creative process, an idea that I’ve already spoken about in my post regarding my various TTRPG characters. Though, Tertia is not the world I wish to use as my example setting in this case, instead we’re going to back a little bit. To a setting made before Tertia, one that was made as a result of collaboration.
This setting is named Lumine Haven. First conceived on a roleplay forum and expanded upon through the efforts of everyone who engaged with it. The community aspect of its creation is what makes Lumine very important to me and why I believe it to a great example of the worldbuilding process. It began with a simple premise, everyone on the forum played video game characters and what we had to do was translate those characters into more traditional mythology counterparts. Some liberties were taken, for example I turned the character Golbez into a Tiefling whose demonic aspects manifested under the light of the full moon. Like a were-demon, except instead of fur a shadow Dragon pops out.
Worldbuilding is an important aspect of any story, especially those of fiction, and a good worldbuilding concept can immediately make or break a setting. Many fictional stories begin with a concept that alters the world and at that point the question becomes how to present that. This can be a difficult task in itself, made even harder if you don’t have that initial spark, which leads us into this blog’s title. How to start worldbuilding. If you’re a writer, or have an idea but haven’t known where to begin with it, hopefully this blog post will help you understand what to keep in mind when crafting your world.
I cannot push enough the fact that a solid concept on its own can make a setting great. Obviously, executing on the concept properly is still very important, but a concept can be enough to invest an audience in what it is you’re making. Sword Art Online and other isekai stories are good examples of this, their execution generally isn’t great but the whole idea of isekai stories really jives with people. Escapist fantasies which we experience through characters that we (are meant to) relate to, having been brought from the ‘real world’ into these fictional scenarios. The concept is good enough to be its own genre, despite the failings of some of its most prolific entries. As mentioned in my Magic in a Modern Setting post, stories like Harry Potter also hit this note of concepts that the audience can easily imagine themselves a part of.
Lumine isn’t quite as accessible in this sense as it isn’t a world made for people in real life. That doesn’t make it any less good of a concept, just more niche, which isn’t a bad thing. You always have to keep your target audience in mind when conceptualizing your world and Lumine certainly did its job of appealing to the folks on the forum. For us on the forum, we were our characters, so we found similar investment in putting them in the Lumine setting as others might find self-inserting themselves into other stories. The difference is that every addition to Lumine became a canon part of the world, therefore allowing each of our passions to expand on the concept we were working with. It was up to us to determine what the existence of Tieflings and Djinni and Nabbit meant for the world.
This post is going to hit a couple of the same notes as the TTRPG characters one, so you’ll have to excuse that. In particular, I want to reiterate on two things; originality and collaboration. Every creator worries about being original at some point and it’s a fear that’s relevant throughout every creative medium. There are more than likely countless people who have had concepts for stories but never ended up telling them because something else sounded too similar. I’ll summarize here what I said in that other post, don’t worry about it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other pieces of media when making your own work. If you get weighed down by the idea of being original then you’re more than likely going to end up giving up or producing something which is overcomplicated and overdesigned. It’s a lot harder for an audience to interact with an overcomplicated idea than a simpler one you fear might be less original.
This is why I wanted to use Lumine as my example, because there’s explicitly nothing original about its concept. The whole idea is taking preexisting video game characters and mashing them together with preexisting mythologies and fantasy. It’s that combination which results in something new and interesting, further bolstered by the collaborative aspect of it. Taking everyone’s individual ideas and fitting them together is what turned Lumine into something unique. All based off of an idea that was fun and accessible rather than original. Even people who weren’t a part of the forum can have fun with the idea, just take a video game character you like and have fun finding the mythological being that suits them best.
In summary, keep your ideas simple, the more wide-open they are the more they can be distilled into more specific and unique ideas as you explore your world. If you aren’t certain as to the hook of your concept then present it to your friends and see what they make of it. Better yet, see what they make from it, turn your concept into a prompt and find how interested people are in interacting with it. If only a very limited number of ideas come forward then perhaps your concept is too specific and restrictive, which tells you it might be harder to do more with your world down the road. There’s also no shame in using characters and ideas that already exist like we did with Lumine, especially if you’re a newer writer. Get a feel for things, figure out what works and determine from that the story you want to write. In that end, that’s what it comes down to; the story you want to tell. Originality be damned, it came from your brain so it’s yours.
For the next weeks, Saturday posts are going to be covering worldbuilding that I did for Lumine in a similar format as how I handled Tertia. I very much took the reins when it came to telling the story of Lumine, though I’ve never made the work I did for it public. Making it the focus of my blog for a bit will both allow you to see what came of this concept that I speak so highly of and allow me to actually finalize some things regarding it. Since I didn’t do it with Tertia, I may decide to make more commentary posts regarding specific parts of Lumine depending on how hard it becomes for me to think of subjects for Thursday posts. Either way, it’s certain to be a fun adventure, just so long as you aren’t discriminatory against magic or anything.