You know you're a nerd if you title a blog "lore", but I is what I is. :)
Anyway, I've been taking a break in the last few days from pumping out chapters to work on my "world lore" for the fictional world where my story is set. I've been trying to build three different languages, each with a 500 word dictionary.
I'm not just doing that so I can impress all my nerd friends with having three made-up languages. The reason why I am doing that is very simple: I need place names. What is the region where my main character grows up called? Who named it? The dwarves or the goblins? And what are the names of all the cities that my main character passes through on her way south? What are the histories of those places? What are the people who live there like?
A big part of writing fantasy is creating a world that has depth and a sense of reality. Now, you don't necessarily have to go as deep into world creating as I like to. But that's just it: I LOVE world building. I love writing new languages and histories. I enjoy creating customs and mini-communities within communities. I love the quirky sayings you find in foreign places and the questionable foods that you are forced to eat. It's all so much fun to me.
And, at least so far as I am concerned, world building has to start from the ground up. It begins with a place: where a group of people settled. Why did they settle there? What features of the land made them decide this was a good place to settle? What did they call the place (and the surrounding places) when they arrived? How did the settlement in that place change from it's point of conception until the time of my story? Are there any important past-events that will affect my character when she arrives there? What do the people there look like? How do they dress? Who are the prominent people there? How do they live? What do they eat? What do they do in their spare time?
As you can see, I can get carried away with world building. Just as with character building, you have to make choices about which places you really NEED to develop. For example, there are four or five areas that will be the dominant settings of my book. THOSE really need to be fleshed out. I need to be able to see/smell/hear/taste/touch them in my mind. But the others? I need to at least be able to know what they'd look like if I was driving through them in a car. I distinctly remember certain places I've seen on road trips even though I only just drove down main street.
And, as always, it is important to give the evil places (the home of the bad guys) just as much attention as the good places. In too many fantasy stories the villains and their settings are neglected. (Poor guys). It makes them seem flat and contrived in many cases. I'm not claiming that my villains and their settings are jaw-droppingly deep and complicated, but I'm going to do my best to make them and their worlds seem real.
So...that's what I'm doing during my three hours a day where I have time to write. I think it's going to take a few weeks to get my three languages to a semi-functional state. I just need them to work well enough so that I can name places and things without having to make up words out of thin air that have no meaning. After the languages, I am starting work on the histories of my main "areas". Don't worry, I'm still writing sections and chapters. I just have to leave blanks for the names and skip some of the setting descriptions until I get my world into a more fleshed out state.
(By the way, I have a day-to-day writing blog: http://admcclish.blogspot.com ) I post stuff there every couple of days, but I'm going to force my brain to remember to post some of those posts here!).