Building a Culture in a Fictitious World
I have been busy thinking about the third story in my fantasy Tracker series.
And building a little background on the culture of Convane which is where the mages train and uphold the magic laws written after they won a war with an eastern neighbour called Lealand.
I already worked out how the magic works, and dot pointed the magic laws before I started the series, along with a rough map of Convane and all its neighbouring countries, but only touched on the culture of the citizens.
One very good book I refer to for all my different worlds is Create a Culture Clinic by Holly Lisle.
I purchased it years ago, along with the rest of her Clinic writing books, and use them while plotting every story. I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to create new worlds that are different from our own, whether for fantasy or science fiction. There are many wonderful questions that lead me to good plot points and scenes, once I think about them for a while.
The culture clinic book suggests listing one or two books or scrolls that most of the characters know about, like in real life everyone knows about Shakespeare, religious books, poets, etc.
I decided I need some more detailed information on a tree that the humans called dragonbane and the dragons called dragon juice. So, I made it up, just like Culpeper’s Complete Herbal listings. It was fun. I know I will be referring to it in the third story, but don’t think I will use the whole description.
Anyway, here it is.
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Common names: Dragon Juice and Dragonbane
Description: Dragon juice trees are well known and need no description; if not, take a dragon flight over a dragon juice grove in bright sunshine and see the bright reflection of sunlight off the oval green leaves. Even in a cloudy sky, the blue flower clusters draw the eye, in all seasons except winter.
The dragon juice tree is not to be confused with dragon root, (see Arisaema Dracontium for more information) found in damp woods or rain forests and used to heal dragon or snake bites.
Virtues: The flowers, dried or fresh, clear dragon head colds when sniffed or eaten. The leaves fed to newly hatched dragons help strengthen and lighten their bones by thinning the bone marrow, and creating air pockets in the developing bones. This allows flight of fledglings two weeks after hatching.
Juice from the leaves help remove all manner of sunburn, wind burn, ulcers or open wounds from dragons, and drinking the leaf juice will remove all dragon internal pains.
Neither the leaves nor flowers are recommended for humans, however a beer made from the leaves and flowers is believed to remove pain temporarily from humans. I stress this is not a cure for humans and recommend other medications for pain relief in humans. (See page 275 for natural tinctures for human pain relief.)
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I also dot pointed the treaties created with each country surrounding Convane when the magic wall was built and the war ended.
Did I mention the fun I had over the past two weeks? 🙂
A word or warning, only create enough culture to use in the next story based on what is already written in the previous series stories and what is needed for the next story, otherwise you will get so involved in creating the world, the culture, the languages, and characters, the next story will never get started. 🙂
I now have the laws, both magic and civil, a six block area map of the city with buildings, stables, etc, a few mysteries listed, council positions of power and districts, and what that entails, figured out who the watchers of magic use are, and a few other things, and am ready to start writing the third story.
What is your routine for working out cultures?
Make it up when needed or figure most of it out first?
However you create your world, make sure it is fun.