June 08 Writing Prompt

Back in the swing of things, now. Yesterday’s writing prompt got us writing again after a hiatus. Let’s continue the trend then.

For today’s writing prompt we are going to go old school once again.

Staying in form and character while practicing the age-old tactic of “just writing.”

However, I want to take s light sideways step and do today’s practice with a bit of a goal and a slight twist (surprise!).

What we will work on is world building. There is a lot of questions going around right now about world building and how it can be a challenge.

World building
What does your world map look like?

The truth is, it really isn’t. There are several tactics to creating a new, believable world for your audience. Most of them are so simple, you will knock your head against the keyboard wondering why you took so long to figure it out.

Let’s have a look at the prompt and we will go into is a bit more.


June 08

Using one of the techniques listed below, plot out a new world that you could use in a story.


As mentioned, there are a few ways to build a new world. The hardest and most common method is to start with a blank sheet of paper, think hard on a layout, design, where mountains and rivers go, then spend weeks or more coming up with territories, names and any other features you may need.

Let’s not go that route. It takes too long and I am already tired just thinking about it.

The fastest way is to use an online land generator. There are programs, websites and apps designed just for fantasy land generation. If you don’t like those, you can also look up generators for table top RPG lands. Dungeons & Dragons and their ilk have a lot of online resources.

For me, that is a little too impersonal. Plus, I find that I spend more hours clicking the refresh button hoping for a slightly better design.

You can, however, try one of my favorite methods. I like to use existing lands. Pick a country, a state or group of states as the outline of your new land.

One of my favorite options is to pick a state with a lot of counties. Then, you pick several of the connecting counties as the outline for your entire land. If you need an island or two, find a stand alone county and use that shape for your island.

When it comes to names, that will depend on the type of world you are building. You want to stay true to the languages your characters use, or the heritage they come from. This is where character building comes into play.

But, as an example, if you have a land of Orcs, you want names that are more guttural. Think about the difference between German and French. One is more guttural and forceful, while the other is more light and whimsical.

Once you start naming, use places that already exist as the basis, too. For example look at a map of Illinois. Pick a town, change the first and last couple of letters to fit your language/heritage and boom, you have your town.

Give it a try. See if you like this method, or if it spawns a new idea for you to use that you come up with on your own.

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