Shaping the World
I still haven’t thought of a name for the world, but I’m not going to let that stop me from getting on with the basics of the people and places it contains. Let’s go back to the general shape. It’s round, and is clearly divided into two roughly equal halves. I’ve been thinking a bit about how those two halves affect the people living in the world, and have decided that it divides them, both geographically and culturally.
The Setting’s People
In the West the people are poor, and have very few prospects. In the East, life is good, and the people there are well-off. Everyone in the West wants desperately to go to the East, but the people in the East don’t want them. They’re afraid that these misbegotten people will ruin their economy, corrupt their culture, and generally destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to attain.
The people in the West meanwhile believe that the East has been the cause of all of their problems, and they see getting to the East as their only way to get ahead in life, or really have a life at all. The life expectancy in the West is dreadful, probably little more than 30 or 40 years, while in the East people live well into their 70s and 80s.
But the people in the East are also cultured, and have a sense of social justice that at times outweighs their sense of economic justice, which borders heavily on greed. The East has an open society that accepts debate, and many want to help pull the West up, while just as many want to leave it to its own devices. All however realize that life is bad in the West, and they also realize they can do quite a bit to help. But they don’t want to do too much. That’s why they have the Visa System.
The Visa System says that each year a select number of people will be awarded a visa to the West. That visa pretty much ensures that they can stay in the West for the rest of their lives. They’ll have good jobs, a good home, and their children will have a future. You can see that getting that visa will be the overriding concern of most people in the West for the entire year leading up to the issuance of the visas. This will be a major plot line when it comes to writing a fantasy novel.
There are also plenty of people that take advantage of the Visa System, both in the East and the West. In the East it’s seen as a way to increase the power and influence of the powerful houses that rely on the cheaper labor that the West can give them. They can also make a lot of money in illegal and corrupt “Visa Lotteries” that spring up to cater to the growing visa demand each year.
In the West people will do anything they can to get a visa, and that often includes selling themselves and others, theft, and even murder. And there are countless “Visa Sharks” that prey on these hapless people just trying to find a better life. Some even think that the corruption that has sprung up around the Visa System has done more to aid the shadier side of the West than the visas have done to help the people there.
The Present Setting
The issuance of the visas happens each year near the Western town/outpost of Drubeck. It’s right on the lake, and the boats are ready to take those lucky enough to get visas to safety right away. People are often killed when they get a visa, more often than not by their own extended family members who weren’t so lucky. Security is tight, but fights and worse still break out each year.
Those who get onto the boats are taken across the lake to Slotaan where they enter quarantine for up to six months, and sometimes even longer. They’re indoctrinated to the ways of the East, and everything is done to make them forget about their former lives in the West. From there those deemed fit to integrate into Eastern society are allowed to do so, although most don’t achieve the bright futures and levels of success they always imagined.
Well, that’s how to write a fantasy world’s setting in a nutshell. Your terrain can really do a lot to create a story for you, mixed with the right amount of imagination of course. In future posts we’ll try to see how we can populate this world with the characters that will make up the story. Characters are essential to writing a fantasy novel, after all! If you like the way this world is developing let me know. I think it would make a great short novel. If not, well, I’m sure someone struggling with writing a fantasy novel will get an idea or two.