When it comes to writing a fantasy novel your setting is critical. This is where your story takes place, the world the characters live in, and which you want your reader to fall in love with.
Listed below is the setting for my trilogy of fantasy novels, The Jongurian Trilogy.
I began to create this world in January, 2010, while I was living in Shenzhen, China.
I started out by simply drawing a map in Microsoft Paint. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it allowed me to visualize my world. After that I could start coming up with some basic setting concepts.
The Basics of a Fantasy World’s Setting
Here is my basic fantasy world setting:
- A world called Pelios, which is split into two continents; one to the east, Jonguria, and one to the west, Adjuria
- Very similar to the Orient and Europe in feudal times
- A narrow land bridge separates the two regions
- The main story will take place in Jonguria.
- The main character will be from Adjuria, but living in Jonguria
- He wants to get back to Adjuria, however, but is unable, or unwilling, to do so
- He is a fighter in his middle years and getting past his prime
The Basic Details of a Fantasy World’s Setting
Take each area of your world, whether it’s the continents, cities, or just wide open areas, and begin to make some general points about them. Start to describe your geography, terrain, and even put down rivers, roads, and features.
Now is also a good time to get into how the world runs. What forms of government exist? Where do people live and what do they do for a living? If you’re making a typical fantasy world it’ll probably be set sometime during a Middle Ages-like time period. If not, then you really need to start getting that down in the basic setting and its details.
Here are the basic details of my fantasy world setting:
- Jonguria is ruled as an Empire with a strong central government headed by and Emperor, the title passing from father to son
- Jonguria views itself as being much superior to Adjuria, and wants little to do with those uncultured ‘barbarians.’
- Adjuria is grouped into small principalities which are constantly struggling against one another for dominance of the region
- Adjuria looks down on Jonguria, but secretly knows their strong centralized state provides an equilibrium they want
- If they could ever stop fighting among themselves, the rulers in Adjuria would like to invade Jonguria
Your Fantasy World’s Environment
What I like so much about planning and creating a fantasy world’s environment is how it helps me develop my map. Sometimes I’ll even make the map first and then go back to label the terrain features later. If you can clearly see that there are deserts, jungles, or arctic wastes, you have a pretty good idea of what the environment is in those areas.
Here’s what I did with my fantasy world’s environment:
- Adjuria lies more to the north than Jonguria, and is therefore much colder for most of the year
- Jonguria is more to the south, so it stays warmer, but since Jonguria is larger than Adjuria, it too has a cold northern climate
- The narrow land bridge separating the two regions has wildly fluctuating climate conditions
- For much of the year it is very dry, almost desert-like
- However, during the ‘wet season,’ heavy rains fall, creating flash-floods through narrow gullies and ravines.
- On both sides of the land bridge is ocean, more specifically, two seas which form off of the two largest oceans in the world
- On both the Jongurian and Adjurian ends of the land bridge, the desert conditions slowly turn into plains, then forests, then into hills and mountains
- Two main oceans exist in the world, with two smaller seas around the land bridge
- Several islands exist off of both continents
You can tell from my setting that the story is starting to come along. I’m describing the areas I am for the sole reason that I’ll write about those. As you can see, lots of details are given about the narrow land bridge. It seems pretty likely that it’ll be a big part of my story.