World Building: An Example
We looked at an outline for creating a world in a the previous post 'World Building: What to Include'. Now lets look at an example to see this method in practice.
We will look at a continent sized nation called Ank'Celesti. This is a nation I have created to set a feature length script within. A document was created separate to the script or character information that focuses solely on the setting, we will examine a few of the sections from that document in this example.
First of all the background of the nation. Ank’Celesti is a continent sized nation surrounded by vast oceans on all sides except its northern border which is lined by a dense mountain range. It is made up of five regions, the largest and central region, Ank’Solis, which serves as the nation’s capital region, the next largest Ank’Luna to the north, the twin regions of Ank’Stella and Ank’Nebuli in the south on the coast and the smallest region Ank’Etiam to the north east of the capital above Ank’Luna.
At this stage I will pause to draw your attention to the naming of the locations. These are all following a pattern, Ank which is a derivation of Ankh, an Ancient Egypt symbol of life, and then various latin words for celestial bodies. This fits with the name of the nation which is the latin for celestial. Location names may seem less important but keeping them to a pattern, having them have origins and meaning, brings added depth to the world and makes your media more drillable (Jenkins, 2017, and, Moloney, 2011). More on that in a future post.
The regions of Ank'Celesti were once independent states, or kingdoms, ruled over by noble families and monarchies, who inherited power from their predecessors. The kingdoms fluctuated in size through war and trade agreement. Alliances were formed and broken, wars started and peace made over and again through the ages. King Nitor III, of Ank'Solis, was the eventual driving force for a united kingdom. He led Ank’Solis’ forces into battle against Ank’Luna and Ank’Etiam to bring them into line after diplomatic solutions failed, unlike with the twin-kingdoms who joined peacefully. His intent was to establish a government, dissolve the monarchies and have the entire continent ruled over by a central elected power. He intended to form the nation of Ank’Celesti. After nine months of bitter fighting, Luna and Etiam were eventually brought into the fold and Nitor’s dream of a central government began to form. After two years of transition, a plan was put into place and a voting structure was implemented allowing the first Ank’Celesti Government to be established. The current year is 465-12 and Ank’Celesti is still recovering from a civil war that rocked the nation known as the Dark Uprising.
This gives us a backstory for the setting, what led to the nation being how it is now and the general history of the place. Within that background we discussed a government system that was formed and also a date. So now it is important to look at those and define them.
We will tackle the calendar functions within the nation first. Ank’Celesti works off a simple calendar method. The first number represents the year within that kilo-year, this is followed by a dash then a second number that represents the kilo-year. So 465-12 is the year 12465, the twelve thousandth four hundredth and sixty fifth year since records began. The kilo-year figure is usually left out in general day to day speak for ease, it is commonly understood that people know what kilo-year they are in. Each year is made up of ten months, each consisting of twenty days. A day is twenty hours in length each hour consisting of one hundred minutes.
Now, lets look at the system of government. The government is made up of a house of five consuls, representing the five regions of Ank’Celesti, and a Princep who has overall say and leads in the name of all the people. The governing house is based out of Solisborg, the primary city in Ank’Solis and capital of all of Ank’Celesti. The Princep, regardless of their region of origin, is expected to remain neutral with no favouritism to any region. Once elected a Princep serves for seven years. A Princep can be re-elected any number of times but does not have to run again after their current office comes to an end. Only a member of the house of consuls can stand against them in elections, if no one stands against a Princep who is standing for re-election then they automatically retain power. However, if the current Princep is not running for re-election then there must be two or more parties and a vote must take place before the current elected Princep can step down, even if this means an emergency extension of their seven-year tenure in office. The region consuls are also elected in a seven-year cycle, two years off set to the Princep elections.
You can see how in outlining some areas you naturally find that you have to expand on others and elaborate the world further. This can help lead you into more detail, but remember it is important to ensure you keep things organised. This was just a few of the sections covered in the 'World Building: What to Include' post. It gives you a taste of how useful such documents can be in envisioning your work. One thing to be cautious of, however, is not to become too attached to the world. Don't try and bring too much into your narrative just for the sake of it, ensure what is included is there for a reason.
Jenkins, H. (2017) The revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven principles of Transmedia storytelling (well, Two actually. Five more on Friday). Available at: http://henryjenkins.org/2009/12/the_revenge_of_the_origami_uni.html (Accessed: 24 February 2017).
Moloney, K. (2011) Tag archives: Drillability. Available at: https://transmediajournalism.org/tag/drillability/ (Accessed: 24 February 2017).