5 World Building Tips (Vol 2, #13): Land Features
Here are today’s world building tips! The theme is land features. You can read more in Chapter 4, “Creating Land Features”, from Creating Places, (The Art of World Building, #2).
Tip #1: “Know Your Forest Types”
Why have every forest be a generic one when we can distinguish between forests, savannahs, woodlands, and jungles? Each gives a different impression and causes variation in animals and creatures present, plus travel conditions.
Tip #2: “Know Where Grasslands Are”
They tend to be located farther from a mountain range that is causing a rain shadow. It’s reasonable to have a forest on one side of it and a desert on the other.
Tip #3: “Don’t Forget Wetlands!”
Mires, bogs, swamps, and marshes are similar to us if we haven’t done our research, but Creating Places gives you enough detail to tell and show your audience the difference. They can form boundaries that average people don’t want to enter, or places from which strange creatures emerge. They also let us create a more varied landscape.
Tip #4: “Deserts Tend to be Rocky”
We think of huge sand dunes with deserts, but the majority are covered in hard, packed Earth, almost like pavement. This is hard on the feet (or hooves) but offers a very different experience than sand as far as trudging along is concerned. Understand where this happens to utilize it effectively.
Tip #5: “Decide on the Cultivation Level”
Some worlds have been terraformed while others are wild, untamed expanses. Decide how much your species have cultivated the world. This can include burning down forests, dumping toxic wastes, turning deserts into cities, and much more.
Summary of Chapter 4—Creating Land Features
A continent will have mountains, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, forests, woodlands, savannahs, jungles, prairies, wetlands, and deserts, but world builders should understand each to place them in believable locations. While some aspects are obvious, minor details can change our decisions and augment our resulting stories. Why say characters have entered a run-of-the-mill forest when we can say it’s a savannah instead, describing how it looks and what life is like for inhabitants and those traversing it? This chapter aids world builders in making a more varied landscape—one that is accurately depicted.