I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.
My degree is in Fashion History, Theatrical Costume Making, Dressmaking & Design.
Has it effected my world building? You bet it has. LOL!
While my populations have crappyily designed governments and poorly thought out military, at least they can boast to being the best dressed societies out there.
The world is set in a long running series of novels and short stories that I've written for a couple of decades now, so I've had quite some time to really build up the world history and create this massive world. Ironically very little of the world itself ever makes it into the books, but, that never stopped me from spend hours charting out the world anyways.
But the thing of it is, you have a main character who is vain and narcissistic and has a serious obsession with clothes. He's also on the run from the law, so can never stay in any one place for long and ends up, over the course of the series, traveling all over the entire world. Now you'd think someone who is getting to experience every culture on the planet would look at the art, the food, the family traditions, the religion, the politics, something most people would look at, right? Not him. Nope. He's at every market looking for new fabric, arguing with officials over button laws (it's medieval time period when laws existed over who could wear buttons and when and how many), checking out fashion plates....
And so, while I know very little about the governments of the world I built, I can tell what every culture wears and why and can tell you the difference between dagged sleeves and bell sleeves, hakama vs kilts (yes, there is an entire argument in one scene where two characters are arguing the differences of hakama and kilts.
Every time he entrees a scene, you get a full blown description of what he's wearing, all the details from the type of silk worms used for this type of silk, what they feed the worms, how the fabric was dyed, techniques used to embroider it.
Yes, vast descriptions (usually in the dialogue conversation, not in the narrative) of textile shops, market booths, and mechentiles and him haggling prices.
Quaraun's not travelling alone. He's traveling with King Gwallmaiic/BoomFuzzy the Unicorn, a man who is a master chef (think Gordon Ramsey with and even bigger ego). And so, while he's out checking of the latest fabrics, his companion is in and out of every bar, pub, tavern, inn, bakery, and food market obsessing over food and taking over kitchens, yelling at every one for not cooking right, throwing food across the room... did I mention Gordon Ramsey with a bigger ego?
Well, in the novels you end up seeing actual recipes... the real deal, if you o what he does in the books, you really will end up with the actual food he cooked.
And so, in addition to knowing the fashion cultures of every region of my world, I also know the food cultures of every region of my world.
This character likes to go into monologue while telling people the correct and proper way to bake cakes, braise zucchini, stew rabbits, dip chocolates, curdle milk, shuck clams, boil lobster, roll pie crust, toss pizzas, pickle cucumbers (there's an entire novel in the series devoted to his obsession with finding the perfect pickle and their travels to different parts of the world to study how different cultures pickle their pickle... it devolves into dick jokes, but, whatever.)
Want to guess what my 2nd degree would have been had I finished it?
not a degree, but a hobby... I grow roses, so guess what else the main character obsesses over... roses, flower arranging, flowers in general... resulting in, again, while the regions in my world have governments tossed in with no thought at all, they have well thought out botanical gardens, that I not only described in detail, but in planning them out, I drew up tons of landscaping charts detailing where each plant was to be planted, and charts of all the growing seasons, climate zones, ph requirements, etc, to make sure that each plant actually could grow in the region in question where I placed it in the novel.
So, basically, no matter where my characters go in their world, the reader knows whatever one wears and why, what every one eats and how it's made, and what flowers are in front of every building they walk by.
And I just realized they all being with F: fashion, food, and flowers. Those are the three things my world is based around, I do most of my world building by starting with one of those 3 things and then building a culture around it, then building the region around the culture, because cultures evolve from the region they live in so I then try to determine what about their world caused them to wear this, eat that, and grow those flowers.