There are a lot of articles online that discuss world building, whether you’re writing a YA fantasy novel (like me!) or creating your own immersive RPG table-top game. World building is an integral part of developing a realistic world for your readers and/or players to enjoy.
There are plenty of sites and apps to help you discover and catalog all of the elements of your unique realm. However, while I think a lot of writers find these tools helpful, I find them intimidating, at least in the early stages of writing. (They’re probably really helpful when creating a series bible, but I have ideas for that as well.)
I’m a simple girl and I love the simple idea of a screen full of pretty pictures. Enter my Pinterest “Map” Board (clever name, eh?) While at some point in my process I will need an actual map (people tend to travel a lot in fantasies and I need to keep them moving in the right direction) for now, this collage of images from a myriad of artists is all I need to be inspired, especially in the outlining stage.
I like to mix old and new, real and surreal, photography and illustration.
With the actual drafting just around the corner, for now, as I get the story down on paper, I want to get a sense of the visual ambiance of the lands and villages my characters will travel to and through. Where did they come from? What was there home like? What is special about the place they need to be? All of these questions not only help develop the setting for the story, but they are important to develop the character as well. A character that grew up in the mountains is vastly different than one who was raised near the ocean.
So when you’re looking for some geographical inspiration and want to get a bird’s-eye-view of your story’s world, you don’t necessarily have to start with the cartography, but take the tourist route and see the sights. Create a travel log of your character’s journey and see the world as they see it.
Then make your map, chart their course, and send them on their way.