A Setting as deep as the Ocean

Worldbuilding is one of my favorite things. I’ve been worldbuilding since about the time I learned how to read. Telling stories in the world doesn’t come quite as naturally to me, so it’s the thing I’ve focused on learning the most over the past 10 years.
When designing a setting, whether for fantasy or science fiction, I make certain things because they’re automatic or necessary, other things because they feel right, and mostly things I crave to see or read about. But as far as this post is concerned each of these is really several smaller categories.
Necessary – things needed to make sense of a weird or high-concept setting
Automatic – things I always try to include (society/culture, external conflict)–I think these vary by individual, but mine are similar to cravings, just less consciously added.
Humans – I like humans these days, though I once strived to eliminate them from my settings altogether. I guess I’m a human supremacist now.
Monsters – I like legendary beasts and abominations of all kinds in my settings, but lately I’ve been doing too many systemic-sorts of monsters rather than big, unique critters.
Magic/Super Tech – I don’t write literary or other supposedly ‘real-world’ fiction because these things feel so right I can’t ever stop going off the deep end in this regard…
CRAVES (craves are more general than feels-rights, as a rough comparison goes)
-I crave dramatic and hideous things as well as wonderful beautiful things
-I crave things that will make different characters
-I crave the ability to write a broad setting, and tell different stories in the same world
-Often I crave worlds that aren’t shallow and worlds that I feel are solid when I’m reading them.
-And most of all I crave things that are just bizarre
* * *
As much as I love my own settings I don’t want to talk about them here too much here. I also don’t mean to be negative, but I am planning on listing some settings I think are overrated.
* * *
A couple of settings I love…
-Abhorsen Series (Garth Nix) – Wonderful systems of magic and sub-settings, especially the river of death. This series deserves to be a classic.
-Hyperion (Dan Simmons) – This book has an awesome monster (especially for science fiction rather than fantasy), and the setting is highly developed and covers every base I could think of in far future settings.
* * *
Settings I think could be stronger…
-Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) – It’s got good details, but I think systemic design is lacking. It’s a great series, but not my favorite setting. What is the goblin population of Europe? I doubt anyone knows (or cares too much).
-Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini) – It’s a lot weaker than Harry Potter in most regards, and frankly the world just doesn’t make sense in more than a few ways.


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