Geography and the Evolution of Your World: Flora Et. Al.
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
Geography, whether in this world or that of the imagination, provides the grounding from which all else springs: plants, animals, economy, language, religion, health, politics, etc. When writing and world building, geography is a starting point for creating a culture and the characters within it.
Eighth Day Genesis: A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives features essays from 21 working writers, including the likes of novelists Tim Waggoner and Maurice Broaddus, covering the gamut of issues in building a plausible world, from “ecosystems, creatures, and legal systems to the ways you can most effectively share your world with your audience.”
Or, to borrow from my essay, “Geography and the Evolution of Your World: Logical Flora et.al.”: “The goal of world building is ultimately to create a coherent, believable world with beings and cultures that are logical extensions. You’re inviting the reader as tourist to come along, and you want the world to be substantial, with plausible details (however bizarre or mundane) that make it come alive.”
The focus of my essay is flora. It’s not often one gets to write about Treebeard and the plants of Pandora. So you can imagine how pleased I was to have the opportunity to discuss those very subjects…in the larger context of building worlds with plants that are conceivable within their environment.
While I touch on some of the sillier ones put forward in well-known stories (usually set in magical worlds)—Terry Pratchett’s sapient pearwood, J.K. Rowling’s Whomping Willow and gilly weed, Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors, etc.—I primarily wax on the types of plants one finds within given biomes and their evolutionary benefits. I use our planet as the launching point for this discussion. After all, Earth is the reference point for our readers; it should be for ourselves, too, however fantastic our creations.
I include examples from sci-fi and fantasy literature and movies, as well. For further inspiration, the final section covers strange and unusual plants that we fiction writers would be hard pressed to exceed: the carnivorous, moving, resurrecting, warm-blooded, super-sized, and long-living plants of planet Earth.
Flora is but one topic discussed in Eighth Day Genesis. Contents include:
Donald Bingle – Cause Ways Maurice Broaddus – The Religious Order Rachel Faulk – Developing a Layered, Credible, and Compelling Government Paul Genesse – The World as a Character Kerrie Hughes – Magic Systems Addie King – Building Believable Legal Systems in Science Fiction and Fantasy Rosemary Laurey – Putting Words in your Character’s Mouth Ramsey Lundock – Creatures and Domesticated Animals Sue Penkivech – Why Just Saying “Hitler Won” Isn’t Enough Aaron Rosenberg – The Descartian Dilemma, or Hey, Where’d Everybody Go? Matthew Wayne Selznick – History for History’s Sake, or No One Cares Who the Emperor Was 500 Years Ago. Unless They Should Janine Spendlove – Crafting Urban Landscapes Graham Storrs – Forming a Government Kelly Swails – Making a Consistent World Patrick Tomlinson – Building Worlds in a Hostile Universe Tim Waggoner – A Sense of Style Kathy Watness – The Work of Our Hands Bryan Young – The Art of Restraint Emily (EA) Younker – Shaping Societies: Technology and Its Effects
If you're a writer or game designer, Eighth Day Genesis: A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives is an informative and inspiring resource to create your all-encompassing world.