Worldbuilding: Part Seven (Mythology & Magic)


Part One (Introduction)

Part Two (Geography & Terrain)

Part Three (Society and Culture)

Part Four (Names)

Part Five (Military/Government)

Man. I really need to watch these movies.

Hello, writerly people! Today, in my Worldbuilding Series, I’ve planned to talk about mythology — ie. the sorts of creatures in your worlds — and magic. These two things can be essential to a world’s building. (Of course, a story doesn’t have to have magic or mythical creatures in your world . . . but still. It’s cool.)

A lot of high fantasies in particular, are going to have fearsome new creatures. And, just to list a few of ’em:

  • Dragons
  • Mermaids/sirens
  • Griffins
  • Werewolves
  • Vampires
  • Elves
  • Sprites
  • ect.

Okay, so you get my point. There are literally hundreds of possible creatures that you could include in your novel. And that’s not including ones that you can make up/alter yourself. Things that you might like to consider when building the creatures of your world:

How many types of different creatures are they? Think carefully: is it necessary to mention them all? Eg. I wouldn’t suggest getting into too much detail about your world’s fauna, because hey, reading all that might get a little bit boring. Also consider the climate of your world. Are the creatures able to live in your world? You’re hardly going to be able to find mermaids in a destet, are you?

disney animated GIF

And for the love of all that is good and holy, can we not have your mermaids wearing seashells over their breasts? (I do really love The Little Mermaid. I’m just sayin’.)

Okay — so some of this might be common sense, but you get where I’m coming from. In order to make your world somewhat realistic (key word: somewhat. Remember you might be writing about dragons here… That’s hardly realistic) you’ll need to examine the external factors around them, too. For example . . .

How do other people (humans, other races, etc.) view these creatures? Are they feared? Revered? Eg, a dragon is probably going to cause a lot of fear in people, right? Are they worshipped? Are they a symbol of a certain religion? Are these mythological creatures just that — tales? What do your people believe in? Are they likely to cause damage/harm to a person and/or a city? Are these creatures hunted for some reason? Because they are dangerous? For their leather? Scales? A big part of having these creatures in your story is defining how other people react to them.

Now, let’s talk about magic!

eyes animated GIF

Magic is fun and exciting to write about, yes? But let’s take a deeper look into what should (in my opinion) be included in your story in regards to building your world.

What sort of magic does your world possess? Elemental? (Think: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.) Telekinesis? Mind-reading? A bit of everything? Again, like with your mythical creatures, there are just so many ideas you can draw from, so many way to create and shape your own magic system. How common is this magic? Does everyone have a bit of magic inside of them? A little? A lot? What age does it show? (Puberty is a common one, here.) What does it mean for the character when it shows? What sort of training/education do these magical people get? Some? None? Does it depend on their status? Also consider how these people with magical abilities are looked upon: with hate? Envy? Interest? Are they a curiosity? Or are they loathed because of their ability? Is magic widely accepted and celebrated? Or is it condemned and banned? What would happen to someone if their magical ability was found out? Would they die because of it? Are they enslaved? Used for their magic? Feared?

What sorts of consequences does using magic have? Does it make them tired? Ill? Do they pass out, faint? How much magic are they able to use before this occurs? Does that depend on their training/natural talent? Do they need some sort of power source to conduct their magic? Eg, a stone? A wand? Magical words? Mixing ingredients together? Some other method? Thinking of new and inventive ways to power your magic system not only builds the world but makes it unique, too.

Jerology animated GIF

That’s it for this week’s Worldbuilding Series post? Let me know! If I’m missing anything you think is important, then comment below, and I’ll add it into my post.


8 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Part Seven (Mythology & Magic)

  1. You know what, that thing about all the paranormal creatures and where they live is actually a key factor in the believability of a story – I never thought about it until you pointed it out! AND about how humans think of them and how they relate to other creatures! Wow, these are such fantastic posts Kara <3

  2. I have FINALLY gotten around to reading these! They are SO GOOD! Seriously.
    My NaNoWriMo involved a lot of magic use, and it was fun thinking of all the different ways magic could work.

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