I’ve read books about world-building, I’ve done a heap of work trying to flesh out my worlds as early on as possible but I’ve always had trouble finding a place to start.
Mostly the advice I’ve been given is simply “draw a dot on a piece of paper, then draw another one. Now connect the two with a line.” That builds four things, two places of interest, a road to join the two and depending on the shape of that road, a landscape between the two.
That doesn’t work for me, it never has. For someone who is colourblind, I tend to plan that first scene in colours. In my latest story I didn’t have an actual setting in place, I had an idea where I wanted to start, distant future, post-apocalypse, lone wanderer on a long-forgotten road.
Instead of thinking of two towns, a road between them, I thought in colour. I pictured red and brown clouds above, a sky scarred by a world-ending war hundreds of years before, green lightning streaking across the sky and a blasted, grey and brown landscape as far as the eye can see.
Another one was the gold and green of a vast ocean of grass on the horizon, the lands that sit around the town of Amberford, the trade hub sitting in the centre of the world. I’ve set cities, draped in greys, blues and greens, a stronghold in the frozen north.
I don’t know why but it always starts with colour. I think I could be an artist with that sort of mental vision but it’s usually the hues that spark the creativity before it’s stopped by a story. I don’t mind that, in fact I love it.
When you’re worried about where to start with someone, just close your eyes, think of some colours, paste them onto a landscape and watch a world roll out in front of you.
Love you all, Chris.