World building by living there.

I've written two novellas of "Tales of the Thirteen Principalities" and two that are1/3rd finished and one that is 2/3rds finished. I've decided to finish off the three incomplete novellas and perhaps even write another one.

My first love was fantasy--it's what drew me to writing in the first place, but after writing the three fantasy novels in early 1980's, I came back 30 years later writing other genres, horror and thrillers.


Because I decided that writing fantasy wasn't as simple as just sitting down and writing a story. A good fantasy needs a vivid world to exist in, and world building isn't easy. I could write my horror and thriller stories in the real world, which other than having to research real world facts, is much easier. The focus is on the story, not on the world.

But I still want to write fantasy. My plan has been to someday write a true trilogy--a fully realized fantasy world. To try not to be too Tolkienish, but also not try too hard to not be Tolkienish.

Meanwhile, I just sort of stumbled into the world of the Thirteen Principalities. Each time I've written a story I've discovered more about this world, and I'm realizing that when I've written enough of them I can dissect, outline, map, diagram them. I've been working out the religion, the government, the characteristics of the different principalities, the history, the people, and so on.

These stories are meant to be read in any order, but I don't want them to contradict each other, so I'll have to do some correlating when I've written enough material. 

As I've often said, I discover story by writing. Well, it turns out I develop worlds by story. Sort of a backward way to do it, but not if I hold onto what I've written, iron out the details, and spread the wealth through all the different short pieces.

Then...once the world is fully developed, go ahead and write my Epic Fantasy.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying these short jaunts into this world. And I'm really enjoying the connections between the stories.

I have a character called The Toad Kind who has so far turned up in every story, for instance, so I'm going to keep that little motif going.

In other words, the world is being built through the telling of the stories, but once the stories are written, I can use that world to go back and flesh them out. When I feel like everything is solid, only then can I go ahead and plot out a long storyline.