Worldbuilding 101: Art and Architecture

LE Medlock: Worldbuilding, writing a novel, books, fantasy

Image from Flickr Creative Commons by qthomasbower

One of the little touches in worldbuilding that brings flavour. Unlike magic, it’s applicable across all genres in all civilisations – Soviet Russia will have very different A&A to 17th century Paris. Even the absence of art is unusual. Thus, A&A is a good way to ground your reader in a world by letting them visualise not only the world, but also the characters within it. Both art and architecture speak volumes about the type of person each character is.

LE Medlock: Worldbuilding, writing a novel, books, fantasy

Image from Flickr Creative Commons by valery.photography

Greek civilisation introduced the concept of art for art’s sake in the Western world. Before that, art was very much symbolic, representative of religious and political aspirations. Art in the latter culture would be completely different from art in the former. Architecture could simply be the most efficient way of building the structure, or it can be art in itself.

Resources

      • Marble
      • Timber
      • Mud
LE Medlock: Worldbuilding, writing a novel, books, fantasy

Image from Flickr Creative Commons by sweet mustache

Building materials will be dependant on what resource is local (easy to transport) and how much of it there is. Rarer material will be more expensive and may only be used in affluent areas or by particularly affluent characters. Glass and metal are rarer than stone, and more technologically advanced. Conversely, science fiction novels may have new, off-planet resources.

Geography

      • Ocean/Island
      • Wind (e.g. Holland and their iconic windmills)
      • Earthquakes
LE Medlock: Worldbuilding, writing a novel, books, fantasy

Image from Flickr Creative Commons by Shawn Semmes

Location affects the shape and style of the buildings. If those castles are built on sand, how do they stay up? The Maldives have small, hut houses and Japan has buildings reinforced to protect against earthquakes. Consider the environment when building.

Wealth & Style

      • Original Picassos
      • Traditional landscapes
      • Handmade pottery
LE Medlock: Worldbuilding, writing a novel, books, fantasy

Image from Flickr Creative Commons by live w mcs

Art is a way to define character’s wealth and personality – showing without telling – as well as the style of the civilisation itself. Think about how best art or a character’s home can showcase their personality or backstory.

Finally, a brilliant, brilliant resource for worldbuilding is http://chaoticshiny.com/index.php. It will suck out your life, but it’s totally worth it.

One thought on “Worldbuilding 101: Art and Architecture

  1. Pingback: The Best of Architecture in 2013 | LANDsds Sustainable Voice

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