My world is Noctuina. I’ve been writing about it in one way or another since I was thirteen. Before that I still created stories, but they were more urban fantasy at the very start (I moved over to mediaeval and historical really quick).
At first I was enamored with the idea of a new world and story per book. I had picked up a novel at the shop and the back had had a review where it praised the author for the new worlds she had every story. I decided this was an awesome idea and began to think of stories in singular entities. I had ‘The Wolf Within’ ‘Of Darkness’ ‘Labyrinth of the Heart’ ‘Born at Night’ … etc. About 30 ish stories, from very well plotted to barely an idea.
After a time I realized there was mild cross-over. I would use the same themes or species so much (occasionally a very similar character) that it made more sense to tie things together.I started doing that, working on an overarching world.
This was also a process. It took years, and a lot of that was me flip-flopping over what I wanted to do. When I thought they were all in one world, I also thought the world would have to be the same all over. It hurt the uniqueness of a lot of these stories, so I would in turn break them back apart.
Eventually I worked out the system of Realms. Most of my stories have some sort of magic, but it differs between each ‘set.’ So I created these magical laws of the universe. That everything was composed of spirits (roughly similar to atoms), and with magic you could manipulate them. How you did it was up to several factors- one of which being where you lived. Each realm would have it’s own set of spirits, just like our world has animals or plants native to one part of the world or other.
This solved all of my issues. I could have my individual stories, with their own forms of magic and yet still have them all set in the same world. Because a world is large, interesting, and even without magic we have astoundingly different cultures and thoughts. Add some magic in and it’s even better.
“The Wolf Within” as a story, or even as a series, turned into the realm of Astrarctia. A mountainous region based around snowy Europe, where wolves (and werewolves) lived. I follow one vague family ‘set’ in these stories, but they branch off as well. It began as Inisaira’s story at the very start, with my first real attempt to write a book. Then I got to know Rohan, and Jasmine, Rastus, Fenrith, Korith, Arith, Ondrej.. also Kilisane and Aqua, whose tales were later woven into another realm because they didn’t quite fit in that place anymore. Essentially if I have named a character, I will find a backstory and a frontstory and they will get their own day in the spotlight at some point.
How to break the world up into these realms was another problem. At first I decided each kingdom would just be it’s own realm- simple enough. Well, not so simple. I tried to make maps, but I wasn’t even sure of how to start.
I ended up getting the ProFantasy program Fractal Terrains 3. It essentially makes you a map, and you can use the software to make custom changes. I did this with one map, was fairly satisfied.. and eventually lost the data. So I made another map. This one I preferred, so it’s all good. You learn, you keep going.
I wanted to make this map detailed. I exported it in pieces as PNG files- 16×16, 7500px by 3750px. I then tried to take the pieces and line them up in photoshop to remade the huge ass 120,000px by 60,000px image.
Even photoshop could barely handle it. After about one column you could barely do anything. That, *and* annoyingly enough, there were thin white lines between each rectangle even after placing them as close together as possible (turns out, after you hit save, these lines disappear. I did not know at the time).
So I got to thinking why would these lines be on a map. I noticed several boxes fit well to what I decided were specific places- but countries arranged in squares would be silly. Yet magic- magic might be that sort of weird-strict that given a round globe, and flattening it out, you would find the magic grouped perfectly.
So that’s what I did. I kept each bit of the map separate, since putting them all together couldn’t work, and decided that each piece was a realm. Sometimes a kingdom would be within a realm entirely, sometimes it would pass through two realms (though more rarely).
Each realm, as these rectangles open in photoshop, was a little over 104 inches wide, and 52 inches tall. One inch is ~20 miles, or what an average person on foot could get through in a day, assuming a trail and at best rolling terrain. This is not always the case of course [both how much a person can go, and if the terrain is more dangerous]. So each realm is ~2080 miles by ~1040).
(And this is a globe that has been flattened into a rectangle. There is distortion in many places. I’m taking the distortion and going with it, based on things like the land being difficult, or magic. Yes, magic.)