Worldbuilding Wednesday – Tectonic Plates, My Wildcards

So, I know I posted my tectonic plates a few weeks back already buuuuut… I kind of redid them. Entirely. They’re much awesomer now! I wanna say a big thank you to my friend Grace, who is a fantastic and patient and knowledgable and has helped me loads with getting my plates in order!

Here are my plates now:

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Pretty neat, huh? These work better with the shapes of my continents than the first version did. C stands for Continental, O for Oceaning, and the arrows are direction, obviously. I also did a second map, as a reference for myself, with the various effects the plate boundries are likely to have:

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Grey is mountains, yellow is extra powerful earthquake zones, red is volcanic activity, blue is tsunami risk and green is ocean trenches (water) and rift valleys (land). These are just approximations to help me determin climate and natural disaster hazards in various areas, the dots don’t correspond to specific places.

Geography as a worldbuilding/storytelling wildcard

So, some of you might be wondering by now why I’m spending all this time on my map, why I’m bothering to think about things like tectonic plates which are unlikely to have a direct bearing on my stories. Well, first of all… it’s fun as hell! I’m enjoying this stuff so much, there are days when I’m stuck in my office and all I can think about is getting home to my map (and my pajamas, let’s be realistic).

Then of course there’s the “professional pride” aspect of it. While I certainly don’t think all writers have to bother with stuff like this, far from it, I do enjoy the idea of having just gone above and beyond the call of duty and done something really special with my world. It’s not something I’d do for all my stories (I don’t have the time, and certainly most my stories don’t need anything like it), but for this world… yeah, it feels good to try to go that extra mile.

But there’s another aspect too, one that has to do with challenging myself and my habits (in thought and action) and preconceptions, as a writer. There are certain things that we, as consumers of spec-fic in its verious formats, are just so used to seeing combined that we often combine them ourselves without really reflecting over it. How many stories where you encounter where the uncivilized neighbors happen to be horse-riding nomads with a strong warrior culture who live on the wide, rough plains? I think we all make choices like that without thinking sometimes, and this is something I try to counteract in myself. Not that I think we should avoid tropes entirely (even if that were possible, I don’t think it’s needed). I just prefer to be aware of when I go to “default” sollutions like that. And having my geography and climate in place before I start placing and building cultures on my map is something that I feel will keep me on my toes a bit. It will add an element of randomness, a wildcard, to my culture building. I want my MC’s culture to be at war with their brutal neighbors east of their kingdom? Okay, but east of their kingdom is marshland, so I’ll just have to adapt said warrior culture to that environment. Climate might sound like a relatively small thing, but I think it’s just the sort of thing that can nudge you just outside the box and make you re-examine knee-jerk choices. I look forward to seeing what paths my map (and the occasional earthquake or volcanoe eruption) will take me and my con-cultures down.

One Reply to “Worldbuilding Wednesday – Tectonic Plates, My Wildcards”

  1. Pingback: Worldbuilding Wednesday – Step-by-Step for Tectonic Plates – Emma Lindhagen

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