For many sci-fi and fantasy writers it can be tough to think of new worlds. Even if you can vividly picture it in your mind, getting it to the readers can create pitfalls and potholes on an already bumpy ride. First mountains, and oh wait, mountains need valleys so lets add those… now naturally with water runoff there will be rivers in those valleys… do you see where I’m headed with this? It’s endless!
So how do you make a fake world that people can relate to enough to get lost in mentally without going crazy yourself? I’m so glad you asked. I’d like to introduce you to The Land of Tub! As in your bathtub. Or sink or bucket, whatever you’ve got handy.
All you need beyond your camera is:
- A bathtub, bucket, kiddy pool, sink, whatever you have that can hold water.
- Pressurized water like a faucet or garden hose.
- And bubbles, don’t use your wife’s without permission guys,the bubblier the better.
- Food Coloring just a couple drops (too much can stain your tub). It wall add contrast to your water if it’s hard to see in the pictures.
Take these components and create the biggest, bubbliest creation you can in your tub. If you have to, use your hand to whisk up more bubbles.
Notice how the bubbles create natural mountains near the faucet, maybe even a volcano? Then the cascade of bubbles fall into valleys around it. Now get your imagination into gear and move those bubbles around and create a world of landscape. No two will ever be the same. When I get The Land of Tub exactly like I want I take a picture.
Put your picture into a photo editor, I use Pixlr. Change the colors and manipulate it to look less like bubbles and more like the lush or barren landscape in your mind. Changing the contrast and color will also make your landmarks easier to see. Use a sketch program ,like SketchBook, and upload your photo into it. Now trace out and color your new world. See how it is easier to plot things out. Here is a sampling of how I do this, just know I’m not very good at drawing. This is just a way for me to keep my characters on track as I write, not something I want to publish. I’ll leave that to a professional illustrator.
Now you have a world to frame your story in. No more wondering where your character is, has been, or will be. You have a world of direction. Now name your new world and get to writing those battle scenes high in the tundra of The Land of Tub!
What crazy ideas do you use to come up with new world maps? You can also use snow, sand, or any medium to create a new environment. Do you think you would try this for your world? I’d love to hear from you.