How Targeted Worldbuilding Aids My Storytelling

Worldbuilding is more than magic, it’s about choosing the right bedrock to build your stories upon. This became more clear to me when I began experimenting with my approach to revising. In the past, I’ve either worked on Carrdia novels or Pannulus novels, which meant considerable time away from each location. Lately, while working on a Carrdia novel, I’ve been devoting an hour or so daily to a Pannulus novel.

I thought it might be confusing, but thus far, no.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

In fact, there’ve been benefits. My enthusiasm has been more keen, my editing mind sharper.

The Pannulus novel I’ve been working on is Protecting the Pneuma Key. It’s the best paced novel I’ve ever written. Meanwhile, my Riparia Bk3, So Others Might Remember, is suffering from pacing issues. Having the contrast before me each day is helping Bk3.

I’ve often touted Ontyre as a world where I can write most any story I’d want to write and that remains true. The foundations in my Carrdia and Pannulus worldbuilding are different for a reason, despite their similarities.

Both nations are located on Ontyre, are a part of the continent of Tremjara, and so possess the same magic system. The same same language (Emprensen) is spoken owing to the influence of the collapsed Emprensen Empire. By virtue of different circumstances, both nations were created at nearly the same time after the Brillica Cataclysm.

From that point onward, though, the differences mounted. So, too, the worldbuilding that enables telling the stories I want to write, which is easier to explain with examples. For instance, Riparia’s series places a great deal of focus on women’s issues, though there are LGBT characters in the novels.

It’s first hinted in Bk1’s Chapter One…

A whiny man’s voice cut the fog and chill. “Hey, she has a sword! How many women you see with a sword except to protect their home?”

“Damn few is how many.” The deeper voice came out of a body twice her size. No accusation. Instead, judgment. “A woman, not in the home, but out alone? Looks like we found us a Keeper Partial!”

Gazes, one by one, fixed on her. Without committing a crime, she’d become a Keeper peace offering for Ministry Practitioners.

By the third chapter, quiet, reserved Riparia is provoked and boils over.

Better a seething whisper. “You’re a man and possess a level of privilege society protects. Even women of means hold onto what they have by a thread. In difficult times it’s women who suffer first and most.”

“You could help change that.”

She tied down her tone. “The Ministry must be stopped first.”

He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. “Damn it! Palladon said you’d turn me down. Always he’s right when it comes to you.”

“You talked to him about this?”


“Dear Genessa. You see? Men running my life.”

The theme endures while others themes come and go in the books, even in the prequel, which doesn’t revolve around Riparia.

In the periphery novel, Torment Surfacing, I flip the script on its head and delve into an examination of masculinity. The principle characters, to a degree, represent the spectrum of manhood perspectives. The other periphery novel, Following the Essence Stone, delves into being caught between cultures.

Jumping over to Pannulus, the stories address LGBT issues (not always the short stories, novelettes, and novella’s). I heightened the plight of these characters by wrapping Pannulus around the magic concentration of the Mysquanmic Vortex. It drastically suppresses the birthrate, making anyone not trying to add to the population worthy of scorn—or worse.

Although it isn’t illegal to be LGBT (variants, in Pannulus), it isn’t condoned and there are radical cults devoted to removing them.

Tharlise describes it in Stealing Light

He was of moderate height and handsome in an academic sort of way. That meant he was carved from the elite of Pannulus society. The accent suggested Shorus Island. He was also jittery. That made him the university’s latest attempt to remind her of her civic duty as a woman.

After all, she was Seeker Professor Martavien, but she was also thirty-three and single. For those too dull witted to understand her leanings, her penchant for feminine finery marked her as an easy catch.

Meeting her changed that belief.

Not attempting to have a child? Preferring the company of women? It wasn’t illegal, but it wasn’t acceptable.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

The greatest hatred is reserved for variants who are gender spirited (loosely corresponding to transgender). After all, transforming ends all possibility of producing a child. Too, it’s also the age-old fear of those who cross certain divisions. To help trap any seeking relations with someone who’s linear (non-variant) there’s The Reproduction Disclosure Act.

Can’t have children? You’re obligated to make that clear, and why. In the novella, New Year’s Train to Talonspear, Elyza remembered how that went…

“Some threatened violence. The last, he was reserved, but I sensed a firestorm within. I knew I was in trouble and tried to excuse myself. He insisted on walking me outside the restaurant to hail a cab.” She lost the battle. It’d always be too recent. She couldn’t blink fast enough to keep her eyes dry.

“You didn’t make it, did you?”

“I stepped out the door and he slapped a hand over my mouth. He then dragged me the few feet around the corner and into the alley. I was in the hospital for two weeks. After, I returned to work they encouraged me to seek employment elsewhere.”

Worldbuilding isn’t just about any old fantasy world, it’s also the foundation for the tales you want to tell. Make sure it’s the correct foundation for the telling and then be consistent.


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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