When Worldbuilding Spawns Gifts

This is another story about worldbuilding spawning an element I didn’t realize existed until years later. Like—oh, I don’t know—about twenty years later? It’s another reason I’m grateful for my own worldbuilding.

Pannulus 2020D

Pannulus. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

I’m referring to mysquanmic volcanism.

It came about because when worldbuilding for Ontyre, a planet, I included some references to geology. Magic, you see, is an element on the periodic table (I’ve created other elements, too).

Where it can be found in its most pure form is within Ontyre (and in the moon, Ryzer, but that’s another tale). Thus, anywhere there’s a break in the planet’s crust there’s intensification, alteration, or both. Too, the changes also depend on the size and nature of the discharge. For instance, hydrothermal versus a volcanic eruption.

Anyway, this blog post is about writing fantasy and worldbuilding.

The reason (or excuse) for my delayed recognition is because mysquanmic volcanism is an extension of other worldbuilding components I defined. Think of it like inventing various ingredients, not realizing you’ve created cake until you bake one.

For a long time, mysquanmic volcanism existed, but remained undefined. Despite all those years, when I drafted Trust in the Forgotten (Book1 of the Kovenlore Chronicles) in 2016 the feature remained vague. In that story, it’s implied as existing in some form beneath the city of Barnavava. I really didn’t give it much thought beyond its mineral form.


Courtesy: Pixabay

Later that year, when I drafted my first sequel, A River in Each Hand (Book2), it made another appearance beneath the ruins of Meldenphire, but in a geothermal form. Again, I only vaguely described its origins. Instead, I focused on the result that I often refer to as orangey sky.

Like a slap to the face, everything changed in late 2017. I’d begun developing Pannulus, the circular archipelago. There, and building upon the previous instances, it took the form of the Mysquanmic Vortex that’s both a benefit and curse for those living there.

Pannulus changed everything because, all at once, mysquanmic volcanism was thrust to the forefront. It forced me to consider all the implications, not only of the effects, but also the origins.

That led to reexamining what I’d done in Barnavava and Meldenphire, thus altering those stories a bit in the process. In turn, mysquanmic volcanism makes another new appearance in Aramon Daughters (Book6). In addition, I know that it exists in other locations around the continent.

It’s all an example of how worldbuilding continues to grow even after its initial development. It doesn’t upset me that this evolution took so long. In fact, I’m proud that I developed a magic system and worldbuilding with growth potential (i.e., mysquanmic technology, parasitic magic, residual magic, zycons).

Like with giving characters attributes that allow for their growth and agency, worldbuilding is no different. Once there are enough elements in place they’ll interact and create more than you’d expected. Too, all those elements are the ingredients for what you need if you know how to put them together.

Protecting the Pneuma Key 1

Cover: CA Hawthorne

That brings this all back around to the magic system that’s in place. Mine’s extensive and detailed, yet not restricting. I also have rules in place that I don’t violate. If something comes along that doesn’t fall under one of the rules then it becomes a new rule or a new element to the existing system. There’s been a lot of ideas over the years that I’ve agonized over, but ultimately rejected, because they violated the system. Exceptions to the rule are a slippery slope to no system at all.

Not that I don’t use the idea of an exception to gain reader interest. In Protecting the Pneuma Key, there’s the strange device known as the Pneumass Scepter and the artifact known as the Pneuma Key. Both seem to violate the rules through much of the story, but, in the end, don’t.

All of this is the benefit of my own system, but it required years to develop and has been evolving for two decades. Not exactly something you slap together in a few days, but more worthwhile than I’d imagined when I started. How ironic that it was developed for writing epic fantasy with Tolkien as my inspiration, yet that’s no longer my genre. Well, not exactly.

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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2 Responses to When Worldbuilding Spawns Gifts

  1. I saw a meme a while back in with an author declared they intended to start writing fantasy by drawing a map. ‘No!’, Professor T. yelled back, ‘First you have to invent at least three new languages.’ I still like the map idea. As you point out, it’s amazing where worldbuilding goes, in any event – one idea leads to another, then another. I guess the problem is keeping it consistent, or (slightly) resisting the fact that a later but really good idea might dislodge earlier continuity. Tolkien certainly had that issue.

    • Three languages? I’m still struggling with English. Actually, I have a few, but they’re for flavor and wouldn’t hold up under close scrutiny. i can’t count how many times I thought, “Oh, I could do … whoops, no.” Personally, I also like the map idea. In so many ways, worldbuilding is a character and as with all characters—you have to start somewhere.

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