Worldbuilding is a staple for any promising fantasy writer. Well, fantasy and sci-fi writer, but since I am a fantasy writer...I'll stick with that.
There is no exact science to worldbuilding. Every author does it in their own way. Some write out elaborate histories and backgrounds for their world, others build as they go. Some do a little of both. The important thing is consistency. The best way of doing this is to at least have a plan.
For my new series I am writing, "Shards of the Coven" I did a little of both. I already had a story written and decided to incorporate it into the world I was creating as an introductory story, along with another story I had half written(half being generous) and a third yet to be written (except in my head) story.
By incorporating this original story into the world I wished to create, it gave me a baseline, a starting point. I had places and I had races and cultures already mentioned in the story. I used those points to extrapolate out and I drew a map using those places as markers on my map and then drew around them.
I have had years of experience drawing maps for my D&D group, and so, this came naturally. Drawing boundaries of countries, creating Capitols, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, etc... Took time, but ultimately went fairly easily.
Once you have your "land" that you have created, then you need your people. This, I have been doing as I go. As my main character(s) interact with other people, or view other races I create their look and culture then. Any history they might have will be added when that history is relevant to the story. This allows me to not get bogged down with extraneous information and focus on the story at hand.
Governance is something else you need to deal with when building a world. Almost all people have some form of government. For me, this happened to be central to the story of the world I was building and so, I had already formulated this aspect of my world.
I had decided to make where the story was taking place a collection of countries/states that were similiar to how the united states had initially been created to be like. Each state/country was subject to their own rule, but with a governing body that set laws and mediated between all of the states or in this case I decided on referring to them as Cantons, and so The Eastern Cantons of Rowens was created.
Each of the Cantons are run by a seperate governing body. Some have Prime Ministers, Congress, Kings, etc... The Cantons are Midhark, Lorowill, Born, Thael and Kashtook. These Cantons, in turn, are ruled by the Coven. A group of witches that took power over 300 years ago and have ruled ever since.
A system of magic is another important thing in worldbuilding. That is, if your world is planning on containing magic. In my world, there are three principle types of magic. Aspect magic, which is the magic of the Coven, is magic that carries aspects of certain spheres of influence, i.e. nature, fire, time, space, wind, etc... This is the primary magic of the realm. When the Coven came to power, there was the Great Purge, in which they eliminated all other forms of magic and with them a great deal of magical items.
The other two magics are thought to not be practiced anymore, or at least, not openly. They are Blood magic and Essence magic. Blood magic is magic that requires the use of blood for potency. It in large part gives the caster power of the body, either theirs or someone else. Essence magic, is also called soul magic as it is described as channeling the power of ones own soul to cast. It is draining, but very powerful and can be destructive.
So, there you have a little bit about the art of worldbuilding, both in general, and specifically how I am building the world of the 'Shards' series. Until next time.