Worldbuilding: Don’t Walk All Over the Possibilities

currently playing on my iPod: This House Is Not For Sale by Ryan Adams

Travel feeds the worldbuilding in my fantasy writing. Walking through foreign markets, clicking pics in cathedrals completed in varying centuries, studying historically significant homes, strolling among cemeteries, and weaving through shops built on ancient bridges teaches me about what us crazy humans find important. 

Oddly, one of those things is the surface on which we walk.

I’m talking about floors. Yes, my friends, floors.

I love me some decorated, textured, symbol-drenched flooring. (This obsessions ranks just slightly lower than my one for doorknobs.)

Check out these from Vatican City.

This black and white mosaic surface boasts a merhorse that pulled a big grin out of this The Scorpio Races fan. Mythology is a recurring theme. It both explains the unexplainable and entertains.

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(Don’t worry if you feel dizzy. I turned my photo for better viewing.)

And this colorful set up shows off braided patterns as well as the phases of the moon. Many would argue the floor, which sits in the very center of Christianity, is a nod to sun and moon worship. I’m not here to make such a claim, but I do find it beautiful and fascinating. To me, it seems the creators fashioned a piece that involved revered symbols from their past and their present into something all could appreciate from an artistic standpoint.

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The next one, in which a bird of prey does what it does best, gives a scene that would have been commonplace to its contemporaries. The hunter and the hunted. It is both lovely and disturbing. Like life. Graceful scrolling and curling lines surround the rabbit, hawk, and tree, as well as the four-pointed early cross symbol. Death gives life and all that.

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The last floor I’ll share is not from Vatican City, but from Paris, in the Sainte-Chapelle. One of the floors in this 13th century gothic masterpiece highlights nature and animals, both of which served as symbols for virtue, strength, and sometimes, various noble families. And yeah, that’s me on the floor, getting down and dirty with my obsession.

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Humans really seem to enjoy traipsing over symbols that reflect what we hold dear. The appreciation of life and its brevity, the forces of nature, God and gods and goddesses, mythology and legend. We enjoy patterns and use color in ways that please the eye.

When you dive into your writing, don’t skip on past what lies beneath your fantasy world’s feet. It may just tell your readers something fascinating about your characters’ values and worldviews. 

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4 Responses to Worldbuilding: Don’t Walk All Over the Possibilities

  1. Jay Dee says:

    The floors! I haven’t really thought much about describing floors. I look at them a lot, though. I’m always looking for patterns.

    • Well, I wouldn’t say you MUST include the floors :), but I hope looking at them inspires us all to watch for unique setting details that point to culture. And yes, the patterns can be so beautiful. It’s interesting to compare say Nordic carving patterns and those in early Persia. So many differences, and yet, some points of commonality.

      • Jay Dee says:

        I would only include the floors in descriptions if they actually came into play. I have yet to describe the floors in what I’m currently writing.

      • Oh I totally agree. I only meant to draw one’s attention to details one might overlook. Thanks for the comment and good luck with your writing!

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