World Building: Constellation

I’ve previously listed constellations under Worldbuilding- Moonlake’s Favourite Elements. Today I want to show two snippets of my writing where constellations feature prominently. 

The New Moon shone pale against the backdrop of black velvet that was the sky. In contrast, various constellations competed intensely in a race to outshine each other. In the centre of the Celestial River, the Two Hares bounded ahead of the stalking Fox whilst continuously throwing furtive glances behind and inevitably faltering a little in their steps. At such times, the eerily lit eyes of the Fox would shine forth somewhat brighter, heralding the great leap it was about to make in order to close in with its preys. But then, the Two Hares would unerringly find their footing again and adeptly swerve to the side such that the Perpetual Chase would begin anew. Behind the Fox strode the Hunter, who spent the Steppe and Blood Moons hunting the Fallow Deer prancing merrily above the Fox while chasing after the Wilful Maiden for the other half of the year. Just now, the Maiden was tossing her hair and laughing, keeping most of her gaze on the Perpetual Chase above her but periodically teasing and enticing the Hunter to follow on her heels. She seemed like a wholly different person from the kneeling figure who spent most of the time with her entire face cupped within her hand and only occasionally looking up to show a tear-streaked face- the Weeping Maiden as she was at such times. Bortai did not care for her in either form. She much preferred her sister, the Silent Maiden who had all of her attention fixed on interacting with the Dying Rack. Although she was not as ethereally beautiful as her sister, the sense of absorption in her own realm that she showed stroke a chord deep within Bortai. 

~ Snippet from The Return of the White Deer [mentioned in Moonlake’s Work pile (3)]

I waited expectantly on the appointed night, the same as I’ve waited for the past three years. There is a voice telling me to look up but I dare not. Niang had drilled into me that it isn’t right for us common people to gaze upon the transformation of the Shapeshifter. It does not like mortal eyes peeking at it while it is turning from a happy carp swimming within the Celestial River back to its true form. And we common people have to obey rather than tempting immortals to throw their wraths at us. An interminable time would pass while I fought with the itch within my heart that grew as Niang kept her stern scrutiny of me to ensure that I would keep my head down. When she gave me her verbal permission to look up again,  I never failed to gasp at the true form of the Shapeshifter. Which was daunting and yet eerily magnificent too. Yet, my heart would scream its dissatisfaction, at being cheated of the chance to watch the entire transformation as it progresses. In that first year, when I settled with the Old Man within the Imperial Palace, he said the words that I had dreamed of Niang saying in the past three years when I lowered my chin instinctively, “Look up, Xun Zhen, watch the splendour of the Transformation as it occurs.” And I did. First, the Carp shed some of the scales on its body as glittering pinpricks of starlight. Then it swished its tail and stretched and transformed itself all at the same time, unbelievably fast. It was every bit as breathtaking as I would imagine it to be and more.

~ Snippet from A Thread of Chance (navigate to Moonlake’s Writing to read it as a complete novella, it’s rough but a complete story nevertheless)

Worldbuilding- Moonlake’s Favourite Elements

This post is somewhat inspired by the post of Berkeley Kerr that I’ve reblogged under this same category some months back but compared to his very extensive article, mine is more modest in scope. I’m merely talking about my favourite elements in world building aka things I like to include whilst building my own fantasy world. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Lore (including creation myth): personally, this is the element that always draws me to fantasy. Whether it’s stories/poetry/ballads about past ages, lost races, fallen empires or plain creation myths, they fascinate me. I’m less interested in treasures and tales of dragons except on a light reading basis. Anyway, for me, lore adds complexity and depth to a world and is an integral element of building up the history of my world. In fact, I’ve personally found that it is way easier to construct these relative to actual history of a fantasy world (probably because I never actually care for history myself)- sometimes they even come to me of their own accords.
  2. Speculative biology: basically the creation of fantasy fauna and flora. Personally, I tend to create more fantasy plants in the process of world creation for my novels- don’t know why, just happens to be. These are just tidbits that I drop in to spice up the world.
  3. Constellation: personally I always create constellation that embodies a particular culture’s values and ways of living
  4. Cultural adverbs & fantasy vocab: something I always create despite myself, I use them both as spices and to reveal the underlying culture that I’m writing
  5. Social customs: this encompasses things like special festivals, various habits in daily life, gestures etc.

Again, I stress that this is not meant to be comprehensive in nature, merely a discussion of my favourite elements when constructing my own fantasy world. And that’s all for today. And oh, I haven’t forgotten that I’m still owing a post. I will make it up shortly.

Berley’s Top 10 World Building Tips for Sci Fi or Fantasy

A good reference for world building

Curse Breaker Series

Like I have mentioned in past blog posts, it took me ten years of writing and collecting rejection letters to get to level I am today. And even so I’m still working and still climbing. Always working and always writing to improve my craft. The bad part about going through those ten years is obvious, even the annoyingly cliche parts. The form letters, the future uncertainty, people not interested in looking at your work, people telling you you’re wasting your life and you should do something else. But believe it or not, some good things came out of those ten years. I learned to be a better writer, I developed thick skin, and I learned more or less how to market myself and my work and on top of that I learned how to world build. Like I said before my techniques might not work for everyone. But before you…

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