Monday, February 10, 2020

IllumiNations: Reflections of [Calhortea]

Yeah, I just felt like titling this post after my sister's favorite Disney World night show that no longer exists. Just because. I guess because the song's playing in my head because it's her text tone on my mom's phone. Anywho.

I was thinking some about worldbuilding, how it can be fun and overwhelming and when you're making another world you can literally throw it whatever you want as long as you can make it make sense (and obviously isn't unbiblical or anything like that). And honestly, that's what I did regarding Calhortea.

I've been working on recording Crannig Castle, so I've been spending time with my old characters in my old world and it's interesting to revisit. And think back on how much things changed from my initial concepts of the world.

Initially, it was very definitely a flat world surrounded by "the Cliffs of the End" which were ten giants high. And yes, there were giants who lived in "Ringlet Valley" at the foot of "the Cliffs of the End." As it developed, the giants, "Ringlet Valley," and "the Cliffs of the End" all vanished. I assume it's still a flat world, but I haven't explored beyond the official map published in the book. It could be round like a ball, I guess. I don't actually know.

Calhortz, Briznom, Chalton, and the River Everlong have been there since the earliest version. But...they moved. Chalton moved north (map 1 rotated clockwise) and has stayed there ever since. But Briznom was to the west and Calhortz to the east. Kalica appeared in map #2 at the foot of the Headstone Mountains, but it and Lake Oreb were on the wrong side of the Everlong. And the country of Lupesplee and the Stallion Mountains existed. Lupesplee we created with our more-like-a-cousin aunt and it was the home of Talking Beasts. The Stallion Mountains were based on what we used to play in the sandbox with plastic horses. It was the home of talking horses. I'm assuming they vanished after I tried to make the rabbit in Across the Stars talk and realized I lack the skill to write talking animals that aren't cheesy. C.S. Lewis has my undying respect for making talking animals work.

Somehow, Briznom and Calhortz switched sides of the Everlong, and instead of ocean to the north and east, it grew into a desert. My sister added the Yatachee Islands to the southwest, and there they have remained, going from a random insertion on the map to something integral to the story of Time Captives. And apparently Crannig Castle used to be called Kefinaught??? I didn't even realize it had a previous name until I pulled out the map to do this post. Olithea showed up north of Calhortz at this point, but I don't think it was peopled by elves. That came later.

Even the existing countries changed. Briznom started as a play I was trying to write with our childhood next-door neighbor called "The Kings of Briznom." The younger brother was going to usurp the throne with promises of lower taxes, etc. then break those promises and the people would want the other king back (he wasn't going to die). The good king was King James. Briznom's government has changed immensely since that standard monarchy, but the king is and will always be James.

Calhortz came from a dream. I was in an underground place with my brother (never mind I don't actually have a brother), and he battled a snake. And I was going to write a story based on that dream and it was going to be in Calhortz.

And then I had the idea for Creighton Hill (don't know where it came from), and set it in Calhortz. And threw in plantations and strytes and gladiators and dragons. I dreamed up Espionage and set it in Briznom, totally revamping the government and inventing traditions to make Vannie's life miserable, though still retaining somewhat of a more medievalish feel than what I gave Calhortz. I invented the kalicans and the strytes. I invented otages and crefi, intending them to have a bigger role, but when I changed Toarna from a White Witch-esque witch into a stryte, I dropped their role. (There were also originally going to be fairies. That didn't last.) I added pirates and explored the Yatachee Islands. I added merfolk and transformed The Crossways from a random thing my sisters came up with into something workable for the story.

Calhortea is always changing, expanding. I'm always finding new stories and characters. It's really the first world I ever created, for awhile the only one I was ever going to create, and it's dear to me. And so are its inhabitants, Adriel and Vannie especially.

You can really do whatever you want when you worldbuild. It can be fun. It may change significantly over the course of time, but it's fun to look back. And now I just really want to write the Espionage sequel and the Edmund Herb/Anthea Germainia story (which now has an ending that I wrote on the way back from Disney because Pirates of the Caribbean is an inspirational ride...the story just doesn't have a proper beginning or middle).

Happy worldbuilding!

Map #1

Map #2

Map #Official


  1. How fun! Can you recommend some resources for world building?

    1. Jill Williamson's Storyworld First is an awesome resource, as is the worldbuilding class she taught at Realm Makers last year. At this point, you can only get it with the full conference audio, but there were lots of fabulous sessions, so it's worth it. :)


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