World Building According to the Avatar series

One of the many things I love about The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is the thought put into the world-building. The details put into the art, the costumes, and the culture make it feel like a real world. I love the various cultures in both series, how they clash and mingle and have different values, customs, and traditions. Plus they incorporate bending into everyday life.

For example, pro bending in The Legend of Korra. A competitive game is something that could naturally develop from a society of bending the elements. Or when the earth nation directs the “trains” to Be Sing Se, they use earth benders to move the trains instead of any kind of motors.

The first novel I finished had elementals in it. Jennifer and Kellie were twins in a world with gifts — fire, water, earth, and air, and also life and death. Through a mysterious organization called The Clarnden Foundation, they stumble upon the stones of Cilean, which give them unimaginable powers in their element. It was a really fun story to write, but as I see examples of great world-building such as in the Avatar series, I see where I was lacking.

In my story, everything is for all intents and purposes the same as our world. Kids go to school the same way; the only thing that changes there is they have classes for their gift. Athletics are slightly different since those with the air gift can have some advantage, so they had different teams for different gifts. Aside from that, not much had changed. It’s like I took our world and injected a completely different set of rules and expected it to develop the same way it had the last couple millennia.

World-building is not my forte. I work better with the small — the interactions between people, the relationships of my characters — than I do with the large — societal problems and the details of how a world works. It’s something I definitely need to work on, but I’ve learned a lot since the stones of Cilean.

In the Protectors series, I’ve had to create a fantasy world from scratch. Although it resembles medieval Europe, I’ve incorporated six magical families who have shaped history and are currently the source of conflict in society. I’ve had the chance to develop legends and myths, ancient texts and artifacts, and unique histories for these families. It’s been so much fun, and I hope readers feel like they’re in a completely different world when reading the Protectors series.

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