Today's topic is creating fictional cities! And the questions aren't just for fantasy cities, so don't worry! You can apply them to any city setting in your story.
To the questions!
1) What is the city called by its inhabitants? By outsiders? Does it have any nicknames?
For this example and the following I'll be using a city from my current WIP, Golden Revenge: Peresay. Its inhabitants call it the "City of Bad Singers", however! For good reason...
2) What is the "hub" of the city? A market, shopping district, garden, etc.?
3) Are there any famous landmarks? Are they natural/geographical, such as a mountain, or man-made, like a clock tower?
4) Where does the city's government reside? A building or elsewhere? How does the city's government differ from the country it resides in, if at all?
5) Geographically speaking, where is the city? Besides a river, in a valley, in plains, by mines, etc.?
Peresay rests beside Dreaming Rock, where the Dreamers (the central figures of one of the world's religions) were said to have created people. Believers of the Dreamers claim the massive orange rock was a piece of the sky that fell down with the Dreamers when they came to the earth.
6) What is the city's water and/or food source? The river, the ocean, surrounding farms?
7) Why did this city grow from a town/village into its current state? Is it the capital, a hub for trade, a key resource area, or have some historical/religious significance?
8) What kind of defenses does it have? Walls? Buttresses? Guards/police who patrol?
9) What's the average income for its residents? What is the most common occupation?
10) What kind of architecture would be seen walking around its streets? Are most of the homes made of brick, wood, stone, cement? Are paint colours vibrant or subdued? Do buildings crowd each other out, or are they evenly spaced? Does it change depending on the part of the city you're in?
Peresay's buildings are almost all made of red, yellow, and orange bricks, which is a reflection of the dusty and rocky area the city rests in. Little wood is used, as they don't live near any forests. But there are splashes of colours in vibrant rugs that lie before the front door of each home.
11) How is the city with crime? Is it overrun by murder and theft, or is it fairly quiet and peaceful? Are criminals bold in flaunting their power (if any) or do they stick to secretive means?
12) Who holds the most power? The government, businesses, criminals, other organisations?
13) What does the city smell like? Does it reek of fish caught at the docks, thick perfume of blooming flowers, the stench of sewerage, etc.?
14) What kind of relationship do its inhabitants have with inhabitants of other cities? Are they friendly, rivals, neither?
As an official rebel army stronghold, the residents of Peresay are strong believers in the rebel cause, so they have a good relationship with any other cities that support the rebels. If there are any cities that are in the royal grasp, on the other hand, they will have nothing to do with them. This is a civil war, after all.
|I imagine Peresay a little like this, except with a massive rock next to it! (And no ocean in the background.)|
16) What are those secret spots that only long-term residents know about? Is there a "best cafe in the city", or peaceful garden tucked away from the hustle and bustle?
17) How popular is the city with outsiders/tourists? Is it a well-known travel destination, or more isolated?
18) What kind of cultures are seen in the city? Are its residents a singular ethnic culture, or a mix?
19) Does the city have any celebrations/festivals specific to itself? When and how are these celebrated?
Whenever the rebels win a battle or have some other kind of victory, those in Peresay climb to the top of Dreaming Rock, where an altar rests. Then they'll have animal sacrifices, incense, loud music, and dancing all night long, to thank the Dreamers for their grace.
20) What is the city's history? Has it been under siege or attack? What major historical events have taken place in its depths, if any?
|Isn't this city gorgeous? I'd love to live here!|
That brings us to the end of the questions! I really hope they can be of help to you when brainstorming a city setting, or adding those juicy world-building features in edits!
Tell me about one of your fictional cities! What landmarks does it have? Who lives there? Oh, and are you a big fan of world-building too? Any suggestions of what theme to have for my next "Questions to Ask When..." post?
Good luck with your writing, and have a spectacular day! <3