Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Histories

    History. Some people love it, others stare at the textbooks thicker than their necks and whimper. Me? I fall in the middle. While I certainly wouldn't spend hours pouring over said textbook, I do think having an understanding of history, if not the world's, then your story's, is super important!

    Which brings us to today's post! This is the latest installment in my "Questions to Ask When..." blog series, and you can check out my previous posts on religions, magic, and cities, if you so please.

    Today the theme of my questions revolves around developing a particular country's history, from the beginning to its current year. While they apply more to fantasy works, don't shy away completely! My aim is to give you questions to guide you or inspire you throughout the phase of your world-building, no matter what genre you write in.



    Now, onto the questions!

1) What was the first people group to claim the land? Why did they migrate to the area; for new farming ground, exploration, resources, etc.? Are they still in control?

    In my WIP, Splintered Crown, a group of several hundred slaves fled from the country that had kept them captive, into the land now known as Cynnica. They climbed over a range of mountains into what was deemed "unreachable" land, desperation for freedom driving their steps, and then they forged a country from the soil they stepped on.

2) What is the country's geography like? Has this limited communication with other people groups, or encouraged trade and exchange of ideas? Has this led to the primary culture staying the same or adapting?

3) What was the first settlement? Is that the current capital, or does it no longer exist?



4) What kinds of governments have reigned over the land; monarchies, democracies, republics, etc.? Is is the same or different from the current one? If different, what led to this shift? Was there dissatisfaction within the people, or another cause?

5) What are its founding principles or values? Were these grounded in religious theology, or something else?

6) Who are the legends that exist in the land's history? Are they famous warriors, kings and queens, criminals, etc.? Were they once living figures, or is it all fiction?

    The largest legend in Cynnica is King Nikias and Queen Zenias, of whom were the leaders of the fleeing group of slaves. They became the first king and queen, and though much of their legend is true, there is a lot of speculation about whether or not Zenais was a slave at all.



7) How many wars has this land been engaged in? Were they the instigators of these wars, or were they defending themselves from other powers? What were the outcome of these wars; did they win, lose, or declare a truce?

8) Have there been any civil wars? Who was the winner, and how has this affected the people on both sides?

9) Has the land's borders ever shifted? Is this a result of conflict, conquest, or both?

10) What was considered the country's "peak" period? Is it called this because of an economic boom, visionary leader, great architectural feats, military conquests, or something else? 

11) Has the country been welcoming to foreigners, do they bar them from entering, or do they isolate them within their communities? How has this affected their economy, exposure to cultures, and religious beliefs?



12) How is history passed on; is it written down in documents, or is it passed on orally? What are the problems with passing on their history this way?

13) Are there any other countries that have been long time enemies or allies with this one? What is the reason for this relationship? 

     Cynnica's relationship with the Mistan Empire, where their ancestors were held captive, is also fraught with tension. This is because the Mistan Empire still uses slave labour, and for Cynnicans this is deplorable. Some tense trade negotiations have been made, but inhabitants of both countries are constantly in fear of being in a war with each other.

14) What are children taught about the country's history? Are they taught everything, an altered version, or only its glorious moments? How does this affect the child's perspective of their country?

15) What is the age of this country? Is it divided into eras; if so, what are they?

16) Are there any ruins? Were they destroyed, or abandoned, and why?



17) Has the country been hit by any epidemics or plagues? How much life was lost as a result?

18) Are there any festivals that celebrate its history, or victorious moments? Are there are times of silences or periods of remembrance to honour less victorious times?

19) Do any statues or memorials exist to honour historical figures or those killed in particular battles? How are these viewed by the community; are they cared for with respect, or neglected?

    Within Cynnica's capital palace's gardens, a maze of yellow roses with a memorial in its center, honours those who lost their lives in the recent civil war. Once a year, on the day the war was won, citizens make the trip through the maze to lay a rose down beside the memorial.

20) If you could pinpoint one particular event that shaped the country the most, what would it be, and why?




    And that wraps up this post! I really hope that these questions can be of help to you in your world-building process!
Are you a big fan of history, or do you shy away from it? What's one key event of your world's history? Did any real world historical moment inspire it?
Best of luck with your writing, and have a great day! <3

Comments

  1. I almost never do this with my stories, but I think I am going to start.

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    1. I would encourage you to try it out! I find it adds a lot of depth to my story-worlds. :) Thanks for commenting Skye!

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  2. These kind of posts are always SO helpful, thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad Gray! That's my aim for these posts. :D Thank you so much for commenting!

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  3. I LOVE your posts on world-building, Melissa! My fictional worlds tend to be a bit flat/cliche, but answering these questions will add so much depth and give me new things to consider.
    Jem Jones

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    1. Aww thanks Jem! I'm so happy you like them! <3 I've found that asking yourself questions about your story-world and characters is the best way to get to know them deeper. :) Thanks so much for commenting!

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  4. I've never done a lot of history with my novels, mostly because I have a hard time figuring out that sort of stuff. This will help me a lot. Thanks.

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    1. No problem Rachel! :) I really hope it helps you out with your writing. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. These are so so so so helpful. You can bet I'll be using these posts in upcoming fantasy WIP's. Thank you so much for writing them up Melissa ^.^ <3

    Anna | www.worldthroughherheart.blogspot.com

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    1. You're very welcome Anna! <3 I'm so happy you find them helpful. Good luck with your writing, and thanks so much for commenting!

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  6. This has been extremely useful !! THANKS <3 <3 <3 I'll use them for sure!

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    1. No problem Arya, happy to help out! :) Thanks for commenting!

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  7. Another super helpful post I'll most definitely be referring back to!!! Great post, Melissa! XD

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    1. Thanks Lila! :D I'm glad the questions will be able to help you! Thank you for commenting!

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  8. THIS IS SO HELPFUL I'M TOTALLY PINNING IT FOR LATER.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you like it, and thanks for commenting Ellie! :D

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  9. Wow, thanks so much!!! This is just GREAT - especially because I'm working on my worldbuilding skills. And being a history lover, this is right up my alley!

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    1. Yay for history lovers! I'm happy to be of help to you Julian, and really hope my questions assist you with your world-building. :) Thanks for commenting!

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  10. These are some awesome questions! I'm going to use these for brainstorming my next book. I need lots and lots of worldbuilding development done. XD

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Victoria! :) I hope they'll hope help you delve deep into your world. XD (And I'm excited to see what you come up with!) Thank you for commenting!

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  11. I love this series! It's so helpful! I might have to go ask some of these questions for my fictional world.

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm glad you find it helpful. :) Thank you for commenting!

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