Inside Out World Building

historical-buildings-1008482_1280This week I stumbled on Janeen Ippolito’s blog that teaches, among other things, world building. This blog shows how to build worlds from the inside out. The idea is to get into the heads of the characters and to look at the world from their perspectives.

What a great concept. I immediately decided to try asking some of the questions the blog posed as if I were asking my heroine the questions. What I learned was enlightening.

Would she wear the same clothes two days in a row? Or more?

My heroine, Iskra, lives in a relatively poor village with no mechanization. Life is highly regulated. The villagers typically wear the same outer clothing two or more days in a row, changing only their undergarments daily. The village laundry is strict about allowing more than three changes of clothing a week, making exceptions for people who engage in very dirty work, such as the butcher.

While some people might only change their clothing once a week, Iskra is particular about changing as often as she can. She personally doesn’t like the way her clothing smells after a day or two, especially in winter, when everything smells smoky from the fires they use to heat their homes.

The village bath house only permits weekly bathing. Iskra is faithful about not missing her scheduled time, as she loves the feeling of the hot water. Once or twice during the week she will heat up some water at home to give herself a bit of a sponge bath, a practice her mother considers to be vanity and risking catching a cold, especially in the cooler months. Getting sick is a bigger threat than not being clean.

When Iskra meets the riskers, this is one little issue that surprises her. The riskers also have a common bath house, but people go whenever they want to, even if they want to go in the middle of the night. That people have the freedom to choose when they bathe is a novel idea for Iskra.

She was not bothered by the smell of stale sweat on people’s clothes, until she met the riskers. When she realized that she didn’t smell it when she was with them, it began to bother her. As did the fact that the riskers, for the most part, all owned enough clothing to change every day if they were so inclined.

This fact alone made her question the teaching that riskers were barbarians who lived like animals. The truth turned out to be quite the opposite.

Just answering this first question gave me some rich additions to the world of Tlefas. Next week, I’ll consider the second question:

A bird poops on her. How does she handle it?

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