Friday, August 1, 2014

Charting Your Novel's Stars, a world-building activity

My book, The Unraveler, tells a story from a world that I've been building for many years. I like to go beyond the words on the page and explore the lore and history that surrounds my stories. As such, I know things that might not ever make it into the prose of my novels, such as all of the year's holidays, who the top 10 musicians are, and who runs the local businesses.

One exploration I've been working on recently is constellations. My novel is set on normal Earth, but in a society that no longer remembers what we today might think of as constellations. They see their own. For example, instead of the Big Dipper, they see Mobion's Horn.

If my mind was wiped of all the old constellations, what would I see painted in the stars? What would the people within my book see?

These questions I wondered, so I went outside and looked. What I saw was mostly blackness, though. I live in a populated area, and the night sky is too polluted with light to see many stars.

So, instead I Googled star charts, and I found this one. It was created by Mads Holgersen, who runs this awesome website: I got his permission to show an edited version of his star map on my blog. In this new version, I deleted all of his old constellations and made a blank chart, then filled it in with my own:

The Unraveler's Star Chart

It's not completed, by any means, but it shows what I'm getting at. Since ancient times, people have looked to the stars and wondered what shapes they make. They looked for signs, for prophesies. In a way, the culture of society shapes the way people form constellations. Every society could see something different, depending on what is relevant to them. It was a fun writing exercise, anyway. It made me think about what my book's culture would deem important enough to find in the stars.

What do you see?

btw, this is my 50th post! Woot-woot!

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