After two weeks of tags I’m finally back with a worldbuilding post. I’m also promoting Pinterest again, because Pinterest is awesome and I use it for all sorts of writing-related things. (No, they didn’t pay me.)
I’m not sure Pinterest is really something most people consider when they think about worldbuilding tools, but it’s wonderful for that purpose anyway, particularly for visual people, so here’s a look at how I set up my Pinterest country boards.
This is my Eilis country board, and already you can see the sections I use. (Sections are one “recent” Pinterest update that I actually appreciate, unlike all the other “improvements” that just make Pinterest a bigger pain to use.) Wardrobe and Cuisine are pretty self-explanatory. Characters are not specific characters, in most cases, but they’re specific character banks I can draw on when creating Eilisian characters so they fit the culture and common appearance of Eilisian people.
Above are a couple sections of the undivided part of the country board. It’s basically the country’s aesthetic, consisting of textures, architecture, wardrobe and cuisine that isn’t specific enough to go in its respective section, flora and fauna, and some music from YouTube that I stumbled across and thought fit. There are also some aesthetic collages I found that fit. It’s just a mix of things that gives the feel and mood of the country.
Wardrobe is sectioned off partially because there’s a lot of it on most of my boards, partially because some of the images don’t fit the aesthetic style of the rest of the board, and partially so they’re easy to access for character boards later on. I sometimes have pins that go both in the “Wardrobe” section and in the aesthetic part of the board. This section could also come in handy when describing clothing in an actual story.
I’m really bad at developing cuisine on my own. I’m really uncreative with food. However, Pinterest has an excellent selection of recipes, which makes it a lot easier. On each of my Kersir country boards I searched for cuisine from whatever cultures the country was based on, or recipes using specific ingredients I knew grew in or near the countries in progress. In the case of Eilis, I knew they specialized in pastries and breads and lighter foods, so I started with pastries and added more as I searched for other countries and saw things that fit.
I have a pretty big character bank to draw from when it comes to Eilis. These are all character inspiration that I either searched specifically or pulled from my existing character banks. Some look like they belong in Eilis due to obvious magic powers (Eilis is the only country in Kersir that uses natural magic openly), some have a haughty look that fits Eilis to a T, some just have the right coloring to be Eilisian. When I need Eilisian characters for the novellas taking place in Kersir, this is my first stop.
This section isn’t as necessary when you have someplace more similar to, say, the US as far as population goes and you can have a character of just about any ethnicity you want. In the case of those countries (like most of my Aleruus countries) the characters section are more collections of existing characters who are important figures in the country (royalty, famous opposition, notorious criminals, etc.) rather than character banks.
How do you find pins to populate your country boards? In the case of my Kersir boards I’ve searched for things like “Arabian aesthetic,” “Fig recipes,” “Desert fantasy characters,” “Ancient Rome aesthetic,” etc. Tacking “aesthetic” on the end of something can be a great help in finding country board pins.
With my Aleruus boards, which aren’t based on existing or previously-existing cultures, I tend to have a few key details for them that I build off of. With The Hylands those were forests, archers, and green. I searched for things like “Forest aesthetic,” “Green aesthetic,” “Fantasy hunter aesthetic,” “Green fantasy fashion,” “Archer clothing,” etc. With Remera it was learning, books, and maroon, and I built my searches similarly. Once you’ve started, the searches will generally generate more ideas and it’ll just keep building on itself.
Have fun falling down the black hole of Pinterest searches and don’t forget to actually write the story in the world you’re creating. ;) (I know how this works. There’s no coming back.)
Had you thought to use Pinterest for country boards? If so, how do your organize yours? What’s been your coolest worldbuilding discovery?