@LordOfLA, thank you for sharing those videos! The one on Skyrim’s magic was entertaining and thoughtful, and I’m currently watching one of Sanderson’s lectures a day. (They’re extraordinarily useful! It’s fantastic that the concerned university agreed to post them online.)
World building is one of my favourite aspects of writing fantasy. I haven’t been focusing on it as much as other aspects of my writing/planning lately, so this thread is a welcome reminder. It got me thinking about ways you can check for continuity gaps, so I figured I’d share an idea here to help bolster discussion.
Suppose a story is set in our present world. There are already innumerable factors to take into account, but at least we can do research and discover consequences that are real. When Golden Sun: The Lost Age shows animals dying and people losing their livelihoods as the result of an ocean warming, we know this is plausible, because it’s actually happening. When we create our own worlds, however, we don’t always have the luxury of looking up what the effect of X on Y would be. We need to make an educated guess.
To that end, I’ve made a broad — and I mean broad — list of factors to consider with respect to the impact of your decisions. My advice would be to do this for anything you do. If you kill a pack of wolves, it’ll have a consequence. If you escort a diplomat safely to their destination, it’ll have a consequence. If you discover an ancient totem that can control a brass colossus and decide to give it to an interested party, it’ll have a consequence. By evaluating every choice you make this way, you’ll miss fewer consequences than you would have otherwise.
I recommend considering consequences first in terms of individuals, then communities, and then populations.
I would start at the top and then move down, as I tried to structure the list using a very basic hierarchy. If anyone wants me to elaborate, I’d be happy to! Just be specific in your question, since I could go on forever.