It’s Wednesday, it’s time for a brand new Champion Post! I figured I’d kick off the new Worldbuilder’s Workout feature with the topic of Distance.
When you’re creating a fantasy world, one of the most important things you need to work out is how big it is. It’s no good creating a smorgasbord of countries and regions if, when you start writing, it only takes a few minutes for your characters to traverse them. Similarly, you don’t want to get to the climax of your story and then realise your protagonist needs to travel for six months before they can take on the bad guy.
So, here’s the big question. How do you work out distances?
First, you should work out what sort of size you want your world to be. Is it roughly the size of Earth? Is it smaller? Larger? Here are some rough measurements for our own world:
Circumference = 24900 miles / 40000 km
USA coast to cost = 2500 miles / 4000 km
UK north to south = 420 miles / 680 km
Once you’ve decided what size the world/landmass is, you need to choose a unit/units of measurement to be used by the inhabitants of your world. For my own story, I currently use leagues for distances traveled and a unit of hands for height. It feels satisfyingly medieval/old world and yet it still gives an accurate impression of distance and movement.
Here’s a few simple conversions for changing our modern measurements into archaic ones. If we look at the unit of one mile, the other measurements are:
Miles = 1
Kilometers = 1.6
Yards = 1760
Feet = 5280
Leagues = 0.3
Furlongs = 8
Link = 8000
Chain = 80
If you want to be really original, you can always create your own units of measurement. It might be a good idea to keep the calculations the same as one of the above, though, to make it easier for you.
Now that you have your world measured out and you know roughly how long it takes to go from A to B, you can go ahead and plan out how your characters will move around their environment.
I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post – let me know what you thought. Next time we do a Worldbuilder’s Workout, I think I’ll talk about transport, whether it’s on land, at sea or otherwise.