Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, by Richard C. White
This book stands right on the line between my usual, fantastical, fictional fare, and that which I avoid like the plague. The reason for this is because it's nonfiction. I am very wary of nonfiction, I judge 'true stories' rather harshly because to me, the whole point of a story is to complete the impossible, to achieve the unattainable. However, Richard C. White did just that with this book.
(Fair warning, there weren't many feelz to be felt in this book, so I shall forego that part of the review.)
Terra Incognito is about more than the truth, it's about how to make better fiction, it's a world-building guide for fantasy novelists. And, if I do say so myself, it's a must-read for any aspiring fantastical author. Richard takes you through each and every necessary (and some optional, but highly recommended) step to creating a world worthy of your story. With illustrations, vignettes, and exquisite detail, Terra Incognito is just the inspiration you need to learn about and then make a world of your own.
I will say this against the book, though, it's almost, almost too detailed. Richard does not spare his reader from any aspect of the world-building process. For a first-time world-builder (which I am not) I expect this is helpful, a good example. And that is the only fault I found with Terra Incognito.
This book is like a textbook, a how-to. You don't need to read all of it at once, as I did, but it can't hurt if you do. I would recommend the chapters on Resources and Economy as enough by themselves to buy this book, and when you finish them you'll read the rest just because. I learned a lot! And Richard made learning it all fun and engaging, his vignettes to depict the vary aspects of world-building he was describing were most entertaining, even if the Main Character is unnamed. :(
This is a book built on what felt like, and I am almost completely certain was, a great deal of research and experience. Richard C. White is no young whipper-snapper, teenaged, know-it-all charlatan. He knows his shit, and this shit is a plot-bunny aphrodisiac! :D
I am exceedingly glad to have read Terra Incognito, it will serve me well in my world-building to-come.
Richard C. White's links: