See, I want to do it right. I could just write it, you know? Have it set in some kinda generic (translation: Tolkein) world. Then right the next one. And the next. Etc. I've got several in this overall story that I want to do, but . . . I really, really don't want to mimic Tolkein. Lots of writers have already done that. Many have done it well. I'm just tired of it. That's part of the allure of a good fantasy book, to me - what new and different universe has this author created?
It seems like that for many writers, the world building stuff is really more work than the actual writing of the novel. I heard from a friend that Robert Jordan worked on the Eye of the World stuff for twenty years before he sat down to write. He had filing cabinets of notes. I enjoy the world-building. I really get a kick out of it and thought that I could sit down, flesh out some of the ideas I've had pretty much my entire life, and dive right in.
But no. I soon realized that building the world was going to take a lot more work. I needed to come up with cultures, for one. What are the cultures indigenous to this region of my world? Where did they come from? How do they relate to and interact with other cultures in the world.
Faith. What religions are there? What is the basis for any given religion? Where is it practiced? Does it conflict with any other religion? Is it just some silly superstition?
Governments. Come up with laws and structures and all that entails for your world. And not just one manner of government. No no. You need multiple kingdoms. And each of these is influenced by all of the faiths and cultures we talked about before.
Now, let's just say you get to the point where you have ALL of that figured out. Good. Now jump back a few hundred years in your world's history and figure out where all of these cultures, faiths, governments, etc were then. You want your world to feel lived in, right? Of course you do, so . . . you've got to create a history, not just a now.
So I have tons of books that I'm drawing on for research, books with names like:
The Worldwide History of Warfare
The Complete Book of Devils and Demons
Buckland's Guide to Witchcraft
And on and on.
But in the mean time, I have other books I need to be writing. As tempting as it is to just spend all of my time working on this fantasy world, I got shit to do. So every now and then, I'll indulge myself in research and brainstorming and building histories of bizarre religious sects on an island in a world that never existed. Yep. Big time nerd.