East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Riding the Leviathan

Leave a comment

So far I’ve had it easy – most of my fantasy is historical fantasy, after all, and the action takes place in historical settings or pretty close to them.
World-building means a good history reference book (or five) and a few pages of notes on what’s hiding in the cracks of what we consider historical.


I’ve worked like that on the Aculeo & Amunet stories (set in the Third Century AD), on my novel The Ministry of Thunder (set in 1936 China), and on my current Le Corsaire project (set in the Mediterranean area, in the 1950s).
And the Corsair stories are not even fantasy – they are action thrillers.
Yes, even on my science fiction novel, The Hunt for Tethys1, I did most of my worldbuilding on a handful of post-its.

But there’s other stuff on my table right now – a thing called A Desperate Fortune, which promises to be the first part of something larger, possibly called The Flying Brotherhood.
That is sort of an historical fantasy, but the historical bit stops in chapter 3.
Then it’s a whole new world.
And I need to detail that.

And as i was looking for something completely different, I stumbled upon a thing called The World-building Leviathan.
And I think I’ll give it a shot.


From what I’ve been able to find out, the Leviathan was developed by Kitty Chandler, of the website KittySpace.
You can find the whole thing here2.
What I found interesting, about this set of 52 questions that lead to the development of a whole world, is…

[…] this world-building creature requires that you have an outline. That process is built into the worksheet and you will need at least some kind of a coherent idea of the story you want to tell before you even begin. The rest, we’ll work on.

Which is quite good, because the idea is to build the world based on the outline and not vice-versa.
That’s close to the way I work normally.

But it gets better than that, because through the blog of Belinda Crawford, we can actually download files and templates for doing the Leviathan thing in Scrivener.
Nice and smooth.

Will it work?
Well, for starters, it’s a nice tool to play with instead of writing… ehm, but apart as a procrastination alibi, the Leviathan might help me build something coherent and re-usable and working as a secondary world.

Right now I’ve a full outline and roughly three chapters of my story – and quite a wad of notes about the world… and chapter three is where we reach the jumping point.
Looks like the Leviathan arrived on my desktop just in time.
And who knows, I might try and use it to flesh-out and organize my work on GreyWorld, too.
I’ll keep you posted.

  1. that you’ll probably see in the autumn, and we’ll talk about it then. 
  2. there’s a few other useful tools on KittySpace. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.