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World Building Wednesday: The Cataclysm

Tweet of the Day: Alexios & Elysia #13


What puts the THE in THE EVENT.

When authors want have an established event, especially in speculative fiction, they don’t want to go half-way. Go big or go home is the only way to go.

Enter the Cataclysm.

I first encountered this phenomenon (aptly named, you guessed it, The Cataclysm) in the Dragonlance novels. In that series the establishing event comes when the gods get feed up with mortals (really one arrogant Priest King to be exact, but they over did it a bit) and threw a mountain on his capital. The city when to hell (literally) and the resulting fireball/tectonic event reshaped an entire continent (at least). Most modern versions go with fire, but the classics (Greeks, Babylonian and Hebrew) like their floods as well. And even the universe likes to sling around big rocks.

Just ask the dinosaurs.

Wait, you can’t.


A common mistake that many writers commit is that while they do fine in the big kaboom department, they either underplay or overplay the effects of the catastrophe.  Either it turns out to be a minor inconvenience (just a major remodeling of the landscape) or is “rock falls everyone dies” kind of thing. Whatever poison you drip over your creation to turn it over, you should really check how it works. Remember that this is a world/universe shaping event. Treat it accordingly.



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