Vacation-Inspired World-Building Tips

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Okay, this post is a little late. It’s been almost three weeks since I returned from the vacation that inspired the idea for this post, but, as I wrote last week, sometimes life gets in the way.

This trip was my first-ever tropical vacation, and I was surprised by some of differences I discovered while I was there. They were all small things, but it’s the little details which can make or break your world-building, so I thought I’d share them with you for future writing use.

  1. The sounds: For the first few days I was convinced the hotel was playing a recording of birdsong as a gimmick. Of course it turned out to be real, live, wild birds serenading us each morning. And the roar of the ocean fooled us into thinking there was a thunderstorm coming more than once.
  2.  The food: Obviously I expected the food to be different, and it was. There were lots of delicious, new-to-me rice and bean dishes, as well as new vegetable recipes, and soups. But it was the variations on standard things that surprised me. For instance, a chocolate cake that I thought was Black Forest, but which had an apple filling, instead of cherry. Or just the fact that sweet potatoes are white, pink-colored desserts (jams, jellies, ice cream, etc) are banana-flavored (gak!), yogurts only come in tropical fruit flavors, and milk is served hot for coffee, but never cold to drink (unless you’re mixing it with alcohol).
  3.  The lack of walls:  Our room had A/C, but the hotel lobbies and the restaurants were all open air, relying (quite effectively) on fans and a cross breeze to keep them cool.
  4. The wildlife: I’ve already mentioned the beautifully-voiced birds (some of which had the habit of sampling from the booze bottles at the bars), but there were also lizards, crabs, hermit crabs, and tarantulas (seen my uncle-in-law, not me – or I wouldn’t have slept the entire trip!) wandering freely throughout the hotel.
So there you have it, four small details I wouldn’t have realized were different, if I had experienced them for myself. Which goes to show why you should always do your research.
What about you? What little world-building details have you included in your writing? Tell me about it in the comments.
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