I’m in heavy-duty brainstorming and development mode now, where the world is really taking shape in my head, and I’m questioning my earlier plans and assumptions about it.
I haven’t written too much “secondary world” fantasy — where the story (or parts of it) take place in another world rather than in the “real” world — so it’s kind of fun to really get to play, but I also have to learn to forget my instincts to make everything align with the real world. I can base my world on a particular era in history, but I’m then allowed to deviate from that. If I like the women’s clothes of an era but not the headgear or hairstyles, I can change it. That was my big lightbulb moment when I got an idea over the weekend and then was looking it up and found that there were some things about the era I was looking at that I didn’t like. I could change it because I’m not writing about England during that era. I’m writing about an entirely different world that has some elements that are kind of like England in that era, but it’s still a different place.
Also, looking at pictures of 19th century fashions late at night after a day in which you ate horribly and didn’t exercise can lead to horrible nightmares about putting on a dress, looking in the mirror, and then realizing that you’ve got one of those massive mid-1880s bustles, only you aren’t wearing any of those frames. I guess it’s time to get back into walking daily.
I’m getting some wonderful mental images of my world, but now I wish I had some kind of artistic or photoshop skills to be able to depict it visually. Then again, not having a reference picture will force me to come up with ways to describe it.