3 Reasons To Use Crop Circles to Build Worlds – Weekly Wonder #11

Crop CirclesI’ve always wanted to find a crop circle. I mean, realistically I’d find it, do a flappy hand jig, then pause and have a horrible “oh” moment as I realise I’d have to be in the air to actually appreciate. But still. It’s on my bucket list.

They’re works of art, whether they’re made from the hand of a human or from the oddly artistic feet of an alien space craft, there’s no doubt they still look awesome.

But what is the significance of them? Why do they cause such controversy? and why the shit is it relevant to my writing?

Crop circles are flattened pieces of field usually pressed into artistic patterns which viewed from the air, look spectacular. They have been around for donkeys but didn’t hit the conspiracy market till the late 60’s after a series of hoax circles were created. These hoax circles were inspired by the ‘real’ crop circle formed in a field in Tully Australia after a guy witnessed a UFO and then found a crop circle.

Image curtsey of google

Image curtsey of google

The popularity of them boomed causing a gaggle of crop circle spotters dressed in finely tailored anoraks to shoot sightings through the roof. Sadly there’s no doubt that because of the JK Rowling like boom, many of the circles were hoaxes. Crop circles actually became so popular, they launched a crop circle competition with a £3000 prize for the best artist!

The top causes for conspiracy around crop circles are as follows:

1. The locations. Most crop circles in the UK appear near Stonehenge in Wiltshire an historical site known for its huge stones and inexplicable construction.

Image taken from CosmicWakenings video found here on YouTube

Image taken from CosmicWakenings video found here on YouTube

2. Some of them have electromagnetic readings that shoot through the roof. The suggestion is that the poles and magnetism are in part the cause of the shapes.

3. Supposedly some of them the crops aren’t flattened, but have accelerated growth which shapes the crops. (see photo)

If you want to visit a crop circle, I found this handy little UK website, and this little doll of a US site both of which list crop circles locations and accessibility rights.

Image curtsey of google

Image curtsey of google

If you fancy looking at some mind bogglingly impressive crop circles check out these 10 crop circle images that can be found on google

There’s no shortage of peculiar stories that surround crop circles too. Like this gem I found in the Telegraph or this woman who actually shot a photo of a UFO above a crop.

But why is any of this relevant, and what’s it got to do with writing?

Crop Circles & WorldBuilding

1. Distances and Feel

Image taken from google and Messy Nessy website

Kowloon Walled City Replica – Japan Image taken from google and Messy Nessy website

One of the things I can’t cope without when world building is having a tangible concept of what the city or location looks like. I’m visual. I need pictures and a layout, a map if you like.

Something my spatially inept brain can use to point at with fat digits, slap at a calculator to figure out travel times and distances. But also because I want to ‘feel’ what the city is like. Is it sprawling and wide like Los Angeles? or is it densely packed and suffocating like Kowloon Walled City?

I had to find inspiration and the bog standard city maps weren’t cutting the mustard. After all this was a fantasy location.

2. Fantasy vs. Reality

Palmanova - Image taken from google and this website

Palmanova – Image taken from google and this website

Although I needed something that was fantastical in nature, I also wanted it to be realistic. I write YA/NA and for me, grounding my plots in reality is important. So I studied crop circle shapes and discovered that there really are cities built in crazy ways, some of which reflect crop circle shapes. Take Palmanova in Italy as an example (photo on the left).

*insert my best moronic, jaw on the floor face.*

There are dozens more examples, like Palm island in Dubai. The point is this gave me something to go off. I used these cities and crop circle shapes as a springboard to creating my own maps.

3. Drawing and Mapping

So I had a go. I started with this cruddy biro drawing inspired by the patterns and layouts of the crop circles and oddly shaped cities. I know… it’s worse than a mouldy flea infested shit, but it was a first attempt!


The Netherworld Initial Sketch © Sacha Black 2015. All rights reserved

Then I had another go, and moved it closer to reality. I inserted a compass, islands and boundary lines. This gave me the initial shape of the world. It’s a well loved bit of paper, hence all the creases. It’s not finished either. I still need to add each sectors’ cities, but for now, it’s enough. I know where the cities are in each section and I can visual the distances.

The Netherworld Map © Sacha Black 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The Netherworld Map © Sacha Black 2015. All Rights Reserved.

For the city constructs themselves and the buildings I am using a couple of Pinterest boards to pull relevant images and a mood board together. If you’re interested you can follow me here. Or join my group board for writers’ blog posts here.

So, how do you build cities or locations? What do you need when constructing places? Do you draw maps? Let me know in the comments.

Finally, if you’re interested I found a longer video on YouTube that talks about crop circles and the desert Nasca lines, it’s 50 minutes.

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  1. I need visual aids as well either through memories or through photos found on internet. Crop circles are amazing still not sure of why or what they are but love them. I wouldn`t go to one at night tho, just in case I got lost on another world. My quote that has got me through life and one my daughter now quotes is, “A little bit of paranoia could safe your life.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ha, that’s true, just a pinch of it and it will keep you safe! Also keeps you questioning things! Not sure I’d visit one either. Although in that longer video I posted two guys were filming a field at night and the circle appeared in 7 minutes! that was enough to freak me out!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true. I read a lot about farmers who had suffered as a consequence. But I also read about a whole bunch of other farmers who capitalised on it, and some of them made in excess of £30,000 from visitors. I don’t think they would complain about that. I wouldn’t anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the hoaxes were made by farmers for that reason. I am surrounded by cattle farms here and it seems to me that farmers are far wealthier than anyone else! It has to be said, though, they work bloody hard and do stuff the rest of us would not be prepared to do! I love getting held up by a herd of cattle or flock of sheep on some country road. Hate getting stuck behind a tractor though! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen the Nazca lines. They are huge and incredible, and you really cannot see them from the ground. I haven’t seen a crop circle. But I’ve stood in ancient circular sites, most recently Tlachtga, and the energy gave me a head ache.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot u have been to the Nazca lines, SO jealous 😀 <3. I remember you saying about the energy at that place. I reckon there is definitely something to the circle thing, although what I have no idea.


  3. I’ve never thought about using crop circles as part of my world building. I’ve always associated it with aliens and since I don’t use aliens in my novels…
    This is something to think about. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah ha, well actually I haven’t ever written an alien story either I don’t think. But I do see patterns and connections in everything and sometimes two things you would never relate end up sparking ideas 😊😊


  4. Very interesting, Sacha. I find this topic fascinating. Loved that Mel Gibson movie, “Signs”. I agree with you about map drawing. I think it’s important for the writer, and also for the reader. Thanks for linking to your pinterest board. I’m impressed. I’m pinterest clueless. So much to learn and so little time! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, I saw that film and thought it was wicked too 😀 I saw your pinterest follow – thanks have followed you back and invited you to a group board too. I love pinterest because I am so visual. I made mood boards before pinterest so I guess its just a natural evolution. I hope you get on with it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Sacha. I appreciate your following me on Pinterest and I accepted your invitation to join the group. I’m not really sure what contribution I can make though. I will endeavour to work it out, in time. Hopefully before it is superseded! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 😀 some of them are so intricate and stunning that it just seemed to make sense. So cool that you are writing about one in a story. I haven’t ever included one. But then I am more fantasy than Sci-Fi. I must write more sci-fi though I love it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marvelously unique idea. It’s impressive how you connected crop circles to your work. This has really given me a new perspective from which to approach writing. I have fairly good spacial skills and have been simply picturing a certain city or town in my head and would keep it all mental. But being inspired by the interesting designs of crop circles (for example) and actually putting it on paper has really broadened my horizon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You almost have to treat your creation of a city almost as if you are creating a character. Was it established before or after wheeled/carted transportation? If before (or established during times of unrest when numbers equalled safety), then the buildings tend to be clumped together however they best fit into the natural landscape and also tend to be built up around a waterway. If they were established later, then they tend to have straighter roads laid out in a grid-like (or at least staight and even) pattern making government provided services such as door to door mail delivery easy to execute.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right Allie. If you want to world build properly then it is a matter of giving it as much attention as a character. I have seen a few good blog posts with lots of questions you can answer in order to fully develop your world.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m intrigued by crop circles too – there are too much that is unexplained about them not to be 🙂 As for world building, I’m working on a map of Ambeth – I know where everything is in my head, but I’d like to get it down on paper.

    Your map looks really cool – I might have to get the compass out to do mine as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are a lot of unexplained things it’s frustrating I wish if there are explanations that whoevers keeping them quiet just releases them. Seriously 21st century and all!

      Oooh map of Ambeth is cool 😊 let me know how it goes I found it REALLY hard, and I’ve scanned that pencil one in and had it printed dozens of times so I can make a mess of practice copies! Googled compasses on Pinterest.

      ps got ur email, yay, thank you will reply tomorrow x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’m finding it really difficult too – making multiple copies is a good idea! I can see it so clearly in my head, but when I put it on paper I can’t get the angle of the Palace right in relation to everything else! Will keep on pushing on…
        And glad you got my email – yay!x

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think they are stunning too. some of them are man made as there were people discovered to have done them but I suspect you are right about their complexity and that the ones which are inexplicable weren’t done by people.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No way. SO SO SO jealous you have seen one. was it a real one or a hoax one? what was it like? was there any weird energy or anything? p.s. thanks, its not that good! its not even finished! lol


      1. It IS that good. #SorryNotSorry I can’t draw a straight line.

        Yes, it was supposedly “authentic” and was in… Ugh… Southern England or Wales. ? I don’t remember. I’ll see if I can find a pic but it was pre-digital times. 😜

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve actually visited a crop circle and it was awesome. Made all the hairs on the back of my hands stand up and I also felt the temperature drop. We were allowed to lay down and look up at the sky. Some said they heard voices while in there but I didn’t hear anything.
    Never associated them with drawing maps but then none of my short stories have really been in need of one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NO freaking way?? Aaaargh SO jealous. I really want to visit one. Not surprised you got hairs on your arms. I think the ones that are ‘real’ are spectacular and definitely have weird energy, but I find it a bit of a shame there are so many hoaxes, even if they are beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post, Sacha. Isn’t it cool that of all the different ways that aliens could let us know they exist, they chose ART! That is an advanced culture. I can stare at crop circles for hours.

    I draw maps right from the start and purchased a cartographer program to create maps for my books. Brandon Sanderson says that setting/world should be treated like a character and is worth the attention to detail. It has a history, an emotional tenor, a physical presence, good and bad qualities. Place will impact character behavior, decisions, and plot. This stuff is fascinating, isn’t it?


    1. Aloha, thank you <3. Now, if it's true, and they did choose art. WELL what a choice, doesn't that say so much about them and also us and the fact we can't accept their choices.

      I think I vaguely remember you having said once before you use a programme. Whats it like? Are they realistic or ancient looking?

      Allie has also said that too: that we need to treat our worlds like characters. I think it's absolutely right. When I look at the notes and scrap books and mood boards I think I probably spent MORE time on the world building than anything else. For me, it is fundamental. Like THE fundamental bit. With a setting then comes the story. It might just be a picture that inspires me or an entire world I have constructed in my head, but if I can't get the location right nothing else works. I wonder if thats the case more often for fantasy writers than anyone else?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😀 I know, it’s probably a bit much to be fair, its a distraction to say the least. But I find it addictive. BUT I MUST finish my manuscript! :p Thanks for stopping in 😀


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