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Writer's Corner > World building

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message 1: by A.L. (new)


message 2: by Alexes (new)

Alexes | 15 comments Interesting article. Funny, I think of it less as "world-building" and more as assuming a world that already exists and staying true to its rules. The end result is the same, I suppose.


message 3: by K.M. (new)

K.M. Johnson-Weider (johnsonweider) | 11 comments You know, and this comes from decades of roleplaying before turning to writing, I think that consistency is a good foundation for world building but great world building embraces a little messiness. The real world is full of inconsistencies and oddities. A lot of scifi and fantasy have worlds that are far too structured, too tidy. Seven of this, five of that, balance between dark and like, etc. It's good stuff, but a little messiness makes it more substantive.

The standard for good world building whether its a roleplaying game, book, movie, whatever is that sense you get that there is more to the setting then what you are experiencing. We've all read books that feel like there is nothing in the setting beyond a few feet around the protagonist. Then there's other books that make you feel like you're only experiencing part of this vast, awesome world. I can guarantee with the latter, which is what you want there is a degree of messiness, randomness that captures reality.

You can have a timeline, a government, culture, cuisine, and all this stuff for a setting, but if it's all logical and sensible then it fails. That's the trick to have the rules, information, and the like yet make it a messy, make it feel organic like a culture that really developed nothing something a write just theoretically conjured.

Rambling on, recovering from cold so apologies. :)


message 4: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1013 comments Yes I think writing RPG adventures helped me.


message 5: by A.K. (new)

A.K. (akbutler) | 43 comments Alexes wrote: "Interesting article. Funny, I think of it less as "world-building" and more as assuming a world that already exists and staying true to its rules. The end result is the same, I suppose."

This was fantastic, and so true. I think infodumps are the (very annoying) exact opposite of what you're talking about here. It's like sitting down to play a new board game, but before you can start, you have to read the rules to everyone. I vastly prefer calvin ball. It feels more organic, genuine. If you've got a truly masterfully built world (I'm not claiming to have one, I'm thinking specifically of Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling right now) a random sentence or two thrown in every few chapters will lend much more credibility than if you understand everything about the world by the end of Chapter 2. When there are still new surprises about the world in Chapters 12 and 13, and even still things you don't quite know after the world ends (Silmarillion, Harry Potter Encyclopedia, The Magician's Nephew) it lends even more credibility, more feeling that this world is bigger than you. Because the world SHOULD be bigger than you, bigger than a book, to be epic. Anyway. Just wanted to say - spot on. I think you've made a fantastic point, thanks. :)


message 6: by Frank (new)

Frank Hofer A.K. wrote: "a random sentence or two thrown in every few chapters will lend much more credibility than if you understand everything about the world by the end of Chapter 2..."

I think we did this somewhat by accident in our book. We knew the three basic plot lines, but we were actually learning about our world as we wrote it. Sure, we had to go back and fix some things for consistency, but it was fun to explore our world as we were writing it.


message 7: by A.K. (new)

A.K. (akbutler) | 43 comments Frank wrote: " it was fun to explore our world as we were writing it. "

That is the absolute best feeling in the entire world. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It was a 30 minute drive through dirt roads to get to their little house, and trees canopied the drive. My dad would regale us with (surprisingly, true) stories of animals that had escaped from the local circus when he was a kid, elephants and tigers roaming free through the very woods we were driving. We'd inevitably be traveling at night, and me and my siblings would spend the thirty minutes huddled in the backseat of the car, watching the world pass, flinching at every tiny spark that might be the eye of some gargantuan beast, feeling terrified but at the same time perfectly safe inside our car. I still remember it as one of the best feelings ever. It's why I love scary movies now - fear, surrounded by total safety.

That's what it feels like to build a new world. You're wandering through this place, and honestly anything could spring up at any time (most of the plot twists in my novel were surprises to me), and though you're physically safe, sitting in bed with the glow of a laptop screen on your fingers as you type, it's still terrifying and new and exhilarating and wonderful. Ahhh, nostalgia. Writing is fun.


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