Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding

Since this month is all about writing, I decided to have the order of my topics this month follow my writing process. Up first we have Worldbuilding.

This will vary quite a bit depending on the genre you’re writing within. For example, if you’re writing something that’s set in a realistic setting, this phase will be more about research than creation. If you’re writing Mystery or Suspense, maybe you need to do some research on law enforcement for example. If you’re writing historical fiction, you’ll need to research that time period–not just the big events, but information on diurnal reality for the time period.

If you’re building a world of your own, there will likely still be a bit of research to do. We all want to create something new and original, but it also pays to know about all that came before you. Find out what you think works in the genre and what doesn’t. For me, this meant looking at lore on werewolves and vampires and other supernatural things before deciding on how to construct my world for The Numinous Chronicles.

A simple google search will give you several lists of tips or questions to ask yourself when you’re world building. One that you will see referenced time and time again is by Fantasy author Patricia C. Wrede, found here on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of American website.

In the end, there are no hard and fast rules here. It doesn’t matter what list you choose and not all the questions on a list may apply to your world. The main point of these lists is to get you thinking and–maybe–make you think about things you hadn’t even considered.

Your goal here is to get as much of it outlined and out of your head as possible. It doesn’t need to be pretty because this is just for you. Making decisions about your world now will do a couple of things for you as you write:

  1. Keep writing without interruptions. Have you ever been writing a scene and then then think “oh crap, I don’t know how this is supposed to work!” and then you stop to research/plan/decide how it works, losing yourself for hours until the scene you were so eagerly writing is completely forgotten?
  2. Stay Consistent. Having a cheat sheet or guide will give you something to reference later. For example, let’s say that you’re writing about magic and you’ve decided that different types of magic will give off different colored auras. Make yourself a list of the colors and what they mean so you can describe them the same way each time.
  3. Avoid magic/tech of convenience. Having your world and its mechanics clearly defined will hold you accountable as well. You know that feeling when you’re reading or watching something and exactly what a character solves a difficult problem really easily and you can’t help thinking “well, that was convenient” but then you don’t really believe it at all? You don’t want to do it. Instead, plant the seed early. Give your readers subtle references to the tech or magic that will save your character later–make it a part of the world so they can understand and believe it later. J.K. Rowling is amazing at this; everything the heroes needed was in some way learned along the way for all to see.

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