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Thread: World Building?

  1. #1
    Often misses his target BabySealWriter's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    South Mississippi

    World Building?

    I have been lurker on this forum for many weeks, but today decided to make an account. I have been working on two books, alternating between the two for the last few years. One science fiction, the other fantasy fiction. When I started writing The Self Righteous(Science fiction) I just started writing with only a basic outline of where I thought the story would go. Many wonderful characters, plot developments, etc. have stemmed from this but, I often find myself muddled down with inconsistencies in the timeline, plot, and universe in which it is set.

    On the flip side, for my fantasy I never actually planned on writing a book, I just started world building. Creating an immense backdrop of governments, races, wildlife, magic, etc. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time building, what I feel, is a living, breathing universe that any number of stories could take place in. Some neat story ideas have come to me but every time I start to lay them out, I veer right back into world building again. My question, who else writes like this, and is there a way to unify the two styles of writing without going overboard in either one? It could be possible though that I am now in "this is why everyone is not a writer" territory. Thanks and if I need to clarify further let me know and I will try.

  2. #2
    Your Pixie Queen Kerosene's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    There are many people who world build. And I am not one of them.
    I see a whole list of problems with building a world before you actually write the story.

    Now, what you have is one story you wrote and built the world as the story came out. The other has no story, but an established world ready for one. The first, you focused on a story and left out the world until it had to be brought up (I believe this is the smart choice). The second, you created a world, but with no story to use it for.

    It really depends on what you wish to do.

    What I do, is that I write and create as I go. When I need something, I create it and take note.
    And when the story is all finished, I go back and revise. I do say that the writer takes more time and effort in the revise, so to go back and add those details of your world to level it out is normal. In all cases, even if you have the established world, you'll go back and fill in the details.
    Don't Fear Failure.

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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Create the world as you need it. It's okay to spell out a few basics first, but in the end, you're telling a story. Focus on the characters and plot. You don't want to fall into the trap of including a bunch of information about your world that isn't really necessary.

  4. #4
    Mankind is my Business AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Walking the world
    Some of us do world build first. It allows one to create a space to tell stories in before we tell the stories.

    What I find works to reconile the two is to make the world, comprehend the problems in it then find or create the characters in the world to confront those problems.

    Context + Characters leads to stories.

    It's a perfectly valid method of story creation. It isn't everyone's merhod, but for those of us who use it, it works fine.
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  5. #5
    Can finally change his title TheBladeRoden's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    First I had the main character, then I made the immediate characters surrounding him, then I invented the national factions these characters are a part of, then I fleshed out the factions and their leaders even more. Now, the main character feels like the least interesting or developed part, and I'm left debating what to do with him.

  6. #6
    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Metropolitan District of Washington
    I think you've run into one of the problems that can result from world building (or research, for that matter). You're spending so much time learning every single thing about the world that your second story isn't getting written.

    The story is always more important for me. I write the story first and then revise to add the world building. But I also pants stories, so it would be very difficult for me to build a world when I didn't know what was going to happen in the story. One of the thing that scared me off fantasy for many years were these descriptions of writers doing lengthy world building prep with tons of notebooks and tabs. All I wanted to do was write the story.

    You'll have to come to some kind of middle ground so you don't spend all your time creating things you never use. Maybe since you outline, look at the outline, then build the things you know you need out of that and stop. Then make a list of additional things as you write that you can work on.
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  7. #7
    Moar Whine Little Anonymous Me's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    The Sixth Circle of Hell
    As someone who generally does massive amounts of world-building before beginning, I can understand your problem. It's easy to get wrapped up in cultures and such. In building your cultures, you're also building your conflicts. For every unique cultural quirk, write down how that would make an incident that could be plot-worthy. And set a cap on how much you really need to know. When it got to the point that I was writing an entire law code for my culture, I had to honestly admit that this was unnecessary on a large(ish) scale. (To an extent, I feel that, the more world-building you do, the more nuances you will be familiar with--the tiny details that really make a reader feel pulled in.)


    I have read many books with fabulous world-building, and there is absolutely no way to know if the author was a pantser or filled dozens of notebooks with details. It sounds as though you are using world-building as an excuse to not start a story that might not live up to your world, so I would advise a complete cease and desist in your case. The lovely thing about multiple drafts is that no one has to know about all the mistakes and cultural bloopers in the initial ones.
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  8. #8
    Often misses his target BabySealWriter's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    South Mississippi


    Anonymous, I think you hit the nail on the head with they way I feel, and thanks to everyone else for the input. Magical tale of fantasy and fun shall commence. Immediatley


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