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Thread: Teach your tricks.

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    Teach your tricks.

    With the wondrous writers in this sub, I was hoping to get a thread going where you teach your tricks you've learned over the years/novels you've written. I was thinking you can either ask for some tricks, tell some tricks you've learned, or even both.

    So I'll start, what are your tricks for world building in your novels?

  2. #2
    Mentoring Myself and Others Debbie V's Avatar
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    This is hard for me because I often leave out the sense of place and focus on dialog. But it's really about living in the world. For example, I have a floor plan of the house my MC lives in. Every scene has to fit with the floor plan. Otherwise the reader will become confused. I also have his school schedule and a calendar. This helps ensure I don't have math before lunch in chapter two and after it in chapter ten or mysteriously skip a week in June. So the trick is to document the details. It makes the world self consistent, no matter how exotic the world may be.

    Bonus tip: Show the reader what the reader needs to know when the reader needs to know it. This helps avoid the dreaded info dump, or worse, boredom.

  3. #3
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    I usually focus on dialog, too. It's a consequence of the way I run through each chapter.

    I don't really outline in the traditional sense; I write each chapter as bullet points, then fix the scene in a screenwriting program, which makes it dialog heavy and reduces most of the action to one or two line generalities. Then I write the chapter proper.




  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    What works for one may not work for others but I write scenes out of order. If a scene is harder to write, or I don't know what needs to go next, I don't let it stop my writing flow.

  5. #5
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    Cyia and Debbie could you elaborate on what you mean with your dialogue comment? You mean you worldbuild through the dialogue?

    So this kind of hit me when I watched Hell or High Water last weekend (phenomenal film, you should watch it) and many people probably know this but it became aware to me through the film. It had such a simple and basic plotline and it stayed consistent throughout, it never wavered. Stuff was piled on top of it to add layers of course but the central plot stayed the same. I never conciously thought about it but with my next novel I am going to consciously keep remembering: "okay, this is the basic plot, I can add things to it, but don't make the main plot/goal too complicated. Don't stuff it with stuff to make it more 'interesting' or different."

    So I don't outline at all which can make worldbuilding a tad hard for me. As I usually have a general idea and just write, out of order and color coding within chapters to know when scenes aren't necessarily together (like I have a beginning and I write the ending to that chapter and small parts in-between but it still needs to be connected) which tends to have me discover my characters are writing and my first draft is essentially a novel-length outline, which then leads to heavy editing. Because of this I have to figure out the world going through edits and from what I've read and learned the best way is through small stuff of course, things people eat, clothes, legends, etc.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW CheG's Avatar
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    My worldbuilding begins with the concept for the novel. I either have an idea for the world, the characters, or the story, and use that to build around. I don't do a ton of worldbuilding in advance, but I expand on what I have as it arises in the manuscript. Very often it's nearly subconscious. But the subconscious mind is always working and often comes up with amazing things you didn't know you knew about the world.

    Then I get feedback and work on it from there. Editing is where I work on consistency in the world.

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  7. #7
    Mentoring Myself and Others Debbie V's Avatar
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    Playground, no. I forget to world build altogether. The world is complete in my head but none of it hits the paper. I include some actions and the dialog. Think about scenes in a soap opera. Often, dialog--the interactions between the two or more characters--are what it's all about. The setting may not even matter. I used to do jigsaw puzzles while watching TV. I looked up whenever the dialog wasn't enough for me to figure out what was going on. (This was from my preteen years until I had kids.) I write what I would've heard. Then I have to go back and world build, make my maps and schedules, place the people in a setting that makes sense, add mood, etc.

    I usually have a beginning, a turning point and an end in mind when I start. I don't outline, but I do know where I'm going and that I have to hit certain spots at a certain beat in the story. It's kind of intuitive, but I push it on revision.

    Also, I have great critique partners. (And I post on two forums.) I need them to tell me when what's in my head in the scene (action and setting) hasn't hit the page. I would be nowhere without my crit groups. There is one person who is constantly saying things like, "Okay, this is good, but what room are they in." "Is the Dad there somewhere?" "Can you use an action to show the emotion?" You get the idea. See, I hear the whole conversation and tone of voice carries the emotion for me, but the reader ain't in my head. Words are necessary, sometimes, to show them how to read the lines.

    I hope that clarifies.

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I write short stories for kids. In my opinion, the known language is important, as well as action and talkingl. I also add a bit of diduction but not very much.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    World building is one of the most enjoyable parts for me. Not just the world building, but the entire plotting of a story. I use Scrivener lately to help me compile all of my thoughts in one place. I usually compile a few folders with documents within them to cover off the planning. For example, for my latest children's fantasy my planning folder consists of:

    Story Structure - which includes all book plots, story/series arcs, series plants and timelines
    World - which will include information about locations such as schools, governments, cities/countries. It will also include objects in the world, species (my story has different races) and spells (also a magic based story).
    Characters - I go over, in full detail, the protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters, families and minor characters
    Histories - If it's an extensive fantasy world, I usually write up some short stories to help with the backstory. My current book in progress features humans, elves, dwarves and goblins. Over the years they've been in conflicts, so I write up their histories as a short story.

    I might go into more detail than most, but I find that creating this level of granular level information allows me to truly flesh out my story. And so, when it comes to writing, I have far less to adjust in the end.

    Whenever I start a new story, I write down what these folders and text documents would be and create them. Then during the planning stage I begin to fill them in.

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