4 Tips to Solid, Consistent World Building
It’s Wednesday, so why not? A world-building post before the new year begins. I haven’t done one in a while. Mostly because I’ve gotten some interesting reactions from Shay while we work on the first several issues of Dragon Hoard Books.
And I’ve had a variety of people in the last decade ask some variant of the question, “What’s taking so long?”
Well… World-building is taking so long.
Seems in the writing world, most people start with a genre other than fantasy or science fiction (or some odd blend of both). I suppose I’m the odd one, then. I started with an odd blend of both, because I wanted to, and I could.
Problem is, you can’t just start writing a Dragonriders of Pern fanfiction and call it your own, or pick up a drow ranger, drop him in modern times, and say you built this story. The characters have to have a world to move in, to be part of, and most importantly, to call home. You know, a world where if a major fact of it changed, they’d freak out, scream apocalypse, and panic would ensue.
In short, it’s taken me ten years to get even close to finishing novel one, because I had to learn a few things.
Stuff Authors Do For World-Building
Solidify Your Idea. Okay, so you’ve got this great idea for some sort of dragon/dragon-slayer romance set in a far off galaxy with space aliens and star ships. Great! What aliens? What star ships? How many worlds? And don’t tell me it’s Star Wars with dragons and leave it at that. Because that’s not synergy, that’s fanfic.
Research, Research, Research. Raidon, Raidon, I’m writing fantasy. I don’t need RESEARCH… WRONG. Even fantasy needs research, or you end up doing silly things like, oh, I don’t know, turning a serious fantasy into a Terry Pratchett novel? Terry Pratchett is great! I love his stuff. However, his work is designed to never take itself or its genre seriously. You need to know how stuff like psychology and culture and physics work if you want to break them. At least the basics.
Build A Repository. I call mine the Encyclopedia Vermillion. It’s the Scrivener file that houses books on Vermillion cultures, races and their biology, language, geography, mythology and religions, hidden organizations, and all manner of other information, including a complete directory of character profiles. (Well, it will. I’m not QUITE there yet.)
I did this so I could keep the world consistent. After all, when you know there are at least ten novels on the same world you want to write, well, it helps to have something to keep you on track. Come to think of it, I should give it its own USB drive…
Learn to Live There. Yes, I do believe this is necessary, because I’m of the school of thought that thinks stuff like book covers should, I don’t know, fit the world? And that authors should be allowed to okay them. I SHOULD be able to look at a picture with the wrong color sunlight and wonder why it looks off. I should be able to see a picture of a member of one of my races and know whether it’s decently correct or not.
If I can’t, I don’t know my world very well.
In other news, I’m off to finish a bunch of stuff for said webcomic, including the Patreon, then plug some more things into the Encyclopedia. Enjoy your day. Try not to spend too much time mourning our dear Carrie Fisher.