Posts Tagged ‘World Building’

As you know I have been nose deep in world building work for my novel.  I’ve been researching biomes, trees, plants, animals, animals that eat the other animals, rivers, the critters in the rivers – well you get the idea.  World Building is a ton of fun and the more you get into it, the more you’re world comes alive.  It becomes this living and breathing place that exists completely on its own and independent of the story.  I saw my world coming together and the more I got into it, the more engrossed I was in my world.

Though I made excellent progress, I think I got carried away.   I lost sight of my main character.

I read this excellent blog post  on Anna Staniszewski’s Blog about world building through your character and it’s just confirmed what my writing partners hipped me too – you can do all the elaborate tree naming and fruit creating in the world but you can’t forget the person who has to navigate through it.  I got so wrapped up in creating my world that I completely forgot about my main character Damaris.  Even worse, I was overwhelming myself with so many details, not discerning first what was necessary to flesh out and what wasn’t.

So how do you keep from falling into this trap and make your world building more effective?  It all starts with a really simple exercise of free writing.

Take your main character and take him/her through your main city/forest/town/village.  While your character is “talking” to you via first POV keep the following questions in mind:

·         What is the very first thing he notices?

·         What does she smell?  Does it remind her of anything familiar or stir up a memory she would rather not remember?

·         What would he most likely want to buy in the market place?

·         Would she be caught dead in the tavern?

·         What does he think of the common people?  Does he feel at home or are they beneath him?

·         What are some things he has never seen before?  Strange aliens?  Exotic fruits?  Or even centaurs?  How does he react?

·         What does she hate most about this forest?  Too many trees?  Too many bugs?

·         What was the most memorable part of her trip?

I learned so much about my character when I wrote about her visiting the city of Ophira for the first time.  I learned about her favorite places, what she has never seen before, and those places she would rather not go.  Taking that information I was able to tailor my world building to my character’s experiences, using her as a guide to what’s important in my world.

How about you?  How has your main character help your world building?

Photo courtesy of:  gossamerstrands.com

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After my weekly meeting with my publishing team/business partners over at Visual Adjectives, I received a very hard lesson in world building – a lesson that is practically making me start from scratch.

You see at my first world building go around, I delved into the social histories, came up with some noteworthy customs, and covered things like climate, vegetation, and animal life.  I had a ton of fun, thinking of things on a whim and taking real world things and twisting them to my own fancy.  My work began on the ground, so to speak, starting with my hand drawn map and taking a region at a time.  I spent about a good two weeks on my research and then went back to my novel , tailoring it to my findings.

That was a few months ago.  Now numerous meetings and a professional editor review later I’m told that my story is great but my world needs work.   After going through my friend SM Lawrence’s epic fantasy novel series the Endaeria Chronicles that is so detailed I’m almost intimidated, I had to agree.  She covered things I hadn’t even thought about and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made my novel go under the serious re-constructive surgery I’ve been putting it through this past month.  It hit me that I wasn’t as far along with this story as I thought I was and my deadline of having the professional editors have my entire manuscript in their hands by next month was clearly out the window.

My pity part didn’t last too long though because my team came to my rescue.  We started from the very top – the planet.   When you think of your world, especially if it remotely resembles Earth, you have to think about your planet’s relation to the sun,moon (or moons in my case), and in what geographical biomes your continents exist in.  For instance, my planet Epsilon has three moons which are relatively the same size.  Having three moons means that the tide changes along the coastlines will change more frequently, which affects the way of life of my coastal cities.  My main city Epsilon is located very far from the planet’s equator, so that place has to be very cold, almost tundra like (so there goes my scenes of lush green grass, tropical fruits, and Romanesque dresses!)

Yes, I did take the easy way out when it came to my world building, placing everything neatly into what I wanted it to be.  The way I had, though, didn’t make any sense, especially to those die hard fantasy and sci-fi fans that would probably tear me apart if I left the world how it was!

So the moral of the story – when you begin to build your fantasy/sci fi world, start from the very top of your planet by asking yourself these few questions:

  1.  How many suns and/or moons are there?  Where are they in relation to your planet?
  2. Where is your equator line?  What land mass does it cut through?
  3. Your continent(s) position in relation to that line will determine its biome.  What type of climate does each region of your world have?

By taking the time out to answer these few simple questions, I was already on my way to a more believable fantasy world by providing real world anchors my readers can relate to! 

The next step is filling out your World Building Table of Contents, which my friend Ms. Lawrence lays out brilliantly in her blog post today!

Have any of you writers experience some world building hard knocks like I just did?