Wednesday, May 11, 2011

World Building - My Story

This is the second post in my series about world building.

I haven't decided whether or not I like world building yet. I explained in my last post that I haven't been writing because I ran out of plot. And I ran out of plot because I didn't know how my world worked. You can't finish a book without knowing how things work. So, with the urging of my lovely critique partner, I sat down and started to build. This is what I did.

Place: First, I started with the place. I'm working on a fantasy novel set in a world after the fall of an empire. So I needed to figure out all my different countries. I started with names and who ruled them. Then I figured out the landscape and where the country was placed in my mental map. I also had to work out the climate and main industries. These details may never actually be published in a book, but I think they're important to know.

History: The next thing I needed to do was come up with a viable history. I knew I needed my empire to fall, but I had no idea how that would happen. Also, I knew that there had to be some sort of catastrophe that began the empire and helped form it. So I needed to figure out that as well.

Logistics: My world has magic and magic items that I needed to know how it worked. The rules of the world still need to be worked out a bit. Elements that are supernatural need special attention to make sure they fit seamlessly and naturally into the world that's created. I'm sad to say, I'm not quite there yet.

Backstory: One of the most overlooked parts of world building, in my opinion, is character backstory. While most people think this would be in character development, I think it's important in world building. If your characters have somehow affected the world, politically or physically, then it's important to add this into your overall world. I have a character whose decisions affect the world, so I needed to make sure it fit into the overall plan of my world. While character backstory is important for every character, it's not necessarily for world building. Keep that in mind.

Back story can be fun. And it can be tedious. I just started out with some knowledge and a notebook. Eventually I'll have to transcribe my notes into my scrivener file, but that's for another day.

I think the most important thing you need when world building is a determined attitude. You're going to have to make many decisions, so an indecisive mind is your worst enemy here. And I'm a pretty indecisive person when it comes to some things. But at the end of the day, it's well worth the work.

So, there's some ideas on how I've been going about world building. What do you guys do? Does everything come together for you, or do you need to sit down like I did and get all the details straight? Let me know.

And look forward to my next installment on Friday.

Write on, always.