Friday, September 14, 2012

Building A Real World part 2

When I begin my world building process, it’s hard to know where to start. There’s just so much that needs created to make the world feel real. I’m sure every writer has felt like this at one point. The best advice I can give is to start where you’re most comfortable.

Here is a quick set of areas needed for a world to feel real.

1.    Characters.

2.    Places.

3.    Storyline.

4.    Laws of man.

5.    Laws of nature/magic/science

            I’ve always felt I was best at getting the story plotlines together, but sadly that’s a horrible place to start. What I had to do was come up with a few characters first. I wrote down a minimum set of characters and worked on them a bit. Most genres will have some specific type of character like the hero and villain, and their friends/minions.

            After I had a small scale of character roughly worked out, I used story plotting to guide me through the rest of the way. Nazarea once stated that she will have written her query months in advance of completing her novels first draft. This is a great tool to use to help one world build with story plotting. It lets you find holes in the plotlines, which shows us where we need to focus on. It could be that we’ll need more characters, how the character should interact, or even something to do with the basic nature laws of the world. And remember to use your CP’s. Bounce ideas off them, and don’t worry about giving away secrets. They’re there to help.

Sometimes when creating the world, there is a temptation to make it perfect. Several of my friends always get on me about how horrible my endings are. They want picture perfect, or what I like to call the Disney Effect. To this I always tell them to go watch The Matrix.

Confused? Let me explain. There is a part in the movie where Morpheus has been captured by the Agents and they’re holding him in a large skyscraper. As Agent Smith is interrogating Morpheus he expresses why he thinks humans didn’t accept the blissfully perfect world. “Human beings define their reality through misery.” This is great advice. Keep the world imperfect, or rather, make the imperfections your perfection.

So now you know how I work to build the world and get through my writers purgatory. Do you guys have any tips or another process that works for you?



  1. I start with an idea, but then I have to actually get characters for that idea, like you said. Because that's usually what the story is all about. After I have the idea and characters, I write the synopsis for the story. I try to keep it between 1000 to 1500 words. Twice I've written a story and then wrote the synopsis but... that's so much harder! By that point you have so many details of the story in your head that it's hard to decide what's really important and what's not.

    I do mild world building the first time around, but it's really in revising that I'm able to see what is needed to make the story feel real and able to add it in.

  2. Ah yes, the mistake of writing the story before the synopsis. I know it all too well. It's so hard not to add every neat little drama you've written. I share your pain JQ.