On Worldbuilding and Abandoning Tales

Posted: April 25, 2012 in writing
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They called me a hero. They thought I would save them. They watched me go mad, and reign over their destruction, and still they looked at me with hope and trust. Always believing that what I did was to save them. They were fools to trust me. I was a fool to believe them. When the end came and they asked my “why?” all I could do was laugh and cry. The sky turned black and the seas boiled. Mountains fell as the earth cracked and everywhere was blood and death. and me. I was the sole cause of it all. I was supposed to save them. How could I when I couldn’t even save myself? I don’t even have it in me to destroy myself as I deserve either. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe this is what I deserve. To live out the rest of my life alone, surrounded by the ruin I have made.

 

I came across this beginning part of an old novel today. I had written a few chapters of it, fleshed out some of the characters and set it aside to work on something else. Why? Not because I lost interest in the tale, but because of world-building. Whenever I sit down to work on the world, I get stuck . And being pure fantasy, well, I need to know the world. I need to know things that won’t ever make it into the story. The kinds of things that readers would take issue with, scoff at, call out as too much detail, in love with her world, and on and on. But it doesn’t change the fact that I need to know the world these characters live in. I need to know the rules of magic, the terrain, the races, the hierarchy and social systems. All of it has to be outlined in order for me to write the story I want to write. When I write urban fantasy, the world-building is much less important. I take from reality and mythology with a good dose of whateveriwant thrown in for good measure. It gives me time to focus on the story and the characters instead of the world. I get why epic fantasy writers always have to add more books as their readers sigh and complain, always waiting for the next book. It’s because this whole world all of a sudden becomes so much more complex than you thought it would. Characters become more involved and the story starts to take on a life of its own while you shout at it to wait for you. So what is it about world-building that makes me abandon a tale I want to tell? I really don’t know. I’ll sit down and start fleshing out details and hit a block that doesn’t coincide with what I have written or doesn’t work with the other structures I have set up.  I’ve never had to build an entire world before, the closest I’ve come to god-like qualities is growing babies. A world is a hell of a lot more involved (and takes a lot more thought) that something my body does naturally. (Notice-raising those babies into decent human beings? Much harder than building a world. It also takes years and years and you still never know how its going to turn out and you never get to hit delete and take out chapters you don’t like either.) Now before my digressions go too far, I’ll get back to the point. Which right now happens to be digressing. When unfocussed, world-building jumps all over the place, taking me from magic, to social to government, back to the actual story and over to characters. I have a hard time sticking to one topic, fleshing it out and moving on to the next, building off of whatever system I have already developed. Or some part of what I have actually worked on and developed inspires me to get back to the story until I realize that once again, I need to get back to my world-building in order to continue. Frustrations occur, another idea pops in my head and off I go to write a simpler story, while the novelIalwayswantedtowrite sits and waits patiently, popping up every so often to remind me of its presence. Do I have a solution? No. Do I have a point to this post? I guess not really, because just like my world-building, I have rambled all over the place trying to get an idea fleshed out and never really achieving what I set out to do. I am inspired though. I am motivated (today) to try my hand at building this world that starts with its destruction. Today I am beating this world into submission, making it obey me and be what I want it to be. At least until it hits me back. I never quite know what to do at that point. Just ask my little brother.

 

So speaking of world-building, are there any tips or tricks you employ in your own writing to actually flesh out a world so that the writing flows easily? Or do you let it all just come to you as you write?

 

 

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Comments
  1. Wonderful post today. Very nice job.

    I look forward to your future writings!

    Enjoy Writing? Writers Wanted

  2. Mumsy says:

    Bear with me as I work backwards on your ramblings above…Your “Little Brother” is not so little! I tend to write as it comes to me as a rule…then set it aside for inspiration at another point…In beating the world into submission, you are so like your Aunt Marti…As to having a point to your post? It is the point in and of itself…Now, about the “novel” beginnings (or endings?) You are really going to laugh; I thought it was about Obama.

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