Author Topic: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books  (Read 1575 times)  

Offline blerg et al.

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seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« on: June 13, 2017, 08:31:38 AM »
I don't really enjoy networking or cross-promoting with authors whose books I can't read. :-\

And I'm not talking about bad books, I've had my share of bad reviews and I can look past shaky prose.

I need for books to have really awesome worldbuilding. This is especially true of scifi and fantasy, but it works everywhere.

Patrick Rothfuss talks about how he is a currency nerd: he loves the way that different monetary systems work and writes that into his novels. Some people spend most of their time developing the cultural mores of their world. Other people are really into biology, or chemistry, this is the basis of hard science fiction. In fantasy books, sometimes all it takes is a really cool map and a love of geography. Personally, I like weird science, philosophy, and camping. So a post-apocalyptic scifi-fantasy was just right, though not exactly 'to-market.'

The only caveat is that the world-building should be a major part of the story. I'm not a big fan of stories where if feels like the author is just checking-off genre boxes.

Again, it's not a criticism. Those kinds of books are great, and they sell much better than mine do. But I'm looking for stories where the setting feels almost like another character.

So if that's the kind of thing you're into, share a link to your books, tell me how you build your world.
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Online JaclynDolamore

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 09:37:14 AM »
It's subjective, but I definitely get a lot of compliments on my unique world. I think it's hurt my sales in some ways, because I write romantic fantasy and a lot of my readers just want the romance. But, I've had the world in my head since I was twelve and there is only so much I want to change it for the market. My main areas of interest are different cultures, history, and linguistics.

There are three main races, the Daramons, the Miralem, and the Fanarlem. The Miralem have telepathic abilities and a goddess based monotheistic religion. The Daramons are not telepathic so they've focused more on sorcery (although Miralem can become sorcerers too) and they believe in fate and karma but don't really believe in any god and are more science-minded. Reincarnation is a known fact in this world but everyone grapples with it differently. Fanarlem are a slave race of very lifelike living doll people created by the Daramons for menial labor and sex. Every part of the world has its own mood and subculture: the Ven-Diri, the Halnari, the Nalim Imans, the Darranese, the Enarans, the Atlanteans, the Balumi Islanders, the Drai...when I create a new character my first question is what part of the world are they from because that tells me at least 25% of their personality right then and there.

The book takes place in a parallel world to our own where magic is real and it is possible to open portals between their world and ours. They were open in ancient times, then firmly closed for a long time, then the passage was rediscovered in the 1880s, so my first book takes place around 1917 just as the rediscovery of this passage and the consequences were becoming known, while Fortune's Curse takes place in 1989 and shows how a lot of how these social and technological revolutions played out. Their history ends up paralleling ours in a lot of ways, but taking surprising turns because they have a different culture. It's sort of a story of Westernization and modernization, and the for-better-and-worse impacts of it.

And there is a lot of made up language. Which I doubt many people care about consciously, but I hope it gives a subconscious cohesion to everything. A lot of names and words come from the same root words.


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Offline Lummox JR

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 10:01:10 AM »
My new book Below has been getting good reviews, and I've always thought of the setting as another character. It's a Roguelike fantasy adventure, with the  bulk of the book spent underground in the ruins of the so-called Elder Kingdom. Think of the Great Underground Empire of Zork (but serious) being set in our world and known at least as far back as the Romans, and used in a medieval treasure quest story.

The world building basically comes from the fact that the ruins have existed for a long time, and that, plus the presence of magic and magical creatures in the world, has led to some interesting alternate-history developments (like the Vikings settling Vinland, obviating the voyage of Columbus). It's the ruins that are the extra character, mysterious and varied. Other world-building elements are mostly touched on by the protagonist as he thinks about the lore, or mentioned in dialogue. In this world there are rifts connecting to other worlds, like Faerie, although those don't come directly into play in the story. There's a system of magic, and more importantly spellbinding (since none of the party are mages, they rely on enchanted items), that's kept consistent. There are also various "manthing" civilizations underground, most notably the goblins.

What this world does not have however is extensive above-ground politics, or various races like elves and dwarves comingling (neither is a thing in this universe, although I suppose the Fae would come close if they factored into the book at all). There isn't a Big Bad evil taking over the landscape, nor a major war or intrigue. It is not Tolkien-esque, which is to say it's not the least bit "epic". If that's the sort of world building you're looking for, this would not be that book. Rather, most of the world is hinted at or discussed. The ruins however are a whole other kind of world-building, and although long abandoned by man they still speak of a fascinating past through architecture and debris--and a somewhat dynamic present through the movements of other creatures, especially the manthings.
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Online jlstovall4

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 10:09:39 AM »
So if that's the kind of thing you're into, share a link to your books, tell me how you build your world.

I'll give your request a shot.

Currently, I have 3 different Universes that I'm writing in with another universe to come in the next 12 months (hopefully). I only have one book out now which I'm doing a slight rewrite to before I publish the whole series (which hopefully will be late summer). My other books are being written and read by my betas and all of them comment on how much they love my world building. So I can't link to my books (dangit missed sells) what I can do is speak on how I go about world building.

For me, the first thing I do is discover something central to the world. In Class Zero, it is the class system. From there, I extrapolate what I think humans would do if this "major thing" was actually real. So for the book, the city is separated into "tiers" based on the class of the population. So there is the Lower Class Tier, the Middle Class, the Upper Class, and the "Summit" which we find out later is for the .01%. Looking at national population and financial status, I can say where most people would live, i.e. the Lower Class.

From there, I considered the government and big business. How do they "really see people"? How could I take that idea and push it 100 years or more into the future where my story takes place? Then I consider what points I want to make in the story and the "fun factor." For instance, why not have flying cars and flying security guards?

After that, I try to come up with common factors between them. Who owns what? What relationships exist, etc? I continue this until almost everything in my understanding of the world makes sense and is also fun. the reason why I talk about "fun" is that I don't want to write Fahrenheit 451, when I can write Minority Report. for me if the tech and the world is not something I would want to Cosplay as or visit at Disney (Avatar) then I don't want to write that world.

At this point the world is complete. Now I just need to add the world's effect on my characters.

That's how I personally do it. Sorry you can't read anything, but hopefully some of this helps.

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Offline jackconnerbooks

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 10:14:11 AM »
If you like interesting worldbuilding, check out my Atomic Sea series (see below).

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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 03:02:06 PM »
I have several worlds I've written in, some series and some standalone. I've been complimented on my worldbuilding, though I don't do a lot of intensive worldbuilding. I keep it more low-key; I just establish the basics of what I need as far as how my characters and their situation fit into the social structure, whatever history is needed to give context to the characters and their situation, and how the magic works. Everything else, I kind of make up as I go along, then when I revise I go back and make everything fit and make it consistent. In writing, I focus on working in just what needs to be there for the story (though of course I have to resist the temptation - not always successfully - to expound on the cool stuff I've thought of).

Mostly when I start developing my ideas, I start with some characters who've popped into my brain, usually in a specific situation, then I build from there, figuring out what the situation is and what kind of world would produce that problem and those characters. But with my fantasy-western series, I started with the idea of writing high fantasy in an Old West-type setting, then figured out what sort of characters that setting would produce and why people would leave the civilized lands and come out to the wilderness to settle.

Now, with five different worlds I've developed, when I get a new story idea, I try to fit it into one of my existing worlds instead of starting over building a whole new world. Mainly because I need more series :D

Series:
Daughter of the Wildings series, in a setting based on the American Old West: http://www.kyrahalland.com/daughter-of-the-wildings.html
my Tehovir world, where magic comes from natural features in the landscape: http://www.kyrahalland.com/tales-of-tehovir.html

Standalones:
Sarya's Song: a world where music is magic http://www.kyrahalland.com/saryas-song.html
The Lost Book of Anggird: the entire government is based on a claim that magic was a divine gift to their country http://www.kyrahalland.com/the-lost-book-of-anggird.html
Urdaisunia: loosely inspired by ancient Sumerian civilization and mythology http://www.kyrahalland.com/urdaisunia.html
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 03:04:05 PM by Kyra Halland »


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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 03:18:24 PM »
Awesome, you guys really took it to heart. I just got in and I'm only here for a minute but, real quick replies:

Every part of the world has its own mood and subculture
Love what you said about each place having it's own mood. That's as important to the world building as anything else, sort of an unwritten rule. Kind of unrelated note, but I like unwritten rules for characters. I've got one race of people who always have a knife. No matter how bad things get, or what kind of trouble they're in, they always have a knife within reach, even when other character think they've taken the knife away from them. It's not a superpower, it's not explicitly stated, they're just crafty.

The book takes place in a parallel world to our own where magic is real and it is possible to open portals between their world and ours. 

Paralel worlds scare me. As soon as I connect to book to the real world, it has to be factually accurate. I guess the benefit is, it is you get the benefit of a character from our world to ask questions and explain things.

And there is a lot of made up language. Which I doubt many people care about consciously, but I hope it gives a subconscious cohesion to everything. A lot of names and words come from the same root words.

Not only cohesion, but sometimes words from our world have roots in specific places or things that totally ruin the fantasy.
I can't think of any good examples right now, but there are plenty. John Hancock(meaning signature), red herring, saying that someone had a spartan attitude, when ancient greece didn't exist in this world. Things like that.

My new book Below has been getting good reviews, and I've always thought of the setting as another character.

I'm encouraged that it's doing well, seems similar to mine, in style, if not genre.

There isn't a Big Bad evil taking over the landscape, nor a major war or intrigue. It is not Tolkien-esque, which is to say it's not the least bit "epic". If that's the sort of world building you're looking for, this would not be that book. Rather, most of the world is hinted at or discussed. The ruins however are a whole other kind of world-building, and although long abandoned by man they still speak of a fascinating past through architecture and debris

See, this was a problem for me. I was so into the world building that I didn't have a well-formed antagonist. Just a bunch of interesting side characters. Sounds like you have a good goal at least, finding of treasure. Do you think that the worldbuilding got away from you, or did the plot turn out just how you wanted it? Also do your readers mind that there isn't a 'big bad' at the end? I kind of like that my story can be about a bunch of things, and not just one main objective. But it does make for a lukewarm ending.

I like the bit about letting the ruins speak for themselves. The iceburg approach is the way to go Reveal a little bit of the world, make sure it is consistent, imply alot.

I was helping a writing mentor to edit this book, and we got to a scene about a little white church, and he told the author, cut out all this description of the church. Everyone has a little white church that they've seen, in their mind, don't take their vision away from them by over-describing it. I'm not sure that works in all situations, but it was interesting to think about. Sort of a tell, don't show moment.

If you like interesting worldbuilding, check out my Atomic Sea series (see below).

I've been aware of your books for a while now. maybe from also boughts, or kboards.
Nautical, bizarre, Jules Verne-esque, totally my thing.
I haven't started them yet because they look pretty dark and conceptually dense.
Nothing wrong with that. Moby Dick is the same way, and it's my favorite book. But it's not a casual read, I need a good couple weeks of dedicated brooding time.
I could be wrong about the dark, dense thing...but that was my impression. Same thing has kept me from reading Black Company, even though I really want to.
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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 07:00:36 PM »
I can't say how great it is, but this is my methodology: super slow, and I try as much as possible to let the world emerge through character interaction, experientially, explaining as little as I can get away with. Most of us have no clue how our world really works, we just know how things appear on the surface, actions and consequences. My characters accept the world around them, sometimes they discuss it, make guesses, but they don't really know what's going on: they're not heroes, not generals or warriors, no chosen ones here, just a bunch of kids trying real hard not to die. I try to build character, and then let the reader go with them, so they discover things and try to solve the mysteries together. I'm about to publish Book 4, but the world won't be fully explained (as such) until the end of Book 6.

Offline Lummox JR

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 07:29:46 PM »
See, this was a problem for me. I was so into the world building that I didn't have a well-formed antagonist. Just a bunch of interesting side characters. Sounds like you have a good goal at least, finding of treasure. Do you think that the worldbuilding got away from you, or did the plot turn out just how you wanted it? Also do your readers mind that there isn't a 'big bad' at the end? I kind of like that my story can be about a bunch of things, and not just one main objective. But it does make for a lukewarm ending.

I haven't had any complaints about the lack of some ancient evil to defeat or kingdom to save, but that wasn't the plot I was writing for to begin with. The story I wanted to tell all along was a smaller quest. I wrote the story because of my affection for Roguelike games, and a desire to see a story all about dungeon crawling. That would, almost by necessity, involve a treasure quest rather than a save-the-world sort of quest, because typically a Roguelike is about finding wealth and glory for your character. So the small/personal scope of the plot was true to the kind of story I had in mind all along.

But my book actually does have a well-defined antagonist: the expedition leader. The MC and his friends are dragged into the quest after their "boss" learns that the MC has possession of a treasure map--except the map is a fake, and circumstances force the MC to bluff that it might be real. So all along the way, my protagonist knows they're not going to find the treasure--not that specific one--and has to ply his skills to steer things towards an outcome that will let him live.

It's only the world itself that doesn't have a Big Bad. Because heck, neither does ours, religious entities notwithstanding.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2017, 06:04:46 AM »
for me if the tech and the world is not something I would want to Cosplay as or visit at Disney (Avatar) then I don't want to write that world.
Remind me of another favorite quote. "Err on the side of awesome."
I always choose what is the most fun. Why write if it isn't fun.
If you're writing in three different worlds, are they all standalone, or will they be series? Keeping three series going seems like a big commitment.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2017, 06:12:48 AM »
Kyra,
Your sci-fi westerns, are they ya or adult? I really like the covers, they look like they could go either way.
I only ask because I get the same question allot. Well, I used to when I had an illustrated cover.
Personally, I didn't feel comfortable calling my books YA because there's mentions of sex and drugs in them. But it isn't a major theme. And YA books get racier every year.
I still wouldn't do it, half of my main characters are too old. But I'm curious what your readership is like.
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Offline ameliasmith

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2017, 06:21:13 AM »
I've been told that worldbuilding is one of my strong points. See my series in the sig line. I intended them as books for grown-ups, but the characters are young in the prequel novels and there are younger characters in the trilogy, too, so it sometimes gets mis-categorized as YA. It's not heavy on the sex scenes, but it does have sexual relationships as a theme and they don't fill the romance happily-ever-after bill (which is probably part of the reason for my lackluster sales).

Offline Kay7979

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2017, 06:28:18 AM »
All of these books sound fascinating. I love fantasy because there's so much variety.

My books are a portal story. The MC is a gemologist who becomes interested in gemstone folklore and learns to access gems' arcane powers. She discovers a portal to a world inhabited by gnomes that's ruled by a gem master with incredible powers. Against her better judgment, she gets involved in the gnomes' conflict.

World building occurs iceberg fashion, from one book in the series to the next, since the gnomes have lived in hiding for generations and know as little about their world as Lana, the MC. They live inside trees, accessing trees' interdimensional space, an ability unique to their race. Naturally, they have to come out to raise food, hunt, and produce basic necessities.

The first book takes place over a short period of time, and we see a limited amount of the world, but there is extensive ecological damage and bizarre mutant creatures, purposely created by the gem master queen.

The second book takes place after the queen has been defeated. The gnomes hope to finally discover their lost culture and see more of their world, but the defeated queen has a sentient spell book with instructions for revenge, and they face deadly new problems.

I'm editing book three now, due out in the fall, and book four is partially written. It's fun discovering the world along with the characters. Most everything they believed about themselves and their world is wrong, since they have relied on oral history for over two centuries, and have traveled very little.

Both books will be on a seven-day $0.99 Kindle Countdown Deal, starting tomorrow, 6/15.           

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Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2017, 08:47:38 AM »
Holy my beer. I've got this.

Please read Dragon's Trail. The link is in my sig line. Worldbuilding notes are in my blog. Readers have contacted me asking if it's real. Enjoy.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2017, 09:16:41 AM »
Readers have contacted me asking if it's real. Enjoy.
I'm glad you reminded me about this one. I remember reading another post where you tell the story of your over enthusiastic fans.
The portal to this world is a great device. I haven't used it yet.
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Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2017, 09:23:50 AM »
I'm glad you reminded me about this one. I remember reading another post where you tell the story of your over enthusiastic fans.
The portal to this world is a great device. I haven't used it yet.

I have accepted that I am blessed to have spawned this level of fandom. I will admit, though, at first, it really weirded me out.

Also, if you know the location of the portal, I'm trusting you to keep it a secret.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2017, 09:26:25 AM »
They live inside trees, accessing trees' interdimensional space, an ability unique to their race. Naturally, they have to come out to raise food, hunt, and produce basic necessities.   
So, your saying the inside of trees connect to both dimensions?
Reminds me of some urban fantasy I've read. Where a magical world exists right under our noses. I can get into that when it is quirky and subtle and when the world is hidden. Basically when the book is about discovery I like it. Once the whole iceberg is out in the open, I tend to lose interest.
I never want to know all of the secrets.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 09:34:14 AM by blerg et al. »
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2017, 09:33:00 AM »
I have accepted that I am blessed to have spawned this level of fandom. I will admit, though, at first, it really weirded me out.

Also, if you know the location of the portal, I'm trusting you to keep it a secret.
I haven't experienced this with my writing.
As a painter, people come up with very specific requests like: Can you paint a bird sitting on a car, as the sun comes up over Pittsburgh.
Then, they message me back to ask what the experience of painting that scene felt like. Not to buy it, just to, feel the feeling or something.
I just block those. It feels weirdly invasive.
If they want to look inside my head they can buy my book. It's not all cucoo birds and sunrises in there.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2017, 09:38:57 AM »
. I intended them as books for grown-ups, but the characters are young in the prequel novels and there are younger characters in the trilogy, too, so it sometimes gets mis-categorized as YA.
They say Harry potter started out as middle grade, but got a lot darker and YA as the characters grew up.  If I could write that way I would. Maybe with practice.
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Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2017, 10:17:25 AM »
I'm glad you reminded me about this one. I remember reading another post where you tell the story of your over enthusiastic fans.

For those of you reading this who haven't been following the saga of my fans and want to know what we're talking about, it's encapsulated here: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,251239.msg3497213.html#msg3497213
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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2017, 11:54:26 AM »
Kyra,
Your sci-fi westerns, are they ya or adult? I really like the covers, they look like they could go either way.
I only ask because I get the same question allot. Well, I used to when I had an illustrated cover.
Personally, I didn't feel comfortable calling my books YA because there's mentions of sex and drugs in them. But it isn't a major theme. And YA books get racier every year.
I still wouldn't do it, half of my main characters are too old. But I'm curious what your readership is like.

They are adult. The heroine is 19, but she's a mature 19, a full-fledged adult in her world (not a high school adolescent 19) and the hero is 32. The 19-year-old heroine is the youngest character. And there's on-screen sex (though not very graphic). The themes and perspective are adult, not teenager-centric. So yes, adult. I've had one or two reviews mentioning YA, but I'm not sure I understand why anyone reading the book would call it YA, except it does have a 19-year-old heroine and it isn't grimdark or real heavy on bad language and graphic sex and violence. ?? I suggest my books for ages 16/17 and older, defintely not for younger teens.

My readership for this series is high/epic fantasy and weird western, adults, and even with the romance element I think a good portion (maybe even half or more?) is male. It seems like this series is something that people either love or they just don't get it. Western and high fantasy together; to me the genres fit perfectly together, but other people see them as too different to work together, and the combination is too different from the predominant model of medieval-Europe-based fantasy worlds.

Regarding the covers, the books are high fantasy, where illustrated covers (or photomanip covers heavily overpainted to look illustrated) seem to be dominant. Long tradition there. More obviously photo-based covers would put me more in mind of urban fantasy.

ETA: Oh, and I'm glad you like the covers! I'm kind of in love with them  :D
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 12:34:56 PM by Kyra Halland »


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Offline Kay7979

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2017, 12:15:15 PM »
I have accepted that I am blessed to have spawned this level of fandom. I will admit, though, at first, it really weirded me out.

Also, if you know the location of the portal, I'm trusting you to keep it a secret.

Another portal story. I'll have to check it out. The infinite variety of worlds possible on the other side has always intrigued me. I heard a while ago that portal stories were becoming more popular again.

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Offline Kay7979

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2017, 12:21:23 PM »
They are adult. The heroine is 19, but she's a mature 19, a full-fledged adult in her world (not a high school adolescent 19) and the hero is 32. The 19-year-old heroine is the youngest character. And there's on-screen sex (though not very graphic). The themes and perspective are adult, not teenager-centric. So yes, adult. I've had one or two reviews mentioning YA, but I'm not sure I understand why anyone reading the book would call it YA, except it does have a 19-year-old heroine and it isn't grimdark or real heavy on bad language and graphic sex and violence. ?? I suggest my books for ages 16/17 and older, defintely not for younger teens.

My readership for this series is high/epic fantasy and weird western, adults, and even with the romance element I think a good portion (maybe even half or more?) is male. It seems like this series is something that people either love or they just don't get it. Western and high fantasy together; to me the genres fit perfectly together, but other people see them as too different to work together, and the combination is too different from the predominant model of medieval-Europe-based fantasy worlds.

Regarding the covers, the books are high fantasy, where illustrated covers (or photomanip covers heavily overpainted to look illustrated) seem to be dominant. Long tradition there. More obviously photo-based covers would put me more in mind of urban fantasy.

As far as I'm concerned, your quirky setting is a positive rather than a negative. Your books remind me of one titled Native Star. Have you  read it? I bet you'd enjoy it. I tend to roll my eyes as pseudo-medieval European settings these days. It's been done to death.

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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2017, 12:27:18 PM »
As far as I'm concerned, your quirky setting is a positive rather than a negative. Your books remind me of one titled Native Star. Have you  read it? I bet you'd enjoy it. I tend to roll my eyes as pseudo-medieval European settings these days. It's been done to death.

I do in fact have Native Star on my to-read list.

It's still hard to find books like mine, fantasy in a Western-type setting that is totally not our world. More common in science fiction, but there is getting to be more of it. Not a lot, though.

I've also kind of moved on from the pseudo-medieval European settings. They can still be done well and with some originality, but sometimes it just seems like, as the OP said, it's plugged in. One standard fantasy setting, insert into book.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 12:32:01 PM by Kyra Halland »


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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2017, 12:29:05 PM »
For those of you reading this who haven't been following the saga of my fans and want to know what we're talking about, it's encapsulated here: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,251239.msg3497213.html#msg3497213

I'm torn between wishing I had fans as devoted as yours and being kind of glad I don't. ;D


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Offline Amras

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2017, 12:30:54 PM »
World building was one of my favorite part of planning the books I write.
My book is not ready yet. But for the fantasy world I have it set up in three different region.
The main land I named Lazzeric, where the magic users reside, mostly all humans.
A smaller island to the side is known as the Technology island, where there is no magic, but everyone there is highly advanced with technology stuff.
Then another island north where it became a fusion of the two, where all the non-human beings, that are rejected from the other two areas stay.

The people end up crossing over to each others lands, and it causes a lot of problems. It ends up being a magic vs. technology type situation.

I feel world building is one of the areas you get to be the most creative. Building the entire kingdom, and the people, the history, all of the back stories and lores involved. It's fun having full control.

Offline Kay7979

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2017, 12:44:00 PM »
So, your saying the inside of trees connect to both dimensions?
Reminds me of some urban fantasy I've read. Where a magical world exists right under our noses. I can get into that when it is quirky and subtle and when the world is hidden. Basically when the book is about discovery I like it. Once the whole iceberg is out in the open, I tend to lose interest.
I never want to know all of the secrets.

Actually, the trees do not link the two worlds. The gnomes are able to access interdimensional space in any tree, whether here or in their own world. They can also travel from tree to tree within that interdimensional realm. Think of it as the woodland equivalent of the "floo network" in Harry Potter, where characters pass from fireplace to fireplace. (I didn't steal the idea. The first draft of Beyond the Forest was written in the 1980s.) 

The portal is the access between the worlds. On our side, it's located in a confined area called the Amulet, which is a region whose function is to keep "intruders" from freely accessing our world. In book one, the gnomes' gem master queen, a being of a different race, hopes to expand her reign into our world by destroying the Amulet's ability to keep her out. My MC, Lana, gets involved with the gnomes not only to liberate them, but to prevent the conquest of our world.         

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Offline KhaosFoxe

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2017, 12:53:21 PM »
My Ink Born series came about because I wanted to write a full fantasy kitchen sink world.  :D My focus has been on the magic, there are twenty main types of magic used within the world. The protagonist is a tattoo magician and I really enjoyed exploring his relationship with his magic through the books thus far.

The world as a whole is a mix modern day with full magic and lots of magical beings. People come into their magic during puberty and will go to college to train and be graded in whatever their magic form is. There are micro-cultures within the main cultures where shifters view the world one way, wood elves view it another, and so on and so forth. That leads to all sorts of interesting layers and nuances to explore. I absolutely adore playing in this world, I have plans for four or more more series set there.

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Offline C. Gold

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2017, 01:18:20 PM »
If you want to look at great world building, check out Brandon Sanderson. He comes up unique magic systems in each of his series as well as unique cultures. But the most striking thing is what he did with the biology in his Stormlight Archive series. Since that world is pummeled by strong winds that always come from one direction, everything in nature has adapted. Grass grows out from tubes, like sea anemone. Even trees snap closed their vital bits when disturbed. Societies built walls to block the wind on that side which becomes a huge issue when Bad Thing happens and the wind changes.


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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2017, 02:17:30 PM »
I love that this turned into a whole discussion. I'm enjoying this thread!

Love what you said about each place having it's own mood. That's as important to the world building as anything else, sort of an unwritten rule. Kind of unrelated note, but I like unwritten rules for characters. I've got one race of people who always have a knife. No matter how bad things get, or what kind of trouble they're in, they always have a knife within reach, even when other character think they've taken the knife away from them. It's not a superpower, it's not explicitly stated, they're just crafty.

I like cultural rules, unwritten and written. And one thing I like playing with is uncomfortable differences in morals. It fascinates me how as humans, we will decide that something is the Absolute Right Moral Way to Do Things, while another culture will do things opposite. Or we'll change our mind over time. Like whether it's good or bad to let kids play with knives or roam a neighborhood alone, or what the age of consent is. That can be a hard line to walk because I don't want readers to think I necessarily am endorsing a radical view, but it's interesting to play with.

Paralel worlds scare me. As soon as I connect to book to the real world, it has to be factually accurate. I guess the benefit is, it is you get the benefit of a character from our world to ask questions and explain things.

I actually don't have that benefit, at least not for a while! The culture is being imported, secretly at first. In The Sorcerer's Concubine, the sorcerers who discovered the portal have just been passing it off like they've been developing all this technology and culture themselves. At first some readers thought the book actually took place in our world in the far flung future... I guess that's what makes my portal story different from most, although I never thought of it until now, is that I am viewing the world almost entirely from the inside. Almost no human characters. Just another world trying to take in all of our culture getting grabbed up by them, or dumped on them, depending on perspective. I'm sure my teenage obsession with anime ended up influencing this a lot. I was so into Japan, and Japan wouldn't be Japan without the heavy influence of the west, and yet at the same time, Japan is 100% itself in everything it does, even if it's making French pastry or locomotives or adapting western children's books into animation.

It also gives me a lot of fodder for humor...

Not only cohesion, but sometimes words from our world have roots in specific places or things that totally ruin the fantasy.
I can't think of any good examples right now, but there are plenty. John Hancock(meaning signature), red herring, saying that someone had a spartan attitude, when ancient greece didn't exist in this world. Things like that.

Mm, yeah, I still have problems with that. Modern expressions, for example. My characters are very modern people so I don't go too nuts trying to avoid our idioms and such. If you don't use some, language often sounds old-fashioned which I don't want. It would be strange for people to speak without any of them at all. And it would be silly to try to make up hundreds of your own idioms. I try not to use ones that really take you out of it, though.

Ugh I was going to reply to some other stuff too but I have GOT TO GET TO WORK NOW...

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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2017, 08:36:23 PM »

Regarding the covers, the books are high fantasy, where illustrated covers (or photomanip covers heavily overpainted to look illustrated) seem to be dominant. Long tradition there. More obviously photo-based covers would put me more in mind of urban fantasy.

ETA: Oh, and I'm glad you like the covers! I'm kind of in love with them  :D
I wouldn't mind having covers like these when I can afford them. I hesitate to put faces to my characters, but that never stopped me from enjoying books in the past.

How do you like the faces that the artist gave your characters? Was it in line with how you see them?


My books are science fiction, but I feel I write to a fantasy audience. I have to keep it in the sci-fi lists, but but I'd love a cover that screams high fantasy.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2017, 08:44:36 PM »
I love that this turned into a whole discussion. I'm enjoying this thread!
Me too.  :D I started it cause I was home sick.
Now I missed my writers lunch and I'm putting off editing to read these great responses.
Will catch up with this thread tomorrow. I might have to make a spreadsheet for my new re-read shelf. I knew there were some cool worlds out there.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2017, 08:55:40 PM »
If you want to look at great world building, check out Brandon Sanderson.
Yes  ;D He's actually the one I quoted earlier, when I said " err on the side of awesome." I have only read the first two mistborn books. But I've watched all of his lectures, on YouTube, and I'm working my way through his Writing Excuses podcast backlist.
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Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2017, 08:59:29 PM »
I wouldn't mind having covers like these when I can afford them. I hesitate to put faces to my characters, but that never stopped me from enjoying books in the past.

How do you like the faces that the artist gave your characters? Was it in line with how you see them?


My books are science fiction, but I feel I write to a fantasy audience. I have to keep it in the sci-fi lists, but but I'd love a cover that screams high fantasy.

My artist is surprisingly affordable, but he's pretty busy and sometimes hard to get hold of. He's done the covers on all the books in my signature. He really has a talent for bringing my characters to life; I'm really happy with how he depicts my characters. There's one cover where I asked him to make some changes to one of the characters; I really wasn't sure how to describe the character's appearance so he did the best he could on what little I gave him, then soon after I launched the cover (it was a new cover for a pre-existing book) I came across a stock photo of a model who's the exact image in my mind of the character. So I sent it to my artist and asked if he could make a few changes (of course I would pay for the additional work) and he said he thought he could get to it in a month or two, but he hasn't yet.

But yeah, it's really fun to see how he brings my characters to life.


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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2017, 09:23:00 PM »
My novel Zollocco has a world that is a character. I was interested in the notion of the "hive mind" that bees are said to have. What would it be like if an entire forest had a hive mind; what if the whole world were a forest that had an hive mind that encompassed the hive minds of the different forests on it? Then I plunked my heroine into. She ran off to other planets because the interplanetary corporation that stole her from earth in the first place was about to capture  her. In the other worlds, I got interested in what sort of architecture would these different types of places have. How was the architecture suited to the environment?

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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2017, 09:52:06 PM »
If you want to look at great world building, check out Brandon Sanderson. He comes up unique magic systems in each of his series as well as unique cultures.

I love his magic system for Mistborn.  It might be the most elegant system I've seen in fantasy.
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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2017, 06:25:49 AM »
I didn't have to build a world for my Telepathic Clans books. I simply reveal millennia-old secrets. Of course, I'm now in a sort of witness-protection program because the Clans aren't too happy with me. Be careful. The family next door may be reading your mind.
 

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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2017, 08:53:49 AM »
So I sent it to my artist and asked if he could make a few changes (of course I would pay for the additional work) and he said he thought he could get to it in a month or two, but he hasn't yet.
It's tough to pin an artist down. I make money off of my art, more than I make from  my writing. But I am terrible at commissioned work. If I' not feeling it, it's impossible to get any work out of me.

Just another world trying to take in all of our culture getting grabbed up by them, or dumped on them, depending on perspective. I'm sure my teenage obsession with anime ended up influencing this a lot. I was so into Japan, and Japan wouldn't be Japan without the heavy influence of the west, and yet at the same time, Japan is 100% itself in everything it does, even if it's making French pastry or locomotives or adapting western children's books into animation.

I try not to borrow too much from other cultures. Some level of appropriation is going to happen, regardless, but I tiptoe around subjects I'm not especially knowledgeble on. In today's world, to do it well, you have to know your subject. Melleville could whip up a bunch of vaguely eastern mystics, and cannibal islanders, to give an exotic flavor to his stories, but in a modern world, you can't just misrepresent an entire culture without it coming off as false. I still borrow, but I do it very carefully.

Japan, I am less worried about. They're a major cultural powerhouse and media exporter. And like you said, hugely influenced by western culture at the same time. Not to mention the long history of cyberpunk writers setting their stories in some sort of future tokyo. I make sure to remind my readers that this entire world was thrown into darkness ages ago. Allows for a little more leeway.

I can't say how great it is, but this is my methodology: super slow, and I try as much as possible to let the world emerge through character interaction, experientially, explaining as little as I can get away with. Most of us have no clue how our world really works, we just know how things appear on the surface, actions and consequences. My characters accept the world around them, sometimes they discuss it, make guesses, but they don't really know what's going on: they're not heroes, not generals or warriors, no chosen ones here, just a bunch of kids trying real hard not to die. I try to build character, and then let the reader go with them, so they discover things and try to solve the mysteries together. I'm about to publish Book 4, but the world won't be fully explained (as such) until the end of Book 6.

Letting the characters explain it is a great tool. And it's definitely good to draw it out. I think I made the mistake of sharing too little in book one though.
At first I didn't explain the world well enough. Later revisions I added better descriptions and even a sketch in the beginning. Soon I'll be replacing this with a map.

Still haven't fixed my biggest problem. There's a big conspiratorial scheme, and a lost love motivating one characters' actions and hardly any of that is explained until book two. I get good enough reviews, but a lot of people don't know why the characters are doing what they do. It's a little too subtle. Sometimes I wish I had laid everything out from the beginning. Not the whole world, but enough to keep people from feeling disoriented.
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Offline Lee Sutherland

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2017, 10:01:58 AM »
My newest novel, Land of the Dogs, has a great deal of socio-political worldbuilding in a post-apocalyptic world.  I considered how the few people who survived the apocalypse would group together and the kinds of societies they would form based on the leaders who rose to power.  It's very microcosmic and takes place in a small region in the southern US. 

The three main settlements are Town Hall, where residents formed a barricade around the city hall building.  It's the first camp my protag goes to and is very much like the US political system--one man who is the leader and delegates things to others.  The second settlement is Old Man River's Farm.  They are religious fanatics who believe they survived so that they can take back the world for God.  And then there is the High School, where an old military man with a violent approach rules on fear and power. 

As my protag goes from camp to camp, searching for his family, he has to decide which society is best and which he will support when his journey is over.

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Offline C. Gold

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2017, 02:04:19 PM »
Yes  ;D He's actually the one I quoted earlier, when I said " err on the side of awesome." I have only read the first two mistborn books. But I've watched all of his lectures, on YouTube, and I'm working my way through his Writing Excuses podcast backlist.

Awesome indeed! I would recommend any books he's written. I also love his podcasts and youtube lectures. They really go into great detail on how to world build, create characters, develop story arcs, and even delve into publishing stuff. I actually began watching those when I was trying to help a friend write his book, Fool's Journey. I wound up on a journey myself that led to my own writing which will hopefully turn into a finished book this fall.

Offline AlecHutson

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2017, 02:47:38 PM »
Lots of great replies in this thread, and I love to see everyone's passion for genre fiction!

For my own epic fantasy, my world is fairly standard by the genre's standards. Various kingdoms and empires that resemble imperial Rome, Europe during the middle ages, and Tang dynasty China. And while nothing terribly original, a lot of readers have remarked that they enjoy the world. I think that's because I spent some time really refining the history and cultures - I suppose my point is that while radically imaginative world-building is terrific, you can still satisfy readers in your genre if you take the old favorites and try your best to do them well.

Some authors whose fantasy world-building skills I'm in awe of:

Well, George RR Martin, obviously. Another standard fantasy world, but drawn so well and with such attention to detail that entire books have been written exploring its history.

China Mieville. His New Crobuzon books are some of the most amazing world-building I've ever seen. I don't think I've encountered a writer with a more fecund imagination. The island of the mosquito people. Color bombs. Slake moths. Cactus-men. The possibility sword.

R. Scott Bakker. Outside of being an exceptional sentence-level writer, Bakker has created a world that out-Tolkiens Tolkien. No conlangs, but you can feel the world groaning under the weight of its history and age and mysteries as you read his series.

I love writers who can transport me to amazing new worlds. My three favorite fantasy books are Game of Thrones (Martin), The Scar (Mieville) and The Darkness That Comes Before (Bakker)   

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Offline MLKatz

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2017, 10:38:58 AM »
I have a recent story about worldbuilding that is humorous and topical (to me, at least). My adult son was doing me the favor of editing and proofing a book I had previously released but added more content to. I had given one of my protagonists the nickname of "Jaguar" in the book.

Given the setting, my son got 23 pages in and insisted that I change jaguar to puma. That was based on geographical descriptions. Anyway, I thought he was right and wasn't sure how I'm missed it. Puma it is. http://mlkatz.com/rise-of-the-gatebreakers-video/
 
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Offline jckang

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2017, 02:34:41 PM »
I love awesome world building, as well, as long as it fits organically into the story and doesn't feel like an author intrusion or infodump.  As a teenager, just having finished Return of the King and gobbling up its appendices of family trees and historical dates (and then reading the Silmarillion and Forgotten Tales), I felt world building was events.  After all, that is how we learn history in grade school-- a series of events, and maybe some basic explanations of how it all came to pass.  When I started world building for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, it followed that series of events.

Then, college made me look at history and politics differently, made me look at the trends in history and the underlying drivers.  I broadened my reading and academic horizons past the West. I learned about the concept of national and ethnic identities and "mythology" (I use quotes, because to me, mythology is not just about Zeus, Odin, or Amaterasu; but how a people views themselves, and the legends that spring up around historical events). One of my first jobs was working as a an analyst in a stock brokerage, and learned about economies.

So, fast forward 20 years, I was cleaning stuff out of my Mom's house, and came across my Dungeons and Dragons world. On a whim, I recreated it with some of the basic premises in tact; but making it a diverse world with multiple Earth cultures and traditional fantasy races.  I took into account the role of resources, economies, culture, religion, and considered how those elements in one nation would influence its neighbors. I also thought about how ethnic groups interpret events (For example, a cataclysmic event has a dozen different explanations based on who you talk to in the world).

In some cases, I worked backwards-- For example, I wanted to make one nation a dominant naval power; so I decided what in their history set them on that path, and gave them access to timber that was good for making ships.  In other cases, I worked forward: there's a race of physically strong, but short-lived humans, all male, because they have genetic mutations which makes them only produce Y-chromosome sperm, and also a sudden, early death. Their mythos posits that their progenitor was the mortal son of the Sun God, but was tricked by another God to a short life with only male heirs.  Said progenitor left a "last will" in an archaic language, which only a select few can read and interpret, which ultimately gives them a lot of control in this culture.

Overall, I want things in my world to be logical, and as I write, I need to maintain consistency.



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Offline jckang

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2017, 02:42:00 PM »
Well, George RR Martin, obviously. Another standard fantasy world, but drawn so well and with such attention to detail that entire books have been written exploring its history.

I've only read one and a half of his books, but I've been following it on HBO; and really, Martin blows me away with both his big picture and little details.  Stuff like religious practices, or the slogans of the ruling houses; and how everything connects.  To me, Tolkien is the master of the macro; but Martin has him beat with the micro.


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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2017, 10:04:45 PM »
China Mieville. His New Crobuzon books are some of the most amazing world-building I've ever seen. I don't think I've encountered a writer with a more fecund imagination. The island of the mosquito people. Color bombs. Slake moths. Cactus-men. The possibility sword.

That one sounds especially interesting.

I love your covers by the way. I've seen crimson queen on here before and loved all the detail. Twilight's end works better in thumbnail but it has a little of that cool city detail in the background too.  I was saying earlier, I like covers that imply that there is a lot going on in the world.

In some cases, I worked backwards-- For example, I wanted to make one nation a dominant naval power; so I decided what in their history set them on that path, and gave them access to timber that was good for making ships.  In other cases, I worked forward: there's a race of physically strong, but short-lived humans, all male, because they have genetic mutations which makes them only produce Y-chromosome sperm, and also a sudden, early death. Their mythos posits that their progenitor was the mortal son of the Sun God, but was tricked by another God to a short life with only male heirs.  Said progenitor left a "last will" in an archaic language, which only a select few can read and interpret, which ultimately gives them a lot of control in this culture.

I'm setting up a similar scenario. I want a dominant colonial power, based on a large Island, so England is a good model. I look at some of the factors that led to England being a dominant naval power and use this is my map-making. (I'm really more ignorant on the subject than I realized, so I'm picking up some history books.)

Also, I'm curious. Your species of all male strongmen, makes sense in theory. I'm assuming that they only have sons, so women marry into the society from other human populations. But I'm curious about, do you explain this biology to your readers?  It sounds like these societies aren't advanced enough to know about genetics so I assume the characters aren't talking about chromosomes. Or is it in a modern setting? (This is a tricky subject for me. Side project. I've been drafting a genetic engineering inspired fantasy for a few years now, but I haven't written it, because when the characters start to explain the science behind their powers it ruins some of the illusion of magic. It worked in Dune, so I know it can be done, I'm just being cautious.)
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Offline JTriptych

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #45 on: June 17, 2017, 07:14:32 AM »
My Dying World series is basically Star Wars, but with no spaceships.  ;D

Takes place millions (or maybe billions) of years in the future. The Oceans have dried up. No more trees and plants. Metal is very rare and highly sought after. Humanity survives in a precarious existence. Some people have evolved- a select few have mental powers called Vis. Males with this power are telekinetic and are called Magi. Women with this power are called Strigas and are telepathic.

I put a lot of emphasis on ecology- algae and underground fungi are primary food sources supplemented by hunting wild and dangerous beasts. Most tools are leather, stone, and bone. Iron based metals are subjected to the rusting sickness.

I also put in a bit of culture and stuff. The Magi and Strigas are constrained by very rigid traditions (Magi are emasculated, while Strigas are not allowed to marry and bear children). Belief in multiple gods are widespread, along with traditional concepts of survival and hospitality.

That's the short of it. Currently working on book 3 of the series.  ;)

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #46 on: June 17, 2017, 09:16:39 AM »
Also, I'm curious. Your species of all male strongmen, makes sense in theory. I'm assuming that they only have sons, so women marry into the society from other human populations. But I'm curious about, do you explain this biology to your readers?  It sounds like these societies aren't advanced enough to know about genetics so I assume the characters aren't talking about chromosomes. Or is it in a modern setting? (This is a tricky subject for me. Side project. I've been drafting a genetic engineering inspired fantasy for a few years now, but I haven't written it, because when the characters start to explain the science behind their powers it ruins some of the illusion of magic. It worked in Dune, so I know it can be done, I'm just being cautious.)

The genetics of the all-male race are explained as a curse, since it is being told from a fantasy perspective.  In other parts of the world, the ability to use magic is a genetic trait carried on the X-chromosome, making females more likely to have the talent-- but once again, since the science and technology level is about  the equivalent of 1600 AD, they don't know why.

As for why a nation would become a naval power-- I bet there are tons of original ways to explain it (though in the real world, it has traditionally boiled down to money).


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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #47 on: June 17, 2017, 04:46:22 PM »
My books are of the Adult, Hard Science Fiction variety, but several are set in post-extermination event worlds, including the Coastal Event Memories Five Volume Series, where small bands of survivors deal with a changed world that is beyond their wildest comprehension.

Volume I, tells the stories of a band of a present-day extinction event survivors, in California, who survived due to a combination of fate, tenacity, and a will to live when millions perished. Their world changed forever, and they must face the challenges of surviving while retaining at least a small part of the technology and civilization which had been reaching for the stars.

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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #48 on: June 17, 2017, 07:01:06 PM »
My Dying World series is basically Star Wars, but with no spaceships.  ;D

Takes place millions (or maybe billions) of years in the future. The Oceans have dried up. No more trees and plants. Metal is very rare and highly sought after. Humanity survives in a precarious existence. Some people have evolved- a select few have mental powers called Vis. Males with this power are telekinetic and are called Magi. Women with this power are called Strigas and are telepathic.

I put a lot of emphasis on ecology- algae and underground fungi are primary food sources supplemented by hunting wild and dangerous beasts. Most tools are leather, stone, and bone. Iron based metals are subjected to the rusting sickness.

I also put in a bit of culture and stuff. The Magi and Strigas are constrained by very rigid traditions (Magi are emasculated, while Strigas are not allowed to marry and bear children). Belief in multiple gods are widespread, along with traditional concepts of survival and hospitality.

That's the short of it. Currently working on book 3 of the series.  ;)

The rusting sickness is an interesting mechanism. I've got a world where things deteriorate, though it's magic based and not biological or environmental. Funny thing is the book I got the idea from wasn't a fantasy book, it was House of Leaves. There, things that are left behind disintegrate within a couple of days. In mine, there is one particular place where weapons and armor deteriorate within a matter of months. Countries who try to conquer it have to set up settlements on the coast to forge a steady stream of new weaponry.

I'm curious, because your book is so far int he future, do you still have scraps of old-earth culture? Or is it so far forward that nothing has survived.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #49 on: June 17, 2017, 07:41:08 PM »
Okay,

We've been having a great conversation about worldbuilding,

but while I've got you here, how do you market your books?

Do you do anything different than other people in your genre? Do you play up your unique world or do you downplay it to fit a genre?
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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2017, 08:42:56 PM »
The rusting sickness is an interesting mechanism. I've got a world where things deteriorate, though it's magic based and not biological or environmental. Funny thing is the book I got the idea from wasn't a fantasy book, it was House of Leaves. There, things that are left behind disintegrate within a couple of days. In mine, there is one particular place where weapons and armor deteriorate within a matter of months. Countries who try to conquer it have to set up settlements on the coast to forge a steady stream of new weaponry.

I'm curious, because your book is so far int he future, do you still have scraps of old-earth culture? Or is it so far forward that nothing has survived.
For research I went back to medieval (such as monks) and ancient societies (like tribes and their traditions) when it came to culture, but I more or less just created my own. I already did heavy research on world mythology because I wrote a PA-mythology series before so that was a big help in making up stories and legends to introduce it into this far future world. I just took bits and pieces of everything and mashed them up. It was fun!

As far as marketing this series, I sort of joined a few FB groups that catered to the Dying Earth/Planetary Romance subgenre of Sci-fi. Since the books are heavily influenced by the works of Jack Vance, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gene Wolfe and such, I sort of joined fan groups to help promote it in a subtle way, as well as traditional book advertising.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2017, 09:50:06 PM »
I'd be curious to see what you think of the worldbuilding in my novel, if you felt so inclined.

In short, the legend of Robin Hood is reborn in the American Apocalypse.

It's not nearly as in depth as some fantasy is, there isn't a ton of worldbuilding exposition--most of it you learn through the story--but I've gotten a goodly bit of complements on how real the world/characters/settings felt.

It's not all bleak and dreary, there's a lot of blue skies and sunshine, wild nature, abandoned and destroyed buildings. It's not so much the scorched-earth apocalypse as it is the destruction of civilization with the creation of new regional factions and small group survivors.

Some of the groups at play:
Clearwater crew (main character's small town survivor group)
Sons of Liberty (military vestige government in boston/new england)
Kaiser Militants (despotic wastelanders and survivors)
New Confederates (southern survivors)
Dead Hand Resistance (freedom fighters)
Federation of Texas (self-contained city-state oligarchy, think wild west all over again)
(and a secret group who I won't reveal)

among others. Many of those you don't come in contact with until books 2 and 3, but yeah, the feel of the story starts very survivor-esque, but it turns into very political and military rebuilding of civilization. So in a sense, it's very concerned with world building. Literally :D

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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #52 on: June 18, 2017, 08:43:13 AM »
As far as marketing this series, I sort of joined a few FB groups that catered to the Dying Earth/Planetary Romance subgenre of Sci-fi. Since the books are heavily influenced by the works of Jack Vance, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gene Wolfe and such, I sort of joined fan groups to help promote it in a subtle way, as well as traditional book advertising.
There are groups out there for Planetary Romance? That's, probably the closest thing to what I write, but I had just assumed it was too obscure and promoted mine as post apoc instead.
I'm going to look for some groups, but if you felt like pm'ing me some suggestions, I'd be eternally grateful.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #53 on: June 18, 2017, 09:40:10 AM »
I'd be curious to see what you think of the worldbuilding in my novel, if you felt so inclined.

In short, the legend of Robin Hood is reborn in the American Apocalypse.

It's not nearly as in depth as some fantasy is, there isn't a ton of worldbuilding exposition--most of it you learn through the story--but I've gotten a goodly bit of complements on how real the world/characters/settings felt.

It's not all bleak and dreary, there's a lot of blue skies and sunshine, wild nature, abandoned and destroyed buildings. It's not so much the scorched-earth apocalypse as it is the destruction of civilization with the creation of new regional factions and small group survivors.

Some of the groups at play:
Clearwater crew (main character's small town survivor group)
Sons of Liberty (military vestige government in boston/new england)
Kaiser Militants (despotic wastelanders and survivors)
New Confederates (southern survivors)
Dead Hand Resistance (freedom fighters)
Federation of Texas (self-contained city-state oligarchy, think wild west all over again)
(and a secret group who I won't reveal)

among others. Many of those you don't come in contact with until books 2 and 3, but yeah, the feel of the story starts very survivor-esque, but it turns into very political and military rebuilding of civilization. So in a sense, it's very concerned with world building. Literally :D
Based Purely on your blurbs, covers, and previous threads that I've seen. I think you've hit on something awesome.

You've also hit on my biggest issue with Post Apoc, and that's the dreary, depressing bit. This is my day off, and I'm on my third cup of coffee, so apologies for the following rant and its obligatory typos.

I'm an optimistic guy, even in the worst situations I look for something beautiful. I think we all do.
I have a friend who was deployed in Afghanistan. And he had some pretty dark stories to tell, but the dark stuff was punctuated with beautiful vistas, dramatic, sweeping valleys, mountainsides covered in flowers, even the poppy fields were beautiful. I think you can't help but notice stuff like that when you're sleeping in a hole in the ground.

My favorite book about the Vietnam War is The Things They Carried, it's a collection of literary short stories, not a military procedural and it's more about the spiritual transformations, good and bad, that war brings about in the people who fight it. And the land, the jungles, rice paddies, rivers, feels very alive, almost a character in and of itself. I think that good genre fiction touches on these things too.

What you do is tough. Because the apocalypse in your books has happened recently, and there can't help but be a sense of loss. I've avoided this by setting my books far enough in the future that the apocalypse is largely forgotten. It is more a thing of antiquity than a recent traumatic event.

The apocalypse is actually a common fantasy trope, you see it in Tolkien, you see it in the Wheel of Time books with "The Breaking of the World," even the Dragonlance novels had "The Cataclysm" that upset the old ways, buried large parts of history, and set the stage for the novel that was to come. And I don't think it is a stretch to make this claim. I was looking up a Hemmingway quote a while ago. "amid so much ruin, still the beauty" I think it's from a Farewell to Arms. I typed the words into google, the fourth entry down in the search results was a wiki about Toliens Silmarillion. Those same words, in a different order, had come up in a sumary of the history of Middle Earth. 

To get back to what you said about not wanting your world to be too dark. I don't read much post apocalyptic fiction, but I can think of a lot of post-apocalyptic movies that feel dreary. On the other hand post apocalyptic movies that invoke a sense of wonder and excitement are fewer, and tend to be poorly reviewed. Waterworld is a good example. I also kind of like Reign of Fire. Pretty much any terrible movie that Dennis Hopper was in. But I love them. Some straddle this gap. Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, The 100, still a little dreary for me, but the worldbuilding keeps me along for the ride. And they have a bigger following than Waterworld.

I think your books must straddle the gap, hit both audiences, keep both audiences, and probably will do rather well.

Also, Station 11 is doing really well, which is great for post-apoc writers everywhere. I haven't started it yet, but I read the prologue, and it is an absolutely beautiful description of a post-apoc society that resembles something out of a Steinbeck novel, and the premise (a troupe of Shakespearian actors traveling from settlement to settlement) sounds enchanting and makes me want to read it for the same reason I like to read Chaucer.

For the tales. And yours, being based on Robin Hood, a favorite english folk tale, is poised to do really will in multiple genres. I would hope.
End of coffee rant. I'm off to work on my book today.
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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #54 on: June 18, 2017, 11:09:19 AM »
Based Purely on your blurbs, covers, and previous threads that I've seen. I think you've hit on something awesome.

You've also hit on my biggest issue with Post Apoc, and that's the dreary, depressing bit. This is my day off, and I'm on my third cup of coffee, so apologies for the following rant and its obligatory typos.

I'm an optimistic guy, even in the worst situations I look for something beautiful. I think we all do.
I have a friend who was deployed in Afghanistan. And he had some pretty dark stories to tell, but the dark stuff was punctuated with beautiful vistas, dramatic, sweeping valleys, mountainsides covered in flowers, even the poppy fields were beautiful. I think you can't help but notice stuff like that when you're sleeping in a hole in the ground.

My favorite book about the Vietnam War is The Things They Carried, it's a collection of literary short stories, not a military procedural and it's more about the spiritual transformations, good and bad, that war brings about in the people who fight it. And the land, the jungles, rice paddies, rivers, feels very alive, almost a character in and of itself. I think that good genre fiction touches on these things too.

What you do is tough. Because the apocalypse in your books has happened recently, and there can't help but be a sense of loss. I've avoided this by setting my books far enough in the future that the apocalypse is largely forgotten. It is more a thing of antiquity than a recent traumatic event.

The apocalypse is actually a common fantasy trope, you see it in Tolkien, you see it in the Wheel of Time books with "The Breaking of the World," even the Dragonlance novels had "The Cataclysm" that upset the old ways, buried large parts of history, and set the stage for the novel that was to come. And I don't think it is a stretch to make this claim. I was looking up a Hemmingway quote a while ago. "amid so much ruin, still the beauty" I think it's from a Farewell to Arms. I typed the words into google, the fourth entry down in the search results was a wiki about Toliens Silmarillion. Those same words, in a different order, had come up in a sumary of the history of Middle Earth. 

To get back to what you said about not wanting your world to be too dark. I don't read much post apocalyptic fiction, but I can think of a lot of post-apocalyptic movies that feel dreary. On the other hand post apocalyptic movies that invoke a sense of wonder and excitement are fewer, and tend to be poorly reviewed. Waterworld is a good example. I also kind of like Reign of Fire. Pretty much any terrible movie that Dennis Hopper was in. But I love them. Some straddle this gap. Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, The 100, still a little dreary for me, but the worldbuilding keeps me along for the ride. And they have a bigger following than Waterworld.

I think your books must straddle the gap, hit both audiences, keep both audiences, and probably will do rather well.

Also, Station 11 is doing really well, which is great for post-apoc writers everywhere. I haven't started it yet, but I read the prologue, and it is an absolutely beautiful description of a post-apoc society that resembles something out of a Steinbeck novel, and the premise (a troupe of Shakespearian actors traveling from settlement to settlement) sounds enchanting and makes me want to read it for the same reason I like to read Chaucer.

For the tales. And yours, being based on Robin Hood, a favorite english folk tale, is poised to do really will in multiple genres. I would hope.
End of coffee rant. I'm off to work on my book today.

I think, then, that you and I are birds of a feather my friend. That story about your friend from Afghanistan is very moving. I've never been in a war or known any recent veterans, but I imagine those kinds of things are true. I often think that under the worst duress or greatest times of challenge do we see the world so vividly.

Actually, one of the most important lines and themes in my book is "The world is still beautiful" as well as "There's still something more than survival worth fighting for."

I never read the things they carried, but it sounds like i'd love it. I've heard a ton about it and it's supposed to be pretty unreal.

Actually, one of my favorite things about writing Book 1 in a time shortly after the apoc is the thoughts and feelings of those who can compare the old world to the new. I'm kind of in love with the idea that we can carry the old world with us in our minds even when everything has changed, and that people with personalities developed in the civilized world can survive in a world without civilization.

I totally agree about fantasy. My series is sort of a Post-apoc and fantasy hybrid, with the emphasis on post-apoc. I think the two genres are way more connected than people think. I grew up loving fantasy and it's still my favorite genre. The Dragonlance series and the Death Gate Cycle I ate up as a kid. There's so much of the death and rebirth of "ages" and "civilizations" in fantasy, and in some extent to our own world. I think the two ideas are strongly connected. That's part of what inspired me to write this series. I mean, in history we have dark ages, great empires, world wars, renaissances, industrial revolutions. The world is always changing drastically, in real life and in fantasy.

Thank you for the kind words. I believe my books straddle that gap pretty well too, though sometimes I have to reel the dark part in. I'm an optimistic-realist by my own estimation, so this sort of balance of empowering and also gritty survival fits my style perfectly. Also I love the Robin Hood Legend, and the idea that it keeps repeating itself through history is an idea I couldn't shake.

If you love that sort of stuff, you'd absolutely love The Last of Us. It's a post-apoc video game with an absolutely earthshaking story. It's my favorite, and it's very much in the style of my books. I remember seeing Waterworld when I was like 9 haha. Fury Road was incredible, though definitely on the dark side. I haven't read station 11 but I've heard amazing things.

Thanks for the Coffee rant. I enjoyed it. Kick some ass on that book :D
Evan


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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #55 on: June 18, 2017, 08:38:33 PM »
There are groups out there for Planetary Romance? That's, probably the closest thing to what I write, but I had just assumed it was too obscure and promoted mine as post apoc instead.

The problem with "Planetary Romance" is that too many people see the "romance" part and come to the wrong conclusion.  It's a troublesome term for that reason, and I think you made the right choice to promote your work as post-apocalyptic instead.
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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #56 on: June 18, 2017, 09:29:37 PM »
There are groups out there for Planetary Romance? That's, probably the closest thing to what I write, but I had just assumed it was too obscure and promoted mine as post apoc instead.
I'm going to look for some groups, but if you felt like pm'ing me some suggestions, I'd be eternally grateful.
There's an FB group called Planetary Romance as well as Sword and Planet. A few thousand members each and very casual, so they would be a nice start.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #57 on: June 19, 2017, 11:26:21 AM »
Are any of these books we've been talking about especially good in audiobook?

I've got a serious backlog for my reading. But my listening schedule is wide open.

 Just finished Garrett B Robinsons nightblade box set, and that was a well narrated, fun listen. Light on the worldbuilding, but I have listened to his vlog long enough, I know he is building up to a larger epic where the scope gets a lot broader.
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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #58 on: June 19, 2017, 01:28:38 PM »
Remind me of another favorite quote. "Err on the side of awesome."
I always choose what is the most fun. Why write if it isn't fun.
If you're writing in three different worlds, are they all standalone, or will they be series? Keeping three series going seems like a big commitment.

Three different worlds with their own series attached. My goal for my YA series is that it'll be 5 books in the beginning, a way to test the YA market. My MG series (both of them) are really what I love to write. So I'm testing the waters to see where I can find a bit of love. None of the series will be longer than 12 books. So why that sounds like a lot, many of the books are the half-books like 1.5, 2.5 and such. More detail for those interested in going deeper with the series. When I do make a world, it tends to be pretty rich with life. It seems a shame to me, not to explore it.  :)

Sorry for the late reply  :P

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #59 on: June 19, 2017, 05:38:07 PM »
I'm not sure whether I strictly qualify as world-building, since my (fantasy) world is a secondary world - like this one, but with several important differences!

I suppose the key difference is that due to a mini Ice Age Europe is a backwater, and the main technological impetus comes from China and India.

The other thing is that it's set in 19th century France, with a group of explorers and engineers building a railway into the lost interior of the country. They start running into people who have got stuck in the Middle Ages, and a massive culture clash ensues.

There's also a lot of slightly off-whack religions. Most of the main religions are Goddess-based, but some are still pretty patriarchal.

And then there's the magic. My main characters have magical powers, but they're called shamans because they're particularly good at hopping into the underworld, and other worlds altogether.

The most important person is a teenage girl, and she grows up through the course of the books. In the first book, she's 13. She's part of a large, complicated and eccentric family - or two families. And the whole thing follows the working out a curse on one family that gradually takes out a whole lot of characters.
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Offline Douglas Milewski

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #60 on: June 19, 2017, 06:04:05 PM »
I've built the world of Endhaven over a several series of novels. It features a few elements that make it interesting.
  • The inhabitants don't have a word for magic even though magic is all over the place. All magic is thought of as acquired skills or innate traits. Because of this, nobody casts spells, but everyone keeps secrets.
  • This world is the last of all possible worlds, with a mismatched and incomplete set of gods doing their best to keep it around.
  • Destiny is dead. She had an argument with the goddess of death about who gets the last say and lost. Now, because of her death, all the institutions built on destiny are slowly unraveling.
  • Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
  • The friendly gods are terrible, and the terrible gods are reprehensible.
  • The gods are real, so religion matters. The books all contain deep religious themes.
  • Familiar fantasy elements, created in the past, now exist in a time period different from the one that invented them, keeping everything from fitting ever so neatly.
The more that I write in this place, the better that I like it.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 06:08:11 PM by Douglas Milewski »

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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #61 on: June 19, 2017, 09:09:38 PM »
Are any of these books we've been talking about especially good in audiobook?

I've got a serious backlog for my reading. But my listening schedule is wide open.

 Just finished Garrett B Robinsons nightblade box set, and that was a well narrated, fun listen. Light on the worldbuilding, but I have listened to his vlog long enough, I know he is building up to a larger epic where the scope gets a lot broader.

Hood is live as an audiobook, hit me up if you're interested!

A Legend Is Reborn In The American Apocalypse.
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #62 on: June 20, 2017, 07:15:51 AM »
I'm not sure whether I strictly qualify as world-building, since my (fantasy) world is a secondary world - like this one, but with several important differences!

I'd say not only does it count, but it's actually harder because you had to do more research. I guess it helps if you're already familiar with those cultures, though personally, the more I learn about any particular culture the more I feel under-qualified to represent it. How much research do you do, and when do you decide, okay, time to stop and write the damn thing.


   
  • Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
  • The friendly gods are terrible, and the terrible gods are reprehensible.
  • The gods are real, so religion matters. The books all contain deep religious themes.

Makes sense. If you go back far enough in history, the line between science and magic kind of blurs.

I always thought that the Dungeons and Dragons model for magic versus religion was interesting.(I'm not an expert on dnd lore, so forgive me if I am way off base.)

You had wizards, who were already doing supernatural things, but doing so by following a set of natural, or supernatural laws, parallel to the natural laws of the world. They were, essentially, a group of scientists who had made a different set of breakthroughs and written their discoveries down in spellbooks.

And then you had clerics, who were the wielders of the powers granted to them by the dieties. They could either break the laws of magic, or wield them in ways beyond mortal abilities, by channeling powers granted to them by their respective dieties. They didn't do magic, they worked miracles. This is different than a lot of worlds, where magic is simply some offshoot of divine power, or divine power is simply a higher level of magic.

I don't know where I was going with that...

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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #63 on: June 20, 2017, 07:33:51 PM »
I always thought that the Dungeons and Dragons model for magic versus religion was interesting.(I'm not an expert on dnd lore, so forgive me if I am way off base.)

You had wizards, who were already doing supernatural things, but doing so by following a set of natural, or supernatural laws, parallel to the natural laws of the world. They were, essentially, a group of scientists who had made a different set of breakthroughs and written their discoveries down in spellbooks.

And then you had clerics, who were the wielders of the powers granted to them by the dieties. They could either break the laws of magic, or wield them in ways beyond mortal abilities, by channeling powers granted to them by their respective dieties. They didn't do magic, they worked miracles. This is different than a lot of worlds, where magic is simply some offshoot of divine power, or divine power is simply a higher level of magic.

I don't know where I was going with that...

DnD is awesome, that's where you were going with that. A+

A Legend Is Reborn In The American Apocalypse.
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Offline JessieCar

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #64 on: June 20, 2017, 08:46:25 PM »
I'd say not only does it count, but it's actually harder because you had to do more research. I guess it helps if you're already familiar with those cultures, though personally, the more I learn about any particular culture the more I feel under-qualified to represent it. How much research do you do, and when do you decide, okay, time to stop and write the damn thing.

I know just what you mean. And it's easy to get carried away by research, and try to put it all in! I've tried to stick with cultures where I knew something to begin with. I didn't want to write traditional epic fantasy, though I enjoy reading it.

This has been a fun thread to read - have you gleaned anything from it?
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Offline blerg et al.

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #65 on: June 22, 2017, 07:57:49 PM »
I like this thread.
Actually, I like talking about this stuff in general. It's alot easier than trying to write a newsletter.
And when I log off, I'm more excited to get back to my own work.

This is what the authors I read spend their time doing. Talking craft, or talking about other people's books.

I found this the other day.
Stack Exchange for Worldbuilders
https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/

The standard of discourse is...daunting. A lot of very smart people over there.
But I think it would be a good place to have more chats like this one.
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Online jlstovall4

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Re: seeking great worldbuilding, share your books
« Reply #66 on: June 23, 2017, 03:08:13 AM »
I found this the other day.
Stack Exchange for Worldbuilders
https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/

Thanks for the website.

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