Author Topic: World Building: How deep do you go?  (Read 1169 times)  

Online JRTomlin

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2017, 07:45:26 PM »
If she wants to spend extra free-time deepening her future writing then that's a good thing. Instead of criticizing perhaps consider that everyone else wastes time playing on kboards, facebook, tv, etc.

World-building is a nice hobby. Especially for a writer.
The OP asked. I answered. If the OP didn't want to take the risk of someone saying, yes, I think you may be too much stuck on world building, it's better not to ask.

I have known some fantasy writers who spent years world-building without ever writing a word of the novel. Yes,  world building can be a nice hobby but by itself it doesn't make you a writer. You actually have to ... you know ... write.  I doubt that calculating the temperature of the sea will 'deepen her future writing'. Writing will.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 07:50:55 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline Tilly

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2017, 07:48:28 PM »
World-building is a nice hobby. Especially for a hobby writer.

Fixed it for you. I don't know many full time writers who spend weeks/months measuring distances, they're usually too busy writing the actual story and meeting reader expectations.

World building is also easier when you are writing fanfic and someone else has done all the heavy lifting for you.

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2017, 08:24:18 PM »
Build as needed, add new elements to the bible.

So when someone curses the first time, I make up a curse, then it's a curse word that will show up in the world. When we see a certain type of architecture, I associate it with a people, region, period, etc and it will show up again. Since I'm using the same world for multiple stories, each story adds more to the bible.

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Offline C. Gold

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2017, 11:56:26 PM »
Build as needed, add new elements to the bible.

So when someone curses the first time, I make up a curse, then it's a curse word that will show up in the world. When we see a certain type of architecture, I associate it with a people, region, period, etc and it will show up again. Since I'm using the same world for multiple stories, each story adds more to the bible.
Ugh, I hate coming up with curses.

The danger of getting too into measurements is if you start writing the story and find out you need to change them, then that could be a lot of time wasted that could have gone into writing. I think it's better to start writing the first story once you have a general idea of places and fill out the world detail as you go from there because the story will likely find things you've missed.

Offline Douglas Milewski

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2017, 06:18:34 AM »
For my latest WIP, I did a story bible, but that only took a month. I wanted the broad strokes so that all the most important things existed from the beginning. The details had to wait for each location chunk because that's when my brain really gets going. This time around, I paid far more attention to each main character, their area of expertise, and their beginning character arc. (I don't know the ends because I haven't designed the middle section yet.)

If I advise anything, it's setting up the character relationships more and the world less. Once a few big things gets going, you've got enough complexity to throw in little things and really mess things up.

For my other WIP, I concentrated on the present, the near past, and the far past. You see these same places at different times in history, which gives the illusion of great depth without requiring crazy amounts of world building.

My most effective world building techniques are stolen from LeGuin. Don't explain the obvious. Explain the exceptions or the unique.

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Offline Herefortheride

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #30 on: September 13, 2017, 08:05:22 AM »
Fixed it for you. I don't know many full time writers who spend weeks/months measuring distances, they're usually too busy writing the actual story and meeting reader expectations.

World building is also easier when you are writing fanfic and someone else has done all the heavy lifting for you.

Actually, Tolkien and MANY others, including writers on this board have spent YEARS world-building before writing a series. Don't presume that it's taking away time from something else. I'm building conlanguages from scratch roughly 2 YEARS before I plan on starting my next series (and having a blast doing it!).

People will write when they are ready =  )

Or like me, they might be writing one series and "prepping" series two by doing all kinds of deep world-building.

Let's lift each other up and not presume that deep-world building is stopping writing from happening, I very much doubt that's the case.
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Offline RRodriguez

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #31 on: September 13, 2017, 08:15:51 AM »
Build as needed, add new elements to the bible.

So when someone curses the first time, I make up a curse, then it's a curse word that will show up in the world. When we see a certain type of architecture, I associate it with a people, region, period, etc and it will show up again. Since I'm using the same world for multiple stories, each story adds more to the bible.

This is essentially how I do it. When I begin, I start with broad strokes, thinking in general terms how I want this new country/city/village/etc. to be. What's the terrain like? The weather?What do their buildings and clothes look like? Food? Religion? I keep it basic, but jot down a few notes pertaining to the big picture idea so I have a sort of blueprint to work with. Then, as I write the story, the smaller details start to emerge and I add the extra richness to my World Bible. Personally I don't like world-building as I find it extremely easy to become too wrapped up in the nitty gritty and it distracts me from actually getting to my work, so I try to keep myself leveled on how much I'm allowed to get lost in it all.
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Offline Douglas Milewski

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #32 on: September 13, 2017, 08:28:02 AM »
About ten years ago, I was detailing a world as I was designing it for gaming at the time. When I began adding all the detail, I came to the realization that all the detail was useless dinkage. What mattered is why you wanted to adventure there. I completely restructured, defining that I did as "adventure oriented design." That translated into how I now design locations.

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Online jaehaerys

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2017, 02:05:35 PM »


If she wants to spend extra free-time deepening her future writing then that's a good thing.

I'm a "he", but that's neither here nor there. :) 


Actually, Tolkien and MANY others, including writers on this board have spent YEARS world-building before writing a series. Don't presume that it's taking away time from something else.

Exactly. It's not all or nothing. I am fully fleshing out character arcs and plotting in addition to all the world building. I was just interested in hearing how others approach it, i.e. how deep into the process of world building do they go.

Quote
I'm building conlanguages from scratch roughly 2 YEARS before I plan on starting my next series (and having a blast doing it!).

People will write when they are ready =  )

Or like me, they might be writing one series and "prepping" series two by doing all kinds of deep world-building.

Let's lift each other up and not presume that deep-world building is stopping writing from happening, I very much doubt that's the case.

Yes, I prefer your approach, and I appreciate the positive encouragement as well, so thank you.  8)


Online JRTomlin

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2017, 02:11:51 PM »
Actually, Tolkien and MANY others, including writers on this board have spent YEARS world-building before writing a series. Don't presume that it's taking away time from something else. I'm building conlanguages from scratch roughly 2 YEARS before I plan on starting my next series (and having a blast doing it!).

People will write when they are ready =  )

Or like me, they might be writing one series and "prepping" series two by doing all kinds of deep world-building.

Let's lift each other up and not presume that deep-world building is stopping writing from happening, I very much doubt that's the case.
You may doubt it but not once did the OP mention writing OR a story line. And I do not consider it 'lifting someone up' by not being honest with them.

From everything I have read about Tolkien's method, you are mistaken that he spent decades world building and only then did he sit down and write:

Quote
HOW DID J.R.R. Tolkien create The Lord of the Rings? The simple answer is that he wrote it. He sat down in a chair in 1937 and spent more than a dozen years working on what remains a masterwork of fantasy literature and a genius stroke of immersive worldbuilding.

https://www.wired.com/2015/10/see-jrr-tolkien-lord-of-the-rings-middle-earth-illustrations-for-first-time/
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 02:15:19 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline Becca Mills

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2017, 03:13:48 PM »
In planning my epic fantasy saga I've drawn my maps, and now I'm creating spreadsheets loaded with geographical/statistical information. I've already finished fleshing out the magic systems, various religious beliefs, and written most of my world's history and timelines.

But a question sprung to mind today as I was measuring the width/length of my rivers, estimating the average depth and temperatures of all my seas, bays, lakes etc and charting the populations/climate of various regions, towns, cities and figuring out what all the various castles and holds look like...

How far into world building do you go before you've determined it's enough?

I'd spent a week plotting the distances between all of the locations in my fantasy world...we're talking into the hundreds of distinct places plotted on a chart similar to cross-reference charts you'd find on a roadmap - I'd underestimated how long that would take, foolishly. So, all of this to say, I'm not sure if I'm doing too much or if I'm doing just the right amount. How deep do you go when you're world building? Thanks in advance for your input.

I do this sort of thing, but on an as-needed basis. If I have a chapter in which characters need to cross Pangaea, that's when I look up how big Pangaea was, where the mountain ranges and major waterways might've been, etc. Not working it all out ahead of time means I occasionally stick myself with annoying inconsistencies and have to go back and revise, but it does keep me from getting sucked down the rabbit hole.

I do tend to make rough drawings of repeatedly used settings. It saves me from having a house facing north in one scene and east in another, or having a barn go on walkabout -- behind the house, beside the house ... who knows where it'll be next.

From everything I have read about Tolkien's method, you are mistaken that he spent decades world building and only then did he sit down and write

It's been a while since I read up on Tolkien, but my memory is that his conlanging initiated all his endeavors, both academic and creative, with both his fiction and the associated world-building being fundamentally connected to the languages, maybe even arising from them. But I don't think he developed the languages to the exclusion of writing. LoTR was a late creation, but before he wrote it, he was creating a huge body of mythology integrated with the languages. Thinking of that stuff as "world-building" isn't quite right because he didn't intend it as background to LoTR, which wasn't even in his mind at the time. LoTR was more like a late offshoot of a huge tree of intellectual work -- language, history, mythos, story.

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: World Building: How deep do you go?
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2017, 06:25:20 AM »

I'm a "he", but that's neither here nor there. :) 

Exactly. It's not all or nothing. I am fully fleshing out character arcs and plotting in addition to all the world building. I was just interested in hearing how others approach it, i.e. how deep into the process of world building do they go.

Yes, I prefer your approach, and I appreciate the positive encouragement as well, so thank you.  8)

No problem! I like showing solidarity with fellow world-builders.

Tolkien worked on conlangs for years before he wrote a single publishable story.
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