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Thread: Help on world building

  1. #1

    Help on world building

    Hello, everyone!

    It's been a hectic year for me and finally I got some spare time to sit down and start writing my book. Currently, I'm planning on systematically write my story, with the help of a build up world.

    However, I just want to ask how do you people build your world? In terms of details, how deep do you go?

    I have a rough idea of how the story will unfold, the plots and twists within, and the relationships with different cultures and even characters. Just not detailed yet.

    So, do you simply build a world, physical world with the landscape, and trees and etc?

    Do you bring in the history? Like the history of how the world is created? This part I seriously don't feel like doing..

    So, how do you do it? Can share with me and even help me?

  2. #2
    I find that there tends to be two proccesses, world first and plot first. With plot first you start with the plot of the story any world building is done specifically for how that world building supports the plot. Then there is world first where you start with designing the world, putting as much thought and work into the world as you want, and then once you have the world you think up a plot that fits in the world.

    I find plot first to be more effective for actually writing, but it can be boring at times, with world first there's the fun of world building but you might get caught up building the world and never get around to actually writing. I suppose the ideal approach would be a mix.

    I can only say do what you find is best for you.
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  4. #3
    Senior Member JCFarnham's Avatar
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    How deep do you go?

    Deep enough to support a conflict and therefore the story.

    This doesn't mean I'm advocating minimalist building on the fly (aka when writing the book), and neither does it mean I'm advocation working through everything in minute, painstaking detail. I worldbuild to a point where a conflict can comfortable exist within the setting. Then I get writing. Whatever that means at the end of the day. Certain stories require certain amounts of world building you know?

    Naturally, I may need more detail as I go.

    Considering the setting informs the characters who in turn inform the kind of stories you can tell, I don't believe each thing can be separated effectively. You'll need some amount of worldbuilding in setting up your premise, just as having a story in mind would help enormously to pin down exactly what you need to work out in detail


    I guess this method of mine is the combination that Queshire is talking about, both plot and world come to me at a similar time, because they work and build off each other. Yeah?
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  6. #4
    Thank you for the advice.. One thing though I currently encountered is that.. I want to make my story full of twists. Well, these twists and turns of the plots, which is already in my mind, has to do with like many many years ago, that kind of thing. some demon god got defeated and now trying to raise up, and some stuffs here and there..

    So, I am contemplating if I should just say, "A powerful, evil demon god bound for total destruction was sealed by ancient magic and was buried deep in the land. and that's it.. or I should also try to build a world that explains how this demons come into the world.. kind of thing. like a history.. of course this part might not be in the story itself.. or only a short explanation...

  7. #5
    Moderator Ankari's Avatar
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    Of the two paths, I have chosen to tread the world building first. It helps me understand each racial, national, religious or factional motive. This generates conflicts which generates stories. In a way, its structured brainstorming. I do a lot of the behind-the-scene world building as well, stuff that the reader may never read but will add depth to your world and to your character. It also generates a lot of mystery that let's the imagination of the reader run wild. Who once dwelt in the ruins your hero took refuge in? When and who painted the caves that an antagonist uses for his lair. Those are interesting things elements that add flavor to your story.
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  9. #6
    1 - Whatever that first concept is, a character or a type of magic or a plot event.
    2 - What do I need for these ideas to work? What's the buildup/resolution for this concept?
    3 - How many characters are there now? How many do I need? What do I need to do each character justice? Home towns? Supporting characters? Etc.
    4 - Okay, now how much has been dictated just to pull off the concept, and what are the gaps that are left for me to choose?

    From there . . . Ecology, Magic, Government, Culture and Warfare. With a doodle of a map. At least think about each topic, but only go just a little farther with each than you need and scale back later. And try to make connections between all your elements.
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  10. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Tan View Post
    However, I just want to ask how do you people build your world? In terms of details, how deep do you go?
    Since worldbuilding is a hobby of mine much deeper than it is needed for any story. I do not advocate that, especially for "single story worlds".

    Do you bring in the history? Like the history of how the world is created? This part I seriously don't feel like doing..
    You don't have to. A little history is good to give your people some traditions to follow. Or to generate a feeling of depth.
    A generation myth also can be a good thing. Maybe two and the characters can argue about the "truth" in them. But you don't have to know how the world was created.

    So, I am contemplating if I should just say, "A powerful, evil demon god bound for total destruction was sealed by ancient magic and was buried deep in the land. and that's it.. or I should also try to build a world that explains how this demons come into the world.. kind of thing. like a history.. of course this part might not be in the story itself.. or only a short explanation...
    It would be interesting to know why this demon wants to conquer and destroy the world. Things can be very different depending on it's motivation.
    How they come into the world might give hints on how to overcome them.

    Honestly, there are lots of "evil enemy wants to destroy everything, hero wanted to defeat them" stories. For this line alone I would not pick up a book. Some more background can help a lot to deviate from this standard plot, even if it basically remains the same.

  11. #8
    Senior Member JCFarnham's Avatar
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    I could have made it clearer in my first post.. hmmm

    Everything involved should work together. The problem with doing one thing first then the other is you could inadvertently add in a bias, ie, a world that doesn't support the plot or a plot with no obvious foundation. Then again how is it possible to do two things at once?

    I usually follow the house metaphor in that sense, in which the house and all associated with it is the novel. You need foundations, that's your worldbuilding, but unless you build anything on that foundation you still don't have a house. OR and house without foundations? Well, its difficult to add those in? (that's where it breaks down, but you should see what I mean.)

    What about a character who doesn't have any grounding in the worlds collective history? Well to flip that on it's head, how does a collective history work with out the characters to exemplify it, build upon it, or live it?

    Where ever possible and whatever you want to start with, as long as you make sure everything supports everything else (like that extended house metaphor) you're golden
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  12. #9
    Senior Member Caged Maiden's Avatar
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    Personally, I think that a story which begins with ancient history can get very uninteresting very quickly. What if you opened with a character in a situation of minor conflict (an invading army slaying villagers and peasants fleeing, a mage who tampers with powerful magic he shouldn't, a gypsy caravan who stumble upon an ancient ruin in the forest) something which can then link into the history without it being all thrown into a prologue?

    It's nice if a reader gets to learn the history as the character does.

    Also, paragraphs upon paragraphs about the setting are redundant and uninteresting. As a reader, I don't need to hear more than a line about the trees, clouds, or even weather unless they are unusual. If trees are swaying, I now know it's breezy, but I don't need to know anything else about the wind/ trees unless it's a freaking gale or the trees are impaling people and walking around. When a world gets too detailed, people TEND (not saying You do) to want to put in all the details they have created, and it gets to be too much to want to read.

    I'm all for charting out lineages, arranging a pantheon of detailed complex gods, or mapping out your world. I have done all of those things to keep my consistency when I write. But, would you be able to write a whole detailed cultural history and NOT include those details except in small doses? I think this is my biggest argument for not detailing everything before you begin writing. Yes, it's wonderful to use those details to breathe life into your culture and characters, but it gets hard to hold back sometimes. I'd get a general outline and a list of a few very pertinent things you just have to have in there, and then let the writing determine what must be filled in later.

    Hope some of that is helpful.

  13. #10
    So, from what I gathered, I should firstly, build a world first. Mapping out the terrains and landscape, with cities, villages and caves, mountains and etc.. Then, build a culture of the existing world.. like how different cities hated/love each other, and relationship with different races.. then see how my story can fix all these in?

    Currently, I have a rough sketch of the map. Still adding things here and there.. I have a basic idea of what my story is telling.. Characters are pretty much there.. just trying to make them more 'human'.. in short, adding weaknesses to them..

    what i left out was the god thing.. so I'll go and see what I can come out with and if possible post it out for all to see.

    One question to ask though.. I know it's good to get feedbacks and critics for my work, but who can I actually approach to get a good feedback? What I meant by good, is constructive feedbacks., that allows me to work on that area..

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