1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Does World Building Scare You?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Twook00, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Twook00

    Twook00 Sage

    320
    87
    28
    I've been thinking about World Building a lot lately and I've decided it scares the heck out of me. The sheer variety of things one must know in order to create civilizations and cultures and creatures boggles my mind.

    I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I would need to read up on history, biology, weapons, science, anthropology, biology, religion, economics, geography and on and on and on before I could ever consider creating a functional, believable world.

    Otherwise, I fear that anything I come up with will be shot down or considered hodge-podge compared to such worlds as Westeros or "Randland".

    Is this wrong? Should I just sit down and start making stuff up and hope it all comes together? Where do I begin?
     
  2. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    2,049
    658
    113
    You only need to go into as much detail as the story requires. If you don't need to know the marriage ceremony of the city over there, don't bother with it.

    That doesn't mean that you only need to know as much as the readers know. You should know your world fairly well, and the readers should know only a fairly small proportion of it, but what you should know should be relevant. You readers, for example, might not need to know the fifteen annual festivals that take place in the city of Blargyton, but they might be something you need to know. If the populace measure the passage of the year by the festivals, then you need to know what they are in case you have to mention them. If your main character is the high priestess of the goddess to whom one of the festivals are dedicated, then it would be a good idea to have a solid idea of what the festival entails, allowing you to use it in the story. If an invading army comes along and occupies the city, they might replace the festivals with some relating to different gods, or if they worship the same gods they might make one festival in particular the main festival of the year and expand the festivities over more days with more rituals and celebrations, and meanwhile relegate the others to lesser festivals.

    But you don't need to know the nitty gritty details of every festival on the list. The same goes for every aspect of worldbuilding. A good idea of what a state produces, what it exports and what it imports, from who, would be useful in a story with lots of politics, but in a hero's journey tale, simply knowing that all the gold mines in the country are owned by the king might be enough, if it's useful to the story.

    So really, judge what your story needs, what you need, and for the rest you can gloss over it if it seems daunting.
     
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  3. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    85
    28
    World building can seem like a very intimidating task, but I think only because you might be looking at it the wrong way. You don't have to know every single detail, custon, culture, name, etc. of your world before you can start writting. If you think in the mindset of, "Oh man I have to create an entire world all by myself!" then it will seem like a monumental task. Try breaking it down into smaller pieces.

    It really doesn't take a lot to create a culture or society, but the more details you give then the more color it will have. And also keep in mind that you don't have to present your reader with a history lesson. They don't need to know every single detail, and neither do you.

    Always try to stay positive when you write. If you feel intimidated while you're doing something, chances are it wouldn't be as good if you were feeling more confident. And a here's a tip from me that I use: Let's say that a character is going to be staying in a city for a while, or the story takes place in that city. It is not mandatory (nor is it a good idea) to tell the reader about every single detail in one spot. They will feel bombarded with details. While your writting, spread out the details. Also what I like to do is randomly sprinkle details around. Suppose the character is walking through an old building. Give some historic details about the building too add to it's importance. Make the details you tell relevant to where the character, and the reader, is. And again, you don't have to have all of these details set in stone. Just get the main details made first and then you can jsut make them up as you go if you wish.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Twook00

    Twook00 Sage

    320
    87
    28
    Good points from both of you. I tend to think of it backwards; Instead of the story coming first, then the world around it, I am creating a world first and then finding stores to tell within it. I'll open a word document and start filling it up with random creatures and characters and city names and so on, then I feel pressure to expound on all of the items. Lore and legends, history, world origins, magic system, etc. Just so many decisions to be made when you do it that way.
     
  5. SlimShady

    SlimShady Troubadour

    128
    12
    18
    World building doesn't scare me at all. World building is and always will be my favorite part of the genre. The sheer scope of what you can create and how you influence your own world's creation is fascinating too me. Their are so many ways you can take your creation that it is unfathomable how many choices you have.

    But, just remember that you don't have too come up with everything on your own. So much in the fantasy genre is based on history that this is just a given. My suggestion would be to read up on history and any other subjects that you might find useful. (Perhaps the ones you originally mentioned?) Implement these in your world and you will only increase it's realism tenfold.

    I myself did quite a bit of studying for my world. I read up on medieval history, medieval warfare, medieval medicine, etc. It really helps you craft believable societies. Not into medieval history then just pick another period. Also, I always try to write a few short stories while I'm world building as well, just to make sure that I haven't forgot about the writing part.
     
  6. Alex97

    Alex97 Troubadour

    121
    15
    18
    As long as your prepared to spend some time researching relevent infomation you'll world will be covincing enough. Try basing it on something you allready have an interest in. For me personally world building is one of the most rewarding aspects of fantasy writing because it allows me to make something entirely unique and spend time researching my favouite eras in history so don't let it intimidate you.

    I know it's allready been said but you only need to include certian details in your story. I usualy do a lot of world building and then just use what is needed but it means I have a load of notes to refer to later in writing or in another project.
     
  7. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    331
    29
    28
    i learned to do things as i write whenever i come inpass ain the story iresearch certain things right now i am stuck because i am resaeching something that i need to know at least basics of then expand as i go on
     
  8. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1,651
    552
    113
    It doesn't really scare me at all and actually I quite enjoy the challenge of building something new. I tend to start simple, one kingdom at a time; and layout the basics for the area. The following are things I consider when making a kingdom or region.

    Government Type: Republic, Monarchy etc..
    Primary Religions: If relevant to the story of course.
    Goods produced/ daily staples
    Transportation: Canals? Roads? Airships? Balloons?
    Weaponry and armament:

    Military Disposition: What percentage of the population is under arms? How are they broken into units? What type of units are they?
    Cavalry? Infantry? Pikeman? Archers? Monks? Engineers? Priests? If they are on campaign, how do they feed the soldiers? How quickly can they mobilize their forces if needed?

    Magic: if is exists, how does it work? how does it affect the society?

    Typical Construction for homes and ordinary buildings: Adobe? Stone? A hole in the ground like a hobbit? Wood?

    Trade: What resources would they have for trade with neighbors? What would they trade for?

    Population centers: Cities? Towns? Castles?; I rarely worry about villages (unless it's important for the story) since they are generally in close proximity to a larger communities by necessity and if not, can basically be placed anywhere as needed for the story. How large are the communities and what is the disposition of that population? I normally just assign a percentage instead of a specific number. (42% humans, 17% Elves, 22% Dwarf, 19% Orc)

    What defensive aspects do towns/cities have: Palisade? Curtain Walls? Baileys? Towers? Barracks for troops?

    Flora and Fauna: Only where it is important to the story (like deer hunting, eating birds etc.)
    Magical creatures: Yes? No? What kinds? How do these critters interact with the other races?

    Sentient/intelligent humanoids: Orcs? Goblins? Humans? Elves? something else? How do the races get along? Racial details could be important (i.e. how long they live, average height & weight, weaponry and capabilities, intelligence, basic alignment (evil, neutral, good)

    Basic Crime and Punishment: What are the laws? What are the punishments for said crimes? Where are prisoners kept? What sort of "Police force" does the kingdom have?

    "In-State" Communication: Couriers? Pigeons? Magical Devices? Standardized "mail" system? Bonfires? (ala LOTR)

    Geography: I usually make a map for the area (usually by continent) with mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and what topographical information I think is important.

    There may be other things to consider and it may seem like a lot, but with a bit of practice you'll get accustomed to it. Research doesn't hurt either, especially if you are hazy on a particular subject.
     
  9. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    3,080
    1,844
    163
    Screw fear. Don't let it stop you from writing your story. Don't be intimidated because you don't think you know enough to build your world. Before you start writing, you should think about your world a bit and do some research, but don't let it consume you. Put some broad strokes down and start writing. As you write and explore your plot and your characters, you'll also be exploring your world too. You'll discover new details as you go. They may make sense, they may not, but you can always fix that by researching later... if they need fixing at all.

    Don't be afraid to make mistakes and screw up in a world design. You'll learn from those screw ups and be better for it. Knowing and researching real world facts and stuff is important in world design, but just as important is knowing when to ignore them and do what ever the hell you want because it's telling a good story.
     
  10. Twook00

    Twook00 Sage

    320
    87
    28
    Thanks everyone for the great responses. And Saigonnus, that is an awesome little template you've got going there. Some stuff I would not have thought of. Thanks again!
     
    Saigonnus likes this.
  11. Hans

    Hans Sage

    219
    18
    18
    I actually like worldbuilding. A world is useful for so much more than one single story. (For example, two stories.)
    What I like most is the diversity and versatility that you seem to fear. One method to put it to an advantage: Ever sat through a class, meeting, lecture, speech or similar that threatened to bore you to death? Ask one simple question: How can I adapt this to my world and suddenly it might become interesting.
    This probably does not work for everyone, for me it has worked often enough.

    Of course that does not mean you have to include every world detail in your stories or show of with knowledge on topics no one else is interested in. But I know from experience that on strange ond obscure topics worldbuilders tend to be the persons who still know something about that.
     
  12. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    2,624
    890
    113
    Not at all. I love world building. In fact, its the most enjoyable part of the writing process. I always address world building from a macro to micro process.

    World(s): What are the physical and metaphysical laws of your world? Do multiple planes of existence exist? How many moons, suns, days, hours, continents, etc, etc do you want?

    Races: How many races do you want? When you create a race define them by the climate they have evolved within. Make sure they are races and not just different cultures within the same race.

    Religion: For me, this is where it gets fun. From religion you can sprout so much social structure and conflict. How many deities? What are the major tenets of faith? How does it explain the creation of the world and people? Is it inclusive or exclusive? What makes up the hierarchy of faith?

    Magic: I love building magic. I've created more than 16 magic systems for my world (many of which will not make a debut for quite some time). I try to use logic when creating magic systems. Where is the magic drawn from? What laws bind the magic? Is it mental based or physical based? How does it affect the caster? Is it genetically inherit or learned?

    Nations: How was the nation formed? Is it a racial nation (ex. all elves) or is it a multiracial nation? Why? What system of government do you want to use? major resource(s)? Placement of the country on the map (which should be part of world building). What is the population? If the nation has extensive resources then don't forget wars. How has the wars shaped the nation? Alliances?
     
  13. ethgania

    ethgania Dreamer

    18
    0
    1
    I'm far less scared about building the world than I am about getting it across clearly and concisely in the writing. It's such a complicated thing that I'm dealing with that I'm afraid it's too complicated to write (dealing with way more "races" than necessary... basically a sole unifying culture, but the creatures take on different forms with regards to their responsibility and rank in the world... it gets overwhelming!), but I don't necessarily want to cut it down either, becase that means reworking the whole system.
     
  14. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    3,080
    1,844
    163
    Ethgania, if you don't rule your world, it'll rule you. What I mean by that is don't bend your story to fit the world. Bend the world to fit your story. Find the simple basic essence of your story and fit the pieces of the world onto that like meat and muscle onto a skeleton a little at a time. One scene at a time. It will make things less daunting because your only dealing with bits and pieces instead of the whole.
     
    Jabrosky likes this.
  15. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    331
    29
    28
    curious where to start suddenly forgeten how to start world building very strange my mind is blocked for some reason arggh i think have writers block rarerly happens but for me but now just when want to write drawing blank
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  16. Eeirail

    Eeirail Scribe

    37
    1
    8
    Here, I just made my creatures and such from scratch, I constructed everything from nothing, it made alot of the research un-needed, and as for some other things, I have concepts of other things but as it stands I think making your own things would be easier and more creative.
     
  17. ethgania

    ethgania Dreamer

    18
    0
    1
    True. Part of my hesitation is that my husband came up with more of this world than I have, so it's like messing with his territory. He's more of the ideas guy and I'm more of the writing type than he is. It all works, it's just proving that it works that's going to take all that time and skill.
     
  18. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1,651
    552
    113
    I have made creatures from scratch also, constructed worlds from nothing, that experience is where my template comes from, and a bit I picked up here. Generally, when it comes to research, I only do it on a subject if something sounds off or inaccurate about something I wrote; not really about every little thing I don't know. Those little tidbits are things you tend to remember and each one gives you more knowledge and experience to draw from when writing.

    Usually those things I research are perhaps common construction methods for a rock wall or how to shear a sheep using medieval tools... whatever basic stuff I am relatively unfamiliar with. Those things you create are wonderful, but if you create every little aspect of every little thing your character sees and does it could get tedious since you have to describe each thing the reader would be unfamiliar with.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  19. Eeirail

    Eeirail Scribe

    37
    1
    8
    True, honestly. I like the idea, I use all the basic crafting things, but I have never actually researched into them, maybe that will help the awful writers' block I seem to have, I must give my gratitude for this.
     
  20. Nah, I ain't scared of world-building, but then I have a very laid back approach to it: I just figure I can add the details as required and imply the rest. No need to waste creative energy on things that aren't actually going to show up in the story, after all.

    Besides, first drafts and all that.
     
Loading...

Share This Page