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Foundations of Worldbuilding

Discussion in 'World Building' started by LuxMyalis, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    Hey Everyone!

    I was just curious to see what people feel are the foundations of world building. Is the world something that needs to have a foundation before you begin writing? If so, at what point do you stop world-building and actually begin to tell the story? Or is it something that is developed during the writing process and edited later to create the consistency?

    Cheers!
     
    Thomas Laszlo likes this.
  2. Thomas Laszlo

    Thomas Laszlo Sage

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    All three methods are quite common from what I understand. I know people who will write and create whatever they need as they go, I've also met (and personally do) create the ENTIRE world and then start writing making small changes as it serves the story. Others build the parts of the world solely needed for the story and then write with just what they need.


    I think it comes down to personal style


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    You might try browsing through the world-building forum. This question has been asked many times and has been answered in a variety of ways, some of which will no doubt be useful. As Thomas said, there are multiple ways to approach world-building; it's a matter of finding what works for you.
     
    Thomas Laszlo likes this.
  4. SergeiMeranov

    SergeiMeranov Scribe

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    Thomas is pretty on point. The real answer seems to be "do what feels right to you". I think the only caveat is not to get lost in the weeds. It's really easy for some people (me) to spend a lot of time world building and never get around to the story. Many of the writing books I've read suggest much the same thing, which is to do enough that your world feels fleshed out to you and for the story purposes, but don't let it take the place of actually writing the story.
     
    Thomas Laszlo likes this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    To echo Sergei, but in a different key, it is indeed easy to get lost in the weeds. The trick is, knowing you're in the weeds in the first place. It's very easy to be quite certain you are making enormous progress as you blaze trails to places you'll never visit.

    I have absolutely not the first clue how to avoid this. The answer seems to be to keep doing it wrong until you get a sense of what wrong feels like. You may never know what's right, but you'll be able to spot when you're going wrong (wasting time).

    Folks around here know I specialize in encouragement. :}
     
  6. AngelaRCox

    AngelaRCox Dreamer

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    What everyone else said already is wonderful. I want to add that you shouldn't feel too much pressure to world-build or be original about it. Some authors go all out with it, but for others it just comes as they explore their characters or stories. And while people like to credit the Great Worldbuilders with massive creativity, they were really mostly just putting together bits and pieces of stuff they were already familiar with--Tolkien was a philologist, so he knew medieval history and language stuff, and so his languages and mythology are made out of pieces from that, for instance. When I world build, it often starts with something I've been studying for fun lately, and I spend a lot of time on things like textile manufacture and trade because my mom raised me spinning and weaving in historical styles. So random, but anything is a foundation for world building detail, and you probably know stuff that seems esoteric and exotic to other people, so feel free to build on that!
     
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  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    To echo and add another key, there are two extremes here. World building so much that you never begin to write the story...and doing too little world building so that when you begin to write you are constantly running into deep pits where parts of the world should be! At least, this second thing happens to me sometimes, where I suddenly realize I have no idea how to write a scene because I don't understand the context and important details to the world.

    Personally, I follow a mixed approach. I may sometimes go a little overboard with some things while planning out the story, but I usually catch myself at some point and kick myself forward into the writing process. Then, as I'm writing, I discover various holes in the world and try to fill in those as the story takes shape.

    But I don't think there's a failsafe solution or method, at least for me; I have difficulty knowing all the details I'll need to build before writing, beyond some of the major plot-related features. Many aspects below that level can remain murky or even fly by me unnoticed until I begin writing. So I commonly hit potholes and occasionally big pits.
     
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  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    When in doubt, the worst kind of worldbuilding focuses on filling out space on a map, and the best focuses on things like, "At x point in the story my protagonists would start looking for outside help, what kind of nations could they turn to?"

    That said, I try to map out the big five areas, using a lot of placeholders to keep from spending too much time. To me those are Ecology, Magic, Culture, Government and Warfare, remembering that everything has a past and might arc going forward.
     
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  9. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    My opinion is that you essentially need to have both a summery of the story and an idea about what kind of world this will take place in before either can be brought into more detail. A romantic story will play out somewhat differently in a Sumerian and in a Norse inspired settings. Thus when you know roughly what the story you want to tell is about, and in what cultural and natural enviroment it will be set, then you can start to work on both to ensure that they support each other and don't risk to drift appart; like with lots of setting information that isn't relevant to the story or with a story that makes no sense in the world its set in.
     
    Thomas Laszlo likes this.
  10. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Ask yourself: what do I absolutely need to know to write this scene?

    Flesh that out then go onto the next scene and find out if there are blanks in your knowledge about how that scene would work in your world.

    I've found that this set of questions really gets my creative juices flowing [and I tend to ask other more detailed questions when this list doesn't strike me as the right questions to ask for my world].

    I had to go through the entire list of magic questions before I even started writing because that was the largest point of departure from real life. I'm doing a historical fantasy and using historical events as a baseline for my society.

    Therefore, [most of] my world building tends to be in economic spheres, because any society with magic is going to change at an economic level first. And there are some minor geography things that I'm tweaking for story purposes.

    Also, it's remarkably liberating to go: "I don't know what goes in here so I'll just write [make up stuff later] and move on." Just remember to come back through on an edit pass and fill that in [make up stuff later]! Nothing as embarrassing as NOT doing that and turning your work into an editor. [And when I edited for a mag, I did see this.]
     
  11. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    These are good places to start. Thanks for the advice. :)
     
    Thomas Laszlo likes this.
  12. LuxMyalis

    LuxMyalis Acolyte

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    This is all excellent advice! Some of these things I've never considered and will definitely give them a go. It's really neat to see how different everyone's approach is. :D
     
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