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I'm absolutely overwhelmed.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Oomatu, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. Oomatu

    Oomatu Closed Account

    Islandfall: Awakening, the first of 5 in the Islandfall Saga, is kicking my ass. I'm absolutely overwhelmed with character, plot, and mythology details!

    I've written about 3/4 chapters into the book, and I can't seem to connect all the dots. The mythology is comprehensive and accurately explains the state of the world, and the characters have great backstories and motives. Why is it so exhausting to put to paper (metaphorically). I have to mentally prepair myself for the stress of [re]dissecting my plot and whitling away at the flow of events.

    My first book only explains about 1/5 of the lore in the world, and leaves more questions and answers. I don't what why it is so overwhelming, but I will any advice I can get!
  2. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

    Break things up into pieces and slowly parcel out the lore behind your world, over the course of your story. You can't front load a story with a the LORE I've learned that, tell what you can what is relevant to character's and the events at hand; hint and allude to everything else.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Stop worrying about your lore. As a reader I want to read about interesting characters facing challenges.

    It sounds like you are over concerned with world building.

    1/5 of your world's lore might be more than enough for the purposes of good fiction.
  4. Velka

    Velka Sage

    I recommend putting your mythology and lore aside and focus on the just actual story for a while. Once you have a solid grasp of what is happening from beginning to end, then you can see where including lore and the world you've built will feel organic and the inclusion will support the story.

    If you try to write a story that supports a world, the story will get smushed under it's weight. A world should exist to support a story.
  5. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

    I agree with what was said above. I would also advise for you to try to flesh out the full skeleton of what your first book should look like. Who are the characters, how do they get from point A to point B to point C etc. Ask yourself why, what, when, all the questions you can think of until you can say you have a cohesive plot. Then dig into your lore and see where the pieces fall with the plot you've created.
  6. AJ Stevens

    AJ Stevens Minstrel

    Changing the lore of your world is easier than changing your characters. It's a facilitator, not the story itself.
  7. Entrisen

    Entrisen Dreamer

    Just focus on the story. Add lore and what not that seems important for you to add, later on. Just get the story finished and then go through and add in what you need. Make the story flow and make it engrossing. If you over complicate things for yourself, you're more than likely making things more complicated for your readers as they go through the novel. You don't want to overwhelm your readers with too much information through the novel. Just sprinkle things here and there, and make it seem natural. They experience the world as your characters do, let them show the world. Not you
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    yep, I'm with everyone else, Lore is not Story. Figure out what your story is. Who are the characters, what is their goal, what challenges will they face along the way… Lore can be worked into it as you go.

    Plot, outline, storyboard if you feel you need a road map.
    ksmith likes this.
  9. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    Everyone works different, but I encountered a similar issue. I loved how great authors were able to just drop small pieces of historic or cultural references into their stories. I wanted to do that, too. I figured I could get by, dropping little pieces and jotting them down to the let the story build the world.

    It's didn't work for me.

    I got way too bogged down in worrying that all the details would add up but not mesh well together. I had to break down and world build to a ridiculous level. Did you know that on the northern coast of Dowling, the men of the bay eat eel? Probably not, and neither will anyone who ever reads anything I write because it's completely effing irrelevant in every way, but I had to map it all out, not just the little valley that the stories take place in, but the whole freaking continent. Because I would, for OCD reasons I can't explain, have to know that the beaver fur came from Crosspool on a trade caravan that takes just over two weeks to get to Stanton, which is four nations away.

    I got into it and loved it. It took a gigantic amount of my very limited writing time, but I have a fairly thorough encyclopedia that I can reference for details and update as I write. Now I don't get that tense, bloodrush feeling worrying that my details don't mesh together. If I ever accidentally said that coffee came from a country that I later said was coastal grasslands, I would just totally lose it.

    But, like I said, everyone works different.
  10. AryasOrsino

    AryasOrsino New Member

    Hi, I glanced over the other answers and agree with what Bruce just said. It's good to have your own encyclopedia or bible for your series, but the best stuff is when an author just drops little things here and there so it flows nicely as part of the surroundings. The main thing is really your story. I find writing without a plot structure near impossible unless it's a short story. And as a new author I really had to develop a process for myself.

    Most importantly you need to know what theme or themes you wish to tackle. Then you make that integral to your plot and your protagonist, because the two go hand in hand. The theme for the story and the theme for the hero must be identical.

    The way I originally approached building my skeleton was to think if I'm going to write 300 pages I'll divide them into 30 chapters of ten pages, so I wrote 30 lines in my first outline, each representing a chapter. Then I did a similar thing for each chapter. Now that gave me a very basic outline of roughly 300 lines, but it was a start.

    A book I found helpful was 'Plot VS Character", it helped me integrate the two better, because most writers are weak in one of those two fields. But those things are your story, not the lore and mythology, they're just fancy dressing. Now before you think I don't get it, I do. I have a lot of history and culture I added to my story, but the main reasons they're relevant is because I worked the themes into them.
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    More agreement from this quarter. Like Bruce McKnight, I have an extensive encyclopedia. I think there is value in creating such a thing, but there are some important considerations.

    1. It makes more sense to do this if you plan to write many stories set in the same world. It makes less sense to do this if you are going to write only one novel here, then your next novel will be something else entirely.

    2. It is important not to mistake the chicken for the egg (especially if you plan to make an omelette). As others have said, the world is not the story, the story is set within the world. If you get so caught up in the creation of the world that you don't actually write, then what you have is a diversion, a recreation, not a job. That's perfectly all right, but it won't get you published. It won't even get you closer to published. So go ahead and build out, just make sure you are always leaving time for actual writing.

    3. I believe there is a marketing benefit to world building; again, particularly if you plan to write multiple stories in the world. This can take the form of email communications with your fans, a wiki, an entire website, even separate publications for reference, if you get that popular. In the Elder Days, all that world building stuff consisted of notebooks and scraps of papers that very likely just got tossed by the kids after the Revered Author was gone. Now, though, I see a genuine potential for this more expository stuff.

    Anyway, that's my two pence worth.
    Bruce McKnight and AryasOrsino like this.
  12. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    Good point.

    The other thing that it took me a while to realize as a reader was how an author lets us peek into the world. I used to look at grand scope works by Tolkien or Martin and think there were just too many coincidences. "Really? It just happened to be the same elf?" and "Oh sure, they just happened to be cousins and that was the guy that knew the person who just happened to fight in the same war twenty years ago with the other guys grandpa."

    Then I realized that coincidences like this happen all the time and that it's just those few occurrences that the author is telling us about. There's all sorts of boring, un-coincidental stuff happening all over those worlds, but the author doesn't bother telling us about it.

    Maybe it's obvious to others, but it took me a while to have that epiphany.

    When I got into building my world and thinking about thing this way, I realized there were just unlimited story options and plenty of random tidbits to drop in for depth and flavor.
  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    This is kind of amusing actually, in the you're right kind of way. If you were to mythologize and change the name of quite a few real world characters you would get some really wild coincidences and unbelievable stories we only believe because they happened. In general, it could be said that MC's are MC's because those are the people the stories happened to. "Man, it's unbelievable that your four POV characters come together in the same place." No, the 4 became POV characters because they came together at the same place at the right time... heh heh.

    arboriad likes this.
  14. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    This reminds me of a quote I read about GRRM's world building Process:

    How long did it take to do the world-building work?
    Basically, I wrote about a hundred pages that summer. It all occurs at the same time with me. I don't build the world first, then write in it. I just write the story, and then put it together. Drawing a map took me, I don't know, a half-hour. You fill in a few things, then as you write more it becomes more and more alive.

    Read more: 'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview | Rolling Stone
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
  15. Oomatu

    Oomatu Closed Account

    I appreciate all of your guy's and gal's advice, and have taken a big step towards creating a compelling and emotional plot line. I've spent the past month ignoring world-building entirely, and just focused on the characters, personality, conflict, and ideals I want to convey in the novel.
  16. We Rise Above

    We Rise Above Dreamer

    This was my approach. Let the story come first - after all, the world-building is window-dressing around the characters. If the reader doesn't care about them, the lore is irrelevant.

    I found that I was drip-feeding bits and pieces of world-building into the text in later drafts, only once I was happy with the conflict and plot I was creating. I like to think (rightly or wrongly) that if somebody took my general storyline and put it in a different setting entirely, it would still stand up to some degree. Early on, I spent ages wondering about some minor details of the city I'd created, only to realise that what I should be doing was developing my characters. They are what matters.

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