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New World Order

Discussion in 'World Building' started by joshua mcdermott, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

    Hi: I know I could probably read through everything.. but also thought: I don't often start a post, so maybe I would.

    Just to pick your brains on when you start to build a new world: what order do you take things? I just '"finished" novella 2 of my super series- but its set basically in modern USA world. My next efforts I want to try building a completely different world.

    How did you start on yours and in what order did things develop? were their issues that came up with how you did it?

    I am tempted to start with Myths, then Maps, then Characters. any thoughts helpful if you have a moment.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I've talked about this recently. But for me, I start with whatever loose thing it is I want to start with. Maybe it's an event, or a character, or a type of magic. To keep it simple, let's say I want to write about an enchanted mountain. That's my starting point.

    Now that enchanted mountain, it implies some things. Someone had to place that enchantment, and something had to lead that person to place it - and what does the enchantment do anyways? Those are the choices I have to make that really start to define the story, whether it's a happy garden mountain or a curse or a hermitage. That's why it's the fundamental support.

    From there it's the dynamic, the core contrasting relationship between the main characters, in this case the enchanter and the people who did whatever it was that prompted the enchantment, or whoever it is that's living under or travelling through the magic. Maybe it's the home of a retired war wizard and his sister is leading a squadron of soldiers to capture him and use his magic to start a war. The dynamic is what makes the story worthwhile or not. A powerful dynamic is worth pursuing, and until you get there you don't have a story.

    Once you have a dynamic, the whole thing opens up: You can start figuring out the real details behind the characters, plot, and setting. The happy garden mountain gets a name, and the retired wizard who lives there gets a proper backstory about the war he's hiding from. For the character I look at developing that dynamic, working their culture into their personalities, and developing the themes that come from their personalities. For the plot it's the your basic Call to Action, followed by a cycle of pinch points and plot turns until the resolution. And for setting, it's ecology, magic, political history, combat/action, and culture.

    And that's it.
    joshua mcdermott likes this.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Basically what Devor said.

    Plenty of folks like to start with the world, and that's fine. That can be maps or myths, astronomy or physics, geology, most anything. And that's the key word: any *thing*. That approach starts with things. Closely related, some folks start with concepts or themes.

    Another approach is to start with a story. For me, it's a character. I have a whole presentation where I talk about this; the example I used last time was a dwarf who goes out into the world. Why does he go out? Why is going out a big deal? Why are dwarves separate enough that going out into the world is a thing? How would that work? What would motivate this particular dwarf to do this thing? What does his family and friends think about this?

    From there I think about what kind of place would be home for these dwarves, and to what sort of place our hero would go. Since story is about conflict, the destination would be physically and culturally different from home. If it's a novel, I might add some variant places, for contrast and depth. The people my hero meets would themselves have homes and styles of dress and reasons for it all.

    And there would be huge tracts of the world about which I have nothing to say. I don't feel the need to build the whole world, create an entire history, invent whole religions. I invent only what the story needs. This always means a great deal gets created that never gets used directly, but I build from the story outward.

    But that's only one approach. There are others.
    joshua mcdermott likes this.
  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

    First I looked at what I wanted to write about - basically, my interests. Then I took a stock of these interests (Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Matthias Corvinus, Ottoman Wars, Irish and Slavic mythology) and went and combined them all into one setting.
    joshua mcdermott likes this.
  5. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    I kinda started with a bunch of random ideas. A character here, a faction there, a kingdom in a fantastical location down yonder. I eventually wondered what it would look like if all of these different individual ideas existed in the same setting. How would these characters and factions function in the same setting as this fantastical terrain? How would these factors affect each other? Over time this turned into a lot of revisions to each individual idea, until I had a cohesive setting wherein I could place my story. From there, I just built different parts of the world as was needed. Any time I have a question about how something functions, I address it. Sometimes this leads to me going down a rabbit hole of worldbuilding, but hey, it's a blast!
    Miles Lacey and joshua mcdermott like this.
  6. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

    I am feeling the start with what interests you - makes sense or I won't actually do it!
  7. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    For me, I start with an idea of a story I want to tell. This can be a character, but it can also be a setting detail or a plot idea. It's pretty broad usually and has been simmering in my head for a while. For instance, novel I'm currently editing started with a picture drawn by an artist showing creatures made of rocks. I knew there was a story there I wanted to tell, so I dug into that. What are those creatures, where do they come from and what is their place in the world.

    From there, I develop plot, setting and character together. I create 3 sections in a notebook (I use onenote), and I just write down my thoughts. What different plots are there in my book? Who are the important characters? And what do I know about the world?

    It develops together. Which helps me see how things interact. The history of the world influences the current setting. For instance, these rock creatures have not been seen in 1000 years and have become part of the myths of the world. This raises the question how that came about. Which fuels into the plot: we need to find out what happened to these creatures, which leads to even bigger mysteries. It also feeds into the characters: The believes around these creatures has transformed them into some demon like beings that should be exterminated, which has given rise to a dominant religion in the area. The religion has a ruler, who becomes the antagonist of part of the story.

    But the reverse also happens. My protagonist is in a relationship (character). He get's betrayed by the girl at some point (plot). To make this work, I need to know about his backstory, about how the girl can be in a position to successfully betray him. This leads to bits about the setting I need to fill in. So for me it's all connected. Of course, I dig into some world building stuff that's not completely related to setting or character, just because its fun. My society in this novel has scandinavian roots. So, I did some research there, I came up with a few gods that don't impact plot or character, I dug into a bit of architecture and so on. But most of it is connected (even loosely) to the others.
  8. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

    I hear you looking at character and plot and not worrying about the world: Basically your novel could be anywhere.. which is a good thing: but you are giving it home to add depth and flavor. I think for some the world build itself is the character - and the people just pass through.
  9. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    I generally start with a main plot to a story. Then go through decisions of: real world or made up one, level of technology, types of non-human beings if any, Then a map to help establish the settings for events to occur.
  10. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Dreamer

    I have two basic methods-
    A story I need to tell. What is the story and why do I want to tell it? Then I create the world where the story can believably take place. I wanted to tell a story about a legend of the Demon King. There is a pile of stones that legend says is the Demon King that was defeated a thousand years ago. A wizard has found a way to bring back the Demon King and force it to do his bidding. Unfortunately for the wizard, while the legend is real, the legend isn't true.

    Now, I build the world from the center out, starting with the stones outside a remote farming village that grew from a military camp and visited once a year by a traveling story telling trader... and build from there. Who the people in the village are and who they're descended from is crucial to the story. Obviously there's magic. In this case, fairytale style magic. Then, build the world according to the laws that govern how that world works. Then, come back to the center where the people of the story are and begin the tale. This is from micro to macro.

    The second way is I build from macro to micro. I fell into this creating worlds to role play in. First, what kind of world is it- Space Opera, Post Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Dystopian Future etc. Then decide the rules that govern that world. Magic? Tech? Mix? What kind of magic? What kind of tech? What type of mix? Who are the people? I lay the foundation and build the frame work from there, enough that others can decide what characters they want to play with but I leave it open enough that details can be hung on the frame work as plot lines, stories, cultures and people develop.

    What I really enjoy about this kind of world building is that it takes twists and turns that will surprise everyone.
    Miles Lacey likes this.
  11. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    For me, I use world building in both fiction and non-fiction writing and the approach I take to world building depends upon what the context of the writing is.

    In non-ficton the imaginary setting is likely to be a composite country created using statistics from various real countries to help with explaining issues like the impact of tourism on small countries. I don't use much micro-level worldbuilding when I use world-building in a non-fiction context.

    In fiction I decide on the climate first. Hot and humid with lots of rain means the environment will most likely be tropical. Then I think of the sort of peoples that might inhabit such an environment. Blue eyed blondes in the tropics? Not likely! They're almost certainly going to be darker skinned. Then I work on what type of dwellings would exist in such an environment, the materials they would be built out of and the clothing people would wear. Then I think of food and the customs that might be built around eating and hospitality.

    Then I look at a whole community. What type of place is the focal point of a typical community? Is it a market square? A temple? A plaza with a statue in the middle? Is it the railway station or the harbour?

    I then look at the local economy. What sort of businesses operate? Are they owner operated or run by guilds or corporations or a combination of both? What do they trade in? How do they get their goods transported to them? What is the money or equivalent used to pay for goods? And how do they communicate with people who aren't physically present, such as a supplier or merchant? It's at this point that I look at the sort of technology within the world I've created.

    Finally comes the question of governance. I decide on what authority figures exist within the setting and how much of an impact they have on the daily lives of my main characters. Who these authority figures are and how intrusive they are in people's lives is usually decided by the type of government I decide to have. For example, if priests can intrude into the strictly private affairs of the characters you're probably safe in assuming the regime is a theocracy.

    Only then do I look at the big picture.
  12. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

    For me the world is entirely dependent on the link between the MC and the plot.

    What aspect of this connection best informs the world I need to build?
  13. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

    I've always started with the story itself, because that sets the scene if you like. When I first started writing I set the stories in a city, and things evolved around what I needed to describe. So if a character had to go somewhere in the city I needed to describe the route and what they saw, and that in turn required some form of sketch map over the city. In doing so I ended up answering the question of why the city was built there, which in turn led on to what sort of trade there was and how that was organised. From there I ended up getting into how the city was ruled, because someone has to organise the city guards to prevent crime. After that, it was the same thing when a character needed to leave the city, because the same questions arise about the wider country around the city. I've found that I don't need to start with a detailed concept of the world, because the story itself will define how much of that needs describing and in what level of detail.

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