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

Worldbuilding as plotbuilding

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Aldarion, Dec 16, 2019.

  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    341
    155
    43
    I have noticed that, as I have spent time worldbuilding, I started randomly getting ideas for the plot. Basically, my worldbuilding has informed plotbuilding, leading to plot outline(s) appearing (randomly) even though I am currently not thinking about plot at all. Oh, and I also got ideas (and even plot outlines) for about half a dozen to a dozen unconnected short stories and such. At the same time, a lot of ideas and stuff got rejected because developing world made their inclusion impossible.

    Anybody else had similar experiences?

    EDIT: Crap, realized there is already a thread about this.
     
  2. Avadyyrm

    Avadyyrm Scribe

    49
    9
    8
    Many. I enjoy world building and to me it helps me get my creative plot juices flowing. I take the "cool things/races" locations etc, of my world and say I want to include this in my story. It helps me flesh oht ny story, though I think it is important to have a plot somewhat defined and in the background, because otherwise it's a while bunch of stuff that you want to tell/show the reader, but the story itself isn't very good. I've learned that I have many many ideas that I want to show the reader. The problem is that it would require a massive world, and a long series, and/or going out of my way in the actual story to include my ideas and such. I've learned that there is a point where I have to say, this is too much of a distraction, or it doesn't matter enough to keep it in the story. The story matters more than the "cool ideas" that you want to put in it. There is such a thing as too much in world building
     
    Aldarion likes this.
  3. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    341
    155
    43
    Agreed. Although it is a good idea, I think, to include snippets from those in the story: not so much to overwhelm, but enough to make the world feel lived in. That is what Tolkien did, including stories about the world he created.
     
    Avadyyrm likes this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,262
    4,102
    313
    Since my Altearth takes all of medieval history as its template, you'd think I'd be all about plot and not much about world, but it hasn't worked out that way at all. I do massive amounts of worldbuilding, not least because real-world medieval history didn't have dwarves and elves and such, and finding both a place and a role for them, as well as their own histories, has been quite a project.

    I've come to regard it as a dialectic between world and story. Making any sort of change in one sends ripples into the other. I've been in Altearth long enough now that I'm fairly comfortable with the dynamic. I can't imagine tackling building a world from scratch. One world is enough.

    Once I get down to a specific story, it becomes a trialectic (well, it ought to be a word), because character exerts a powerful influence as well.
     
    Aldarion likes this.
  5. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    341
    155
    43
    I think the bolded is precisely what it is, and why I prefer the idea of building a world first and then writing stories set in that world. World informs the story, and story informs the world; but writing story first and letting world build itself is, for me at least, an inferior choice, as you do not know how will various elements interact in the end. Which is what leads to dreaded plot holes - you can see that with Star Trek and their tech of the week.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,262
    4,102
    313
    Well that makes me consider a new angle on this. What constitutes "the world"?

    For example. I wrote a short story called The Roadmaster, pretty early on in the development of Altearth. It was just a notion that came to me from somewhere out in left-center field. For one thing, it's set in the [Altearth] 1950s. In the course of writing that, I touched on a socio-magical division happening in society, a division between what in the story I called Arts and Science. I won't bore with details, but I also mentioned something called the Great War and its role in raising Science to the apogee of prestige.

    On the one hand, I had done worldbuilding first because I had my premise (Rome never fell; barbarian invasions were monster invasions, and they brought magic) and I had nearly two thousand years of (human) history in place. That's far more worldbuilding that many fantasy worlds ever get.

    On the other hand, I hadn't built any of 1950s Altearth, I just dove in. I had only the faintest notions about the Great War (ran WWI and WWII together into a single conflict). But the story gave me reason to think more about that, and from that came a large chunk of worldbuilding that eventually provided the grist for an entire novel.

    That's why I like to see it as a dialectic. It leaves out any question of sequence. It's more like improvisation in music, though one cannot push that comparison too far before the wheels come off. Anyway, I'm not trying to argue one position or another, just setting out another aspect of how I've been working. I do think the dynamic would be very different if I were inventing entire new worlds for each new novel.
     
  7. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,795
    655
    113
    Hi,

    Personally I'm a pantster, so this happens a lot of the time in one form or another for me. Mostly though I develop my plot on on the basis firstly of the character and his situation - ie who is he and what mess is he in, and world build is sort of the framework underneath it all holding everything together. So in Callum which I just finished, my MC is a minor enchanter, kidnapped by the Fae and stolen back to their realm wanting to go home. The world build is going on all around him as he wanders this strange land, unable to speak the language, trying to get home. And then I threw in some badly misfiring spells - one of which turns him into an elf maiden - allowing him to wander through the towns and start to interact. That allowed me to explore this realm through his / her eyes, and delve deeper into the world build.

    I think what I'm saying is that for me all three things, character and plot and world build, work and grow together. Maybe the first two are a little more in the driver's seat, but often the world build is the thing that turns the plot upside down. It's usually because all through the book until a certain point of been describing the world and its oddities, but not thus far explaining why those oddities are as they are. Then when I do, those oddities explain the actions of the characters in a whole new light, and turn the story upside down in a massive plot twist. This happens a lot more often in epic fantasy than it does in urban fantasy or sci fi - at least for me. I assume because the world building is so much more extensive.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. Avadyyrm

    Avadyyrm Scribe

    49
    9
    8
    I agree. The plot and world building go hand in hand. I think either can be done separately, but it won't be as well done if both are done together. The world should compliment/complete the plot, and the plot should do the same. The world is where the plot is so it's just as important, but the plot is why the world is relevant, so the plot is just as important. Writing both must be done with an idea of the other.
     
  9. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    341
    155
    43
    You cannot really avoid it. So question is not so much whether worldbuilding comes before plotbuilding or the opposite, rather, it is what gets priority at first. I had had to change some things about plot outline for my planned novel(s) due to development of my world, but I also shifted some things in my world due to plot. So as you say, it is dialectic, but it is not an equal dialogue either. One will get priority.
     
  10. Avadyyrm

    Avadyyrm Scribe

    49
    9
    8
    I think the one that should get priority is world building, because the plot is so heavily influenced by the world It is set in. The world should change if needed to fit the plot, but the plot shouldnt be priority, because if it is, the world will be more flimsy, only having structure sround the plot. I also think it's easier to come up with a plot/add to a plot when you have a world to help you. E.g. in such and such place there is the such and such weapon and so Mr. Such and such needs to go there so he can defeat the king of such and such. The plot is more influenced by the world, than the other way around
     
  11. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    341
    155
    43
    Indeed. And I generally agree, especially if you are writing a series. However, worldbuilding too much for a single novel or novelette is not a reasonable choice. Of course, if you decide to turn that into a series...
     
  12. Yora

    Yora Maester

    684
    279
    63
    There are no new plots, but endleas room for new settings. Putting old plots into new settings is what makes new interesting stories.
    Thougj a fresh setting can be done very well with pretty little worldbuilding. The Witcher series is a good example of a world with very few historical or cultural details and made up almost entirely of old generic elements. The only thing that is new is the political setup and the way people interact in that world. And even those are not terribly original, but still different enough to make for a fresh story.
     
  13. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    353
    89
    28
    I always start with characters creation. When the characters are ready I just have to figure out how would these people interact with each other and at this point I already have some basic plot. When I have some basic plot I know what other characters I need. When I have enough characters I just have to create a world where these characters can believably live.
     
Loading...

Share This Page