Worst World Building Tropes

Discussion in 'World Building' started by J Q Kaiser, May 24, 2018.

  1. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    If there's no explanation like that at all, though, we can't be left to assume it
     
  2. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Grandmaster

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    If such an explanation is plausible in the context of the world, you can't assume it isn't part of the unseen worldbuilding backbone.
     
  3. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

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    If I have to explain every instance of odd geography in a story, would that not at least touch on infodumping, which is apparently a pet peeve of many? :)

    The way I see it, in a work of fantasy, if you as Author show me a river that runs uphill, my response is "well okay! they have rivers that run uphill". It's just part of the world that I as Reader am discovering as I go along.

    These things are not necessarily mistakes. Inner consistency and the separation of realities allow us readers to shrug our shoulders and move on with the story already. Now, if you set this uphill running river in Virginia of the good ol USA right here on standard issue Earth, then I'll have a problem with your worldbuilding. When you introduce illogically placed inconsistencies into a place where they can not be (not just "should not be"), then I have to assume the worldbuilding backbone is either broken or else (more likely) has some kind of congenital malformation.

    This is not just misuse of a trope, this is just bad conception, bad writing and poor editing.
     
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  4. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    That wouldn't fly with me, i'm afraid.
     
  5. TheCrystallineEntity

    TheCrystallineEntity Dark Lord

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    --Mysterious ruins from long ago connected to an 'elder race', of whom the current inhabitants of the world know nothing.
     
  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istari

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    My comment isn't so much a continuation of the current debate but just a reaction to this phrase. Yes. Whenever I'm able to suspend disbelief about something in the fantasy world, there's usually the presumption that it's supported and fortified by some unseen worldbuilding backbone. In other words, I don't need every tiny detail explained in order to justify something in that world.

    However we also run into preconceived "backbones" that we bring to the reading, so if something seems out of whack—well, it seems out of whack.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There's a difference between a trope and poor world building. Also, it's unfortunate, but sometimes a mistake is just the best way to make something work, especially if you didn't catch it until the late stages. Typically, though, you'd do your best to hide the mistake, or else lampshade it, in which case your writing skills might hopefully be able to make up for your worldbuilding flaws.

    I love worldbuilding backbones. But there's a line between creating intrigue and confusion, and it can one of the hardest things for a writer to manage. Some readers are also more resistant to the realm of suspended disbelief (I think we've all heard people complain about plot holes that actually made total sense... just like the grammar police sometimes "correct" statements that were totally right to begin with). But what I really wanted to say is, if your worldbuilding "backbone" doesn't make sense by the end of the story, then it's not a backbone, it's a plot tumor.
     
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

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    That would not likely be my reaction...but it might be, if the author had already won my trust that they got it covered. Still, if something is going to be that incongruous with what we bring into the story as a given, I would expect some explanation, or at least a reaction from the characters that it was weird.
     
  9. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Grandmaster

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    Fair enough.
     
  10. Laurence

    Laurence Mystagogue

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    It’d be interesting to hear the opinion of people who haven’t written / read 1mil+ fantasy novels.

    I feel like most normies are a lot better at suspending disbelief than us.
     
  11. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

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    Gobleke Tepe

    Maybe not an "elder race" per se, but otherwise, spot on!
     
  12. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

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    This is true, but as I see it, that's more our problem as Reader, not a problem with the Author or her work or abuse of tropes. If I as Reader refuse to lay aside my ultra-realistic preconceived notions when reading, for example, Harry Potter, then I'm rather missing the whole point. I might just as well read Tom Brown's School Days (randomly picked English boarding school novel).
     
  13. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

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    But if it's not weird, then no one is likely to react...

    Author would win my trust on the matter if such a river were demonstrated to be a "normal" part of this world. It's a world completely at odds with our understanding, but I had the same reaction with Flatland. The Author satisfied me of the normality of 2D space, and that was that. Me, I think I would be more suspicious if ordinary people in a world where rivers run in all kinds of directions and the sky changes colours every 20 minutes and in some places, things fall up and if you walk crabwise through a door you turn 2 dimensional until you walk anticrabwise out the door make incongruously descriptive commentary about their everyday experience.

    It's up to the Author to explain without explaining and to assure of the normality of the experience. "Samoy looked out at the pale red sky and then at his watch. Drat. The hand was rapidly sweeping towards purple. He should have been out the door by half past green-sky. 'How am I going to make up thirty minutes at work!?' he cried out to nobody. Nobody answered. You know they'll take those minutes from you, if you don't hurry along. Shrug. 'Gives me the heeby-jeebies to do it this way...ugh.' Samoy went down the hall towards his home office, turned sideways and held on to his stomach as he sidled crabwise through the door. He always felt like retching whenever he went two dimensional, but the purpling sky outside his window reminded him this was an emergency. He crossed the room to the mail tube, slapped in the destination order and folded himself up as he crawled into the carrier..."
     
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