Obstacle #9: World building

It’s been a long 4-day week… My really long weekend was obviously too short and I guess more tiring than I thought. I’m still recuperating and yawning all day, every day.

Thus, I had to ask someone for today’s topic. I give you my attempt at tackling world building. (Or, how-to-explain-that-awesome-place-inside-your-head-to-non-mind-readers.)

I might have dipped my toes in this topic in another post, but here goes diving, watch out for the belly flop.

You might think this only applies to a specific genre (like fantasy or science fiction), but I’ll go out on a hunch here and say nope. Certainly, those worlds require a lot of effort, probably more than just describing a real town and changing its name. But even if your story takes place in the “real world,” you still have to build parts of it. Basically, you can’t get away from world building, but you have the choice of dealing with it with your fingertips or diving head first.

What’s a good plot and kick ass characters in a mediocre world? At best, a good story. But you could make it a-mah-zing by fleshing out that world! Isn’t making up that world one of the best things in a story? Sure it’s challenging and requires hard work and a lot of revising, but it’ll be worth it when you’re done.

But don’t take my word for it, I’m no expert, and to be honest I’m struggling with this very concept for my short story right now. I have the basics down, I think, but I have to keep asking myself “what kind of world is it?” and imagine scenarios to see how everything unfolds. Usually, I’m not fond of planning anything a lot. Apart from what pops up as the idea and the random bursts of awesome thoughts, I might write a blurb about the main story line and keep it at that. The rest? It just happens, go figure.

But I digress. I’m sure there are writers out there who spend hours and hours planning and fleshing out their worlds, and that’s great, keep it up! I’m more the type to have the main idea and start writing, I’ll deal with the rest later. I’ll let you know how it works out for a longer-than-I’m-used-to story though, it might not work out so well…

Then there’s the “how much is too much” question. Obviously, we get free reign to decide just how in length to describe that world and take the readers for a ride, but too much description and people will start flipping pages, or simply not being able to read your story. ): I could slather you with examples, but we probably all read something like that in high school. But the opposite won’t help either, if you build a new world, don’t undersell it!

You don’t have to explain your world to me, just show me. You don’t need 5 pages describing the complexities and workings of your world, society, etc. Give me the basics, and fill in the rest throughout the story in little tidbits. Sometimes the tidbits are the most telling.

Anyway, that’s my take on world building, now I need to work on mine…

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