Secondly how much is too much in a text wall? And how descriptive should I be when not in action scenes?
Some prefer to detail all of those before writing.
Some prefer to develop everything else based on characters. Different personality, backgrounds and goals can create scenes and plotlines by themselves, so general ideas about where the story and separate chapters are going is enough for those writer.
Some writers like to have everything planned out in advance, some writers like to wing it. Most probably fall somewhere in between.
The scope of the story can have a big impact. Harry Potter was over a million words, but throughout the series, it always felt like Rowling was making it all up as she went (time-turner?)--and yet the books were still pretty dang successful despite that. Tolkien did a huge amount of world building, but if you just look at The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and ignore his other work, he...kinda went overboard. The scope of LotR is small by today's standards, with only two or three main storylines, all quite direct and straightforward, and a tiny number of point-of-view characters. If his only purpose was to tell that story, he could have gotten away with a lot less world building (but he had more in mind than that).
On the other hand, if you look at something like The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan) or The Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson), you've got millions of words, with five to ten interconnected storylines going at any given time, spread across dozens of point-of-view characters, and all the storylines need to come back together at specific points across the series. That requires a huge amount of world building and prep work, and even then, you can still run into problems. One of the books in The Wheel of Time spent the entire book just catching some storylines up to others, ending at the same point in time as the previous book.
You probably want to start smaller than that ;)
In regard to how much detail to provide, that's something I still struggle with. I lean toward providing less detail, and letting the reader's imagination fill in the rest, but I probably should be providing more than I currently do. On the other hand, some authors go way overboard on detail, and I find myself skipping over lines to get back to the narrative. I'd recommend finding professionally published books that you like and trying to emulate the amount of detail they include.
In contrast, you can create this huge, intricate world with complicated politics, houses, a book's worth of history, et cetera, but if your story is duller than a bag of bricks, why would anyone care?
Of course, I'm not saying that world building is irrelevant, but that many authors (especially fantasy authors) overvalue it beyond belief. Tread lightly.
Gyeig Wrote: The general rule of the thumb is that you begin with creating characters and a plot (the story as a whole), then you structure the world around them.
I agree with this, too. Build the world to fit your story. Don't lock in unimportant details until the story requires them, because you never know if you'll need to go a different route until you actually get there. (But, of course, once a detail is locked in, be consistent.)
Ramen Noodlez Wrote: Secondly how much is too much in a text wall? And how descriptive should I be when not in action scenes?
Action scenes can get too descriptive and wordy also. Sometimes I just skip the action to see how it ended, when I read a chapter of the fight and then see that there are at least another two chapters with the same fight.
On RR, either because of the site formatting or because of accepted style, I see a lot of very small paragraphlets, almost single sentences. It's not an ugly way of doing things and can actually help with shorter stories that pack a lot into fewer words, so perhaps err on the side of caution and press the enter key more than you feel necessary if you have some truly large blocks of text.
As a reader, I prefer more over less, so go nuts with description - it helps to pad things out if nothing else, something I struggle with as a writer. Perhaps because when you're writing with a clear picture of what you mean in mind it's more difficult to imagine being the reader and having, at least initially, no connection or understanding of the story.
Writing for web serials seems to be very different to other forms, and much more conducive to the "make it up as you go along" mindset. I've had good results with "test writing" half a dozen different starting ideas and worlds, usually with the idea first then world-building accompanying the story whether or not it actually makes it to the reader's eye. I keep at least two documents for each project, one with the read-copy and one with a glossary of all sorts of information and explanations that occur in the writing and the answering; one question about the setting usually leads to more.
How to find your writing style
Your own writing style
You need to understand and admit that you initially already have your own writing style, which was automatically generated. If you have time to improve your writing skills, then your own style consists of many words written in copybooks, to the materials just published. This writing style is different in that you always use it in hard deadline conditions. This is what we will use.
Take the topic your colleague writes on. Proceed to study it. Gather the maximum amount of information on the Internet, remember, but do not write anything, except for brief abstracts. When you feel that the information begins to repeat - go to the written plan.
Open a new text editor window and start recording the plan. In large numbers it will be easy to lose thought, in larger - there is a danger of "bloating" of the text.
Print out the abstracts and place them on the table next to the keyboard. Reference point of reference. Prepare a timer: it takes you ten minutes to write an article. Write as quickly as possible, from 2300 to 2500 characters, including spaces and punctuation marks.
Start the timer and start writing. Do not edit yourself, do not correct mistakes and typos, do not think about the selection of words (leave empty spaces) and move along the plan, filling it with words and sentences. As soon as the timer singal sounds, stop writing, print out the material and start editing. Insert the missing words, indicate proper names, technical parameters and other information from the list of abstracts. Check all commas, material logic.
The article is written in your style. Analyze it yourself: write in the comments what you would like to modify. Do not give yourself ratings. Saving these two documents.
Find a Style Reference
If you are constantly writing articles for one publication or blog, then you need to find out what material. Everything that is needed for this article will be written easier. Most often, the "Standard" will be prepared materials written by the author of the project, editor, leading analyst - people whose opinion is important for the audience. As a rule, authors of a “reference” article write useful and interesting.
Compare your articles: an edited article from previous exercises with “reference” articles to understand what the difference is. Pay attention to the beginning and end of sentences and paragraphs, prepositions, punctuation - everything that catches your eye. Particular attention is paid to what you hear in the "standard."
“Reference” articles should be written in literary language. They may not be of interest to you personally. They also want to understand how to write, or better.
Firstly, I might consider worldbuilding to be a cost. Something that costs you, as a writer, to do. It can drain your time, it can distract you from writing the actual story, it can be a source of severe procrastination, and it may be irrelevant to the purpose of the narrative, themes, and the overall meaningful portions of the story. The goal when considering costs is never to maximize them purposelessly.
This is because worldbuilding is a medium. The world (fictional AND real) is a medium for the story to be narrated within. It is the way through which we take characters and deliver them to the plot. And while having a medium is NECESSARY to achieve this it is also simultaneously the obstacle to your success. This is because having more of a medium between you and your destination does nothing except prolong your travel. Wires conduct electricity, but a longer wire will only create resistance. The world can be intertwined with the purpose (meaning the experiential effect) of a story but it cannot BECOME that purpose.
But there is more to worldbuilding than just trying to minimize how much effort and text if takes up.
My second point is that doing worldbuilding is like creating a background. I mean an art background. These are things that do not draw attention (compared to the foreground) and might even be less detailed in texture or even blurred and obscured. But in the end the background is the single largest piece of collected individual details in the entire piece. The world hold the most detail, and often worldbuilding holds the most complexity, even exceeding the plot!
There is a question you must ask yourself regarding the importance of worldbuilding to your work individually. How much are your backgrounds worth to the art? How much do they ultimately add? A fully realised background isn’t the kind of thing you invest into with a short simplified comic. The background worldbuilding provides greater value the longer your audience is immersed within the experience, the deeper they are immersed, and the slower they are immersed.
Worldbuilding is meant to be subtle, to not draw attention; it is meant to be unseen in the background where few take notice. If your story is rapid and paced and moves overwhelmingly your reader has little chance to consider the world your story is propagating through. They cannot be expected to notice small details if they are not given the space in which to reflect on the whole. This, even more than content length, is why I believe extensive worldbuilding is home in longer epics. In such cases the underlying world requires complexity and depth because you cannot know what parts the reader will ever realise, and if the bones beneath are incomplete it will show even on the skin.
You cannot know which parts of the world will surface and so any of it’s parts must be whole lest it be them. But you do not make them whole so that they all should surface, only because they might.
In other words, I cannot say how much worldbuilding must be done, and I cannot say how much would exceed the limits of reason, because it is not an answer that can be given except through individual consideration. It is both dynamic, and subjective. There are forces that effect what would be appropriate, but even those can be adapted if done cleverly, all the rules are flawed guidelines, and none of these can be predicted and instead they can only be felt if one searches for them carefully enough in the dark.
I hope that answers the question.
The top rated stories on the site are the best planned fictions like Mother of Learning.
The biggest money makers on the site are "something quality" fictions that release on a consistent schedule like "He Who Fights With Monsters" <-makes 12 000 dollars a month from his fiction. Legend of Randidly Ghosthound makes around 6 000 dollars a month.
You also have to keep in mind some people are just better at planning than others and will get better results at it. I personally start by finding an idea, writing a synopsis for it as well as a fiction title and ask myself if this sounds like something I'll attract a readership with. I don't think this method will work for a lot of people because I'm confident at writing synopsis and I know most people suck at them.
It is always said a story should start in the middle of something interesting, and I tend to agree. Once upon a time just does not cut it beyond the third grade reader level, for short, bedtime stories.
Critique can be used anytime, to pickup spelling, logic and flow errors, and after you are done, as "Beta reads" for the whole thing. All are useful, and all mean more work is ahead of you yet.
To be overwhelmed by it, even.
Who am I? Do I look like Jehovah S. Asimov?
Break it down to the three essential aspects of the task, and it becomes much simpler.
You are building a vocabulary, a geography, and a timeline.
Vocabulary - names of people, places, events, concepts unique to your mental landscape. The fun part that you can just pull out of your butt and get away with it because you are just that good.
Geography - the relation of places inside that mental landscape. You don't need a full cartography when you start out. Just an idea of what direction the next section of text that follows will be in relation to the point you are currently writing about.
Keep doing that as you write, and you got yourself a gawddang world.
Timeline - the least significant, but the easiest to muss up too. Keep track of things as you are going. Rereading what you have already written several times will solidify this in your head more effectively than writing out an entire history ahead of time.
Histories written like this often do not feel organic.
Characters will recite the world around them as a stilted school lesson instead of something that is integral to the lives they live, if you are not careful.
Read enough fantasy, you'll see the difference.
If you are writing a rpglit, or is it litrpg?, you'll have to incorporate another dimension of gameplay to the other three. Good news, there are hundreds of core rulebooks out there for you to emulate.
Buy some sticky notes, and go through one. Every place you have a nifty idea to change the rules, mark it.
I was going to do this very thing with the Tankgirl tabletop rpg, but the idea for my latest series, originally based on a Dishonored genderbender fan-fic I wrote years ago, flooded my head.
Perhaps, after the latest series is complete, I'll get back to it.
The lesson for this is don't overthink it, and make it more stressful than your day time job. Have some fun.
Some questions for macrodramas
Who are the biggest political factions at play in the world? What are their motives? Is there talk of a civil war brewing? Was there some new political or religious reformation that's issuing mass persecution?
Some questions for microdrama
Who is the tyrant in the local village you start at, what is his motive? Was there a recent tragedy in the local region, rumors of some ancient evil?
Then after I have a general understanding of both of these categories I mostly flesh out the skeleton as I go. So names, relevant rumors, special landmarks, characters, mostly come organically and naturally to me. I keep a list to keep track of every new name, place, or event I come up with though.
Secondly how much is too much in a text wall? And how descriptive should I be when not in action scenes?
Since what you first write is your rough draft, that's where it gets built.
Build it in your head, write stuff out like the details and finer points, make sure they make sense and don't clash, then start writing your story. You've built the bones to your world, writing the story is adding the innards to it, and all the editing afterwards is fleshing it out.
Different people prefer to be critiqued at different points, you just have to find what works best for you. Whether it's after each chapter or section written out, after a good chunk of the book is done, or the whole thing is finished, just depends on the writer. Me for example, I like to get some input during, but actual critiquing I don't care for till afterward as getting it during will throw me off and have me questioning everything I'm doing.
As for world-building as a whole, the more time you spend on it the better, especially if you plan on getting detailed in your works. Sci-fi especially needs particular attention paid to it if that's your genre, just because of the depth it tends to need.
For description. I love detail. I like to be able to picture everything in my head, and having those details helps immensely. There are times that being vague is the point, but otherwise, describing a scene is always good, as long as it doesn't take away from what's going on, if that makes sense. No one's gonna care what Frank's choco-blueberry muffin looks like when there's a serious situation going on
Jakeparter Wrote: Before you start writing, you should create the idea of your story, characters, and the plan the whole story and its length.
Yes and no.
It depends on the writer, but if it isn't your style, there is no need to plan the whole story or even all the characters. There are stories that have gone off on just a few characters, some events and we'll see where it takes you. Granted, this is more common with daily web-comics and slice of life episode stories than story novels, but it certainly is a way to work. As has been mentioned before, everyone, in the end, has to figure out how much of the world they need to tell their story.
What is important to me is how to put this into the story. Personally, I made a way too detailed world. More than half of it will never feature in the novel in one way or another and most of the rest is only seen in passing, mentioned in a casual conversation and never visited again. They are nuggets of information that make the world feel alive, but it is and will always be the background on which your story plays.
For me, the characters can see things and talk about them, or ask about them, but I'm not going to start something with an information dump about different monsters found in a region, or the history of a city, country or continent. I know those things, but they only get mixed in to the story when there is a reason to find out.
This may sound reasonable, but any fanatic world-builder (and I am one) and probably anyone of us who spent any time on the setting and all that is just jumping at the chance to go off on a rant about the world, the characters, their background and everything. It often takes a conscious effort not to tell your readers all about it at any chance you get. It already starts in the synopsis - I take a special interest in those, call it a hobby - where the history of the world, continents and races is explained with what the story is actually about in the last paragraph. Scratch all that. Show us your world during your story, not just around the story.
Stratothrax Wrote: One thing I've learnt about world building in past writing: while it is very enjoyable it is also a massive trap that is a drain on your attention away from the actual story. It's easy to spend all your time on worldbuilding and end up with little to no actual serial. I think a distressing number of projects meet that fate sadly, a ten foot stack of worldbuilding next to a 1 inch stack of story with no creative fuel left to work on the story.
You raise a valid point. I think it is possible to take the term "worldbuilding" far too literally, and to think that there is some sort of artistic obligation to literally map out an entire world before you write and post your first chapter set somewhere within your "newly-created fantasy world."
I can think of some excellent fantasy novels (and shorter stories) in which most of the action takes place in and around a single city -- an independent city-state, or the capital of a kingdom, for instance. Sometimes the author tells us virtually nothing about any other lands that exist in the same world, because they have very little relevance to the plot of this story. So the readers just vaguely get the impression that the city is located on, let's say, the south coast of a larger landmass, and that it is a trading partner with another realm located many days' sail to the southeast, and merchants visiting from that other realm tend to have names that sound vaguely Arabic or Persian . . . but we never see a map of that other land; we don't even know the name of its current king; we learn nothing about its history (and precious little about the history of the city that is the main setting); instead we simply get to see some of the intrigues going on, within this single city, between important noblemen, wealthy merchants, members of the Wizard's Guild, the High Priest of the main temple of the city's patron deity, etc. -- and that's about it. No map is provided to the reader; everything that's more than, say, ten miles away from the city limits is very hazy in the author's mind (as far as we can tell) and some of it will gradually be "filled in later" if there is ever a sequel which requires the hero to travel far away from his beloved home town.
The author may well have done some of the things we normally place under the umbrella of "worldbuilding." For instance, she may have worked out some interesting "rules of magic" which are not simply swiped from some other popular fantasy novel. That helps makes her fantasy world distinctive; not just a virtual carbon copy of some fantasy world previously created by Robert Jordan, or Patricia A. McKillip, or Brandon Sanderson, or Ursula K. LeGuin, or whomever.
And by the end of the book, the sincere young hero may have stumbled across a previously-unknown "loophole" in the conventional rules of magic. (Or he's discovered that the villain is already using a secret loophole, and the hero finds a new way to counter that dirty trick.) But that does not mean that the author has written, behind the scenes, tens of thousands of words' worth of material about the history of the Wizards' Guild, with a detailed description of how the commonly-understood rules of magic were gradually deduced by the early wizards, centuries ago, after many years of trial and error. ("Oops! Didn't mean to charbroil my apprentice! But let me make a note -- apparently, when I change this word in the spell, and add that gesture, it creates a Fireball that flies away from the palm of my hand and incinerates the first flammable object it meets! Very interesting! The old version of the spell could barely light a candle!")
Likewise, the author may have worked out a family tree for the current royal family -- such as, "King Konrad has been married twice. The official heir is Prince Dimitrios, his son by his first wife, and then there are three younger kids who are Konrad's children by his second wife -- one boy and two girls, of the following ages," and so forth. But we may never be told the name of Konrad's father (his immediate predecessor on the throne), and the author certainly doesn't need to compose a list of all the previous Kings of the realm for the past thousand years, with notes on how they were related to one another, and what sort of civil wars resulted in one dynasty being replaced with another, and so forth.