Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#1
I'm currently struggling to find a balance between worldbuilding and drafting. I feel like I need to know everything in my world before I actually dig into the story because something I haven't fully worked out yet might be useful. I think my perfectionism is getting in the way, and if I don't find a stopping point for worldbuilding I'll never get any writing done. Does anyone have any advice on how much you should have laid out to have a decent start? (The project I'm working on right now is high fantasy, but I'd love advice for any genre!)

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#3
I'm of the opinion a solid outline of world info is all you need to start to start writing. I started my story with a very simple world map, around 10 bullet points for each major faction and a list of a half dozen characters I wanted to include early on. 

That being said, as I started writing the story I started seeing avenues to expand on the world, if only for my own private notes in most cases. But I think just starting to write the story is a great way to get inspiration on things to include in the world, if that makes sense. 

It's sorta one of those "at some point you just gotta start writing and see what comes out" situations, at least for me. 

Everyone is different though. My approach worked for me, but definitely not everyone's preferred method. 

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#4
There's no NEED to heavily world build past what is within "visible range" of your characters and story.

I consider that a good soft limit for worldbuilding.  If your average character isn't going to stumble across it, then you don't need to worry about filling in those blanks.  Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a rough outline of what is going on past that point, but you don't need to exposition dump or plot out everything down to what color the laundry detergent the hero uses in the washing machine.

Rough outline, fill in the blank when the need arises.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#5
I think that you need to know: what does your characters want, why do they want that and how far are they willing to go for it. And also, where do they live and what do they do usually.

From that you get, respectively, motivation, conflicts of interest and moral conflicts. And the last two adds to their personality through their background and allows you to bring in terrain and social/industrial ties.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#6

Gennon Wrote: Build enough so that your main character will have trouble adapting to their environment, and not so much that you find yourself giving chapters full of exposition in order to make use of everything you've created. It's a sweetspot you have to find.

That makes sense. I don't plan on (intentionally) info-dumping, but I guess it's good to be on the lookout for that if you have a lot of excess information.

Havoc1021 Wrote: I'm of the opinion a solid outline of world info is all you need to start to start writing. I started my story with a very simple world map, around 10 bullet points for each major faction and a list of a half dozen characters I wanted to include early on. 

That being said, as I started writing the story I started seeing avenues to expand on the world, if only for my own private notes in most cases. But I think just starting to write the story is a great way to get inspiration on things to include in the world, if that makes sense. 

It's sorta one of those "at some point you just gotta start writing and see what comes out" situations, at least for me. 

Everyone is different though. My approach worked for me, but definitely not everyone's preferred method.

I agree! Locations, factions, and characters are a fantastic and necessary starting point. I'm already kind of worried about starting to write because if worldbuilding has already given me a whole bunch of new ideas... That's going to be a wild ride! I'll probably take the leap and "start writing and see what comes out" tomorrow. I'm always down for trying out new writing methods!

Lakstoties Wrote: There's no NEED to heavily world build past what is within "visible range" of your characters and story.

I consider that a good soft limit for worldbuilding.  If your average character isn't going to stumble across it, then you don't need to worry about filling in those blanks.  Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a rough outline of what is going on past that point, but you don't need to exposition dump or plot out everything down to what color the laundry detergent the hero uses in the washing machine.

Rough outline, fill in the blank when the need arises.

Lol now you've got me wondering how washing machines would work in my setting... I guess I'm just used to worldbuilding as a GM and building a wide world just in case my players go completely off the rails.

Seerica Wrote: I think that you need to know: what does your characters want, why do they want that and how far are they willing to go for it. And also, where do they live and what do they do usually.

From that you get, respectively, motivation, conflicts of interest and moral conflicts. And the last two adds to their personality through their background and allows you to bring in terrain and social/industrial ties.

Character motivations and backgrounds are certainly important! My main problem with that is that a lot of the background info I have for them is tied into some more complicated world stuff, which is part of how I keep falling down a worldbuilding rabbit hole.

Thank you all for your replies! From the looks of it, I think the consensus is to start smaller and let things develop as I go. I'll be sure to give that a try!

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#7
Pragmatically speaking, build as much that is relevant to your characters perspective. If you have a rough story outline planned, you may have a decent idea of what is going to be relevant to them. I'm not someone who does a lot of story building before I write. I write world as they come to the characters perspective. Although I am indolent, but I'd say if you've covered even half of what will be visible to your character, you should be okay to dip your toes into writing and seeing how you get on.

No matter what you choose, I'm cheering you on.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#8
I personally don't think you need to know everything about your world before you start writing. Obviously it depends on the nature of your story.

Instead, I think you need to be able to convince the reader you know everything. The writing is the tip of the iceberg and the world is the stuff under the surface which the readers can't directly see. You don't need to construct the whole iceberg, just the framework to allow the reader to be comfortable that the subsurface is there.

If the aim is to write, then write as soon as you can. If the aim is to worldbuild then do that. Worldbuilders disease can be a fun form of procrastination, but there needs to be a point where pen comes to paper.

Good luck!

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#9

faesong Wrote: I'm currently struggling to find a balance between worldbuilding and drafting. I feel like I need to know everything in my world before I actually dig into the story because something I haven't fully worked out yet might be useful. I think my perfectionism is getting in the way, and if I don't find a stopping point for worldbuilding I'll never get any writing done. Does anyone have any advice on how much you should have laid out to have a decent start? (The project I'm working on right now is high fantasy, but I'd love advice for any genre!)



World building is super important, but only to the extent of how it will affect the characters/plot. The extra information is good for your own outline/background if it gets used in later chapters, but if you spend so much time building your world and your characters never even encounter half of what you've built into it, then you've wasted a lot of time.

When I do an outline, I usually outline the plot, subplots, and characters/relationships first, then world build around that and I think a lot of published authors do that, as well. You don't want to overload the reader with information to the point where they start to wonder, "Wait, why do I need to know this?" when it's never brought up again. 

Also, your first draft won't always be your final draft. I've written things where I've gotten 180 pages in and then I go back and realize I need to rewrite portions of the beginning so that certain parts of the lore flow better. In that case, you don't want your reader asking, "How come this is being brought up twenty chapters later?" 

So, my advice would be start drafting and then re-read through your first draft when completed and if there's something missing in the lore/world building, you can rewrite portions so it fits better. Never get so caught up in the outline that you don't tell your story! 

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#10
You can world build for years and still not have a story.

My methods when world building is to come up with the basic ideas of the world you want to build first. Like the lifestyles of the people, race, abilities/magic, time and era, etc. I keep it at the bare minimum so I have plenty of room to change things as I do my first draft. When I write my first draft I know full well that the final draft will not reflect the original in the slightest. And there's a reason for that.

When I start doing my rough draft that's when I start to explore the world and better understand the lives of the characters I have in mind for the story. When I discover how things effect the protagonist and the other characters that gives me the foresight to go back and adjust the world to my liking. 

If I'm restricted to a perfect world from the start I find it difficult to make my story because I'm bounded by obligation to stick to my perfect world outline. When I have more freedom I can go back to my rough draft and fix inconsistencies while keeping the world itself fresh as I make my story. 

When I have the basics that's when I approach the story. I like the idea of having a journey with my characters not laying out a journey for them. I don't like to lore drop in big paragraphs either. When my characters learn something is when my readers usually learn about it too. So, I do my best to make every scenario give the reader a piece of the world that their in so my readers don't get bored with a lecture on a subject. I do my best to show the readers how the magic works rather than telling them in a long drawn out bundle of text.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#11
As long as you have a good outline of what you want your world to be you can fill in other details during the writing process. Just as characters evolve as we write them so do worlds. Certainly understand being a perfectionist, but I've come to understand that for me the drive for perfection is just an excuse to put off actually writing. Having a perfect world is great, but if no one else gets to experience it, what good is it.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#13
Personally, I didn't start writing until I had a good part of the worldbuilding done. By a "good part", I mean:
  • Geography: I drew many horrible maps that I updated every time I added or removed something (one of the most recent is here, it looks terrible but was very useful to keep track of the distances, since there is a lot of traveling in my stories);
  • Politics: every country I made is loosely based on some counterpart in the real (ancient) world. I created different cultures and asked myself if and how they would clash or coexist;
  • History: I love history, and the concept that you can just portray a snapshot of it. What events made the world the way it is today? How will it look 50 years from now?
  • The supernatural part: magic and powers are commonly featured in fantasy stories but their effect on the society is often overlooked. In my opinion, there are two good approaches for this problem, you can either keep them secret/unknown to most characters or turn the entire world into a magic technocracy (magicpunk?). Either way, the supernatural has to make some sort of impact.
Once you've laid down these concepts, you can proceed with developing the story. You'll add, change and retcon some stuff on the fly sometimes, but having a strong worldbuilding will help a lot with keeping the narration coherent.

Re: When is it time to stop worldbuilding and just write?

#14
I have the same dilemma, I constantly meditate, mentally build my world for myself and I put off my desire to describe my thoughts. And also I make a mistake that I do not write down my thoughts, then when I sit down to write something, then all thoughts leave me. And so it turns out a vicious circle. I delegate homework and all my essays to specialists custom essay writing service, and I want to start writing for myself. There is always room for creativity in our lives, right? But I think, to start writing, we just need to catch a wave of inspiration! Good luck to us!