Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#1
Hi friends, today I want to share a video I made on Worldbuilding. 

There are few things greater than getting to explore an immersive world and building such a world is the dream of every writer. Plus, the act of worldbuilding is, in and of itself, super fun. Worldbuilding is one of the main reasons I got into writing in the first place. I think and talk about 

Today I'm sharing 3 basic rules that will help you set a firm foundation for your world. 

3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

If you don't feel like watching the video, I can give you the summary here.

First, only build what you need. Rather than trying to build a comprehensive world, focus on the pieces of the world that your story touches. The biggest example of this is history. While it can be cool to figure out why things in your world are the way they are, if they don’t directly impact your story, the reader will not care about them. This is going to help you keep your exposition light as well, which is a huge benefit.

Second, everything you build should contribute to the feeling that you want your story to have. Let me give you an example to illustrate this. Let’s say that you are writing a noir thriller. Its dark, its gritty, its full of trash strewn alleys, and there is always a double rainbow after every rain. Hopefully you can feel the incongruity between the first half and the second half of the sentence. Sure, if the laws of physics work the same in your world as they do in real life, there will be rainbows. But they don’t help maintain the tone of the story, so it is actually harmful to bring it up.

Third, the only things you need to clearly define are the boundaries of the world. Everything else can be filled in by the reader as they read. For example, if a character picks up a flower from a field of wildflowers, I don’t need to know what sorts of other flowers are in the field. I’ve seen a field of flowers before, so my mind can fill in those details. Unless you are writing about a world where nothing grows. In that case, the boundary that you have set for your world of, nothing grows, informs me that the flower that is picked up is of special significance. 

While these are not hard and fast rules, following them will help tremendously in setting a good foundation for your world and your story. 

What sorts of worldbuilding suggestions do you have?

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#2
The third one's really good. 

Mine: If you write fantasy with multiple fantasy races, don't forget that even a single race is likely to have several languages and cultures unless there's a good reason for it not to be so (such as a recent extinction event). Even if a race is united by a certain set of in-born characteristics they'll still develop their own customs because people are just creative like that. Don't forget that the living environment will change how people live, what religion they have and what is relevant enough to teach their kids. Just look at Christianity from different parts of the world and you will find many, many local differences, even though it is a deeply fundamentalist religion by its unchanging nature, based on a scripture that is the same everywhere and has been the same everywhere for a long time. 

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#3

Llamadragon Wrote: The third one's really good. 

Mine: If you write fantasy with multiple fantasy races, don't forget that even a single race is likely to have several languages and cultures unless there's a good reason for it not to be so (such as a recent extinction event). Even if a race is united by a certain set of in-born characteristics they'll still develop their own customs because people are just creative like that. Don't forget that the living environment will change how people live, what religion they have and what is relevant enough to teach their kids. Just look at Christianity from different parts of the world and you will find many, many local differences, even though it is a deeply fundamentalist religion by its unchanging nature, based on a scripture that is the same everywhere and has been the same everywhere for a long time.



Great insight! Being able to give your cultures subtle differences based on things like geography really adds an element of realism into the world.

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#4
One thing I like in creating the brushstroke parts of a world is examining how the world has changed over a certain period of time. Why is the world the way it is now? Well, it used to be different and has changed over time, as all cultures do. I think that focusing on the way this culture has changed can actually allow you to figure out how to show off the worldbuilding without having to actually flesh out the world in huge detail when you are planning it all out.

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#5

Thedude3445 Wrote: One thing I like in creating the brushstroke parts of a world is examining how the world has changed over a certain period of time. Why is the world the way it is now? Well, it used to be different and has changed over time, as all cultures do. I think that focusing on the way this culture has changed can actually allow you to figure out how to show off the worldbuilding without having to actually flesh out the world in huge detail when you are planning it all out.



This is a great way to make sure that you keep your exposition light. It also gives you a huge amount of flexibility, as there a tons of ways that cultures can adapt. One of my favorite questions about cultures is, 'what in the environment prompted people to act this way?'

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#7

Aegisark Wrote: ...

You don't need to delete or simplify what you've already build or created. You just need to focus more on what is important and to keep in mind that what you know about your world is not the same as what your readers know. You choose which parts, how, when and why you introduce to them, explain and describe, but it doesn't mean there is nothing more to it on your side even if it's never used or comes up in any way.

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#9
there is worldbuildind and worldbuilding.

One takes place outside the story. Either in my head or in a separate document I create a geography, flora, fauna and decide what kind of people a place brought forth if any. I can get as detailed as I want here and it's an excellent time waster.

Then there is the worldbuilding I do inside the story. I take small elements of the world I made and insert them into the narrative. Not even a tenth of the world I made makes it into the story. Local insults or customs, exotic animals and spices, faraway lands or some local politics. They are little nods that the world doesn't revolve around the story, hints that things happen away from the mc and, sometimes, things that will become important later.

Tchekov's Gun is a good guideline for paperback novels, because there is a limit to how much you can cram into a book before it becomes prohibitively thick. Webnovels are a bit more forgiving, though I probably still add too much unimportant info.

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#10
I would throw in that while it is important to not overrun a reader with exposition, any element of the world you make up should always be there. To use the field of flower example: the field should be mentioned when the character walks by even when they are not picking flowers. Otherwise, once the character does start picking flowers, it'll feel like the field just dropped out of the sky. 
I think this goes especially for elements of the world that help a protagonist solve problems. They shouldn't just pop up when the character needs them, otherwise, you get a deus ex machina situation.

Re: 3 Basic Rules for Worldbuilding

#11
I don’t know about you, but when I build my world, I like to make it tangible. What I mean is the following. It is great to have epic descriptions of craggy cliffs and boiling seas, of clashing armies and flying islands. But to me it feels always a bit… empty. Like a beautifully painted props for a play. When I do world building (and I don’t mean the historical/political/social/magical aspect but building the setting where the characters interact), I like to describe smells, sounds and sensations. It is a tiny bit, yet in my opinion, it gives the world personality. Don’t tell me we are in a port town. Tell me about the salty breeze, the pungent stench of rotting fish and oiled ropes that penetrate the nose and even has a taste of its own. Let me hear the cries of seagulls as they circle around the swaying masts. Describe the hubbub of merchants, the fragrance of exotic spices and the cursing of drunk sailors. In other words, give me a living, breathing world and not a prop!