Thursday, July 31, 2008

VW#4: World-Building II

We're experiencing a couple of technical blips behind the scenes, so bear with us. Today's giveaway entry period will be extended until noon tomorrow, and the link for the e-book should go live as soon as we can get the blasted thing to upload. Your patience is much appreciated. Added: Links to worldbuilding notebook are (finally) live, see below.

The winners of the VW#3 giveaway are:

ArtWish: Sarai

Goodie Bag: Rob

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to, and I'll get these prizes out to you.

I. If You Build It, They Will Read

The single most awe-inspiring activity involved with writing is world-building. The writer who world builds becomes Master of the Universe. In true Omnipotent Being fashion, the writer begins with nothing but a vision of What Could Be. They wave their magic hands over the keyboard and suddenly, there are words that shine like an unwavering light upon a whole new world, complete with fascinating people in exciting places doing incredible things.

Well, maybe we do a little more than wave our hands over the keyboard. Okay, a lot more. And there's no magic involved (that comes later, we hope, for the person reading the story.) No mystical light or omnipotent power goes into play, either. To be frank, a writer takes two elements -- imagination and words -- and employing only those two raw materials, writes a story about a fictional world.

Sounds really simple, doesn't it? Imagine it, write it, you're done. But between the imagining and the writing, the writer has to do a couple of other things.

II. What We Build, and Why

The very first time I built a new world, I bombarded roughly half of the land surfaces of this planet with nuclear weapons. The initial detonations wiped out about 40% of the population, and fallout from the bombs quickly poisoned another 30%. Over the next decade, about half of my survivors were blamed for the nuclear war and sent to a remote, radiation-tainted prison where most of them died. Grim does not begin to describe how truly awful my post-Apocalyptic vision of the world was. Only when I had brought the human race to the brink of extinction did I begin to rebuild Earth into a kind of quasi-Jurassic Park wonderland, complete with a full resurgence of dinosaurs.

My reason for building such a terrible world was the state of the world in which I lived. I was born during the Cold War. Every world power had ICBMs ready to be launched while they snarled and bitched at each other. Castro very kindly parked a number of nuclear warheads about a hundred miles from my house. My older siblings had actually practiced nuclear attack drills by hiding under their desks in school; people who had built bomb shelters in their backyards would not be considered crazy for another decade. When I imagined my first future world, I built it on what I expected the future world to be: a decimated, radioactive wasteland.

As for the dinosaurs, well, I was twelve. I thought they were cool.

I wanted to share my vision of the future, too, so I turned in this horrific little gem to my seventh grade English teacher. He kept it for two weeks, gave me some extra credit and, when I asked him to give back my story, told me that he threw it in the garbage.

The moral of the story? Before you build a world, remember it's going to be shared by others. And before you let anyone read a story, especially an squicky English teacher who wears a replica Billy Jack hat to cover his lousy comb-over, make a copy of it.

III. The Foundation

Whether it's real or imagined, building a world first requires something to inspire that world. Like me, you may start with a character and build around them, basing your choices on the demands of the characterization and the story they have to tell. If you prefer to build first and populate later, you still have to center your construction on something. Your foundation may be a setting, a concept, an event – it doesn’t matter, as long as it inspires you.

Once you've decided what your inspiration is, that character or setting or conflict should always serve as the foundation for all your construction. When in doubt, always return to the foundation to determine what best serves your original inspiration. A world without a strong, solid foundation that connects in some way to everything in the story generally collapses under the weight of too many pointless elements.

Example: Akela, our friend from Part I of the workshop, is the foundation of Red Branch story construction. Everything in the story relates to her in some fashion, because everything in the story was custom-built based on her characterization. The way she fights, the weapons she carries, even the animal she rides were all designed with her in mind.

This is not to say that everything I wrote in Red Branch suits Akela. On the contrary -- I threw a lot of conflict at her that she wasn't prepared to deal with at all. At times Akela felt like her world was falling apart. She had to make decisions and adapt as things she had always taken for granted abruptly changed. She didn't like the changes, and in fact wanted nothing to do with them, but she had to deal with them. For me this is the heart and soul of any protagonist’s tale: not what caters to them, but what compels them to change.

IV. The Blue Prints

Once you’ve broken ground and created the foundation for your world, the next step naturally is to build the rest of it. But before you begin creating societies and lexicons and global conflicts, you might consider putting together a rough outline of your story’s plot, i.e.:

Akela is sent to find Jalon, and bring him back to her Queen.
Danu sends mercenaries after Akela, who kills them.
Akela meets Jalon, who is a male version of her Queen.
Akela teaches Jalon how to fight the Queen.
Danu brings his pregnant daughter to Akela, who delivers her Spinner infant.
Akela, Jalon and the infant return to the Queen.
Jalon telepathically overpowers the Queen and prevails.

From my outline of Red Branch, I knew in advance what portions of this world I would need to build. I needed the characterizations for Jalon, the Queen, Danu, the mercenaries, his daughter and the infant Spinner. I had to describe Akela’s physical journey, including the inn where she slept and the darkmare she used for transportation. I had to do the same for Jalon’s current living situation, his home and his life among the humans who had raised him. I invented the manner in which Spinners fight, deliver infants and use telepathy. Finaly I put together the showdown between Jalon and the Queen.

Using an outline of your plot as a building plan, you can create with purpose as well as efficiency. It may not be as much fun as free-building whatever you like, but building only what you need may help prevent unnecessary characters, details and other elements from choking the life out of your story.

V. Building Code Violations

There are some fairly common mistakes I see other writers make when world-building, but one that seems to be almost universal these days is when a writer sets up and then immediately violates some unbreakable rule of their world construct. In paranormal romance, for example, this is usually when an unfathomable attraction for a human heroine causes an immortal hero to defy the rules of his deity (who forbids him to trifle with human chicks), expose his own existence (which is supposed to be kept strictly concealed from humans) or break a vow of celibacy (because if he has sex with a human, the world as we know it will come to an end.)

I’m not a fan of the breaking the unbreakable rule plot device. I like the flexible rule, the old rule hardly anyone pays attention to anymore, and my personal favorite, the rule that everyone agrees is stupid and stops using long before the story begins.

Other things that can wreck your construct:

The gigantic hole in your world: let's say, for example, you have aliens in your story who use their superior intelligence and technology to invade Earth unnoticed, infiltrate our society, and begin snatching our bodies without anyone catching on until it’s far, far too late. So tell me, why would they not have the means to conceal the single tell-tale physical sign that they are possessing a human body? They’re capable of interstellar travel and world domination, but they can’t pop in some contact lenses?

A skimpy little excuse does not cover a gigantic hole in the world; it only draws attention to it. Fill in your holes properly, or rebuild that element of the story until it works correctly.

Thinly-veiled grindstones: If the insane, brutal, bloodthirsty war-mongering sadistic dictator in your novel is named G’e Orgeb Ush, and he’s defeated by a group of wise, thoughtful but weary philosophers who subsequently outlaw religion but spread benevolent Socialism among the grubby masses, you're probably not voting for McCain this fall, am I right?

Trotting your cleverly disguised personal griefs with the government back and forth in front of your reader is about as tasteful as dropping change on the lunch room floor so you can look up some girl's skirt. It's also offensive and annoying. Spare your reader from the armchair politics, please.

The Just Because Anomaly: A writer builds a world that is completely logical and realistic, except for this one thing -- in SF, usually some sort of life form or technology -- that is completely out of whack with the rest of the construct (remember my dinosaurs from Nuked World?) This one thing is never explained or justified. It's just there, like a big honking magical wart on the story.

If you want me to believe that there's an elephant in the living room, you're going to have to show me the circus caravan it escaped from, the pasture fence it knocked over, and the wall it smashed through to get into the house.

Auld Lang Syners -- the story features an inactive element (i.e. a dead character or a long-gone civilization) that is way more interesting than the present elements. For the reader, this is akin to the author plopping an Egyptian pharaoh’s undiscovered tomb down in the center of a trailer park and then saying to them “Ignore that tomb. You’re only allowed to watch what happens in the trailers.”

I cannot say this often enough: if your backstory is more interesting than your current era, you're writing the wrong story.

Babeling -- the story features an invented language that is used so often that the reader cannot follow the dialogue.

I love languages, and I'm a bit of a snob myself about explaining/translating them for the reader, but even I know cer a'denai etfi calhadre gemot tursavey. Sure, I may understand every word of that, e ylulo ceres gibbor frenza. So when you put invented language in your story, remember that e ylulo (the reader) needs a point of translation, like a definition in context (all these ey ylulon do is sit around and read books) or a glossary of some sort (e ylulo: one who reads extensively.)

VI. Finishing Touches

There is always a point toward the end of my world-building when I feel like I'm ready to write the story. It's like having an itch inside the brain and writing is the only way to scratch it. I'll start jotting down lines of dialogue or paint a second version of a setting. But before I write a single word of story, I perform a thorough inspection of the construct.

What I look for:

Necessities-- have I fleshed out everything I'm going to need to know while I'm writing? If my protag is going to be swinging a sword around, have I decided the type of sword he uses, and how he learned to swing it? If he's a poor peasant boy who came from the Village of the Dull, how did he get that sword and who taught him how to use it?

Logic -- Do I have anything in the story that the reader is not going to understand? Do I need it, or is it one of those Just Because dinosaurs that I thought was cool?

Balance -- are all the world elements developed in a harmonious way? Did I skimp or go overboard with anything? Does anything in the backstory overshadow the present? Is there anything that is the equivalent of a Pharaoh's tomb in the trailer park?

Clarity -- is this a world anyone can visit, or does my reader need to go to back to college and major in psychology, astrophysics or sociology before they touch a page? (Or, is Mom going to call me after she reads it and say, "Honey, I really liked it, except for that part in the laboratory, and that computer thing, and the weird alien with the two heads that did that funny little dance at the end. What was that all about?")

To help you with the next world you build, I've uploaded a world-building notebook here on Scribd* (please note: cover art has mysterious lines running through it for reasons we're not yet able to fathom or fix) and here (in .pdf format, with line-free cover art.) Please feel free to adapt it to your building needs and to share it with other writers who might find it useful. *Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

VII. Before You Build

The most important world-building decision you'll probably ever make is one you're probably not aware that you've even made. It may be decided before you jot down one note or type a single line. It's the answer to this: for whom are you building this world, yourself, the reader, or both of you?

A world designed with only you in mind is probably going to be one only you and a few people like you can appreciate. A world built according to what you think the reader wants is going to look like a lot of other worlds they already like. I think the best worlds are those that are as unique as the builder but that remain accessible to anyone who wants to come and take the tour.

Today's LB&LI giveaways are:

1) --The original watercolor I painted for the cover of my workshop companion e-book, It Only Took God Six Days ~ World Building within Reason, signed and framed, along with signed copies of my StarDoc novels Rebel Ice and Omega Games and my Darkyn novels Dark Need and Twilight Fall.

2) a goodie bag which will include unsigned copies of:
Hard Revolution by George Pelecanos (hardcover)
Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs
Wild Hunt by Lori Devoti
The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass
Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
In Danger by Alison Kent
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Unleashed by Kristopher Reisz
Through the Veil by Shiloh Walker
plus signed copies of my novels Omega Games and Twilight Fall, as well as some other surprises.

If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, comment on this workshop before noon EST tomorrow, August 1, 2008. I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the goodie bag and the other the painting and books. Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on August 5, 2008 for a brand new AlphaSmart Neo. All LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Other LB&LI Workshop Links -- new links are being added every day, so keep checking the list for new workshops (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day)

Worldbuilding with a Wiki by Sandra Barret -- Architecting your world using a free wiki.

Brainstorming by Jove Belle -- A discussion on brainstorming.

E-Courtesy by Joely Sue Burkhart -- Simple ways to protect yourself with courtesy on the internet.

The Anatomy Of Sex Scenes by Jaci Burton -- Writing sex can sometimes be the most uncomfortable part of writing the book. But it doesn't have to be. A few key pointers that may help charge up your sex scenes and drag the writer out of their 'discomfort' zone.

Creating Great Beginnings - the Why and How by Sherryl Clark -- If your beginning works, the rest will follow. We're going to look at why it's crucial, what is the contract with the reader, Dos and Don'ts (and why/why not), story questions vs hooks, situating the reader, and writing backwards. I'll also invite readers to send in their first 200 words for feedback.

Sound Effects--consonance, assonance, alliteration by LJ Cohen -- a week of workshops using poetry and poetic techniques useful for novelists (tune in each day this week as LJ presents different poetic tools with examples of how to use them in your own writing.)

Gender Differences for Writers by Cheryl Corbin -- Male and female body language, speech and thinking differences.

Research for Writers by Bianca D'Arc -- a librarian/writer's view of where to find the best information and strategies for how to use it.

Marketing on a Budget by Moondancer Drake -- How to make the most of marketing your book on a limited budget.

Writing Effective Description by Karen Duvall -- a week of workshops on how to write vivid description using all the senses, covering one for each day of the week.

WRITING PROCESS: Conceive, Develop, Write by Jamal W. Hankins -- An overview of my writing progress from story concept to actually writing a story.

The Voices in Your Head by Alison Kent -- When discussing "voice," where and how do character voices fit in?Also: All Authors Should Be Wordsmiths

Everyone has to Edit by Belinda Kroll -- Five steps to edit: putting the first draft away, being brutally honest, showing not telling, telling not showing, and focusing on those nitty gritty details.

Balancing Motherhood and Writing by Dawn Montgomery, Kim Knox, and Michelle Hasker -- How to write a 1000 words in the zen of toddler meltdowns. Motherhood is a full time job and holding a family together is only half the battle. How do you find *your* time to write without losing your mind?

Self-Editing by Emma Wayne Porter -- The things your editor secretly wishes you'd do before submitting, and how to survive Track Changes afterward. Checklists and Stupid Word Tricks included.

Not Going to Frisco Workshop by Joan Reeves aka Sling Words -- Writing Biz Reality

Cover Art: From Form to Finish by Mandy M. Roth -- Tips and tricks for filling out your cover art forms, the steps and stages a cover goes through, the finished product and a walkthrough on using your cover to make your own static banner ad.

When Only the Right Word Will Do by Shannon Stacey -- Using word choices to add humor, help you show instead of tell, strengthen your voice and heighten characterization in deep POV in your second draft.

Hey Fatty (Or Does Your Character Need That Flaw) by Amie Stuart -- I’ll be blogging about Characterization, flaws and motivation all week, using TV, movies, books and my own writing for examples.

Astronomy for Writers: Look to the Sky
by Suelder -- Planetary Primer, The Inner Planets, The Gas Giants, Planetoids: Pluto and the Asteroids (the third in a five-part workshop series on basic astronomy and how to think about it from a writer's perspective.)

Time Management by Charlene Teglia -- the third in Charlene's workshops this week on the business of the business.

Short Stories & Novellas- Workshop Day II - Characterization by Shiloh Walker -- the second in a series on writing short stories and novellas.

VOICE: The Magic Behind The Words by Sasha White -- Advice to help you discover and strengthen your personal voice and style, and show you the way to the magic behind the words.
Workshop is in 5 sections. A new section each day this week.


  1. Anonymous9:58 AM

    The World Building parts of this workshop came at the perfect time for me, and being inside of Akela's head was a blast.

  2. I'm in the middle of worldbuilding right now, so this couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks

  3. Anonymous10:09 AM

    So much to think about! Thanks!

  4. A great post. I'm working on world-building right now, and I love learning about how other people do it. Thanks for the workshop! :)

  5. Your seventh grade English teacher was pure evil.


  6. I feel that some people put too much into their world building, and oft times, there lies their failure. I often find that the best 'imaginary' worlds are often very much like our own, and I mean, the writers world. Subtle changes, a slight shift. Sometimes it is the ordinary, turned sideways, that thrill us the most. My best world building happened during my childhood, when my outlook on the world was met with open eyes and innocent imagination.
    Thanks again for your insight Love the blog!

  7. Thank you for hosting these workshops. They've been very interesting.

  8. Awesome workshop on world building. I never thought about that--who am I building this world for-me or the are sooo right! It has to be both! Thanks again.

  9. Great help! Thanks!

  10. Lots of great info here. I'm sure I will be checking back often as I write to re-read this post

  11. Wow, Lynn, that was amazing. I'm a little behind on my feeds, but I'm glad I'm getting caught up today! Thanks for all the information and links. They're very helpful and I've got it starred in my reader for future reference! What a great workshop.

  12. Wow!
    Now I'm sorry I haven't been able to get on earlier this week. Excellent piece. Using an outline of the plot to determine what exactly needs to be developed is an excellent idea. Should help me in ditching the unnecessary parts that I've written. Thanks!

  13. More good things to think about today. Wow. Thanks for doing all this!

  14. Wow, I may get to comment first!

    I really liked this post. It answered most of my questions from WB part 1, including how to stop yourself from writing a 12 part encyclopedia before you start to write.

    I had a WOW moment when you mentioned Auld Lang Syners. I have one story that's just like that. I'm going to have to take a look at it, and maybe make the backstory the actual story... I keep thinking about it, and wanting to put more in, which may be a clue that I need to refocus.

    Great talk today, thanks!

  15. Just a quick note to say that I'm loving all these "workshops", they are fabulous. Thanks so much to the authors for doing this for those of us "left behind". I'm leaving a tremendous amount from all of them. THANKS.

  16. Thanks for the comments about developing whole languages for these worlds... This turned me off to fantasy books for a few years because the writer seemed to spend more time on the linguistics than the plot.

  17. Great information in here. I have not done a lot of world building, but now I have a lot of wonderful ideas of where to start and how to proceed.

  18. I've posted 13 things to do when the muse goes on strike. Simplistic standard advice, but it has worked for me.

  19. Great post.

    I think, when worldbuilding a complex world, it is really helpful to have a range of beta readers. All those different brains can help come up with different questions, point you toward the big holes that you might not see because your brain operates a different way.

    Sometimes however you can tell that an author got input from someone on an implausibility in the plot, but just couldn't figure out or was too tired/stressed/rushed to figure how to skillfully address the issue. Instead you get an out-of-place "As you know, Sally, the reason dinosaurs appear on this nuked landscape is because a mad scientist with an affection for dinosaurs ........"

    So early beta readers are important, I think, to give you enough time to integrated input and construct a more plausible whole.

  20. World building is one of my favorite topics. I love to learn how other authors build.

    Thank you for sharing.

  21. I truly learned about balance in creating worlds by playing Civilization IV, where you have to have a good balance of religion, culture, & military. Also, words from invented languages which I can't grasp from the context drive me nuts. I don't want to have to flip to a glossary every other page - takes me right out of the story.

    Great workshop!

  22. Great post. Thanks for all the wonderful information on worldbuilding.

  23. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Heh. The just because anomalies will drive a reader nuts.

  24. I worry I put way too much in my world building. Thanks for the essay.

    As a side note, I so remember those drills of hiding under the desk or in the hallway covering our heads.

  25. More good info! Thanks!

  26. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Thank you for this workshop, Lynn! I'm learning something each day.

  27. I was really impressed with how much world you fit into Red Branch. It may have been a "short" story but it left me with such an impression of completeness and cohesion.

  28. Throwing away a student's work? That is wrong on so many levels.

    Great post!

  29. Anonymous2:11 PM

    These workshops are so incredably useful! i'm learning new things all the time, thanks!

  30. Thanks for great (read "sane") world building tips. I'm about to try some world building and your posts are encouraging. My favorite tip is the reminder that authors can rebuild to make things work and get rid of big, gaping holes.

  31. Anonymous2:19 PM

    The world building is very interesting. Lots of really good information that's going to take a bit of time to digest.

  32. Very interesting work shop, as usual. That's so sad your teacher threw it away. Pretty harsh, in my opinion, and careless.
    I think you make a great point with watching out for "holes" - contact lenses in the aliens would solve a lot of problems - so basic, but so easily missed. Details like that are what distinguish a lot of writer and/or wannabes.

  33. Truly enjoyed this world-building workshop. My writers group just held a workshop on world-building, so this is great timing as I am getting ready to start my first sf story. Thanks for the useful information!

  34. I get the feeling that I may learn more being left behind than if I had actually gone. :D

  35. Anonymous3:25 PM

    This was interesting. I'm doing world-building right now so this was really helpful.

    Also helpful? Having Mr. Spock as your sounding board and having him ask "but why?"

  36. You gave us a lot to think about in this essay... Thanks!!!

  37. I wish more authors would read the section Babeling. It'd help a great deal for me as a reader.


  38. Its worth remembering that not everything needs an explanation. I don't know how half the stuff in the real world works.

  39. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Some great suggestions and things to avoid. I'll be reading my work with these in mind. I'm looking forward to that link for the world-building notebook.


  40. I started working on my ww. Thanks for the help

  41. Sometimes, I create my universe first, sometimes my characters, and then the universe around them. Depends what's the source of inspiration for my project.
    In any case, I've found a lot of useful information that will help me a lot, I hope, in my future projects. Thanks again for the tips!


    If the insane, brutal, bloodthirsty war-mongering sadistic dictator in your novel is named G’e Orgeb Ush, and he’s defeated by a group of wise, thoughtful but weary philosophers who subsequently outlaw religion but spread benevolent Socialism among the grubby masses, you're probably not voting for McCain this fall, am I right?

    First... LOL! I love your witty sense of humor, and second, you are damn right about this one.

  42. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Thank you! This is definitely going to help me with my editing coming up. ^^
    ManiacScribbler =^..^=

  43. The timing is right as I am stuck, befuddled and passionless about the worldbuilding I've been in the middle of. Thanks!

  44. Awesome workshop!

    I tend to make things easy for the heros/heroines. I must remember to add difficulties & conflict.

  45. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Excellent post, and I'm especially looking forward to the world-building notebook. I'm at the world-building point right now, so a good chance to try it out. :)

  46. Very useful workshops ^_^

  47. Thanks for the fascinating posts.

  48. Thank you again for such a great workshop!

  49. I think your seventh-grade English teacher has probably gone to hell.

    This workshop's pointed me to the gaps I have in my worldbuilding in my current WIP, so thanks!

  50. I had to play catch-up since I missed yesterday's workshop. Thank you for all the insights here -- worldbuilding has always been my weak point, but this has helped clarify the process for me.

  51. Anonymous7:08 PM

    This helps break down the process and avoid some pitfalls; thanks! I particuarly appreciate the strategies you use to increase efficiency and avoid endlessly world building. Looking forward to the world building notebook.

    Take care,

  52. Anonymous7:49 PM

    World building is such an important topic to cover because it is so vital and, at the same time, it's so difficult. Some people do too much planning, some too little and it's hard to strike that balance.
    Thanks for the advice! I hope my own world building goes a little easier!

  53. I'd like to know why the teacher felt he had the right to dispose of your story!

    We had composition notebooks which were returned the following week. I think I still have it somewhere.

  54. Anonymous8:07 PM

    Another excellent description of the world building process. I'm off to work on Cirius 5!
    Helen Rudd

  55. These workshops have been great! I've really enjoyed these ones on worldbuilding. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  56. Very interesting and thanks for posting a list of reference materials.

  57. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Another great post!

    Awesome prize packs!

    Terri W.

  58. Thank you again so much. Well done.

  59. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Boo and hiss to your seventh grade teacher. Horrible man. I hope he got eaten by a dinosaur.

    Loved this workshop, thank you so much for the insight!

  60. Anonymous10:04 PM

    So I'm curious: have you ever designed a world first, and then the story flowed from the world-building?

  61. Anonymous11:03 PM

    I'm struggling with worldbuilding at the moment, so this is a tremendous help. Thank you!

  62. Wonderful post! Worldbuilding is so essential in making or breaking a story. Thanks for your input on such an important topic.

  63. Thanks for the worldbuilding notebook and the templates. It's very helpful.

  64. Great workshop. I'm really glad you're taking the time to post these.

  65. This was great - incredibly useful! Thanks so much. It makes me want to go out and build a world, even though my current WIP would never forgive me. ;)

  66. Great world building info! Thanks.

  67. I have always been a bit intimidated at creating a world,especially after reading some other supposedly helpful essays and "workshops". This, however, has clarified how to simplify the seemingly (to me, anyway) daunting process by relating directly to the elements necessary to the protaganist.


  68. Wow, am I so glad I found this site - thanks to someone at Seekerville blog!

    Wonderful, wonderful info.

    I'm going to list you @ my blog under "Areas of Interest for Writers"

    My blog:

    Thanks for being here!

    Please enter me in your drawings. :-)


  69. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Thank you for the helpful advice and for running these workshops this week.

    Barbara L.

  70. Your workshops are so useful - thanks!

  71. Echoing all the positive comments above, along with much thanks and gratitude.

  72. Anonymous11:04 AM

    Putting my name in the hat - thanks for doing this!


  73. Anonymous11:39 AM


    Excellent! My standards as a reader are definitely going up. Things I've always wondered about are identified with reading your workshops. Clarity-crystal clear-my Business Management teacher said that was one of the most important things no matter what you do and many people don't get it.

    Thank you,
    Susan B.

  74. Anonymous11:59 AM

    We were hit by lightening in our part of the world a few days ago, and I'm finally back online. (We still don't have a phone.) This was great. The "necessities" part rang true for me today. What I thought was a maguffin in my story, that could be filled in later, ended up being a road block. It's decision time for the WIP.

    A few years back I found a very thorough world-building questionaire, maybe it was even from a link here, by PC Wrede, for building worlds for computer games. It had really thought-provoking questions about not only landscape, but politics, customs, currency, food, culture.... Sadly, the link I'd saved expired a few years back.

    I don't know how I'll get caught up this week. But I'll have fun trying. Thanks!


  75. wolf wrote: So I'm curious: have you ever designed a world first, and then the story flowed from the world-building?

    I have, nine times. :) For my GCI books, I was assigned a ready-made world and the characters who lived in it (this was a WFH job) and had to write the story from there. I wrote six books for that series and had a lot of fun with it.

    I wrote another three books for another WFH job that had a prechosen world. My contract prohibits me from getting into too much detail on this one, but it was basically the same deal as the GCI books but with a lot more creative freedom as far as the storytelling went. That job I really loved, too, so it sucks that I can't talk about it.

    It may not be part of my prcoess to build a world and go from there with the story, but I liked the challenge of doing it as a WFH.

  76. JulieB wrote: A few years back I found a very thorough world-building questionaire, maybe it was even from a link here, by PC Wrede, for building worlds for computer games. It had really thought-provoking questions about not only landscape, but politics, customs, currency, food, culture.... Sadly, the link I'd saved expired a few years back.

    I'm so sorry to hear you got zapped (we still haven't gotten everything that fried here a few weeks ago fixed.)

    I'm not sure about the computer game thing, but P.C. Wrede's fantasy worldbuilding questions (which are equally cool) are presently hosted by SFWA's web site - you can check them out here.

  77. Comments for this workshop are now closed and the giveaways have been awarded. If you have any questions regarding this workshop, please stop by my open Q&A here at PBW on Tuesday, August 4, 2008.