jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Jessica Steiner ([personal profile] jessicasteiner) wrote2013-04-28 04:30 pm

W is for Worldbuilding #atozchallenge

We're in the home stretch! I seem to be a tiny bit further behind than I thought, so I might go a bit beyond the end of April.

Today I'm going to be talking about worldbuilding. I have two main tips for this post.

1. Don't over-do it. Leave spaces in your world for things to grow. If you map out every street, building, and flower in a town, and it's vitally important that the heroes be able to run down the street and find an abandoned building to hide in, but you've already established that the nearest abandoned building is four streets away, and it's impossible to get there before the bad guy catch them, you're going to feel hemmed in and stuck. The reader won't know the difference if you make something up on the fly, so long as it makes sense.

Allow your world the room to shift and reshape itself to be the way it needs to, for the purposes of your story, without letting continuity errors creep in.

If you make up too many details before you begin writing, you may have the urge to reveal them all. Make up 15 different religions, and you'll want a representative of everyone in the story. Come up with 30 countries and you'll want to travel through every one, to justify all the work you did. You want to have enough to make the world seem full, without spending the rest of your life doing background work you'll never use.

2. Don't under-do it. You don't necessarily want to just begin with a blank page, either. If you don't expand out your world beyond the borders of where the characters are, then it'll feel like there's nothing beyond those borders and the characters are living on an island. You can include throwaway references, or minor characters, which will show that there's more to the world than what's needed for the purposes of the story. Preparing more than what you're planning to directly use in the story will give your story richness that it otherwise wouldn't have.

Knowing where to begin and where to stop is a very individual decision. Every world and every author is different. All I can say is that when it feels like enough, stop, and if you are writing and feel like you need more, then spend some time expanding your world.