December 11, 2017, 07:16:52 AM

Author Topic: Things you created for your worlds  (Read 1095 times)

Offline cupiscent

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2017, 10:22:31 PM »
@cupiscent -- I really wanna take the writing courses you've been taking!  I love stuff like this that gets away from the stifling "protagonist-conflict-resolution" formula to insights like the one above that make reading more immersive and riveting. :)  Maybe you should do your own: "Best stuff I learned from taking all these courses class"-- I'd sign up!!!

Thanks! :D I have been doing a lot of courses this year, whether formally or informally (like watching Sanderson's lectures on youtube... and they are fantastic. If I did my own "the best of all the writing courses I've done", there'd be a lot of stuff from him in there!) They're helping me keep thinking high-level about my writing and not just disappear into the nose-to-grindstone words-on-page plod.

And actually, Bradley, you can take the course that was talking about persuasive setting. It's an offering through Coursera.org from Wesleyan University... in fact, it's this creative-writing specialisation. I got onto it because they're doing a special run for NaNoWriMo. If you want to do the full bit, with assignments and feedback and workshopping and actual grades, it costs money, but you can watch/read all the material for free, which is what I'm doing, and I'm finding it full of interesting ways of thinking about writing. It's a general/lit-fiction focus, but unlike a lot of courses like that it doesn't talk down to or discount genre, and I'm finding its approaches are definitely translatable.

...this probably should have been a PM, but perhaps other people might be interested too, so here you go. :)

Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2017, 03:53:16 AM »
Looks cool!!!
But you only get 7 days of access for free, right?  If I sign up now, can you access the later course materials (Character and Setting have my eye) even tho they haven't started yet, or do I have to wait until the course starts?

Offline MammaMamae

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2017, 10:21:43 PM »
I am so on board with Sanderson's iceberg analogy.  What makes a world feel rich isn't just the detail on the page - it is the sense, even if it is just an illusion, that there is so much more that you are not seeing.

For my world, probably the most important worldbuilding detail is religion and folklore. Religion is directly related to the plot, as are in-universe folk stories. 

Other than that, I have some bits of language.  Some prayers and liturgical and cultural terms are peppered throughout in an original language, and a few names of flowers that have symbolic significance.  Most major characters and even some minor ones have names that have meaning in their language, but with one exception I don't openly point it out.  I figure anyone who would find that interesting would be able to figure some of them out.  But mostly that part of the iceberg stays under :).

I lightly describe architecture and tech level - just enough to get a reader to picture to get a sense of the setting as a streamlined 19th Century Continental European analog world.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2017, 10:24:37 PM »
But you only get 7 days of access for free, right?  If I sign up now, can you access the later course materials (Character and Setting have my eye) even tho they haven't started yet, or do I have to wait until the course starts?
...huh. It does say 7 days, doesn't it? But I've been chipping away at the stuff for at least a month now. Maybe there was a special NaNo deal. Or maybe that 7 days of access is for full access, which includes submitting assignments and workshopping with a class, and you can still access the materials (like I'm doing). I honestly don't know, I'm afraid!

Offline RobertS

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Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 08:33:55 PM »
Today I saw a lecture by Sanderson in which he made a pretty good iceberg analogy (which is even better than my own scaffolding analogy). The stuff that actually gets on the page and is shown and explained to the readers is only a fraction of the true complexity of the world. But you have to make the audience trust you that there actually is a full and complex world continuing out of sight beneath the surface. Those 90% of detail may never make an actual appearance in the story, but their existence is supporting the 10% that are visible. Readers won't care when they won't see it and it would get in the way of telling the story, but when they trust that those things exist, it makes the visible parts much more solid and believable.
You can try to fake it and do your whole world-building as Potemkin Villages, but the illusion is never as strong and inconsistencies creep through the cracks.

I agree entirely, yet I am not sure every writer can do this and I have read several authors who wrote good books without managing the level of detail that I think makes things come to life. Without the right sort of dementia, real world building has to be faked with Potemkin Villages. Honestly some authors grasp of the real world makes reality seem forced and badly thought through.

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Offline Lanko

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Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 08:40:22 PM »
Another point to consider with the iceberg approach is that Sanderson is a heavy outliner and that's what makes his twists and revelations not only consistent but also makes them look both surprising and obvious (in a good way).

Not saying it's impossible to do it by pantsing, but probably much harder and probably requiring more careful revision and fact-checking.

 
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Offline Sgtwolf01

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2017, 10:58:33 PM »
What stuff do you create that you think will be useful to bring the world alive on the page?

Well Aura's are the name sake for my universe of Aura World, and so it's a pretty important detail to work on, that and the potion making, Aura Workd us perhaps the most fantastical of my settings. The history of the Southern Empire in The Continent is pretty important for the setting as well, since everything is the way it is because it had something to do with The South. So most on my work on The Continent (that doesn't involve scavenging) is usually about fleshing out The South and the effects it had on the world via everything exploding. It makes sense in context.
This might get use one day, perhaps in another world. Hey I could probably turn that into a story! *rolls for skill check*

Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2017, 04:30:14 AM »
I think you need to focus on the things that are important for your story, both in terms of plot and themes. If your world/theme is all about, say, survival against the elements (like Jemisin's Fifth Season world) then the societies are going to be focused on that, and that's what you need a lot of detail about. If your plot is about complicated magical politics, then obviously magical details and political factions are going to be where you concentrate your efforts.

But you do also need the details around the edges that give a sense of depth and verisimilitude. The frivolous things that make life human.

And certainly, everything that you know doesn't need to be on the page of the story. But if you know it, it brings a depth and a cohesion to your overall writing that helps the reality resonate.

I've recently been doing a course on writing setting, and one of the things the presenter was emphasising was that writing needs to be persuasive. I think that's a great term for it. You need to persuade the reader that the world you're creating is real.

FYI-- @cupiscent  i just started the coursera course!!!!

Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2017, 08:16:19 PM »
Tolkien's languages are an extra, they aren't needed to read the Hobbit, Simarilion or LOTR. They were personal interests.
Detail in SF & F is same as in any other novel. As much as needed.

For the two main series I did work out some rules in advance and stuck to them. I have a private install of the free software that Wikipedia uses, both on a computer here and a copy on secured hosting on the internet (for collaboration). Also text files of characters, events, timelines, places, magics, technologies, gems etc that are pasted into wikis or open in a tabbed text editor separate to wordprocessor.

I've actually created very little original stuff. The Celtic Otherworld series uses a lot of 1000+ year old myth as sources for characters and magic. The SF has a lot of real spy tech and science.

I keep deleting appendixes and explanations from drafts :)

Offline Yora

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2017, 05:55:52 AM »
I keep deleting appendixes and explanations from drafts :)
Which I think is the right thing to do. What you really want with the worldbuilding that appears on the page is consistency. The audience has to have the impression that everything fits together as a whole, even when they only see small pieces here and there. You don't need to explain how everything fits together to tell the story, you just want to avoid that it feels like random bits thrown together without a system.
Someone called it the iceberg approach. The audience sees the little bit that peeks out at the top abbove the water, but has to feel certain that there is vastly more below the surface. It's possible to fake it, but it's easiest if you actually have thought it through. You just don't need to show it later. It would actually be distracting.
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Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: Things you created for your worlds
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2017, 11:14:05 AM »
You don't need to explain how everything fits together to tell the story, you just want to avoid that it feels like random bits thrown together without a system.
Someone called it the iceberg approach. The audience sees the little bit that peeks out at the top abbove the water, but has to feel certain that there is vastly more below the surface.
Absolutely, it's how the original Starwars got wrecked by Lucas, and also often ST, especially ST-TNG, simply ended up being stupid.

Don't explain things not invented yet and don't explain magic seem like good ideas. The story, characters' personalities and dialog is the the thing, not the technology or magic?