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Canadian Writers - All Genres
In addition to Fantasy, I've long been interested in Canadiana, in fact I'm working on a non-fiction book about the early educational system in the Township of Markham (and if you'd like to see some pictures of Canadian one room school houses click here). As an aside, I was part of the last generation of students that attended these one room school houses in the Township, which is how I got interested in the subject.

One of the issues that Canadian writers often come up against, is that there are tons of websites which are Genre specific, but none which deal with issues specific to Canada. As a result I've founded Web Lit Canada, a site dedicated to Canadian authors of 'literature', using the dictionary definition of literature, which is fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, drama, etc., i.e. virtually any written matter except software source code.

The site is officially open. There's a few things that still remain to be done, as Overlord can tell you, setting up a site intended to be relatively open ended is a tricky and time consuming process.

One of the things that I'm doing, is providing hosting for people who don't have a place to publish. To show the publishing capabilities of the platform, I've published the Intro and the first six chapters of my half finished novel here.

Again, the site is open to all Canadian authors, working in all genres. If you know any Canadians who are writing, please point them at it.


Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

March 13, 2011, 03:40:20 AM
Experiences with worldbuilding Worldbuilding is always an interesting subject. The most common advice given to writers seems to be "don't overdo it, it's wasted time and will be annoying if you put it all into your story when you have too much". Which of course is very much true and writers should look out not to prepare too much background information that will never get used or put too much of that information into a story that is not necessary for the plot.

However, this does not really help at all with the questions how you actually do prepare a good world for your stories. So let's talk about that.

My own background is primarily from roleplaying games, where I have prepared worlds for my players to play in for years. But since I started getting interested in writing literature, one of the first things I noticed is that worldbuilding for stories is much, much easier and requires way less work. One of the biggest mistakes that people regularly make when creating worlds for games, but probably is much less common among writers, is to make a world first with no real plan how they want to use it later. That's a very bad approach that regularly creates bland and completely interchangeable worlds. I highly recommend tailoring your world specifically to the needs of the specific stories you want to tell. And that means first to make descisions about genre, atmosphere, "visual style", and overarching themes. Do you want to make something more heroic or epic in style? Will it be early modern, medieval, ancient, or even prehistoric? Do you want to evoke a familiarity with Europe or Asia? Maybe Africa or America, or something that doesn't resemble any specific place on Earth at all (more on that later*). Do you want to stay local or visit many different places? Do you want the option to hop around all over the world with episodic stories, or follow a single route in a heroes journey?

All these things determine what parts of the world you will actually have to develop. They also can make a difference for how you will create certain things, which is why you need to make these descisions right at the beginning. If you later change your mind or leave the descision for a later time, some of the things you have created might end up useless and redundant. And one thing that is important to understand is that you can't simply change any element on a whim later one. Once an image of something has taken hold in your mind it persists, and you will try to keep them that way even when you realize their current form isn't really ideal for your needs. You set out to replace them and then still end up creating basically the same thing again. Another factor are interpedencencis. Worldbuildig that seems really solid and satisfying comes from all the elements of the world being connected and building on each other. When you work out these five kingdoms and create their shared history over the past 1000 years and then later decide you actually rather have six, there is a good chance that it will show. The new one just won't have the same connections, you can see the seams. Same thing when you remove  certain element. If you decide at a later point you actually don't want to have any desert nomads and make the land they inhabited completely dead, all the fortresses on the desert edge seem rather pointless and why is there a big trade city on a road that is a dead end? Why are the locals influenced heavily by that culture on the other side of the uncrossable desert and where did they get those mercenaries who saved them against their neighboring enemy when the war had seemed already lost?

These examples are all things that can be fixed later. But it will probably never get as good as it would have been if everything had grown together side by side instead of one after the other. And it's additional work that could have been used on other things.

One thing that new worldbuilders for roleplaying games need constantly reminded of is that they only need to create details that will directly affect their audience in some way. Same thing with literature, except that the audience in that case are the point of view characters. If you want to write about politics and life at court, you need to do preparatory work on the structure of the government. This will almost certainly become vital for the story. You also need to create characters to fill many of the jobs at the court. If the story is about explorers of old ruins, all you might need is some clerk who hires them to find something for his boss. Who this boss actually is might be completely irrelevant for your plot, and he might never even get a name. If you want to write about some thieves in the slums who won't get involved with politics, the only parts of government that might be interesting are the magistrate, the judge, and the captain of the guard. Who rules the city or country and how government works could be left blank and doesn't have to come up in the story at all.
If you already know your work will be limited to a single country or city, you don't have to worry about how long distance transportation works. If you want to write something episodic where the protagonists end up in all kinds of different places you will only know about once you start thinking about a new plot for a story, this information might be quite handy. If they are going to Neustadt by ship and you already established that Neustadt is a port town in previous stories, readers will notice and the world seems more real.
And this is the big advantage of writing literature over writing for games: You have a very high degree of certainty knowing which places your characters will go to and what circles of society they will interact with. This allows you to scratch a huge amount of possible items of the worldbuilding to-do list.

*One thought on creating completely original worlds: It can be done, but there is a huge and invaluable advantage of repurposing places from Earths history. It allows you to just give a few key details about a culture or landscape and the readers imagination can fill in all the blanks with details they remember from the source that inspired you. Even though you say very little, the readers still see complex and detailed societies and locations.
Personally I prefer not to rely too heavily on this and not have any Vikings and Mongols in my world that only have a slightly different name. A great little trick to be both original and recognizable is to take a culture and put it into a quite different environment, or two blend two different cultures together. A great example of the later I've seen in the videogame series Warcraft. The Night Elves, apart from being elves, combine Scandinavian with Japanese elements. The result doesn't resemble either. In the world I am working on there is one human culture that is Chinese who used to live like Scythians but now transformed their society into Swedes.
Common fantasy races like elves and dwarves have become so well known with fantasy readers that they work just the same as archetypes than Vikings or Egyptians. While these are fictional, you can use them as well to mine for elements for your cultures. I have a race of little green men with large ears who are druids and alchemists but also build fortresses and mines like dwarves.

I'd be very interested to hear what kinds of worlds you have created for your works and what experiences you have made with them.

February 17, 2015, 10:20:24 PM
Re: Canadian Author I call dibbs on saying hey  ;D
Welcome to FF. There are some threads, somewhere, about marketing and stuff. Not nearly there myself but maybe someone else can help you find the forum sections.

If you feel like a break from writing with more writing, there's the monthly writing contest. (Some people really are masochists  ::))
Furthermore read-alongs, book discussion, random chatter. You missed the rp a bit cuz it's drawing to an end about now.

Anyway. Enjoy your stay :)

July 01, 2015, 07:08:42 AM
Re: Canadian Author Now, dang it, Donald, but if you were sticking around these parts we could get a solid local critique group going. Ah well.

But welcome to F-F! If @Henry Dale is the first to welcome you you should go screaming into the hills know you're in good company.  Hope to see you around the threads and posts!

July 01, 2015, 11:53:53 AM
Re: Tell me what to read next
The Deed of Paksennarion by Elizabeth Moon

I always recommend this book (it is the trilogy all in one volume). I have had people come up and hug me afterwards for recommending this book to them.


Love those books. Time for a re-read.

July 02, 2015, 05:28:57 PM
Re: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski - Who's reading with us? What I love so far about the world, is that it simply is. There's no info dump, no backstory, no in the forgotten ages past.  The world is revealed through the stories as needed and ongoing.
July 02, 2015, 05:31:19 PM
Re: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski - Who's reading with us?
What if I already read it and LOVED IT? Do I still get to join this club? lol

Dudes (male and female): this book rawks.  There is a reason the gaming community grabbed onto this title and created three gaming versions (Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is out now and AWESOME).

Seriously well written book with a wonderfully created world to support it.


Gotta agree with Don, very enjoyable, made you sympathize very quickly with the characters (and hate)

July 02, 2015, 11:30:23 PM
Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience? I was explaining it, not saying that I agree with it! It's appropriate advice to people who rely on them too much, but I think people take it too far. Adverbs can be really useful, and that slight delay in processing the action can actually help convey what's going on - someone advancing slowly being the perfect example. A word like "crept" would be more concise, but "advanced slowly" could be more effective because the extra word (and syllables) emphasises the pace.
July 03, 2015, 03:01:48 PM
Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience? I agree with Raptori about things like advancing slowly, as it implies a cautious advance. Perfectly useful.

Take this quick example:

Gurt slowly walked over to the desk. "You owe me," he said angrily.
The banker carefully swept  his coin into the drawer, quickly locking it. "I have no idea what you mean," he said shakily.
Gurt hit his fist forcefully off the desk. "Oh yes you do," he said loudly.

See, the way I see it, Gurt's lines are flavourless crap mostly due to overuse of -ly words. The 2nd line works just fine for me though, as carefully and quickly both add connotations to his actions, so it depends how they are used, or not over-used as the case may be.
"He said angrily" is just poor - is he blazing mad, or is he cold and clipped and deathly angry, is he growling threateningly, shouting it, spitting the words into his face... Angrily shows us none of that, just tells us he is angry.

This is much better:

Gurt strode to the desk. "You owe me," he growled. 
The banker carefully swept  his coin into the drawer, quickly locking it. "I have no idea what you mean," he said shakily.
Gurt's fist pounded the desk. "Oh yes you do," he hissed.

(but personally I'd remove 'he growled' and 'he hissed' too)

July 03, 2015, 03:32:35 PM
Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
he advanced slowly, making long circles around his prey

he painstakingly carved it in this hardwood

Both are perfectly decent uses of -ly words. They show you something is done is a very particular way. Slowly implies a cautious advance, and painstakingly implies a long, grueling process of carving it in. Sometimes there are no better, more concise words for what you want to convey. Or it might just sound better.

Things like, "he walked slowly along the trail" may be fine, or more concise words might be preferable. He ambled tells us the character walks slowly but shows us the character is also relaxed and sightseeing almost, and in less words too.
'He moved quickly to grab' - if we replace with 'he leapt for', 'he dived for', 'he darted for' and it shows us HOW he moves quickly, not just tells us he moved quickly.

July 03, 2015, 04:07:40 PM