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Author Topic: Experiences with worldbuilding  (Read 26949 times)

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #90 on: March 27, 2015, 11:34:43 AM »
It's not usually something you'd need, but when the question comes up it's a lot better than to shrug and say "it's magic". That very much weakens the ground on which the fictional reality is supposed to be grounded.

Unless of course it's something the characters in the story can't grasp either. Then it makes for good contrast.
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #91 on: April 01, 2015, 10:52:22 PM »
I am not recommending this to anyone who does worldbuilding as preparation world for a novel. But if worldbuilding is your thing and you are planning to use the long after and beyond the book you are working on, I think this setup here is really neat.

The result is too pretty not to show it around.   :D
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Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #92 on: April 01, 2015, 11:06:05 PM »
I am not recommending this to anyone who does worldbuilding as preparation world for a novel. But if worldbuilding is your thing and you are planning to use the long after and beyond the book you are working on, I think this setup here is really neat.

The result is too pretty not to show it around.   :D
Very cool looking! Will have to peruse when possible.
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Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #93 on: April 02, 2015, 04:51:11 PM »
I like the distinction between rare but normal and totally unexpected. I've never seen a spaceship (except on TV) but if I came face to face with the space-shuttle, I'd be impressed and fascinated, but it wouldn't change my concept of the world. If I came face to face with a spaceship with ET coming out of it, that would.

I suppose my most common world-level is something like a pre-Enlightenment version of ours. Ordinary people assume that magic, gods and the supernatural do exist somewhere "out there", but they don't expect to experience it themselves.

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #94 on: April 02, 2015, 09:21:08 PM »
One thing that always fascinates me that there are some places in the world like in India and Africa, where people actually live with the knowledge that outside their villages there are actually huge creatures that can easily kill you and occasionally even come to villages at night to eat people. By pretty much every definition, tigers, lions, and nile crocodiles are monsters, except for the fact that they are real.
Tigers can see and hear you when you are practically blind during night, are almost completely silent and can be three to five times your weight with huge teeth and claws. And crocodiles hunt by swimming in muddy water to suddenly jump out, grab you with their giant jaws, and drag you down below the water within a second. In some parts of Europe and North America we do have bears who would be very dangerous to get attacked by, but generally can be safely avoided and don't go hunting for people. But the idea that there are actual places on Earth where millions of people are genuinly worried that they get back home before nightfall or they might be eaten is very hard to imagine.

There is nothing unusual or supernatural about them. They are just ordinary animals, and I've seen all of them in zoos many times. But encountering them in the wild would be a completely different thing. They would still be horrifying monsters.

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #95 on: April 02, 2015, 10:20:04 PM »
I am not recommending this to anyone who does worldbuilding as preparation world for a novel. But if worldbuilding is your thing and you are planning to use the long after and beyond the book you are working on, I think this setup here is really neat.

So I'm about to lose a good bit of my free time perusing this. It's awesome and makes me want to start up one of my own, if only to get my ideas down and concrete. Thanks!

One thing that always fascinates me that there are some places in the world like in India and Africa, where people actually live with the knowledge that outside their villages there are actually huge creatures that can easily kill you and occasionally even come to villages at night to eat people. By pretty much every definition, tigers, lions, and nile crocodiles are monsters, except for the fact that they are real.
Tigers can see and hear you when you are practically blind during night, are almost completely silent and can be three to five times your weight with huge teeth and claws. And crocodiles hunt by swimming in muddy water to suddenly jump out, grab you with their giant jaws, and drag you down below the water within a second. In some parts of Europe and North America we do have bears who would be very dangerous to get attacked by, but generally can be safely avoided and don't go hunting for people. But the idea that there are actual places on Earth where millions of people are genuinly worried that they get back home before nightfall or they might be eaten is very hard to imagine.

There is nothing unusual or supernatural about them. They are just ordinary animals, and I've seen all of them in zoos many times. But encountering them in the wild would be a completely different thing. They would still be horrifying monsters.

As for this, well, funny you should mention it. I'm the first to admit I can overuse the adage "the real monsters are men," which is exactly why I wanted to try a short story flipping this trope and making sure I don't step over a "feral" line when molding my darkest of characters. However, one of the hardest world-building ideas for me to tackle is truly fearing monsters in a post-industrial style narrative. (Think Gilded Age America or Victorian London for the specific area I'm on right now.)

Yes, the 1800s is exactly when a good bit of Western Civ adopted the fear and tall tales of "Here Be Dragons," namely from their exotic colonies such as Africa, India, and Australia. But those fears fluctuated and grew outside the norm of everyday life. As you said, a Brit steps out without fear of being mauled by a bear. The possibility is still there, but it's not ingrained into our psyche over experience because of our advances in technology. Living in Texas, I've almost been mauled by a wild boar, mountain lion, or neighbor's dog, so while I may have some experience to draw from, as you said: I don't fear those horrible, larger-than-life animals when I step out into the pasture or woods because they're isolated events, and yet I want to make this fear feel "real" and palpable when a characters steps outside the Walls, even if the majority of the book dealt with the humanoid monsters inside. Food for thought and any suggestions?
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Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #96 on: April 03, 2015, 12:10:13 AM »
As for this, well, funny you should mention it. I'm the first to admit I can overuse the adage "the real monsters are men," which is exactly why I wanted to try a short story flipping this trope and making sure I don't step over a "feral" line when molding my darkest of characters. However, one of the hardest world-building ideas for me to tackle is truly fearing monsters in a post-industrial style narrative. (Think Gilded Age America or Victorian London for the specific area I'm on right now.)

Yes, the 1800s is exactly when a good bit of Western Civ adopted the fear and tall tales of "Here Be Dragons," namely from their exotic colonies such as Africa, India, and Australia. But those fears fluctuated and grew outside the norm of everyday life. As you said, a Brit steps out without fear of being mauled by a bear. The possibility is still there, but it's not ingrained into our psyche over experience because of our advances in technology. Living in Texas, I've almost been mauled by a wild boar, mountain lion, or neighbor's dog, so while I may have some experience to draw from, as you said: I don't fear those horrible, larger-than-life animals when I step out into the pasture or woods because they're isolated events, and yet I want to make this fear feel "real" and palpable when a characters steps outside the Walls, even if the majority of the book dealt with the humanoid monsters inside. Food for thought and any suggestions?

So one thing occurred to me as I read this. There could be an interesting opportunity if a charcater feels hunted beyond the walls, and then feels that same sense of being hunted inside them. Beasts outside, men beasts inside. Parallel, comparison and contrast.

Or, turn it around the other way. After experiencing human monsters, the character is barely fazed by the outside ones.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #97 on: April 03, 2015, 08:05:36 AM »
So one thing occurred to me as I read this. There could be an interesting opportunity if a character feels hunted beyond the walls, and then feels that same sense of being hunted inside them. Beasts outside, men beasts inside. Parallel, comparison and contrast.

Or, turn it around the other way. After experiencing human monsters, the character is barely fazed by the outside ones.

(Just thinking out loud here)
But wouldn't it be a different kind of feeling? Almost like a physical fear for the beasts and a mental/psychological fear for the men? Oh wait, I suppose it would be the same if the men-hunters are killers...
But even if they're both out to kill you, I have this feeling the type of fear would be different - can animals be cunning in hunting? Tease you and deceive you before they attach?

I keep thinking about Shaymalan's "The village", which I watched again recently.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #98 on: April 03, 2015, 10:42:09 AM »
So one thing occurred to me as I read this. There could be an interesting opportunity if a character feels hunted beyond the walls, and then feels that same sense of being hunted inside them. Beasts outside, men beasts inside. Parallel, comparison and contrast.

Or, turn it around the other way. After experiencing human monsters, the character is barely fazed by the outside ones.

(Just thinking out loud here)
But wouldn't it be a different kind of feeling? Almost like a physical fear for the beasts and a mental/psychological fear for the men? Oh wait, I suppose it would be the same if the men-hunters are killers...
But even if they're both out to kill you, I have this feeling the type of fear would be different - can animals be cunning in hunting? Tease you and deceive you before they attach?

I keep thinking about Shaymalan's "The village", which I watched again recently.

I'm pretty sure that a huge predator stalking you but staying almost completely invisible and silent would be terrifying in a psychological way, even if you never see it clearly.  :P If the human hunters are not killers, the only difference for me would be that the fear of humans would have less of an edge, because they'd be less dangerous. Humans aren't really any more intelligent than other species, so of course other animals can be cunning and trick you while hunting you...  :)
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #99 on: April 03, 2015, 10:51:37 AM »
hehe now you can see my experience of animals i.e. zero. or David Attenborough documentaries growing up - I thought animals just stood there and went after you. Not really hiding properly because they're so much bigger and faster anyway.

Except spiders, cockroaches and lizards. They hide in your house and scare the living hell out of you when they're found! :-[

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Offline Raptori

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #100 on: April 03, 2015, 10:56:47 AM »
hehe now you can see my experience of animals i.e. zero. or David Attenborough documentaries growing up - I thought animals just stood there and went after you. Not really hiding properly because they're so much bigger and faster anyway.

Except spiders, cockroaches and lizards. They hide in your house and scare the living hell out of you when they're found! :-[
Haha I love David Attenborough documentaries, we have pretty much all of them on DVD!  ;D

They can actually be almost impossible to see until the moment they spring - they're far far more stealthy than humans because they're actually physically adapted for stealth. We're awkward, slow, and weak in comparison.  :P

Most of the big cats are perfect examples, their coats are camouflaged so they're nearly impossible to see when they're in their natural habitat. They prowl along, crouching close to the ground to make themself smaller, stopping whenever they sense you're looking in their direction until they're close enough that you cannot escape, and only then will they pounce. A lot of the time, if you spot them and stare at them before they're within range they'll just stand up and stop hunting you - for now!  :D
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #101 on: April 03, 2015, 11:45:47 AM »
I am not recommending this to anyone who does worldbuilding as preparation world for a novel. But if worldbuilding is your thing and you are planning to use the long after and beyond the book you are working on, I think this setup here is really neat.

So I'm about to lose a good bit of my free time perusing this. It's awesome and makes me want to start up one of my own, if only to get my ideas down and concrete. Thanks!
If you just want the functionality, dokuwiki is a thousand times easier to set up than mediawiki, which really is build all around online databases. It just doesn't look anywhere near as pretty and needs a plugin to use categories, but it does have a version that runs entirely offline or even on a usb stick.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #102 on: April 04, 2015, 12:45:41 AM »


Yes, the 1800s is exactly when a good bit of Western Civ adopted the fear and tall tales of "Here Be Dragons," namely from their exotic colonies such as Africa, India, and Australia. But those fears fluctuated and grew outside the norm of everyday life. As you said, a Brit steps out without fear of being mauled by a bear. The possibility is still there, but it's not ingrained into our psyche over experience because of our advances in technology. Living in Texas, I've almost been mauled by a wild boar, mountain lion, or neighbor's dog, so while I may have some experience to draw from, as you said: I don't fear those horrible, larger-than-life animals when I step out into the pasture or woods because they're isolated events, and yet I want to make this fear feel "real" and palpable when a characters steps outside the Walls, even if the majority of the book dealt with the humanoid monsters inside. Food for thought and any suggestions?
It's a little like the fallacy that writers not from Australia seem to have that it's the most dangerous place in the world because we do have plenty of venomous snakes and spiders as well as crocodiles and sharks, but the general experience isn't that. The crocodile aside there are no apex predators in the place and the salties (the freshwater crocs aren't all that big or dangerous, they're kind of timid and will avoid human contact if at all possible) are confined to the centre and the north, they also range from Australia right up to India (the two biggest known examples, 30 and 32 feet respectively, were caught and killed in the Bay of Bengal). Most of the place is cities and suburbs just like everywhere else. If you want to find trouble you have to go looking for it.
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Offline RussetDivinity

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #103 on: April 04, 2015, 05:36:57 AM »
hehe now you can see my experience of animals i.e. zero. or David Attenborough documentaries growing up - I thought animals just stood there and went after you. Not really hiding properly because they're so much bigger and faster anyway.

Except spiders, cockroaches and lizards. They hide in your house and scare the living hell out of you when they're found! :-[
Haha I love David Attenborough documentaries, we have pretty much all of them on DVD!  ;D

They can actually be almost impossible to see until the moment they spring - they're far far more stealthy than humans because they're actually physically adapted for stealth. We're awkward, slow, and weak in comparison.  :P

Most of the big cats are perfect examples, their coats are camouflaged so they're nearly impossible to see when they're in their natural habitat. They prowl along, crouching close to the ground to make themself smaller, stopping whenever they sense you're looking in their direction until they're close enough that you cannot escape, and only then will they pounce. A lot of the time, if you spot them and stare at them before they're within range they'll just stand up and stop hunting you - for now!  :D

Having grown up near the Rocky Mountains (near enough that I could see them every day when I went to school, though we'd have to plan out a whole day for a hiking trip because of driving there and back), I can say that Raptori is absolutely right. Mountain lions are terrifying because they can be a few feet away from you and you won't even know; I've even seen pictures people have taken on daytrips in the mountains where the foreground is their wife and kid and in the background, if you look very carefully, you can see a mountain lion lurking, watching...

On the topic of the world-building scenario presented earlier, both of these (fear of animals -- I'll stick with big cats for now, since they're the most familiar to me -- and fear of men) could be presented as a combination of psychological and physical fear. Obviously, both could kill, but the trick is finding out what can kill you. Outside the Walls, people might be looking at every shadow, suspecting there's a mountain lion (or whatever happens to live there) but unable to tell if there really is one. Inside the Walls, you can see the men (for the most part) but you might not always be able to tell who you can trust.

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #104 on: April 04, 2015, 05:51:12 AM »
Quote
Or, turn it around the other way. After experiencing human monsters, the character is barely fazed by the outside ones.

This is a theme I have planned later down the line.  :P

I think the biggest problem I have now is not so much understanding what I want to create tone wise, but understanding how I want to create this tone, which can only come from writing the few scenarios or so to get a grasp on the "fear."

But yes, I think the distinction that they can both be physical or psychological fears is a problem because you need contrast. The contrast I think I'm looking for is about what @RussetDivinity mentioned, in that while humans are unpredictable (you can't trust them), you know that a monster out in the wilds is going to hunt you for food. I think I'm having trouble bringing forward that primal fear that, as I said, can only be wrestled by writing.

I would like to thank @Yora for pointing out The Last Wish to me. Or, in better words, pushing me to finally read it, from his glowing praise of the novel. While the collection largely with "don't judge a book by its cover, abnormal monsters most of all," I'd like to explore the idea of "monsters are what we make them." The distinction between humans and monsters in these short stories is really helping me a lot in developing ideas and understanding the blurred lines between the two.

More useless rambling so I apologize. :)
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