Before I get into today’s writing topic I wanted to kindly point out to both of my readers that I won a BOOK!
Free BOOK! I never win anything and I won a book. I love life! Once I get a chance to actually read the book I will tell you what it was and what I thought of it.
Yes, I am indeed a tease.
There are writers that get very wrapped up in the physical aspects of creation. There are all kinds of software out there that can help you build a world, a city, a dungeon. I think it would be great if I was mapping campaigns or handling complicated territorial issues or even a chase scene, but really for me it is very secondary.
If it enables you to tell a good story I am all for it, but I am not a stickler on things like this. I have read books where the author seemed obsessed with directions, food, or authentic clothing descriptions and I get so frustrated with the excess of details that I miss the story.
There is a lot of literature out there about world building and primary and secondary world models. Meaning either based on earth (primary i.e. ubran fantasy or traditional science fiction) or the secondary world model where it is based on a world that isn’t earth – at all.
I don’t think this is the most useful way to break things down because well you’ll see-
The way I see it there are at least 3 ways and then alamagalms or variations thereof.
1) Interpolated world – In this model the writer uses a lot of accepted ideas and history to create a slightly different reality for the reader. Something that takes a lot of things for granted and you only recognize a change in the pattern when the author chooses to bring your notice to it. Beyond any overt changes like dragons and such. I am speaking of changes in the path history took or the way the government works.
2) Extrapolated World – Here the author often uses a basis of ideas and takes it the next step either along the science route like space operas or fantasy or some combination thereof. They may or may not make changes in the history of the world but the focus of the story is not generally on the changes as it is on what came from the future of those changes.
3) Epic Building – The writer either tries purposefully to avoid familiar concepts or avoids humans to a large degree. The races are many and varied, the customs and history are so different that it tends to require an epic fantasy or space opera approach. There is so much back story to understand that it is a lot more work for both the author to write and the reader to comprehend. China Mieville is brilliant at this.
It is hard to divide a lot of this in my mind because I feel like most people don’t make an effort to write from a non-standard perspective. How can we? What would an alien do and how would we communicate with them? Can you even imagine? Do you know how long it would take to decipher a completely foreign communication method?
Most people get around this by not talking about it, which doesn’t bother me. Or faking really bad. They just happen to stumble on magical or scientific means that just makes it easy to brush it under the rug.
What bothers me more is inconsistency in approach. I have seen movies and read stories where they obviously go to great lengths to set up a epic world and then make cultural references to modern earth. A good example of poor worldbuilding – in Tangled they make mention of Mozart. He lived in the mid-late 1700s!! They had set it in a medieval society!! What is your problem?!?
But seriously, be true to your own world. Don’t pollute it with references to ideas, places, or people just because it makes for an easy comparison. I am not saying to making new words and concepts for everything, but a little bit of creativity won’t kill you. Stretch your mind, I like a good trash novel as much as the next person, but ones who really make me think are the ones I read over again and suggest to others.