Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Worldbuilding Link List

I was asked on twitter by @MatchesMalone for "the" URL to my article on Worldbuilding.  I had no idea which article was referred to!  I've done at least 16 and have 2 more in the hopper.   

Here's a summary list of the Worldbuilding items I've done so far -- though worldbuilding is referred to or discussed in many other posts here because it's the most glaring story element in Fantasy or SF universes when it is done wrong -- and totally invisible, imperceptible to the reader, when done right! 

I will revisit this topic from other angles, so here's a chance for you to catch up on entries you might have missed.




(this has links to previous items in the Astrology Just For Writers (no expertise required) series of posts here.)  This one is about High Drama which is the signature of a Pluto transit to a natal chart.  Some people live in High Drama all the time and live "soap opera" lives -- or what I call a "pillar to post" life.  They make great characters for series, but the writer has to work hard to make the life-shape plausible to  readers.

This is a real-world news item that could be used for worldbuilding.

An explosive mixture of science, religion, and the Romance Story.

Controversy makes excellent fodder for a writer's worldbuilding, so here's how to rip a news item from the headlines and make a story out of it that self-generates a theme.

And more on referencing your reader's reality to get a rise out of her! 

Here are some thoughts on how the typical romance trope can lead a writer astray when worldbuilding for a reader from scratch.

So when a romance writer injects Fantasy, the Paranormal or Science (or all of the above) into Romance Stories -- you've got mixed genre, and confusion that takes serious writing discipline to make into pure entertainment.

Is an index to my review column articles where I discuss "The Soul-Time Hypothesis" for the first 6 months of 2007, as explored in several books and novels, not least among them Blake Snyder's SAVE THE CAT! which I talk about a lot on this blog.

This is Part 6 of a series of posts on LOVE as a story element, and has links to the prior parts.

Is part 7 of the Big Love series of posts.

Discusses poetic justice -- done wrong, this story element comes off as the writer "cheating" or resorting to the deus ex machina ending.  The writer must understand Justice in all its esoteric and practical aspects to pull off a Poetic Justice driven plot. 

This is Part 2 on Poetic Justice.



In addition to all that, there is a series called Worldbuilding With Fire And Ice which focuses on the interface between politics and religion, referencing our "real world" surroundings to target an audience.  There will be 3 more posts in that series starting July 2012.  Links to past posts in that series will be provided.

You might also want to read my column on Poetic Justice: The Fragile Universe -- scroll down to the February 2009 column.

Worldbuilding is something most new writers don't even think about - especially if they're working in a contemporary, real world, setting.  All the readers know what an ashtray is, and how the object is becoming an antique now, and is seldom seen inside a doctor's waiting room. 

The presence or absence of an ash tray on a side-table, or dining room table next to the salt, is WORLDBUILDING.  You might use description or dialogue to indicate that the object is there, discuss the design (maybe it's high-tech and draws the smoke in?  Maybe it's antique marble?  Or gem-encrusted?), or maybe exposition to plant it as a clue to a murder.  An ash tray might be part of the characterization (consider BURN NOTICE: the quintessential mother-Florida-retiree who smokes).   Historically, people didn't "smoke" because there was no tobacco in certain parts of the world.  Perhaps on another world, tobacco won't grow and nothing else is smoke-able.  So the presence of an ashtray would be remarkable, odd, an anachronism. 

The object itself is worldbuilding because it builds the world outside the scene, and outside the story.

It's not enough to know all about the world outside your story.  You then have to encode that knowledge into a visual object, a symbol, a work of art, a process (such as a photograph rather than a painting?), and artfully place that object where it evokes that outside world in the reader's mind without the reader having to wade through paragraphs of tedious and irrelevant description of that world, you, the writer, knows so well. 

To the writer, the world outside the story is sometimes more interesting (and vital to understanding the real meaning of the story) than anything else.  The new writer doesn't understand how and why the reader is not likewise interested in what fascinates the writer.

"Worldbuilding" is the writing technique whereby the writer induces fascination in the reader. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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