A way with worlds: 07 - Getting a Vision
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 1 of 1
OK, the last few columns
have been pretty serious (well, in theme, if not execution). I've
covered a lot of the basics in a few general overviews and
principles, looked at fleshing out worlds and the nature of
power, and in general, been technical.
So, lets sit back for a
column and discuss the fuzzy stuff, the intuitive, the non-linear
part. It's a column without a bunch of itemization and
categorization, so lets hang loose and discuss one of the
hardest-to-define, but important things you need in building a
continuity and working with one.
Having a vision of your
WHAT THE HECK AM I
OK, it sounds pretty warm and fuzzy, so I'll do a little
We can talk all we want of
plans and outlines, make maps and diagrams and character
profiles. That's all good, thats all important, thats
necessary. If you're building a setting or even expanding on an
existing one, there's going to be a lot of details.
Then there's just having a
vision, a feel for your world. You're going to need that -
writing is not a simple linear from-a-reference process, its a
messy, semi-spontaneous, inexplicable, wild process. If you can't
have an intuitive grasp of your world, it's going to be very
difficult to write about it. You need to know your world as you
may know a person.
Its not something that
happens from a plan either. You can't sit down with a ten-step
way to get really "in touch" with your creation. If
there was one I could think of, I'd be listing it here, believe
me. Besides, in my experience, you can't force a "feel"
for your world because it has to evolve on its own.
As you design your setting,
the feel for it, the vision of it, will evolve. Over time, you'll
start recalling things without looking at your notes, or finding
connections that just pop into your mind. Eventually, the world
will be something you just 'know' - you may forget things or look
up details, but in general it will be real enough to you that you
can write spontaneously.
It's my recommendation that
you do not start writing in your setting until you have at least
some vision of it. Obviously you wont have every detail,
since writing is the only way to discover easily where you're
missing information and concepts. However, I find its best to
have at least enough details that you can start writing without
having to refer to notes or sit down and come up with new
concepts every few minutes.
Now as for not losing your
vision and enhancing it, there are some things I've found do help
and can be expressed in an organized manner:
- Reread your notes and
your plot ideas and your timelines. Keep in touch with
what you've done and feel free to add and edit.
- Write down ideas and
file them away. Let the imagination keep working.
- Reread your stories.
Trust me, it'll probably not be that fun - you'll see
errors or flaws jumping out at you left and right.
However it'll keep you in touch with your ideas, your
details, and perhaps give you a chance to fix that one
little mistake and repost a story.
- Don't feel averse to
writing other things. We all need a break - you can
become too familiar with an idea. Besides, it may give
you new ideas, practice different techniques, and let you
see your works in a different light.
- Lighten up. Don't get
so serious it's not fun.
We can't write what we can't relate to, or at least
can't write it well. Get to know your setting, play with it,
explore it, think about it - and when it comes to life for you,
when you can feel it as well as think about it, thats a
good sign you're ready to write in it. Keep in touch with your
world so you can understand it and write it better, and so you
don't lose your vision, your sense of it.
It may sound fuzzy-headed
and certainly less linear and systematic than what I've talked
about recently, but its just as important.
I get back to being technical and overdetailed as we
look at (drumroll please) - record-keeping, storage, and back-up!
Its not as simple as it sounds.
Take a trip to my own alternate world, the Crossworld of Xai, at
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.