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Cephus
December 28th, 2002, 05:14 AM
I've read just a few too many books lately where the universe just doesn't work. It seems like some authors don't give a lot of though to their universes outside of what happens in the novel. This is unfortunately very common in film and television as well.

Does anyone really put as much time into worldbuilding as I do, or is a convincing, well-established world out of fashion?

I, Brian
December 28th, 2002, 07:57 AM
Well, for my fantasy masterpeice (which requires much editing) the world construction is second to none. I have everything from political structures to the arts covered, a thorough world history and well developed national cultures - not to mention real daily life down to the required seasonal vegetables. Most of the time the detail doesn't appear, excepting in a sentence or two here and there. But it's an extra sentence or two here and there which makes the world especially real.

I even put an online encyclopaedia supporting the work on my website. Many pages! Click no the www button below the post if you'd like to check.

Cephus
December 28th, 2002, 05:32 PM
Originally posted by I, Brian
Well, for my fantasy masterpeice (which requires much editing) the world construction is second to none. I have everything from political structures to the arts covered, a thorough world history and well developed national cultures - not to mention real daily life down to the required seasonal vegetables. Most of the time the detail doesn't appear, excepting in a sentence or two here and there. But it's an extra sentence or two here and there which makes the world especially real.

Same here. I could tell you just about anything about my SF universe, I have literally thousands of pages describint the politics, religion, hundreds of species, thousands of detailed worlds... you name it, I have it.

But I see so many people who don't think about the ramifications of their world outside of the story. It's very jarring to be reading a book and discover that the whole world is just a sham, it couldn't possibly exist or be stable.

choppy
December 29th, 2002, 02:37 AM
It sounds like you guys are putting a lot of effort into your world-building and for that you should be commended. This is something that takes a lot of work to do well, and in the end your stories should be much better for it.

I think that it's important to keep things in perspective though. Thousands of pages describing the world? What happens to the story? It's important not to bury the story in description just to have an accurate world.

I had a discussion with good friend a few days ago about this kind of thing. And one of the things we agreed on was that any fictional world will break down at one point or another. There will always be nitpickers who comb through stories looking for inconsistencies - this can't be helped. Personally I don't write for people like this. It's too much work.

On the other hand (and presumably getting back to the original point) a writer needs to maintain suspension of disbelief. To do this, it is necessary to generate a world that would seem plausible to the intelligent layperson. When a writer fails to do this, the illusion generated inside the story is lost.

Cephus
December 29th, 2002, 03:33 AM
Originally posted by choppy
I think that it's important to keep things in perspective though. Thousands of pages describing the world? What happens to the story? It's important not to bury the story in description just to have an accurate world.

All of my stories take place in the same universe, hence the consistency throughout is extremely important. The universe itself has nothing to do with the story. Yes, the universe can suggest a plot, but setting is separate from plot.


I had a discussion with good friend a few days ago about this kind of thing. And one of the things we agreed on was that any fictional world will break down at one point or another. There will always be nitpickers who comb through stories looking for inconsistencies - this can't be helped. Personally I don't write for people like this. It's too much work.

Far too many break down within the story itself. It's one thing for a society to be flawed, certainly another for it to be intensely and fatally flawed, so much so that it could not have stood for as long as described in the story.


On the other hand (and presumably getting back to the original point) a writer needs to maintain suspension of disbelief. To do this, it is necessary to generate a world that would seem plausible to the intelligent layperson. When a writer fails to do this, the illusion generated inside the story is lost.

That was, of course, my original point. If one has so many errors within their universe that suspension of disbelief is broken, then there is a problem inherent with the author's style. Most writers seem to treat universe building as something they'll make up when the time comes, not an integral part of the plotting and planning process itself.

I, Brian
December 29th, 2002, 04:06 PM
Yup - salient points Cephus.


I think that it's important to keep things in perspective though. Thousands of pages describing the world? What happens to the story? It's important not to bury the story in description just to have an accurate world.

Absolutely - detail should not interfere with the story, merely add to it. All that's required is a word here, a sentence there, to add those important little details that expand the realism, functionality - and the belief - of such a world.

The thousands of pages is usually background notes, called upon whenever a subject is encountered, to ensure proper continuity - as Cephus commented upon.

Cephus
December 29th, 2002, 05:53 PM
Originally posted by I, Brian
The thousands of pages is usually background notes, called upon whenever a subject is encountered, to ensure proper continuity - as Cephus commented upon.

Also, let's face it. If you sell the book, if you end up at a book signing or a convention, fans *ARE* going to ask you all these questions. They are going to what to know that your world has a background. They are going to challenge you on things. You'd better know what you're talking about and have a good idea how things work.

Richardb
December 30th, 2002, 10:49 AM
world building is actually a long standing hobby of mine. I find it a great mental and creative excersice. Some of these worlds create stories that need to be writting, and some don't, but the pleasure is in the creation. There are a number of things that you need to do:
1. Do the maps (use something like CC2)
2. Do the history
3. Plot out the demographics carefully and in response to the history
4. Plot out the 'who's and where's' of potential key characters and come to understand how they interact within the world
5. Manage religion and politics with #3 and #4 in mind as they play a major role in politics
6. Get it all organized and written down...

I have done about 4 complete worlds, generally including from 10-40 maps, and several hundred pages of text and data. The first world I fully built just sort of drove a story line that became Tulisia, my first novel. Others have not resolved into any significant stories, although I have wondered about the commercial viability of the worlds themselves (it seems that the D&D crowd pays for that stuff). It all started out with an interest in geography and cartography... then comes the stats and descriptive stuff. It is a great hobby, though very time consuming.

Cephus
December 30th, 2002, 03:25 PM
Originally posted by Richardb
world building is actually a long standing hobby of mine. I find it a great mental and creative excersice. Some of these worlds create stories that need to be writting, and some don't, but the pleasure is in the creation.

I've done that many, many times and have over a thousand worlds in various states of completion and detail. I'd say I have perhaps 20 that are extremely detailed and important, but most work and detail has gone into the political and socio-economic structure of large empires over individual planets.

When you've been working with your universe for 25+ years and have several thousand years of recorded history, it becomes second nature to see stories within the setting itself.

I, Brian
December 30th, 2002, 03:26 PM
Richardb -


1. Do the maps (use something like CC2)

Is this a software program for map building?