Wednesday, September 26, 2012

World-build Before You Start Writing

Today I’d like to share a writing tip I learned recently that applies to writing science fiction and fantasy (though I imagine it can’t hurt to give some thorough consideration to your story’s setting/world).  Also, keep in mind that I’m just one writer, and that what works for me might not work for you.

This might seem obvious to some people, but I learned the hard way that it pays to build your world, including as many of its intricacies as you can, before you even start writing your book.  In fact, I wrote two books in a row in which I failed to build a fleshed-out world beforehand.  Problem was, when I finished drafts of those books, I had to go back and add in all those world-building elements, and it took a lot of extra work because brainstorming my world opened up all sorts of plot opportunities and character developments I hadn’t seen before—and just about all of them improved the story, so I had to add them.
See, the thing about world-building—it should affect every other part of your story in some way—characters, plot, etc. (all of the elements of a book should blend together and affect each other).  For example, the world you build might influence how your protagonist escapes the villain at some point in the story—perhaps your protag jumps on a hover scooter some kid left on the sidewalk, because, you know, the number one past-time in your futuristic world is hover-scootering.  In general, your world/society should affect how your protag fits into that world, perceives that world, etc., all of which could even affect your protag’s main goal that drives them throughout the entire story.  (Whoa…I know).
So, learn from my mistake, and build your world in advance.  As a result, you’d be amazed by how many appealing plot constructs open up just pleading to be constructed, and how many characters your fleshed-out world creates and influences that will make your story richer than if you hadn’t known about them before you started writing.  At the very least, you’ll save yourself a lot of work in the long run.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Project Update

OK, so here's an update (yes, it's been a while since I've last posted on this blog) on my various middle-grade projects.

SAVAGE JUNGLE - a.k.a. my thesis for the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction program - I've just submitted this to my two mentors for final review. Yes, that means the manuscript will now either PASS or FAIL (cue dramatic music). The very last thing I did before I sent it was read it out loud to myself, which, as I mentioned in another post, is seriously such a great exercise. Caught lots of nice, nitty-gritty little polishing errors (or things that could be tweaked to make the language smoother), but other than that, hopefully it's ready to make the grade (keeping fingers crossed lol). I will know in about a month from now (late October).

UNGIFTED - On the backburner. I'm now aware of a few things I could do to improve the story, and a couple of them I'm not entirely sure what to do about. I've decided to let it sit on the backburner and hope that some of those issues resolve themselves in my subconscious (one of them I will be actively trying to solve, but that one can apply to all my stories). But if not, this story may forever remain on the backburner, which would be sad, because I do like it and had a blast writing it (even if I sometimes tell myself I don't and didn't)...

NEW DYSTOPIAN STORY - though really not so new anymore - I'm now back into the thick of things on this one. I'd been writing it for a while, and then had a huge spell where I had to sit back and think through some brainstorming aspects that were basically of a worldbuilding and plot nature. But now I've got those ironed out (at least for the moment), so I've plunged back into the actual writing. Wish me luck!

And that is all for the update. Carry on...