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.


Monica said...

This is fantastic information Mr. Von Halle. I am also a writer and struggle with world-building. This is great advice, and will be sure to remember that in the future. Thank you.

Chris V said...

Why, thank you, Monica. Glad you got something out of it!