Monday, April 29, 2013


It’s been a while since I last posted, but I have a confession to make—I’m making a multi-pass through my MG dystopian manuscript, meaning that rather than going through the book just to look to fix one specific thing (such as making sure the world-building elements are woven seamlessly into the narrative rather than info-dumped), I’m going through looking to fix multiple things.  I know before I advised making one pass per element you wish to fix, so I’m pretty much going against my own advice here.  But I think it’s okay in this instance, because I feel I can handle fixing these particular things in one pass.  At least for this pass (as I’m sure there will be more to come based on later crit partner feedback).  Some of the things I’m fixing only apply to certain parts of the manuscript, though there are some over-arching ones, too.  If you’d like a feel for what I’m looking to fix, here’s a nice bulleted list:

·         Making sure the world-building elements are seamlessly woven throughout the story rather than info-dumped (bet you didn’t see that one coming)
·         Making sure a specific character’s dialogue is believable and consistent throughout the story
·         Making sure the world’s slang/language (has to do with world-building, too) is consistent and makes sense throughout the story
·         Smoothing over a particular romance element
·         Deepening the main character’s emotion at certain parts of the story

So those are just a few of the things I’m looking for in this multi-pass, and so far they feel manageable.  It’s also been a while since I’ve read through the book end to end, so it should be interesting, especially since I recently added in chunks of backstory and incorporated more of the overall world.  It’ll be interesting to see how those things are working (or if they’re not).  Will let you know how things progress.

Friday, April 5, 2013

World-building Tip: Incorporating the Big Picture

So sometimes I’m in the habit of leaving out or just plain forgetting to incorporate the “big picture” aspect of world-building when I write a story.  It’s no big deal.  It just means I need to brainstorm and flesh it out, and then incorporate it into the story.

What I mean by “big picture” when it comes to world-building is your world outside your “small picture world.”  There.  That explained it perfectly, right?

OK, I’ll give a couple examples to make it clearer.  One story I wrote recently takes place in an alien jungle (a kid and his uncle get lost in the jungle and need to escape it).  I spent so much time fleshing out the jungle and the creatures in it (small picture world-building) that I totally disregarded the big picture world, such as: What defines this new age of the future?  How did this age come to exist (i.e., how did humans on Earth evolve to the point where they could send spaceships to other planets and what not)?  In light of this new age and the changes that had to happen in order to get to this point, what are the fears and values of this society?  Etc., etc.

I’ll give another example.  I also recently wrote a story (an epic fantasy) that consisted of two neighboring nations that’d been at war with each other for generations.  One is made up of people who can telepathically control animals, whereas another is a group of technologically gifted people (an electric current runs through each of them) that have formed a city full of metal structures and complicated machinery (the people power the machines with the natural currents in their bodies).  I spent so much time brainstorming and ironing out how these two different societies function that I, again, forgot to consider the big-picture world (I did later, however), such as: What is the rest of the world like?  Are there other societies of different types of people?  If so, how do they affect these two groups/nations?  How did these two groups develop such different abilities based on the world they live in?  Etc., etc.
So, moral of story: It doesn’t matter when you do it, but make sure you set aside time to brainstorm your “big-picture” world if you haven’t already.  Then go and incorporate it into the story.  That way, your world (and story) has more of a complex, fully-fleshed feel.  Go on, try it. Think big, class.  Think BIG.