April 1, 2013

Monday Pep Rally: To Worldbuild Or Not To Worldbuild?

Monday Pep Rally is a weekly feature where the Misfits post a question for you, the reader, to answer. You can answer on your own blog and link in the comments, or just answer here!

Hello, Misfiteers! I'm just so happy today, I think I could give you all hugs.

April Fools! ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Had to get that off my chest. There will be no hugging today. Instead I want to talk to you about worldbuilding. (Why is worldbuilding not a word? Apparently it should be "world building". Whatever, I don't care.)

QUADRANTS. Every map gets better when you add quadrants.
If you know me, you know I love worldbuilding. Absolutely, positively love it. I could spend hours drawing maps, creating mythos, forming civilizations.

BUT I always have to keep in mind the story that I'm writing. Some stories can carry--or even require--a lot of worldbuilding. Others don't need it. Some would only get lost in heavy worldbuilding. Contemporary novels, for example, don't need a lot of worldbuilding because we already live in the contemporary world. High fantasy, on the other hand, positively overflows with worldbuilding. (Of course, each genre has its exceptions.) The amount of worldbuilding needed depends on the story you want to tell and how you plan on telling it. I recently wrote a book that was set on a futuristic earth. I could have done a lot of worldbuilding for it, but I didn't. That particular story would have only been bogged down by too much worldbuilding, so I left it out. But, as you can see in the picture, I'm going a little crazy with my fantasy idea.

So here's my question for you guys:
How much do you worldbuild for your stories? Do you love it, hate it, not think anything of it? If you hate it, why? And if you love it, what's your favorite part?


Gina said...

World building my steampunk novel proved to be entirely overwhelming and I actually shelved it temporarily so I could make headway on some other projects. Just having to balance fake-world building and real-world building (because none of us were alive in Victorian London, I have to build that world too, to immerse the reader) was too much.

Now I'm working on a fantasy story that is the first in a series of companion novels. Each story will be set in a different kingdom in the same world, and characters will overlap between them. It's just the right balance. I have to build, but only have to rely in the physical truth of human beings - everything else I get to create. If it matters to the story, it gets woven in. If it doesn't matter, I leave it out but hold into it for possible future use.

It's perfect :)

Mia Hayson said...

I love it when the worldbuilding comes to me instead of me having to seek it out, so that's generally what I do. I scramble around blindly trying to see what surrounds me and then, hopefully, at some point I get hit by a realisation and all the weird things I've written make sense suddenly.

So, I guess I love the knowing but I don't like just sitting and sketching out maps etc. I don't know why. I'm infinitely jealous of people who can a) draw and b) just know what is out there.


Ru said...

I actually love when writers world build in novels that have a generally contemporary setting. (Think Stephen King, Under The Dome - I felt like I lived in that town). But agreed, in some genres it is more necessary than others, and if it isn't incorporated organically into the story, it just drags everything down.

Saybe Scott said...

Worldbuilding is one of my biggest weaknesses in first drafts, as my CPs can attest. I usually write only what directly affects the story and the immediate setting, and anything that's offscreen or background or not really important gets overlooked because I'm more interested in the plot and characters. It's something I'm trying to pay more attention to while drafting my current WIP.

Love your map, though. The one high fantasy I wrote (my very first novel), I drew a map and charted the characters' travels and stuff. I could see myself doing that again if I were building a world from the ground up.

Maya Prasad said...

Beautiful map in the picture! Love it.

I did a lot of world-building, but it was as I wrote my drafts. I revised a lot as I went because I kept changing my mind about the world, and those changes affected the plot. (If it didn't majorly affect the plot, I merely noted the change and kept moving forward).

Alex Villasante said...

I'm with Saybe. My first drafts never have as much world building as my CP's think they should (YA Fantasy.) I but I'm an 'under writer' in general, needing to flesh out and connect the dots in later drafts. I do like world building, though. I feel like, when I'm imagining my world, all the information is there, I just have to go back and 'see' it when I've gotten all the plot points out.

I am also a big fan of maps (and have drawn them myself) - but I can't stand family trees in books. Not sure why!

Stephsco said...

My process as a writer has been to do everything in the most difficult and backwards fashion from the start. Thankfully, I've learned and I can move forward! I would probably plan a lot out first for a novel with extensive worldbuilding so as not to trap myself in corners along the way. But, that still happens, so at some point, I think you need to set aside the outline and start writing. The outline and notes are important to keep consistency though.

God bless all you fantasy and sci-fi writers!

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