Thursday, December 13, 2007

World Building 101

Worldbuilding: A technique widely used by authors to create diverse and believable constructed worlds in which to base their stories, the process usually involves the creation of maps, listing the backstory of the world and the people of the world, amongst other features. [wikipedia]

While perusing one of my favorite message boards I came across a few topics of world building. Being me I took it a step further and looked up the views of worldbuilding and techniques of two popular authors. Their takes on the way they build the backdrop of their story's are interesting and enlightening.

First up C.L. Wilson. I have to admit that I'm a big Wilson fangurl so I tend to pimp her out, so to speak, but she has built a very intricate, very believable, very tangible world in her first two books Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows. And since we are talking about great world building then we should start at the top.

Wilson's Blog Date Stamp11/1/07

The amount of details that go into creating a completely new world are staggering. Below Wilson gives a few examples of the thought process required [technology wise] to make a world believable.

Remember, the level of technology needs to be commensurate with the other aspects of your culture. Hunter-gatherers, for instance, would probably not have internal combustion engines. Medieval knights would not have light sabers.

Consider travel technology - how do people get around? How do they transport goods? Horse and wagon? Donkey pack trains? Locomotive? Ground-skimming hovercrafts?

Consider machines - what types and what is the availability of machinery? And if they have machines, what powers them? A windmill is a machine powered by wind. Historical uses for windmills include milling grain, powering well pumps, etc. ©Copyright Wilson

That's something to chew on.

Next up: Patricia Briggs. Author of the Mercedes Thompson series that includes Moon Called, Blood Bound, On the Prowl and the much anticipated Iron Kissed, due out January 08.

Here is just a little of what she had to say on the topic:

"The set designers for theatrical productions are masters of world building. With a few broad strokes of a brush on canvas, a bit of paper mache and some bits of fabric the audience is almost magically transported to regency England, the deepest jungles of Africa or a cottage in the forest. Stage designers choose their props and their placement very carefully. And, if you think of world building like set design, suddenly it becomes apparent why the details are so important.

An author may well fill notebooks with the details of their world. In the end, however, those notebooks full of details make their way to the reader in ghosts and shadows, a turn of phrase, a brief description of architecture, a detail in dress or grooming. Getting a detail wrong is like leaving a fake palm-tree on stage for the castle scene . . . the illusion is dispelled, and rather than Camelot the audience sees paper mache and grease paint" ©Copyright Briggs

Her advice:

"Write what you know" is really an attempt to help authors get the details right. If you attempt to write outside your experience, you need to do your homework." ©Copyright Briggs

Briggs' Blog Date Stamp 12/3/07

Through reading what both of these talented writers had to say about what goes into creating a successful world I'm left in awe. It gives me an even greater respect for authors who take the time to actualize their visions into something that readers can not only understand but appreciate.

For more information on what goes into building a world check out wikipedia.

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