World-building for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers — aka, I Wish I’d Done This Before NaNoWriMo

8 May

Okay, so it isn’t Novel Monday, and I should really be writing a few other posts rather than this one–but I told myself I had to work on my novel for at least an hour before any of that stuff happened, and I just came across something so cool I had to share.

I suppose I should say I “re-came across” this. The worksheets from this website have been in a folder in a drawer back in Michigan somewhere for some time. It was nice to find them again, as this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Some of the most awesome information on world building I’ve found so far!

When it comes to my April NaNo project, The Foxglove Alliance, I realized about three days in that I was in over my head. I had been working on my previous project for ten long years and didn’t realize how deeply in tune I was with that world until I left it. For so long, it had been so easy to jump into that world–I knew where everything was and how everyone was supposed to act and what resources were available when. I never did much world-building–at least, I never had to sketch anything out–because it was all in my head and had been there for so long.

Enter Foxglove, which I pantsed more than I knew at the time. I had a city in a desert with a castle made of blue stone. And… that was pretty much it.

I think this is why I started to flounder halfway through the month. At the beginning I was making stuff up as I went along, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But by the fifteenth I’d forgotten most of what I’d already written and was contradicting myself or spending time skimming through pages trying to find what I needed. Sometimes I wrote myself into corners or doubted myself, thinking, “Would they really do that? Is that something they could grow? Where is the barber shop, anyway?”

I knew that when April was over I was going to need to do some serious world-building if I wanted to sort out the mess that my novel became. Which is fine by me–I love creating a new world! It’s pretty time consuming but I consider this one of the more fun parts of writing. Right now I’m still on “Day 0.” This is a pretty important one for me. Not being religious myself, religion is almost always missing from my novels simply because I don’t think to put it in. But it doesn’t seem realistic to me that an entire world wouldn’t have a religion–dealing with mortality is, after all, part of the human condition.

What about you–what resources do you use for world-building? Do you have any tips and tricks that you’ve found helpful? What’s your favorite part of creating a new world? I’d love to see your answers below!

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8 Responses to “World-building for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers — aka, I Wish I’d Done This Before NaNoWriMo”

  1. Emily Krista Catedral May 8, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Here’s a new kind of NaNo for you: http://www.web-writer.net/fantasy/days/index.html

    It’s 30 days of pretty legit worldbuilding exercises. Nicely paced, so you don’t wear yourself out.

    And this: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions-the-world/ Is a good resource for checking yourself along the way, seeing if you missed anything.

    • inkhearted May 9, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Junior… you have created a monster. Thanks so much for those links, they’re awesome!! I’m now about to go on a NaNo-world-building escapade.

  2. Michelle Proulx May 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Ooooh fantastic link!!! I’ll definitely check that out. I’m about to embark on two different fantasy stories, and clearly I need to do a bit of planning before jumping in with the writing, lol.

    • inkhearted May 9, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Definitely! Let me know how it goes–I love hearing about other people’s world-building adventures!

      • Michelle Proulx May 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

        Oh, I’m sure I’ll write several posts about it lamenting my inability to world-build, lol. That seems to be the trend for me in writing – try, fail, blog, try again, fail, blog, try one more time, succeed … forget to blog because I’m so darned excited about finally succeeding 😀

  3. C.B. McCullough May 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Wow! Super comprehensive! Very cool.

    • inkhearted May 9, 2013 at 11:02 am #

      I’m glad you found them interesting! Hope they help!

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