[OctoOctober] Week Three: World Building Oct 18, 2020 9:02:09 GMT -5
Post by Keri on Oct 18, 2020 9:02:09 GMT -5
October 18th, 2020
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Welcome to OctoOctober 2020, a Preptober Workshop. This year, please feel free to download the prep book which has some more fun, some more questions, and more pictures of our lovely mascot, Otto the Octopus.
As a reminder, we’re going to be focusing different “arm” every week. The order to this is semi-arbitrary; there’s a rhyme and reason to it, but everyone’s rhyme is different.
So today, we’re going to focus on world building. If you’re following along in the prep book, we’re going to be firmly in that world building section of too many pages. These can be done at any point, of course, because all the arms must make one octopus whole!
Important to note: a lot of world building isn't necessary before writing. I know. I said it. But really, if you get bogged down in world building, you'll never get the novel done! So think of what is absolutely needed for your story and start there. The rest, leave for editing you.
So for this post:
The Basics - Geography
This is the actual, physical world that your characters live in. It’s the mountains, the rivers, the oceans, the deserts and everything else that goes onto your world map. The physical features that make up your world also make up the rest of civilization. As you might now, we started by rivers and as technology developed, we created more diverse towns in diverse places.
And here is where there is a great divide in the writing community.
Is your story in a real world setting? Great! If it's set based on a place you have lived or experienced, you might have heaps of memories to work off of. If not, Google Earth and Google Maps can work wonders. The downside is that since it is a place people know, the research about the setting is all that much more important.
Is your story in a second world setting? Great! You've got a lot to make up, but the freedom to do so! Now, the amount of physical world building in a second world really depends on the scope of your novel.
- Do you have a smaller setting, with just one town/city/country/planet?
- Do you have an epic setting, where your characters are traversing countries/planets/galaxies?
Either way, you should know a little bit about each place your characters visit because you want the reader to be able to visualize and experience the setting your characters are in.
There are some questions in the prep book that you can answer, but a few overviews for you here are:
- List out the physical features (mountains, rivers, forests)
- What is the culture based on (whether from real-life or inspired by) and what type of physical features did that culture arise around?
For Example: If you're wanting to use a culture that started in the Sahara desert, maybe having a desert setting would be important due to the way the original culture had to adapt to their surroundings.
- Are any of those physical features major parts of the story? If so, take care to give it extra attention!
While perhaps not the most interesting, taking account of the climate of your setting could give the reader one more layer of experience. Is your character set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America, where the rain is a large feature? Are you set in the Arctic circle where they experience long periods of darkness?
Maybe you have a second world where you can make up a season filled with storms or a once-in-a-lifetime flood that comes at a certain season.
Another one that may not have so much influence on your setting, especially while first drafting, is history. Knowing the way your world developed can give hints as to how the countries/cities/towns/cultures in your setting interact. Or maybe there was a cataclysmic event that changed the way people treat certain physical features (for example, landslides or volcanic eruptions).
Sometimes your plot may involve something that happened in the past of your setting and knowing the situations around that event (factual, social, rumored) could be very helpful!
Here's the big one. Your characters have grown up in a place that has a unique culture. Those are the customs, traditions, and the way of life for the people in that particular setting. It affects everything your character does, whether or not it is a conscious effect.
There, again, are plenty of questions in the prep book but think of these basic topics when thinking about culture:
- Belief Systems/Religion
- Holidays (Religious, Governmental, Social)
The last huge beast is mainly for those SF/F writers: magic systems. There's just not enough time in the day to go through that here so look forward to links!
World Building Questions:
SFWA's Fantasy Worldbuilding (warning: this is all encompassing so take what you need)
Well... there's a lot here. So just try to get what the necessities for your novel down on paper!