Sunday, April 24, 2011

why i blame the Internet + worldbuilding pt. 1

Today was supposed to be the day I started work on re-writing Boot Hill.

However, when I got home from the day job today, I realized that this humble little blog needed some attention because it looked like, well, shit.

So, five hours later, and this is what I have to show for my time. I know, pathetic, right? But it'll be worth it in the long run! I've already given myself justification for spending so much time on it, so there's no use in trying to make me feel bad. Actually, don't try; it'll probably work.

Plus, the banner is a huge, sprawling picture of a very sad looking Finch. I love it.

On a writer-ly note, Hunter and I have been deliberating and trying to decide the actual mechanics of the magic/energy/technology systems in our world. For a while there, we just skimmed over the specifics because it didn't seem necessary (and let's just face it, I'm lazy). But as the story has progressed over the years, these specifics are becoming absolutely necessary for us to know because they're irrevocably woven into the story.

I won't lie; world building is insanely hard, and I don't care what anyone else says.

This is what angers me about folks who look down on fantasy as a genre; do they not understand that excellent fantasy writing requires a world with believable rules, one that can immerse you and runs like a well-oiled machine? Whether it's a fantastical version of our world or an entirely unique one, fantasy writers have to work extra hard to ensure that their setting is believable and engaging.

Visualizing the world of Boot Hill is easy, but when it comes to the finer details, I struggle. I always have. But I'm realizing now that I need to face this quandary head-on. Avoiding it is doing nothing but providing an excuse for me to produce no results. That's not going to fly anymore! An update forthcoming.

7 lived to tell about it:

Ninja said... Reply

Yeah... I hear you on world building. Even in a modern world with paranormal crap going on, I have a hard time settling everything. It's even worse when you've accepted something as canon in your own world and then an outsider reads it and goes "That can't work! Let me tell you why!" And then you have to start all over with that concept. Ugh...

King of the Eyesores said... Reply

I think especially "in a modern world with paranormal crap going on" (as you put it, hehe), settling everything and making the world believable is ridiculously hard. Because people are currently living in this modern world, you have to resonate truth to those reading.

Yes, the argument can be made that all fantasy/sci-fi writing has to resonate truth, but you can embellish and create things on a whim if you're writing about an alternate universe. Not so with modern/urban fantasy. If your story takes place in New York City, you better know New York City like the back of your hand (or have at least visited or done extensive research), or those living in NYC will be ready to call you out if it reads unnaturally.

Man, I hate when that happens too! You get all stoked for a concept and integrate it in your story, only to realize it's a giant plot hole later on. At least you have someone to read it over and tell you it doesn't work. Better to catch it before you send it out to an agent, am I right?

Angelien Landau said... Reply

World building is indeed painfully difficult and if you don't have the majority of it seamlessly down, writing the story itself is very tricky. I've had that problem lately. Also, I've no idea how to explain to Skeptic Dad who thinks I ought to have produced a couple of novels by now that world building is more complicated than he thinks it is and that is why there aren't any complete books from me yet.

(BTW, I'm Chococomilk on LJ and DA. It's amazing how far you've come on this story! You should feel SO stoked and good about yourself and your mad writing skills.)

King of the Eyesores said... Reply

Heyo! It's weird not seeing you as Chococomilk, but I think I can manage ;)

I think everyone's skeptic as to why I haven't produced novel upon novel... but it just goes to show what little non-writers (and especially non-fantasy writers) know about the creative process and everything that goes into plotting and world-building. It's not as simple as one might think!

Chococomilk said... Reply

Ah, I forgot that I wasn't Chococomilk on Blogger! I'm rectifying that! :D

I remember the first time you told me about Boot Hill during Nano 2008 and it's only become more awesome since then. You can be proud of that. My dad's the big skeptic in my family, so I'm gonna show him my notebooks jampacked with world-building notes and tell him to write me a novel if he can ;)

What's the hardest part of world-building, do you think?

King of the Eyesores said... Reply

I think the hardest part of world-building is trying to figure out how deep you should go. I find myself waist-deep in world-building sometimes, only to realize that that particular aspect of the world isn't really important, haha! It's so easy to get lost in little details because I so badly want to make it seem real to me, but there has to be a limit.

Also, I really struggle with putting governments in place, and coming up with different nationalities and their subsequent cultures, because I've always had a hard time wrapping my head around politics and social sciences. Still, it's a fun process, time consuming aside :)

The most painstaking is definitely naming shit. I'm terrible at it.

My favorite bit is working on the landscape of the world I'm creating. I've always been fascinated with ecosystems and how they function.

What do you think? Easiest/hardest?

Chococomilk said... Reply

For me, it's definitely been how everything links together. My story started out as a bog standard fantasy - teenage hero goes on a quest for a god to defeat particular opponents and returns to rule the country after his father's death, a quest with a smattering of politics. The story has outgrown its roots, though, and now its a more complex interaction of political corruption, revolution, and much more the main character being manipulated behind the scenes than he ever realized.

He still thinks he's in a fantasy style quest novel but the picture is way bigger than he is. So I've had to move from first/third person perspective limited to him to exploring the idea of multiple character perspectives, the way that George R.R. Martin does, in order to show what these other characters are doing that he's unaware of and how that affects him and everything else. That's incredibly hard.

The easiest part for me is naming. A lot of the cultural aspects to. The story is heavily based in Muromachi period Japanese culture/society, so rather than making up a ton of stuff I can essentially draw upon what already exists: social hierarchy, values, food, clothing, merchant guilds etc. Japanese society has historically been tied to the land and resources so there's no disjoint between the landscape and what people are making either.

The most fun part? Food and money. On other novels-in-progress some of them are set in the Victorian age, Tudor age, so I have copious amounts of notation on currency and the prices people paid for loaves of bread, shirts, sheep etc to be as realistic as possible.

How do you think Boot Hill has changed since you and Lone Momo first dreamed it up out of watching 3:10 to Yuma?

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