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Jedi Knight Muse

Organizing Your World Building

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This is kind of a spin off of my editing process and organization post, except this time I want to talk about organizing your world building!

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Today I started making folders and "texts" in Scrivener for my world building, so that I would have another place for it besides just on Google docs (and I plan on doing the same with Word files and folders on my computer). Elisora is the continent that my NaNo 2018, Court of Shadows: The Forgotten Throne, mainly takes place on, and for some reason I think I'm finding it easier to world build for that than for Storms of Magic, even though they both take place on the same world, Kytherra, just at different points in time and in different parts of the world. I think part of why it's easier is because I did some of the world building before starting on CoS, and I didn't really do that with SoM.

Anyway . . . what things are you making sure to include as you world build for your current project(s)? Are you focusing mainly on the things you know (i.e. what's in the screenshots above are the things that I pretty much know so far. They're not all filled in - only a few of them have basic information so far - but they're the things that I know exist, and I'm going to focus on and build off of those, rather than try to make sure I have folders/texts for EVERY single thing that doesn't even apply/matter to the story), or are you following one of the millions of world building templates out there on the internet and filling in information about every single thing? What are some of the things you're including in your world building and currently focusing on? Feel free to share some screenshots! 

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12 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

Anyway . . . what things are you making sure to include as you world build for your current project(s)? Are you focusing mainly on the things you know (i.e. what's in the screenshots above are the things that I pretty much know so far. They're not all filled in - only a few of them have basic information so far - but they're the things that I know exist, and I'm going to focus on and build off of those, rather than try to make sure I have folders/texts for EVERY single thing that doesn't even apply/matter to the story), or are you following one of the millions of world building templates out there on the internet and filling in information about every single thing? What are some of the things you're including in your world building and currently focusing on? Feel free to share some screenshots!

 

Wow! I am in awe! That's really fun too see. The T-Rex of worldbuilding files! In comparison, mine haven't even crawled up from the mud. But Fairies and Dragons are really interesting, and I have to say your files made me curious. How far along are you on the Court of Shadows?

I really enjoy worldbuilding, but only in the context of a story. I don't structure huge systems of stuff if I don't have to, I just I focus on the parts that makes it seem real when my characters deal with it. I think Brandon Sanderson calls it "Smoke and Mirrors". Basic every-day things are a lot of fun: What they eat (and why! Climate, geography, etc.), how they live, travel, work, what their culture/society is like when it comes to entertainment, unspoken rules and social stratification. I also like to build the mythology of the supernatural/magic. The amount of higher politics, religion, history and judicial system depends on how much it affects characters & plot. Personal guidelines for worldbuilding are probably: Relevant to the plot/character - Enriching the world to make it feel real/plausible - Interesting or entertaining stuff. My worldbuilding docs are usually few (with very short notes/names/links), but my novels are only stand-alones, and never high/epic fantasy where big worldbuilding is very popular. Maybe that's why my worldbuilding files screenshot would require a microscope. :) 

Right now I'm working on my dystopian fantasy, so I'm figuring out the mythology of my beasts, where they came from, and how they fit in and interact with the modern world (a future, tech-progressive world). A dystopian novel (my first) seems to require more pre-planned worldbuilding than I'm used to, so quite challenging, but a lot of fun! 

 

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Sometimes I use mind-mapping software like MindMaple or Freemind (both free to download) for my world-building. In which case, the categories I create for my notes are things like the geography of the world, the plants and animals that inhabit it, and the native human (or other sapient) cultures and nations. The last one can include notes on each culture's subsistence strategy (i.e. whether they primarily hunt and gather, herd animals, or grow their food), social organization, government, economics, and religious or spiritual beliefs. This mind-mapping system can be great for both brainstorming and organization, but it does tend to result in maps that are too big to show off on the Internet.

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5 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

Wow! I am in awe! That's really fun too see. The T-Rex of worldbuilding files! In comparison, mine haven't even crawled up from the mud. But Fairies and Dragons are really interesting, and I have to say your files made me curious. How far along are you on the Court of Shadows?

I really enjoy worldbuilding, but only in the context of a story. I don't structure huge systems of stuff if I don't have to, I just I focus on the parts that makes it seem real when my characters deal with it. I think Brandon Sanderson calls it "Smoke and Mirrors". Basic every-day things are a lot of fun: What they eat (and why! Climate, geography, etc.), how they live, travel, work, what their culture/society is like when it comes to entertainment, unspoken rules and social stratification.

Haha, thank you. Like I said, hardly any of them have anything for actual information in them yet, so don't be too awed by it. 😛 Hopefully I can fill more and more in soon. The dragons don't (currently, at least...not in the draft I have right now, but that could change since it's not actually finished) have any roles in the story itself, but they exist and they're at least somewhat important, I think. I'm still playing with them.

I wrote 25k words for NaNo in 2018 before I ended up second guessing what I had outlined for the last half of it and gave up on NaNo. So I need to work on figuring out the last half, and...well, the next step would be for me to try to continue from where I left off and finish it. I printed the draft out and have been going through and editing and making notes. Buuut I have a main project that takes place in the same world but at the same time that I've been working on for a few years, and I really need to get back to focusing on that (it's been...several months since I really focused on it.

The downside is that I'm in editing mode for that, too, and I think it's more of a mess than Court of Shadows is, and there's a lot of stuff that has to be rewritten which is...not something I'm looking forward to doing right now. Especially because I haven't been in those characters' heads in a long time now, so I'm kind of struggling with that), so theoretically my plan is to make edits/notes, probably let one or two people alpha read it (just so I get a general idea of  whether I'm taking it in a good direction, if there's anything I'm overlooking, maybe some brainstorming for that last half of the book that I was second guessing), but otherwise focus on the main project I mentioned. Maybe. Theoretically. 😛 The other thing I'm planning on doing, most likely, is for the April session of camp I plan on writing what would be a standalone prequel to Court of Shadows. My NaNo novel info for Court of Shadows is here on the NaNo site, if you wanna read the badly written summary and the super rough excerpt from it.

I'm the same way, I think. I haven't bothered with figuring out the kind of food they eat or things like that ahead of time - I like world building as I go, for the most part, though I also try to do at least some of it outside of the actual writing, as you can see by my massive list in Scrivener, lol. I think one of the reasons this works better for me is because otherwise I tend to overthink it if I try to do all of the world building ahead of time, and I potentially never write the story. This way it's more fun because sometimes I surprise myself with the world building I do as I write the story.

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1 hour ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

I wrote 25k words for NaNo in 2018 before I ended up second guessing what I had outlined for the last half of it and gave up on NaNo. So I need to work on figuring out the last half, and...well, the next step would be for me to try to continue from where I left off and finish it.

Yeah, I've had the same experiences with NaNo, that major plot revisions can cause some real blockage when the schedule is so tight. My plot can change a lot during writing, because new shiny ideas come along and attack. Being surprised is fun, but during NaNo... I don't think I actually went back to many NaNo stories because the pace kinda made them extremely rough. Might do if I run out of ideas someday though. :) 

I also relate to the different projects. Going in to edit something old can actually be scary when it's a mess. The time and the work... Sheesh! And standing at almost the same place with two stories is a challenge for me too. I try to have my projects at different stages, so that I'm just beginning one (fun!) while finish up editing on another (sigh!), but sometimes they do end up at similar junctions. It's a bummer. 

OH! Thank you for the link to your NaNo summary, that was great! It was very clear, and the excerpt was like Indiana Jones exciting. I thought the characters had great motivations and had truly interesting, deep back-stories. I really hope you attack that project again, like a dragon. :) I was also excited by the wandering in your story, because the story I'm editing now has that too. Sort of. It's about Talented People (witches, astromancers and racontours) who were traditionally wanderers. The wandering is going out of style in my early 19th century inspired world, so they mostly ride the stagecoach, but they still call themselves Wanderers because it sounds romantic. :)   

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Even though I want to know everything, the more I write down for worldbuilding the more I come to believe that 'less is more'. I really only need to know details for the things touched on in the story, everything else could potentially bog down the story.

That being said, because I start writing in a constructed world I want to know a few basics, more for consistency so I don't write myself into a corner. I want to know the name and location of the major countries and maybe a few details about them that make them stand out from the others, like the gods they worship or unique cultural practices. I want to know how travel works in this world, which usually means knowing which country is allied with whom, and where the dangerous parts of the world are.

The biggest part of worldbuilding for me, and the part I've struggled with the MOST in this world is the magic system. Does it make sense, is it complete enough, does it have realistic limitations. Does it fit in with the rest of the world? I've changed it many times since starting in 2015 (!!!) but I'm finally at a point where I'm comfortable and can work this magic into stories without risking gaping plotholes for myself to edit later.

And that is really the crux of it. What do you need to know to avoid plotholes? Write that down first. Anything else you come across you can add to your worldbuilding files as you go, like flora and fauna they encounter, or that festival you just made up to give them a reason to dress fancy for a night 🙂

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21 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

and the excerpt was like Indiana Jones exciting. 

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Lol, I was totally channeling Indiana Jones when I wrote that part, so thank you for that! XD

21 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

I thought the characters had great motivations and had truly interesting, deep back-stories. I really hope you attack that project again, like a dragon.

Thank you! 😄 It looks like I'm probably going to be focusing on it instead of my main project, because it seems to be speaking to me more than my main project is, and I don't want to force myself to work on the main project if it's just going to feel more like a chore, so...I'm fairly certain that's what I'm doing. XD

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12 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

It looks like I'm probably going to be focusing on it instead of my main project, because it seems to be speaking to me more than my main project is, and I don't want to force myself to work on the main project if it's just going to feel more like a chore, so...I'm fairly certain that's what I'm doing. XD

That sounds great, and I'm all for getting on the excitement train when picking stories to work on. Also, if the stories take place in the same world, then ideas for your other story can be a nice side-effect. :) The best of luck with them!

By the way, Dean Winchester is like my favourite TV character ever, so thank you for brightening my morning with that gif, lol!

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10 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

That sounds great, and I'm all for getting on the excitement train when picking stories to work on. Also, if the stories take place in the same world, then ideas for your other story can be a nice side-effect. 🙂 The best of luck with them!

Thank you!

10 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

By the way, Dean Winchester is like my favourite TV character ever, so thank you for brightening my morning with that gif, lol! 

Haha, he's one of my favorites, too, so you're welcome!

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Still laughing at how Dean Winchester managed to sneak his way into this discussion! 

I've been building my universe for around 30 years.  To keep consistency, I started writing a sort of guidebook, like a Lonely Planet guide, dealing with geography, history and culture.  Over the years, it's grown with each new novel that I write.

When I started my blog a few years ago, I was stuck for what to include in it.  I didn't want to blog about the process of writing, as I felt that would only interest other writers, and not be of interest to potential readers.  So I picked topics from my guidebook and turned them into blog posts.  You can find them in The Virian Chronicler along with some freebie stories that I wrote in collaboration with other authors.  The guidebook posts are among the earlier blog posts but there's a search facility so you can type in keywords like "culture" or "planets" to find them.  In fact, I'll make it easier for you: Fenian Culture

 

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53 minutes ago, Xanxa said:

Still laughing at how Dean Winchester managed to sneak his way into this discussion! 

Dean Winchester is free to sneak his way anywhere, any time. 😄 (He's done so in my dreams...but in those, he and Sam have been my brothers. -Facepalm-)

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On 1/12/2019 at 1:31 AM, Jedi Knight Muse said:

Dean Winchester is free to sneak his way anywhere, any time. 😄 (He's done so in my dreams...but in those, he and Sam have been my brothers. -Facepalm-)

The Winchesters are fine young men, a little young for me but still cool.  I have to confess a liking for Bobby and also a strange fascination with Crowley.  I'm actually writing Crowley in a fanfiction crossover.  He's been busy turning people into mice and dragons.  Great fun!

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2 minutes ago, Xanxa said:

The Winchesters are fine young men, a little young for me but still cool.  I have to confess a liking for Bobby and also a strange fascination with Crowley.  I'm actually writing Crowley in a fanfiction crossover.  He's been busy turning people into mice and dragons.  Great fun!

I don't want to bring us too far off topic, but haha. I love Sam and Dean and even Bobby. Crowley....is Crowley, lol. He definitely has his moments. I'm one of the seemingly few who is just kind of neutral about Castiel, though. And don't get me started on Destiel. :classic_rolleyes: Or even Wincest, for that matter.

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I am pro Destiel, I think they have great chemistry and backstory. Though, disclaimer, I haven't watched the last like... 4? seasons? IDK. I have a thing about long running TV shows, I'm not the kind of person who wants them to go on for forever. I want closure. I want a satisfying ending. I don't want it dragged out until the characters are caricatures of themselves. Not saying that happened with supernatur- okay maybe I am. Same with Once Upon a Time, just freaking END already, I am getting story fatigue.

To get back ON topic, the more I worldbuild the less I want to do it. I'm sticking to answering only the things that are touched on in my outline, the rest of the world can be a sketchy haze for now. Its just too much work, its easy to get discouraged and quit before the writing even starts.

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16 minutes ago, Penguinball said:

To get back ON topic, the more I worldbuild the less I want to do it. I'm sticking to answering only the things that are touched on in my outline, the rest of the world can be a sketchy haze for now. Its just too much work, its easy to get discouraged and quit before the writing even starts.

I haven't done a ton of worldbuilding so far, but that was also my experience. I did a lot of worldbuilding for my NaNo2016 novel, but I had a timeline when I wanted to work on what and when I'd move on to outlining, so it didn't drag on forever. But it turned out I did a lot of worldbuilding that I didn't end up needing, and while I was writing the story I realized where I needed to worldbuild more.

I didn't do a lot of worldbuilding since then, because ny other projects have been set in the modern world or in fairly generic fantasy worlds, so worldbuilding was mostly magic system building or time travel rules building lately.

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2 hours ago, Penguinball said:

I am pro Destiel, I think they have great chemistry and backstory. Though, disclaimer, I haven't watched the last like... 4? seasons? IDK. I have a thing about long running TV shows, I'm not the kind of person who wants them to go on for forever. I want closure. I want a satisfying ending. I don't want it dragged out until the characters are caricatures of themselves. Not saying that happened with supernatur- okay maybe I am. Same with Once Upon a Time, just freaking END already, I am getting story fatigue.

To get back ON topic, the more I worldbuild the less I want to do it. I'm sticking to answering only the things that are touched on in my outline, the rest of the world can be a sketchy haze for now. Its just too much work, its easy to get discouraged and quit before the writing even starts.

I mean, they do have chemistry, but it's more like...bromance? And the only reason (well, one of the only reasons) it even became a ~thing~ is because, if I remember right, there was a bit of dialogue in some episode where the fans took it and put it into that kind of context, and suddenly they think it's totally canon. And I mean, I have absolutely nothing against those who think Destiel is a thing, but not everyone sees it as canon, and people in this particular fandom can be really pushy and tend to overreact. (Example: people FLIPPED when Jared and Jensen both got married, and the moment one of them announced their wives were pregnant (I think it was Jared who had a kid first)? Pfft, forget it. People went craaaazy because it -gasp- means that eventually they're not going to be able to do the show and/or conventions any more because they have families they want to spend time with.) But yes, I 1,000% agree. And you know what? I've pretty much been watching it since season two was on the air (I had to catch up on season one, so it took a while before I was actually watching the episodes live VS on DVD after the seasons were released, and it took until at least season three before I was actually caught up enough to watch it on the air). I watched the first half of last season (season...fourteen? Thirteen? I've already lost track), and then got distracted by moving and didn't have a DVR to be able to record episodes, and I STILL have not caught up on the rest of that season, and haven't watched any of this current season they're on. That is how I know I've lost interest. I mean, I will catch up, but I'm not in a hurry to do so. And I think that you're right, and that has happened with the characters and the plot. I'm really more of a casual fan when it comes to the fandom itself- I don't write fan fiction, don't do fan art...I did go to one convention and I got to meet Jared, but that was in 2011 when it was waaaaaay less expensive and it didn't basically require selling your soul to Lucifer AND Crowley to be able to go.

As far as Castiel himself goes, I think what really makes me not like him is the fact that they focused SO much on him/the whole angel plot for such a long time, instead of focusing things on the monster hunting thing. It's always been about them being brothers and hunting monsters, and there have been a LOT of times where it's become less and less about that.

(Maybe we need a Supernatural fan discussion club, haha. Even though I don't think there's many fans of the show on here.)

Edited by Jedi Knight Muse
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2 hours ago, Penguinball said:

To get back ON topic, the more I worldbuild the less I want to do it. I'm sticking to answering only the things that are touched on in my outline, the rest of the world can be a sketchy haze for now. Its just too much work, its easy to get discouraged and quit before the writing even starts.

I meant to reply to this in my post above, oops.

I'm running into this as well. Last night, I wrote the rough draft of the overview for the wild fae, and I struggled a bit with it and now I'm just like "....yeaaah, no" at the thought of trying to do anything else with it/in general (at least today). And it's not even like I wrote a lot for it. I also debated posting the rough draft in the wild fae thread for feedback, and still haven't actually done so...probably because I know it needs some more work before I do so, even though it's basically just a way to get my thoughts out about that particular group. But yeah, I'm not going to push myself to do tons of it at once. I'm in no rush, so I can spread it out and work on what I feel like working on, rather than trying to rush myself into getting a lot of it done at once.

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I use WorldAnvil to organise my worldbuilding. Previously, I used Google Docs but I found they got unwieldy and slow around the 10k words area, and just didn't organise very well. I tried honestly . . . a lot of options. Evernote, TiddlyWiki, Wikia and it all was just too difficult to get started on. I have a tendency to lose my steam if I have to stuff around with logistics before I can start writing. I enjoy worldbuilding for my writing, and often my world ideas come first, and the characters and plots evolve from the world.

As a result, just being able to start without worrying to much about organisation is super helpful to me and World Anvil has been the first service that let me do that.

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