Worldbuilding 101: The Basics

Writing

Worldbuilding. It’s an enormous topic, and there’s no way any blog, course, book, lecture, or anything else can ever cover all of it. But I’ve wanted to take the subject on for a while now, so come on. Join me. Let’s do this. Let’s create some worlds.

There is no single way to build a world. No right, no wrong, no absolute guidelines guaranteed to give you a perfect world that everyone will love.

There are, however, assorted tricks and techniques that can help. And I’ve noticed that I do it differently from a lot of writers out there, so I figured what the heck, I might as well share some of my techniques in case there’s other people who can do things my way.

So. Here we are. There’s nothing yet, no story, not even a genre. Just an idea: I want to make a new world to play in. 

When I start making a world, the first thing I do is kick back and relax. Put my feet up. Close my eyes. Check to make sure no cats are on my keyboard, then close my eyes again.

Now, world.

I’m getting a sci-fi sort of feeling, so there’s my start. Sci-fi. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll make it a standalone, apart from any of my pre-existing stuff.

It has pretty colors. Okay, there’s a detail I can work with. This world has an advanced, tech-based society, and… they love nature, because this particular planet has–oh, my, where’d that come from? It has sprawling, silvery blue forests, and huge, dramatic, pastel cliffs.

See? That’s easy, isn’t it?

Worldbuilding used to be my biggest weakness. Now I enjoy the hell out of it. See why? Sit back and relax for a minute or two, and suddenly there’s a framework to build on.

And it has five moons.

So. I promised tips and tricks. I just gave you a brief glimpse of how I generate worlds, at least from scratch. The ones that come after the story or characters appear develop differently.

My first tip: don’t limit yourself. If you have a stupid idea, try giving it a shot anyway. Doing things my way, by brainstorming and daydreaming, can transform a stupid idea into something cool.

Once you’ve got your world, it’s time to get busy on the details. But I’m saving those for later, ’cause there’s tons of them. Lots more blog posts, just waiting to happen.

Huh. Guess this world has dramatic weather events, and the architecture people build reflects that.

There’s another tip for you: let your subconscious have fun. If you start getting stressed out, relax, quit worrying about it. This isn’t half so hard as you think. You have endless capacity for world generation. So let ’em out to play!

Anybody got the seed of a world now? Want to share it in the comments? I’d love to see what you come up with!

PS: This world is much larger than Earth, spins faster but still has a longer day, and has a small ring system.

Okay, brain. That’s enough for now. Save it for next week.

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Oh, That Muse…

Random, Writing

A lot of creative people have a muse. Dictionary.com defines muse as the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like. Pretty fair definition, I’d say.

Some people are lucky enough to have a real person as their muse, but I’m not. Some people find inspiration in a photo, or a piece of art, or a place, or even a cat. I don’t.

Of course not. I can’t possibly be normal, have something so mundane as a muse I could look at, talk to, interact with. Nope. Not happening.

Instead, I get a nebulous and temperamental voice in my head. Well, sort of a voice. That’s the easiest way to think of it, even though it makes me sound completely insane. Sometimes this ephemeral muse is kind to me and showers me with ideas. Other times, like in recent months, my muse shuts the hell up and won’t say anything at all, even under threat of violence. Which, let me tell you, makes me feel real adult and rational, threatening to kick the shit out of something that doesn’t even exist.

I’ve been thinking about this temperamental muse of mine a lot lately, wondering what its problem is. (His problem? The bugger’s cranky enough to be a male.) And… it keeps coming back to the same thing: the real world.

See, my muse went on a long hiatus once before. It began on September 11, 2001, and lasted for a really long time. I went from writing and creating 3D art all the time, pretty much non-stop, to just barely creating anything at all. Because after what happened, writing smutty, slashy fanfiction just seemed so unimportant and trivial, it wasn’t even worth it.

But a good muse won’t be kept down, and mine eventually recovered. It started presenting me with idea after idea–you should see my WIP file–and helping me fill my online galleries with art.

And then… political bullshit happened.

Leaving my muse all sorts of pouty and unhappy, barely willing to toss out a half-hearted idea every now and again.

Idiots running my country, bills growing larger than my income can support, bigots and assholes partying in the streets… What place for creativity in all that? Why bother? Why not go crawl under a rock and hide, don’t worry about writing queer fiction or blog posts, don’t bother producing pretty pictures in a world full of ugly…

Yeah, whatever. That’s a line of crap I’m not going to buy into. Because I’m not going to let this stupid world get me down. I will feed my muse with Dr. Pepper (the real sugar kind) and pizza until it cheers up, and I will keep right on writing and making 3D art.

It’s harder now than it should be, yeah. But it feels like not writing is letting the jerks of the world win, somehow. Like allowing the stupidity of others to keep me from creating art or writing is just giving up and letting “them” win.

So screw “them.”

If nothing else, at least I can create beautiful worlds where bigots and assholes get run over by steam-powered freight trains or blown up by colossal fireballs. That’s the beauty of being a writer, after all.