At Jot 5 I’ll being doing a Workshop on Worldbuilding. If this sounds uber nerdy to you please head to the previous post or patiently wait for tomorrow’s. Today is for the nerds. Or is it?
My firm belief is that great stories, whether classic literature or commercial fantasy, all go through a world construction process. Authors call it many things – research, plotting, and the like but it is all the same. We are creating a believable world that beckons our readers.
All stories start before stories begin. To be less confusing, en medias res is Latin for “in the middle of things” and it is a common phrase we writers know. The ship has already sailed, the orphan is already orphaned, the civil war lost, the argument over, and it is from this aftermath that we start.
Where would Harry be without the Death Eaters and their previous war with the Order of the Phoenix?
Where would Oliver Twist be without the unfortunate death of his forebears?
Exactly. The happenings before our story are essential.
History can bring shame or laziness to a people. It can also produce tenacity or vengeance. It is not a ripple effect but the exact opposite, sloshing toward and interacting with the center point of it all – our story, our people, and our characters.
Whether you are writing a myth like The Simarillion or something concrete with a litany of historical facts like a history book, this is where we begin the process of formulating the culture from which our hero, heroine, or anti-hero rises. It does not have to be intricately detailed but we must know what happened before it all.
If you are a writer of fantasy or science fiction please stay tuned. We’ll talk about maps next.
What are your thoughts on this?
How do you start to build your world?