New Worldbuilding Approach

Friends and Internet denizens, I have been trying something new.

After working on The King’s City until I needed to give it one last time to beta readers (if you’re reading this, you know who you are, and I’m so thankful that you’re choosing to help me out despite my demanding timeframe – you are all getting homemade gifts once I can give them to you in person again). Which means that I need to distract myself for the next two weeks so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

I’ve done the glass of wine with dinner. I’ve done the two days of doing absolutely nothing related to writing or the project – just rearranging some things on the blog (as much as I can with my limited knowledge) and playing video games online with some friends. But now I’ve had my break, it’s time for me to get back into writing, and that means working on the next project.

This next project is a bit of an odd one. Not in terms of the story itself – though that is certainly odd – but in terms of how I’m approaching it.

Usually when I start writing something, I’ve had it rattling around in my head for a while. I used to write a lot of my worldbuilding at my job (on lunch break … of course …) where I couldn’t bring my laptop, so I would write notes on scrap paper and take it home with me. This formed my worldbuilding notes, which I’d process into the computer, making changes and filling gaps as I went. Then I got Scrivener, and the process of creating easily-referenceable worldbuilding notes got hundreds of times easier.

I made those notes for this story. I have them somewhere. But I think I lost them, and I am not willing to go looking for them again.

But I’ve also had this one rattling around for far longer than any of the others, I think. ‘The Ferryman’s Apprentice’ was a damn long time in the writing, but from idea to execution, I think it was only about eight months. ‘The King’s City’ was a bit longer – I think it was about twelve months before I started to write it. Earlier novels that have been relegated to the desk drawer of fate averaged around twelve months of worldbuilding before I got around to writing them.

FB, the next serial project, has been in worldbuilding development on and off for six years now.

I’m also trying to do my worldbuilding differently here. It has always been true that barely 10% of my worldbuilding notes ever make it into the actual story, and I think that’s not uncommon among writers who use worldbuilding notes. That doesn’t make them useless – worldbuilding notes like that give me a good, solid sense of the world and the plot.

But a lot of the detail that actually ends up in the story is throwaway details – stuff that I didn’t think about before but added at the last minute because I needed to mention something for a scene. I reference my worldbuilding notes for names of secondary characters that I forgot more than I do for worldbuilding details that I need for the story but didn’t remember.

But this plot is different in that it’s been sitting in my mind for so long that I don’t need that sort of formal worldbuilding note to form it anymore. I wrote them, I lost them, and I’m not recreating them.

This time around, I’m going in … well, more unprepared than I’ve been for a story in a long time. I’ve been talking through characters and setting with some friends for a long time, and I’ve been working out some things I absolutely couldn’t start with out (the main character didn’t have a lot of character for a while there, for one). But as for setting up the file, my usual process of adding in all the worldbuilding notes to check that I’ve got a good sense of things?
Well, we’re gonna skip that this time and see what happens. I’m diving right in with only a brief checklist of character notes, important scenes, and important thematic notes.

Let’s see what happens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s