Tag Archives: writing tips on world building

World Building: Where to Start, What to Consider, & How to End

17 Jul

I mainly write science fiction and fantasy, and both of those genres tend to come with heavy world building. A few of you have asked me where I begin. How do I start? How do I know when to write? When does world building end? Well, if you read my editing tips series, then you probably know my answer to most of this.

I don’t think it’s that important to have your world building down in your first draft or while you’re outlining. Why? Because you don’t know everything your world needs yet in order to tell your story. All that matters is having your world building down by the end of your drafts. That being said, I tend to spend more time on initial world building than I do with character profiles or plot outlines. Why? Because my world will affect my characters directly—and that tends to be when I start writing.

That’s right. I begin most of my stories with a scene or an idea, and then I world build…and I keep building until the world affects my characters directly. Then I start to write.

So how do I build my worlds?

Extra tip: World build together. Try to explain your world to a friend. If they ask questions you can’t answer, find an answer.

Well, let’s start with the foundation.

Think of the basics. Where are we? What is the climate? Is it temperate, freezing, humid, etc.? What are the seasons like and which season/s is your story taking place in? How does this location relate to the locations around it?

My favorite place to start is clothes. Why? Because clothes tell us about societal structures—like income class, careers, etc.—and also about the land/weather patterns. Are they wearing cotton? If so, where does the cotton come from? Who collects the cotton and uses that cotton to create clothes? How much does it cost, and who would wear it? Example: Throughout history, the upper-class generally wore clothes from far away to emphasize how rich they were; those clothes were expensive because of how far the materials had to travel (and how expensive the upkeep was.)

The next element I consider the most is water. Why? Because water is essential for life, including animal life, which means you’re looking at how people eat, clean up, make medicine, etc. Not to mention that water, like rivers and lakes, have been used as natural borders for a long, long time (along with mountains). So where does the water come from? How were borders decided? Start thinking about other natural materials on your land. What materials are used to make buildings, for instance?

Now time: What year is it, and how does that year in particular define your character/s? I tell new writers to at least understand their main characters and their family structure for three generations back. This information doesn’t have to go into your book, of course, but knowing where your protagonist came from, including how their parents raised them and why, will help you shape their family unit and beliefs. This brings me to my last two topics: Religion and language.

  • With religion, personally, I think the most important part of a person’s religion can be summed up in their burial practices. Start there. Most of the time, burial practices relate to how that person sees life, death, and how both their life and their death is connected to the land. This includes if your characters don’t have a religion at all.
  • When I am building a language, I focus on two elements first: How do people curse and how do people say I love you. Why? Because humans are built on emotion, and hate/love are the two strongest emotions and the biggest umbrellas of emotion out there. By finding out how they express those emotions, both as a culture and as an individual, you can start to shape everything in between.

Please keep in mind that this information—like where materials come from—doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in your book. In fact, I can’t recall a time where I talked about where water came from in most of my books. But it can help to know the simple, basic elements of your world. They are your foundation, after all. And the stronger your foundation, the stronger the rest of your world building will be. In fact, I only covered where I begin. I didn’t even get into magic systems, for instance. (Another favorite topic of mine.)

Build and keep building. Don’t be afraid if you feel intimidated, and don’t get frustrated when your world contradicts itself or doesn’t make sense at all. You have all the time in the world to…well, build your world. Take your time. Take notes. And enjoy the journey of discovering a brand-new place that your characters—and you—will call home.

~SAT

June’s Ketchup

30 Jun

Here we are again – the end of the month, the beginning of a new one soon to come. Ketchup posts are among my favorite type of posts (but really, who can choose?) because I enjoy sharing what was the most popular and least popular here on ShannonAThompson.com.

If you’re new, these “Ketchup” posts are like the “Extras” on the DVD you just rented from RedBox – except you don’t have to pay $1 or give me your credit card information. I explain the behind-the-scenes this month, including my big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month. But I am missing two categories this month: YouTube and my guest blogger. (What can I say? I missed blogging so much after my two-week haitus in May that I could not stop blogging for anything, but I am definitely looking for a guest blogger for July, so be sure to comment below. You just might be chosen.)

Big Moments: (This might get a little insane)

You must be tempted by now.

You must be tempted by now.

Seconds Before Sunrise finally released as an eBook: FINALLY. You can read book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy on your tablet, iPhone, or whatever electronic, glowing device that keeps you awake at night. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment since the paperback released in March, and I am so happy to see the eBook selling (even more than Minutes Before Sunset!) So here are the links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords – although it is available everywhere – and the eBook is only $3.89.

The Seconds Before Sunrise book trailer released: And, yes, you can watch it below.

nominee-award-february14_(3)Among this chaos, Minutes Before Sunset received an award badge from Noveltunity. You see, back in February, the eBook club nominated Minutes Before Sunset, but I kind of just found out this month. (Silly me.) So here’s the badge that I found to be really pretty. My novels also hit 150 ratings on Goodreads. This may not seem like a big deal since authors like J.K. Rowling have…oh, millions of ratings, but I am very thrilled to see 150 readers taking the time to rate my novels on Goodreads. Thank you. Taking a moment out of your day to tell other readers what you think means more to an author than we can express. No matter if the rating is good or bad, it helps new readers decide on taking a chance on an Indie author like me. So thank you for taking that time to rate my books. 😀

I also want to thank the many readers who take the time to quote my novels around the Internet, like on Twitter. In fact, Tony Jaa deemed me quote-worthy. I may be a gigantic Internet stalker fan of his now. (His martial arts moves are pretty neat!) So thank you for your support, Tony Jaa!

tony And last but definitely not least – we hit 300 posts on WordPress this June! Hasn’t it been quite the adventure?

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. The Top 10 Seriously Awkward Conversations I’ve Had When People Hear I’m a Writer: This was the top post I had this month and also the top post I originally thought wouldn’t get any views. I simply wanted to share a few funny moments I’ve had in my author life, and I’m glad you laughed with me. (Seriously. I was sort of nervous I would offend someone.) But it goes to show you how having a good laugh is always a good thing.

2. Author Announcements: This is going to sound strange, but it warms my heart when one of my “Author Announcements” posts becomes so popular. Originally, they didn’t get as many views as my “Writing Tips” but now, they do, and it’s a great comfort knowing that my readers are actually interested in my author life instead of only being interested in my tips.

3. Hachette and Amazon: Let’s Talk About it: This is such an important dispute to watch if you are a writer, publisher, or reader. (Or even just an Amazon customer.) And – unfortunately – it’s still going on today.

Actor and director, Andrew Vogel, with Minutes Before Sunset

Actor and director, Andrew Vogel, with Minutes Before Sunset

The Post I Wish Received More Views:

The Timely Death Trilogy Explained: World-Building and More: I should’ve titled this post “Writing Tips: World-Building” but I didn’t – mainly because I receive almost a constant strand of emails about my world-building in The Timely Death Trilogy. This post, however, is not about The Timely Death Trilogy. Sure, I use direct examples from my trilogy, but I wanted to help writers see the groundwork of world-building in a paranormal world that lives in our human reality. That being said, this did get views, but not the amount I normally get with my writing tips post, so I’m afraid my readers who enjoy the writing tips missed this one.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Writing Tips:

Author News:

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

Controversy:

For fun:

At the end of the month, I also like to share my supporters, my helpers, and all of the little, lovely elves that created all of these shiny moments. If you would like to become part of the Keebler Factory, I am available at shannonathompson@aol.com for reviews, interviews, and features. (And cookies. I love cookies.) In the meantimes, here are my June supporters:

Reviews: Steampunk Sparrow’s Book Blog, The Leisure Zone

Interviews: Literary Heaven, Ebook Extravaganza, Dreams, Nightmares, Fantasties, and Visions

Features: Friday Fiction, Two-Cents Worth, Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium, A Way with Words

Awarders: Liebster Award by James G. Glass

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

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