Writing Advice Update: World-Building

In my continuing quest to rid the world of poor world… building… wait, does that make any sense at all?… I am posting yet another brief essay in response to your questions about, well, yeah, World Building.

So, if you care what I have to say about writing in general and world building in particular this month, please click over here. And as always, if you have more writing questions, please feel free to put them in the comments section, and I will add them to the queue. I’ll have more coming next month on character building.

7 thoughts on “Writing Advice Update: World-Building

  1. Kayla says:

    So, you said that the most important thing about writing a book is to actually write a book…Yeah, that seems about right to me. Good call. But, something about which I have been immensely curious is how one exactly begins the writing of the book – after all the world building and character development that’s been done behind the scenes is finally ready to be put on the page, where do you start? Do you simply begin writing from page one, sentence by sentence, planning or not planning and doing whatever you need to to move forward? Is it okay to begin at some later point in the story and then to come back and write the beginning? Is that recommended? Moreover, how does one know when they are ready to begin the actual writing?

    1. brent says:

      Kayla,
      I know that my post actually kind of looked really unhelpful on that point, but you’ve sort of answered your own question here. There is no unacceptable way to write a book. There is no one to tell you when you’ve done enough planning. I start writing once I feel like I’m spinning my wheels with the world building and the character building. A lot of things you will only uncover as you move forward. So at some point, you need to just stop thinking about writing and start writing. Along with this is an acceptance of the fact that when you get done with the first draft, the book is not finished; in fact, the book is a long way from being finished. Writing novels is hard. And you’re almost never done. So, like I said, the most important thing is to write the book. Get done with that first draft. After you get done with that first draft, let it cool off a little bit (maybe you need a week, maybe you need six months) and then go back to it. You’ll notice things that don’t line up, that don’t make sense, that don’t work as well as they could. Fix all of them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is simple. It’s just hard. So if you have to cry because your main character’s motivations don’t make any sense, go ahead and cry, and then a day or two later, or six months later, get your butt back to work. Writing requires you to be ruthless with yourself. You must be honest about what’s genius and what’s not genius, with what is what you hoped to do, and what is what you actually did. Bringing those two things together is the work of writing. And most people can’t do it. If you’re determined to do it, move past your bruised ego, and do the work.

      1. Kayla says:

        All right, I think I got the jist: Don’t think so much, write instead, cry more, and be prepared for it to take a really long time. You’re right, that is pretty simple. Sounds like I’m ready to get to work…maybe. Thank you! 😀

  2. Bryan says:

    That was helpful, I’ve noticed halfway through the book that some of the stuff doesn’t add up like it should. So I’ve kind of hit a lull in the writing, not so much the planning/re-planning……so all I’ve got to do is cry and get back at it. Thanks for the advice.

  3. Avieren says:

    I actually think that i like the way you do your world building better than that of others Brent. Well, maybe not better because there are some other authors that do it pretty good, but i definitely don’t like yours less.

  4. Julia says:

    Hey Brent,
    Thank you very much for the advice! I’ve noticed that you have already chosen topics to cover in your essays, but I was wondering if you would, perhaps, include another one? How about war and/or fight scenes? I’m working on a novel at the moment and yes, there is a war in it (there are in most books) and I’m looking for advice on how to make it realistic, as I have never fought with a sword before.
    Thanks a bunch.
    – Julia

    1. matt says:

      i have a bit of experience in sword-fighting (though only kendo) and i can tell you that most fights are quick and often decided more by luck than skill. and at some point in a fight, even the main character (if he doesn’t have the macGuffin) gets cut and nicked. they’re fast paced and, even if you’ve trained in the style for five years, it’s instinct and muscle memory, you don’t have enough time to think, unless, again, the main character doesn’t have some kinda… artifact, or something. one that would make him invisible, and untouchable, and give him a metric ton of magic. maybe this artifact has a smartass attitude. you never know

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