painted in monotone

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home.
-- Phillip Phillips, Home


Worldbuilding. It's something that I've always thought is a neat abstract concept, but it doesn't come very easily to me.

This was made especially clear earlier when I was trying to make some Polyvore sets earlier for a project of mine, Kaysie's novel. (You met Kaysie in Character Letters here.) I stared at the screen, trying to figure out what my characters would wear, but I couldn't pick out any clothes... at all. Because I didn't know what people in my world wore. I had literally no idea. And then I realized the larger problem: I didn't know much about my world at all.

I wish I knew more about world-building. Some people seem to have an innate talent for it. One example: my Pip. You all know her as the immensely talented Georgie Penn. She has about a million novels, and the majority of them all take place in the same universe and they almost always connect to each other in some way. Seriously, it's crazy how she makes connections between her various projects, but it always works. Always. I wish I could do that, but as of yet I haven't had more than one novel that takes place in the same universe, much less the same world. (Aside from my contemporary projects which, obviously take place in the current real world that you and I live in.)

Even my fantasy worlds are not that fleshed out. Silver Tears takes place in your typical medieval fantasy world. I've wanted it to have contemporary elements as well, but I haven't gotten to that yet. (It's a first draft, what can I say?) However, one novel of mine that is very fleshed out in the worldbuilding aspect is Souvenirs. Each locale has a distinct setting, based on pictures I've found on Tumblr. My locations for Souvenirs happen to be one of my proudest accomplishments in my writing. (Hey, might as well be honest.) From idyllic mountain towns to sandy beaches, Souvenirs has it all. (And now I just sound like I'm writing an infomercial. I'll stop now.)

So, this is something on my mind. I think it would really help me if I could expand Kaysie's world and figure out exactly what it is I'm dealing with here. ;) So how do you world build? How do you make your characters a home? Tell me how; I'm all ears.

21 comments:

  1. I love worldbuilding, but luckily for me it's something that came naturally - I just fiddled with aspects of the prototype world (be it mediaeval fantasy, Victorian, modern etc) and then jiggered a few things that would make the story more interesting. Then I usually went on to people's supersitions and decided how solid I wanted to make them. It all falls in from there, really. You just work outwards and pick out things that your characters would note and do and see, and work on those.

    Still don't do much on clothing myself, though. They could all roam about in sparkly lycra for all I know!

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    1. Ahhh, that's a great thought, seriously! I'd never thought about it that way, but the way your character views the world is definitely going to shape the way it is perceived through their eyes. That's incredible. Mindblowing, really. For instance, a world may not be all bad from an objective stand point but if you have a character whose views are tainted, your reader's views are going to be tainted as well. Holy cow, that's so crazy-interesting to think about.

      Hahaha, sparkly lycra! Oh my goodness. That's brilliant. xD

      If you do ever want to figure out what they wear, Polyvore.com's a great research. It lets you mix and match outfits and it's one of my favorite places ever. Very helpful for picturing your character's appearance, right down to the nitty-gritty details.

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  2. Oh, World-Building is dreadfully hard. I'm hopeless at it. -_- I'm trying to write science fiction... and then i think, "what DOES everything look like? what DO they wear?" :) I have to work on that.

    Oh, and I'm just curious, will Beautiful People be starting up again soon? I miss it! :)

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    1. Gah, it is so hard. The novel I'm working on right now is actually sci-fi-ish in flavor, so I'm struggling with it a fair bit. Medieval fantasy is easier for me to worldbuild with, whereas creating my own sci-fi world is way more challenging.

      Not sure about BP, though I don't mind you asking. For the moment we're still on break as Georgie and I still have a lot going on. (Unfortunately.) However, I do hope we can get it running again! I miss it too!

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  3. I'm very particular about World Building. But, I think the novel I've accomplished the most on is 'Fire'. (ya know, the one with Vice. ;D)

    And it was because I made Emi have a passion for history. I realized that I, alas, knew no history of her world to love! So, I set right down, and booked the world of 'Fire' a historical timeline. Start to finish. I can proudly say, I know enough about it, I can successfully write 2, or 3 books revolving around and in that-world-which-I-surprisingly-haven't-named.

    But, how do I do it? I just don't know. XD I've always been well versed on my settings, on what my characters wore, what was going on elsewhere in their world, it's just been something I DO. I think it'll just be something you will need to work on, and try at. You can apparently do it, since you world builded a lot with 'Souvenirs'. It's probably your brain and creativity juices aren't used to thinking up that sort of thing.
    Or maybe, it's just that all the juices go into creating epic characters, ;).

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    1. Oh man, that's incredible. A hearty round of applause to you for coming up with an entire history. O.o I don't think I could do that, though, you've got my juices flowing. I think it really would probably help me worldbuild if I did make up a history. That's awesome that it's made more fodder for future books, too! I'm excited for you.

      Yes, I'm working on it and trying--slowly, but surely, and you're so right. It's probably a skill that just needs time and practice! But hahaha, what you said is so accurate--all my juices going into building up my characters that I forget all about building my world. xD It's just as well; I like it when characters drive the story, but with this particular novel, I think some context is needed as to where my characters are and what they're dealing with. Without it, it's incredibly hard to come up with a story and figure out what's going on. Additionally, without context my characters are just floating around, without any real place to belong.

      So yes, worldbuilding is a priority for this novel, I think. Thanks for your thoughts, Ashley! ♥

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  4. Even when I write fantasy in a completely non-earth world (and I have several) I try to draw on earth history and science for my world building. It doesn't matter how unrelated to my worlds main parallel time period a particular fashion or custom may be - if I like it, I find some way to use it. It doesn't matter how different a world may be from earth, I still follow rules of perception and gravity (usually, there is one world that I'm going to have to break the laws of gravity). The main point is to have fun and to make sure it all works.

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    1. *waves* Hi Kendra! I don't think I've seen you here before; it's so nice to meet you!

      That's a good idea, and I've done similar things. It's crazy how sometimes my medieval fantasy stories have a contemporary feel because if I like an idea, I'll use it.

      I'm not very science minded, so I'm impressed by your attention to that sort of detail. Keep doing what you're doing, I'm sure your books are awesome! (And the fact that you make non-earth worlds? Totally awesome, too. I'm impressed.) :)

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    2. *waves back* No, you haven't seen me here before, this is the first time I've commented on your blog. It's nice to meet you, too.

      I love mixing contemporary with medieval. I have one series where half the characters talk pretty much like we do, and the rest talk like they just walked out of Shakespeare.

      I actually prefer coming up with the science of my worlds over the history. I love them both ... but deciding the color of the leaves and the shape of the world they live on is just a tad bit more fun.

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    3. Ah, well then welcome! So glad you're here. :)

      Ahhh, you too?! In my book Silver Tears, all my characters talk like we do, with modern vernacular and expressions, and yet they're from a medieval fantasy world. *deadpan stare* I don't know where I come up with this stuff. It's probably that while I enjoy writing all flowery and Shakespearian, I still prefer using a more laid-back style of writing and conversation. However, I still have an unquenchable love for fantasy. These two things collide. *facepalm*

      Ahhh, that does sound completely fun! Especially the colors of the leaves. What colors do you usually do? ;) And what kinds of shapes have you used for the worlds? O.o I'm most intrigued.

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    4. My Shakespearean/modern speech mixup is for comedy more than anything, as the Shakespearean speakers come from about a hundred years prior (Most of them fell asleep with Sleeping Beauty, you see). It really gets crazy when the Shakespearean grammar police starts trying to put the modern speakers in line ... He eventual gives up.

      Leaf color ... let's see. One world, leaves are all colors of the rainbow except green. They turn green in autumn. In another world, leaves are shades of reds and pinks. I've another world with color craziness, but I can't call what the colors were off the top of my head. As for shapes, I posted a blog entry about that last week so I'll just point you to that: http://knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com/2012/09/tips-for-young-writer-there-are-two.html

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  5. What a shout out to me! I hope I'll be able to help you, Sky, and I'll be referencing this post when the time comes: I'm slotted to write a topical post on World Building for an upcoming blog convention in October. So be patient a little longer. Maybe something I say will help. I hope. :)

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    1. Ha, actually, I had you in mind the entire time I was writing this post--worldbuilding seems to be your forte! So yes, I'm looking forward to seeing your thoughts when your blog post is published. ;)

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  6. Often I find that when world building it's a good idea to write out the history of your land or else research the history {depending on whether or not you made up your world}
    I posted about this recently. Here's the link if it's any help!
    http://scribblingskeyboard.blogspot.com/2012/09/hi-anne-ive-been-meaning-to-ask-you.html

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    1. Ah yes, the history is a key thing, thank you so much for bringing that up! I'll definitely have to pay attention to that, since two people have mentioned it in the comments already. ;)

      Thank you so much for leaving the link to your post! It looks like it'll have a ton of well-thought out tips for me when I need them. I really appreciate it, and kudos to you for knowing so much about worldbuilding! ;)

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  7. I usually start by closing my eyes and thinking out the story in my head. The world seems to build itself around the story. Then I plot out what things I do know, writing them down in detail. Slowly, I start to decide what I want this world to be, and then I draw a map, including as many detals as possible. This helps immensely with travelling characters, as I'm sure you understand. ;)

    After that, I just write. Writing, for me, is the best way to figure out what the world is, because it seems to build itself around the plot, which I'm hoping is good. :)

    Hope this helps!
    ~Bree

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    1. Ahhh, that's very helpful! Ha, yes, I have a multitude of travelling characters. ...Actually, all of them find some way to travel in some capacity. I don't know if I have many characters that have not traveled at some point in time. Crazy how that works. Normally I'd blame this on the desire to have my medieval fantasy characters take long epic journeys, a la Lord of the Rings. However, even in my novel Souvenirs which is a more contemporary take on fantasy, my characters travel. A lot. Throughout time and different planets. They probably travel more than all my other medieval characters combined. That's insane.

      SO. TRUE. I tend to figure out so much about my story as I write. I'm one of those kinds of writers, too. I'm glad you are as well, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance! ;)

      Yes, thank you so much for your thoughts! ♥

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  8. Ah, world building, how I love it... sometimes a bit too much. But what advice can I give you to help.

    Well like that one world you are proud of (and rightly so) I take from real life and then adjust it. For example, my Trilogy is set in a world that has the feel of the 17th/18th century, but without guns. Of course, I love sewing and making costumes, so clothing has never really been an issue.

    Remember that worlds must be built around the things that help us survive - how they get food, make clothing and build shelter - these will be guided by the climate (tropical versus tundra) and technology level (I have a tendancy to sway towards the pree computer ages).

    So why not try to interview your characters about the weather and what they use to acomplish thier daily tasks? (You could even turn it into a Beautiful People for us. *grins*) And hopfully their answers will help jumpstart your world building.

    Good Luck!

    :} Cathryn

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    1. That's so cool, about how you take real life and adjust it. I love that.

      Oh my goodness. So true. That is such a good point--built around survival, food, clothing, shelter--that's incredible. Thank you so much for bringing that up, I will be sure to pay attention to that aspect!

      Ahaha, good idea for future BPs! I miss that little ol' blog linkup. Hopefully we'll be back to running it soon. :)

      Interviewing my characters is a great idea. Thank you so much for your thoughts, Cathryn! I so appreciate them.

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  9. Worldbuilding is something I struggle with too, but I've found that I kind of have to work on a small area of the world at a time. I try imagining the character standing somewhere, and then write the area I "see" around them, and try to figure out what places they went through to get there. Or, I try imagining what their room looks like, then the rest of their house, street, and so on. The image in my head of those places usually changes as the story progresses, but it works as a starting point.

    Hope this helps!

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    1. THAT is a really good idea. It would be interesting for me to work on a little piece of writing, outside of the novel, where I put my character in a certain location and then describe it as she walks through it. That way we're both discovering what her world is like, and she's introducing me to it, in a way. Thank you for sparking that idea! That's a great, great idea and it majorly helps, thank you!

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