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Is World Building Necessary? (2 Viewers)

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TheMightyAz

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When I say that I mean intricate magic systems, long and deep histories of the places to be visited, characters and NPC lineage etc. To be honest, as I've said before, the last thing on my mind is getting published as far as my first novel is concerned. It's rare even for those far in advance of my skills. So, when I do start working on the novel proper come Feb, I'd like to keep it as simple as possible. I don't want to get lost in the weeds of world building, and just want to write.

I'm asking because I've noticed a slight tonal change going on with chapter 2. Not much but enough for me to see a difference in my ambitions for adding weight, gravitas and grandeur. I've listened very carefully to feedback, as I always do, and clearly soaked up what I thought was relevant critique. The images, not just the words now carry something new, or at least that's how I feel. It could simply be the fact I've drawn back with the camera at the start of chapter 2 with an omniscient POV, but something tells me it's going to feed into my limited POV too. I kinda want it to be honest.

The reason I'm mentioning all that is because I can see (I think) how I can paint with much broader strokes without going into great detail, only dropping in detail that directly effects the characters and story rather than building out the world. I suppose the question should really be: Is it possible to get away with a voice/style/approach to fantasy writing that doesn't tick all the currently trending boxes? I've been looking through a microscope for reasons I've mentioned numerous times, but at some point, come Feb, I'll have to look with a much wider magnification. I haven't been following fantasy style trends and so I'm not sure if there are in fact any fantasy stories out there that don't go crazy with world building.

I'm hoping to keep The Sixth Chamber simple, tight ... and short. Overreaching in practice is fine but overreaching with something you're at least trying to get published would be, in opinion, a huge mistake.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
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Media Manager
I agree. I love the act of worldbuilding, and I'm a fantasy guy, but all this magic systems and lore in the genre right now ... it's too much. And it's a distraction. Procrastination, really, for the writer, a substitute for actual voice and decent, clever prose. Personally, having read your writing, I think you can build the world without being quite so explicit about it.

Of course, 'better than the trends' might not sell...
 

TheMightyAz

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I agree. I love the act of worldbuilding, and I'm a fantasy guy, but all this magic systems and lore in the genre right now ... it's too much. And it's a distraction. Procrastination, really, for the writer, a substitute for actual voice and decent, clever prose. Personally, having read your writing, I think you can build the world without being quite so explicit about it.

Of course, 'better than the trends' might not sell...
Are there any examples though? I've been watching reviews of fantasy books to get a general idea of 'the norm' and it seems as if complex is the order of the day. I'll be damned if I'm doing that for my first novel though.
 

Taylor

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...get lost in the weeds... ...tonal change... ...adding weight, gravitas and grandeur... ...drawn back with the camera... ...going to feed into my limited POV... ...want it to be honest... ...paint with much broader strokes... ...looking through a microscope... ...look with a much wider magnification.

Overreaching in practice is fine but overreaching with something you're at least trying to get published would be, in opinion, a huge mistake.

I wish I could contribute, but I don't understand much of this. Coming from a simpler more pragmatic mind, what does your heart say?

And how are you overreaching?
 

indianroads

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Detailed world building isn't necessarily written out within the novel. I've read books where the author did that and found it incredibly tedious.
However, I believe that it's important for the author to understand the world he is writing about. Historical background and the intricacies of science or magic may not be important for the reader to know in order to enjoy the story, but must be well understood by the author for consistency.
 

TheMightyAz

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If this is a legitimate concern of yours, that you might actually get too swept up in it, then I would discourage it.

I'm coming from mainly worldbuilding and wanting to wring a story out of it all, and the word count for my chapters has only recently overtaken what I've got for lore. It can be addicting - and worse, it can paralyse you from approaching your story if you feel like you need to sort out an ultimately irrelevant detail. Stuff that isn't even part of the plot can begin to feel more important (in my experience).

Worldbuilding is great for maintaining consistency, and not much else. It can be appealing for fleshing out your world, but compelling characters and beautiful prose are just as effective at that, on top of being more broadly applicable.
The question is though, are there any recent examples of people writing fantasy without going into great detail? What I want to do for my first book is concentrate on story and characters, only adding in detail when I feel it's necessary.
 

TheMightyAz

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I wish I could contribute, but I don't understand much of this. Coming from a simpler more pragmatic mind, what does your heart say?

And how are you overreaching?
I overreach every time I type a word, a sentence, a paragraph. I push myself beyond what I'm 'naturally' capable of every time I write a story. That's sustainable and warranted for practice, when improvement of style and the eradication of bad habits is central to the process, but not warranted (or sustainable) for when I finally sit down to write the novel proper. My mindset will be completely different when I'm doing that. Overreaching (pushing myself well beyond any natural talent) would only hinder progress. That's why I'm taking this year to get the hard work out of the way. That 'natural talent' is a sliding scale and not a set ability that will never change. It's already changed but I won't be trying to improve it when I finally sit down and 'just write'. I'll be letting the work flow naturally.
 

Taylor

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I overreach every time I type a word, a sentence, a paragraph. I push myself beyond what I'm 'naturally' capable of every time I write a story. That's sustainable and warranted for practice, when improvement of style and the eradication of bad habits is central to the process, but not warranted (or sustainable) for when I finally sit down to write the novel proper. My mindset will be completely different when I'm doing that. Overreaching (pushing myself well beyond any natural talent) would only hinder progress. That's why I'm taking this year to get the hard work out of the way.
Ah, that I understand. It seems reasonable. But how do you know that what you are reaching for is better? Perhaps some would be happier with your natural talent.

Who do you see as your target market?

What I want to do for my first book is concentrate on story and characters, only adding in detail when I feel it's necessary.
Perfect! Don't worry about anyone else.
 
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TheMightyAz

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Ah, that I understand. It seems reasonable. But how do you know that what you are reaching for is better? Perhaps some would be happier with your natural talent.

Who do you see as your target market?
Oh, I see quite clearly how it's better. My target audience is myself. I know what I like to read and practice to write what I like to read. When it isn't right, I instinctively know it isn't right. Sometimes I see quite clearly why it isn't right and other times I have to keep digging to find what it is. But the closer I get to the voice I'm after, the easier it gets to spot what I need to improve.

I've been listening a lot to Scott Lynch lately and I'll likely be picking his style apart over the next few years to see what I can add to my own style (if it fits)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Oh, I see quite clearly how it's better. My target audience is myself. I know what I like to read and practice to write what I like to read. When it isn't right, I instinctively know it isn't right. Sometimes I see quite clearly why it isn't right and other times I have to keep digging to find what it is. But the closer I get to the voice I'm after, the easier it gets to spot what I need to improve.

I've been listening a lot to Scott Lynch lately and I'll likely be picking his style apart over the next few years to see what I can add to my own style (if it fits)
Using yourself for quality assurance is fine, but If you want to get published, you may need to identify a greater target audience. Who other than you will read this book?
 

TheMightyAz

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Using yourself for quality assurance is fine, but If you want to get published, you may need to identify a greater target audience. Who other than you will read this book?
That's not really a concern to be honest. I'm not looking at markets per se, just possible trends to take into consideration. Whatever the trend is, I'll still approach it in my own way, for my own fulfilment. It's what I do. I'd sooner fail and do what I want than compromise to get published.
 

Taylor

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That's not really a concern to be honest. I'm not looking at markets per se, just possible trends to take into consideration. Whatever the trend is, I'll still approach it in my own way, for my own fulfilment. It's what I do. I'd sooner fail and do what I want than compromise to get published.
I think you are better off focusing on a market. A trend is something that is already in motion and may peter out. If you can get into the heads of your readers and figure out what they want you could be a trailblazer. You have the potential.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
The question is though, are there any recent examples of people writing fantasy without going into great detail? What I want to do for my first book is concentrate on story and characters, only adding in detail when I feel it's necessary.
Fantasy is such a huge church though. People tend to focus on the JRR's and the GRR's and the like. Nothing wrong with that, but two authors are an absolutely miniscule part of the whole canon. I always come back to the Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso. It's very character and relationship driven. The world is vivid, but whenever it's depicted, it is with such perfect prose that it doesn't need great wodges of blumpf to do the job.
 

TheMightyAz

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I think you are better off focusing on a market. A trend is something that is already in motion and may peter out. If you can get into the heads of your readers and figure out what they want you could be a trailblazer. You have the potential.
Unfortunately, that's something I just can't bring myself to do. :) As much as it may help, I'm more interested in producing work I'm proud of than producing work I can sell. If on writing something I'm proud of, I also write something that gets published, then that's a bonus. Of course I want to be published but I don't write to be published.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Fantasy is such a huge church though. People tend to focus on the JRR's and the GRR's and the like. Nothing wrong with that, but two authors are an absolutely miniscule part of the whole canon. I always come back to the Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso. It's very character and relationship driven. The world is vivid, but whenever it's depicted, it is with such perfect prose that it doesn't need great wodges of blumpf to do the job.
I'll see if I can find any of her work on YT and give it a listen. :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Unfortunately, that's something I just can't bring myself to do. :) As much as it may help, I'm more interested in producing work I'm proud of than producing work I can sell. If on writing something I'm proud of, I also write something that gets published, then that's a bonus. Of course I want to be published but I don't write to be published.
Producing work you are proud of and producing work that you can sell are not mutually exclusive. It's about producing something so amazing that you love it and so do they. Your readership can be great allies in your plight. They want for you what you want. I doubt that many of the greats did not have a target market in mind.

Honestly, I find it odd that you don't think of your target market. February is going to be interesting! :)
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Producing work you are proud of and producing work that you can sell are not mutually exclusive. It's about producing something so amazing that you love it and so do they. Your readership can be great allies in your plight. They want for you what you want. I doubt that many of the greats did not have a target market in mind.

Honestly, I find it odd that you don't think of your target market. February is going to be interesting! :)
Generally speaking, fantasy/horror readers are my 'target audience' if you want to look at it that way. I just don't think about it. :) I'll write what I enjoy reading and what will be will be!
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Worldbuilding is great for maintaining consistency, and not much else.
However, consistency is important. Rough maps, even if not published, help keep the author from stepping on their own feet with geography and travels. Some idea of the nature of areas on the map keep travel distances consistent, along with travel dangers. The map itself can help inspire elements on a plot.

Brief early mentions of political regions and personages make them more real when they're introduced where it counts, rather than it appearing they've been plucked out of thin air at a moment of need.

And if it's a magical universe, readers need some idea of the rules in play. They like to brainstorm solutions before they read the author's solution, and reading an author's solution which is clever within his own restrictions impresses a reader. Reading a solution where everything is imagined at the moment reads like it was imagined at the moment.

So while there is no need to write volumes about the world's context (including it often being a mistake to do so), I don't think it should be ignored. We don't want to leave the reader feeling lightheaded in ignorance, and I've felt that from some authors.

There is some research to be done before and during most of the things we write, and what we do in world-building is, in essence, writing our own research.
 
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