I’m a writer. Of course I am.
Yesterday I was driving home and my mind was thinking through a particular idea I was writing, and the plausibility of it in the real world. Why would this idea work/not work? How can we get it to work? What’s the difference between the real world and this fantasy world, the difference between our society and the society in this fantasy world, the law, rules, stigmas, mentalities, world views, personalities etc etc etc. And of course, I was talking to myself out loud in the car and I make hand gestures when I talk – I don’t know why. You can surely imagine I must have looked like a philosophical scholar in the middle of a world changing academical reverie.
World building can be a massive undertaking. There is so much to consider, from the size of the planet (if you must) to the natural building materials that people can use in their particular environment. From it’s solar system to the flora and fauna that populate the world, all dependent on climate and environment. Then you have to consider people. Their history. Their circumstance. Their advancement across of fields (medicine, technology, policing, society). Their means of transport. Their food. Their clothes. Their cities, villages, holes in the ground.
As much as some things can be taken for granted (such as the colour of the leaves in a forest) some things need to make sense in your world. Take “class” for instance. Are there social classes? If not, why not? What’s replaced the class? Would it work? Why would it work?
An idea: A new world where there are no poor people. Would that mean everyone is equal at every level? That no one has more or less than another at all. Is that possible? Why? Are you able to logically and convincingly defend your newly created world? Here’s my defense:
“There’s a benevolent god who ensures that people are absolutely honest with each other and keeps anyone from ever receiving more or less than another. All family units are the exact same size so food is allocated accordingly and fairly. No job is greater than another requiring more prestige or pay. There is no bartering or selling to avoid placing value on anything, instead there are workers who farm, pick fruit/vegetables, sew/knit, gather wood, mine, nurse, heal etc in a communal cycle of good faith, honour and respect. Each vocation feeds into another. Education system feeds into either one of these vocations. If you are able to do more than one, you can but it doesn’t mean you are better for it. Artists and musicians are not seen as greater than street cleaners or woodcutters. The benevolent god enforces all of this by any means necessary and restores the balance. Do not disobey.”
Would this work? What flaws exist in this seemingly perfect system?
I don’t know if it’s vain of me to think this way, but I believe writer’s are great thinkers with amazing abilities. Look at J.R.R Tolkien and his creation of Middle Earth. I mean he created his own languages! Look at Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, based on a world which is flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants who are standing on the back of a giant turtle moving through space. *mind blown* And let’s not neglect our contemporaries J.K Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Eoin Colfer, Peter V. Brett, Jim Butcher and so many others who have created magical worlds, designed magic systems, fabricated unique creatures, twisted societies, and put it all together in written form for us to enjoy. And you, if you are a writer, you are spinning tales from the web of your mind and weaving it into written format for others to enjoy. If you ever doubt yourself or your writing, remember that what you do and love to do, is an amazing skill that not everyone can just pick up and do. There’s worlds and stories confined within your mind, bashing against the walls of you conscious crying to be let out.
Get It Out!
I don’t even know what this post is about anymore but one must write a conclusion as English teachers across the world have taught others like me to do:
- It’s okay to be in your head. That’s where the magic happens. I’m apparently an extrovert (*gasp*) but I also enjoy my moments of solitude where I can just delve into my mind and consider things. Sometimes it’s completely blank and that’s okay too. Silence is golden after all.
- Spend time writing your story. Then think if it’s plausible and why.
Vampires that drink oil instead of blood are cleaning up the oceans. When the oceans are clean, they live among us: Picture a lanky pale figure walking out of a Petrol Station/Garage (Gas Station for my American readers) in the dark of night, illuminated by pale moonlight. In their hand is a can of oil (WD40 or Q20) with a straw poking through it, drinking away into the night.
Great story. But why oil?
- Take time away from writing to piece your story together to your world. Spend time in the aesthetics of your novel. Great characters and plots need a great world to live in. Don’t neglect it.
- Are you considering all five senses when you write? Your characters walking into a crime scene shouldn’t be smelling, seeing, hearing, the same things as walking into a bakery. Holding someone’s hand shouldn’t feel the same way as holding a frog. Make those distinctions and engage your readers’ senses.
- Don’t be intimidated by the greats. There are many factors that contribute to one’s success or level of writing and detail. Write YOUR story. Don’t be the next J.K Rowling, be the next you.
- Live life to the fullest. Take in your surroundings whether you live in the city, surburb, village, cloud nine. Your experiences feed into your writing, your environment feeds into your writing. Don’t take the sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes for granted.
Finally, be the best writer you can be!