Playing God

Categories: Whatever Wednesday
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Published on: August 10, 2011

So you know what part of writing I like the most? World building. I love creating an internally consistent, interesting setting for my story to take place in. I like it a heck of a lot more than writing the actual characters or plot or dialogue, in actual point of fact. So, you can be assured that once I knew I would be writing Caravan, a world that was somewhat less fleshed out than some of the other ones, I was super excited to get down and write an awesome setting bible.

And it is awesome. And way more complex than will almost certainly ever be necessary for the actual story. I’ve figured out the economics of hydrogen production and sales in a water-scarce world. I’ve figured out the details of the catastrophe that left the world in exactly the state of ruin it’s currently in. I’ve figured out how little of that is actually known to the general populace at the time the story takes place. It’s all fleshed out, and it’s all consistent with setting and theme. And all of this took quite a bit of time.

And then, when I finished and realized I wouldn’t actually need to know any of this, I felt something that I’d never felt about world building before. I felt like I’d wasted my time. I’m now writing four blog posts a week, and I felt like taking all that time for stuff I didn’t really need was unnecessary and could have been better spent.

I was wrong.

I sat down Monday to write Caravan #2, and it just flowed out of me. That’s what a good setting does, I think. The world I had written felt vibrant and alive, and writing a story within it is so much easier, at least for me, when I know that world’s boundaries and possibilities. So, yes, the next time I’m writing a story, I’m going to write a big, dense, detailed setting bible, even if it doesn’t technically need it.

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