Worldbuilding in Writing

This week on Hide and Create, Jordan Ellinger, Moses Siregar and Joshua Essoe welcome Jaye Wells to the show as Diana Rowland takes a couple of months leave of absence. (Don’t worry, she’ll be back!)

Jaye, for those of you who don’t know, is a USA Today best-selling, urban fantasy author. We throw Jaye a softball this week to discuss what’s in her wheelhouse, worldbuilding!

The whole point of worldbuilding is to create something vivid and alive. To give a strong sense of place — and not just any place. Your place. Your individual creation, different from any of those other worlds out there.

With that in mind, don’t let it distract you from the true purpose of engaging in its creation in the first place — your story. You could literally ponder all the implications and ramifications of Transporter technology, for example, for a year and maybe still not get under the skin of it.

So remember your world is in service of your story, your story is not in service to your world.


9 thoughts on “Worldbuilding in Writing

  1. But there is an american mythos, one which really began as a myth/ideal that went very far towards becoming a reality. In a way it inhabits the same world as Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. It is in a way …in its force, its ideals, its beauty and its dangers…a kind of american fae. Think Gone With The Wind…The Old South as she saw herself and to a large sense still sees herself. Consider all her generals…however rough around the edges were all valiant heroes all the Union leaders were blue bellied devils…and Sherman joined Lucifer in the ninth ring of hell while the Noble Lee ranks somewhere just shy of the Holy Apostles. And even one hates the Old South they are still like the sidthe…still beautiful but terrible in their own way as well.

    All that is lacking to complete the Old South as a full on fantasy trope is a magic system. And given the nature of the South with its extensive celtic folk roots….mythical southern magic should as easy to find as sweet tea , cane syrup or grits.

    A positive or even celebratory/romanticized view of the Old South is not presently pc but that is secondary to the power and exploitability of the mythos…why should At. Fic. have all the fum

  2. Thanks. Been on it for months. When it is done I would love to send it your way to see if it looks like a project worthy of your expertise.

  3. I think how much worldbuilding you choose to do is dictated by sub-genre. epic fantasy can be very demanding when it comes to worldbuilding and many of its readers expect extensive worldbuilding.Or seem to. If you enjoy worldbuilding – and I do – You certainly have to exercise self- discipline!

  4. Right and right. Epic fantasy is definitely a worldbuilding genre. The target audience expects it; demands a lush, and complex, and interesting world. And you definitely have to exert some self-discipline or else you might find yourself in constant worldbuilding mode when you’re supposed to actually be writing. It’s all too easy to use outlining, taking notes, doing research and designing as wonderful excuses to avoid actually getting your story out.

    1. Too true. I have at least four worlds meant for large canvss stories that in one itteration or another are between15 to 30 years in the making. I’ve one of almost as long in building now abandoned for akmost 20. And what do I have to show for it…lots of notes and maps and three or four short stories plus a couple pirces of flash.

        1. I might need the whole freaking elephant. One belonged to my post Tolkien infatuation stage, the Free Alliance of Men and Elves (work the acronym out for yourself then take an Alka Seltzer), another started in the garage of a Ford dealership in 1979 while trying to reimagine various car parts as models for a fleet of colony ships which lead to me reteaching myself basic Geometry from an ACT guide book…which led to etc etc etc until 30 years later it was completely different…except for involving new worlds and outer space…and set in the magically distant far future. Then there’s the John Carter throwback involving a Confederate spy waking up on Mars only to discover there was a reason the Russians had sold Alaska. Fun idea originally inspired by a comment from one of the editors at Raygun Revival who said they would never print SF poetry…so I made up some Martian children’s poetry and needed a setting and story for it…and again…etc.

          My conclusion…cool ideas are as addictive…like crack or warcraft….or the sensation of falling endlessly down a rabbit hole…ain’t no bottom till you imagine one.

Leave a Reply