Saturday, September 18, 2021

World Building


I was digging around in my files for some notes I KNEW I had on world building and came across this reading list and questions that I copied from (I think!) Alexander Chee when he taught a class on the topic.

A Princess of Mars (ER Burroughs)
Dracula (Bram Stoker)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
Sunshine (Robin McKinley)

V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemison)
Lilith's Brood (Octavia Butler)

Perdido Street Station (China Mieville)
Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)

Questions for consideration on the syllabus:

Some things to consider always when taking on a new world:
what are its primary features - spatial, cultural, biological, fantastic, cosmological.

What is the world's ethos (the guiding beliefs or ideals that character the world?)

What are the precise strategies that are used by its creator to convey the world to us and us to the world? How are characters connected to the world? And how are we the viewer or reader connected to the world?




John Davis Frain said...

I'm not sure I'm any better at world-building yet, but I sure do feel better about my filing system.

Colin Smith said...

I keep thinking of fictional dystopian worlds I could use... but then reality beats me to it. 🤔

Joseph S. said...

It's interesting that two on the list are comic books (graphic novels) where the artwork carries a heabvy weight in creating the atmosphere.

The Dark Knight Returns completely reinvented Batman. The moden Batman movies are based on that story (and artwork).

V for Vendetta was unusual (I had to read it twice to figure out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys), but its main legacy was popularizing the Guy Fawkes mask.

Craig F said...

I am working at world building. I have been for a long time, as the current series that keeps rolling through the wheelhouse is world building from the start.

The series itself id world building, starting with the three thrillers. The slide into sci-fi steps into another world, then there is the planet my intrepid characters are gifted.

It starts with a scientific dive with religion as the Mercenary Church. Plans are for the depth of the world to go beyond just a scientific info dump towards a mystical info dump.

Now it just needs an agent and publisher.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

When the real world dystopia outmatches your fantastical dystopia - things get muddled. Then you just add a dragon and go about your business. That's all I got for world building :)

Kathy Halsey said...

Ty, Janet. I believe you took this picture of me and my files!

Julie Weathers said...

Thank you, Janet.

The last year I was in Surrey, Jack Whyte and I were at a party and holed up in the corner to drink and talk. We talked a lot about world-building, especially pulling details out of history.

Far Rider, for instance, has details from the Celtic culture, Sarmatians, and ancient Roman military tactics.

He discussed how he builds timelines melding history with fictional characters in books, how to build worlds and incorporate small details that make a world come to life.

It was very interesting picking his brain and just shooting the bull. I will miss him.

Colin you are absolutely right.

I just read a book called The Bone Charmer that has a very unique premise and world-building. Couldn't put it down.

Of course, I am having problems focusing on writing right now and laid up with my leg in the air much of the day, so it's a good time to read.

I had my knee replaced recently, which went well until Gage the Wonder Dog who was traumatized by having to stay in a kennel while I was in the hospital and now makes every step I make got tangled in my walker. I went straight down on the injured knee and then fell over on the startled dog who bit me. Then it was, "OMG OMG OMG! I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to bite you."

I had visions of television ads with an old lady screaming, "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up." After I stopped crying, yes, cowgirls cry, I crawled to the couch and pulled myself up. Then, I gathered up the walker and continued on to get tea, though by that time I was thinking whiskey was more in order.

Anyway, I'm going to copy this and add this to my world-building file. Thank you.

Lennon Faris said...

This is what I'm doing right now. Historically not my fav thing to do - I just want to get to the story. But some people love it, so maybe it's just finding the right attitude.

E.M. - dragons do make most things better, don't they?