Monday, December 19, 2011

World Building

Another post inspired by my Sanderson notes. World building is one of the most crucial elements--if not the most crucial element--for fantasy and science fiction stories. Sanderson is excellent at creating very diverse worlds for each of his books (eager to see what he's done for The Alloy of Law*), so I jotted down some of his tips.

1. Think of the setting as a character. What are its quirks, and what makes it unique?

2. Look for points on conflict. Conflict doesn't just come from the characters--what does your world do that creates problems? (The original Mistborn trilogy is great at this)

3. Consider cultural vs. physical setting. Culture is just as important, if not more important, than the geography.

4. Generally, more imagination = slower pace. The more details you cram into the setting, the slower the read.

5. Get the setting across without info dumps. Let the reader discover it gradually, as it pertains to each scene/situation.

In related news, I drew a larger version of Armaze (the city where Scion will be taking place) on parchment paper and stuck it up on the wall. Since the setting is so condensed in this book, I want to make sure I stay consistent with the streets and such. 

My outline is just about done too, and I'm getting really excited for the story. Here's hoping I pull everything off!

*Which I purchased at the signing last week, but cannot read it as I am STILL working on The Black Prism. It's a really good book, don't get me wrong, I just haven't been reading it very quickly. (Indeed I think there have been perhaps two days where I actually read it outside my lunch break.) Goodreads recently let me know just how slow I'm being. I am scum. (But close to finishing, which is great considering that the library will seize my copy in four days.)


  1. These are such awesome tips. It can be hard NOT to info dump but weaving it in to the novel creatively makes for a great reader experience.

  2. I have recently decided I'm not very good at this--or at least not very practiced. Much of what I write takes place in the near future, so I base my world on today. I'll think hard about technological advances that pertain to my story, but forget to advance society in other ways, prompting many revisions. Practice, practice, practice.