So maybe I’m a terrible person, but in the distant past I used to kind of (silently) make fun of those writers who would talk about getting so hung up on world-building that they haven’t even begun their book yet. I was like, What the Hell? World-building? How boring is that? Just shut up and write the book already.
I clearly didn’t get it.
So fast forward to the present. I have this novel I was trying to pitch that I had really put a lot of work into, as far as storytelling and plotting are concerned. It’s got decent pacing and some pretty good character arcs (if I do say so myself) but it’s lacking something that is very important, and that something is why that book is currently not publishable. As a fantasy novel, it’s setting lacks any amount of depth, and most of the things inside the world that make it tick are unexplained.
Anyhow, I haven’t really touched that novel since going through a marathon cleanup over the weekend of Father’s Day 2016, which is just about a year ago. I pitched the novel at the RMFW conference and the agent there told me exactly what I expected–and needed–to hear.
I looked at all of the work that novel needs and put it away. Not for good, mind you, but for an indefinite amount of time while I worked on other things.
So to make a long story short, this weekend I tried something else.
Starting something new a new way (for me)
There was also a time where I was against outlining. That is no longer the case. So I have a rough (and very short) outline of a new book.
But I just wasn’t ready to start writing it yet. I felt like I wasn’t quite prepared enough. I really didn’t want to start another project the wrong way. I opened up Scrivener the other night just to see if it might help get me feeling creative and OMG, I couldn’t believe what happened.
I started by creating a few character profiles. I’m not great with coming up with fantasy names, so I many seek some help from a few of the RPGers out there, but what I found myself doing with the Scrivener character templates, was nothing short of amazing (for me.) I picked a few of the primary characters in my head and just started writing backgrounds for them.
What’s even more interesting–and unexpected (again, for me) was that locations started to play into this. The characters’ personalities were shaped by how and where they grew up. Suddenly, I was filling out the location templates as well.
I wasn’t writing, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t creating. Every new character…every new setting detail…they were all just making the simple plot I had outlined come to life. And then I suddenly realized why some of the writers-who-aren’t-writing-because-they-are-stuck-world-building do this. It’s fun! I felt the same way that I did creating D&D campaigns in the eleventh grade.
Eventually I stopped and went to bed. It was like 1AM or something, which is late for an old dude like me. But I still had trouble sleeping because I was so excited. And I haven’t been that excited about a writing project since Holy Fudgesicles.
So I now, once again, feel like a writer. Yet all I want to do is world-build. But that’s okay. I know the plot, and now I’m getting to know the characters and where they live. Just a little more prep-work and the novel will practically write itself.
And now I need to see if Scrivener has a tool for drawing maps…
So thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any good world-building stories to share, feel free to leave a comment!