Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

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Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby talonhunter » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:38 am

In talking to a friend of mine who self publishes and also publishes several other authors, we got into a discussion about world building when writing your stories and how it effects the reader. One thing she said that really sticks with me is its better to throw your readers into the middle of a barfight instead of opening with a long backstory that won't pull the reader into your story and may loose them before the really juicy plot even begins. Now my argument is sometimes you need a long info dump to bring the reader up to speed when you introduce a story concept but is too much info a bad thing? What are some of your thoughts and ideas, pros and cons about it.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:21 pm

The best advice I could give on the matter is to make sure that the information you're conveying to the reader is not disconnected from the action or context. Make sure readers learn what they need to through a proper medium, so you don't make immersion hard or impossible.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby AxelTheBunny » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:13 pm

I'd agree that slow building is the best. Start with the basic premise of the world. I've always found worldbuilding best when done through the actions of the characters rather than through narrations. Id also agree that its important to make sure the information given is relevant. I once heard it described as "If you show a gun in the first act, you'd better use it by the third act." If there is no point at all in the story to give information that has no point.

I prefer world building as the story progresses, and I usually keep a separate doc for lore i come up with outside the story that I may get use out of.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Spica75 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:25 am

One thing she said that really sticks with me is its better to throw your readers into the middle of a barfight instead of opening with a long backstory


100% agreed. Of course, some stories, you simply MUST have some backstory first for anything to make sense, but sticking with close to the minimum required and then adding things in as the story proceeds is usually the best way.
And if you must have a lot of backstory first, if possible have it come in a form that isn't purely exposition if possible.

For example, characters gets thrown into a strange new world? You could start with a potential future enemy/ally/both noticing and reacting to the event, as that allows you to establish lots of things about local cultures, powers and the world.

#####
I once heard it described as "If you show a gun in the first act, you'd better use it by the third act."


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGun
"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
— Trope Namer Anton Chekhov (From S. Shchukin, Memoirs. 1911.)


Overall it's very good advice, though it can have the downside of that you show too little of the world, because you don't include anything except that which is directly relevant.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:00 pm

Also, I believe the person who said that was a minimalist, so you can probably file that advice in the style category. It may have even been in the context of short stories, not novels.

You can mention a gun without it playing any physical role. For example, you could go the way of substance and abstract by having it give the reader an idea of what kind of person would own it, often in conjunction with other things for the purpose of triangulation. Heck, you could even do it to be subversive, which can be handy in a mystery.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Spica75 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:22 pm

Crescent Pulsar S wrote:Also, I believe the person who said that was a minimalist, so you can probably file that advice in the style category. It may have even been in the context of short stories, not novels.


Checkov was a short story(or theatre play rather) specialist indeed. Although "short story" for him was probably not what we would call that today, when almost anything beyond a hundred pages risks being called a "brick".

Crescent Pulsar S wrote:You can mention a gun without it playing any physical role. For example, you could go the way of substance and abstract by having it give the reader an idea of what kind of person would own it, often in conjunction with other things for the purpose of triangulation. Heck, you could even do it to be subversive, which can be handy in a mystery.


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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby AxelTheBunny » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:11 pm

true but the sentiment still rings true. If you introduce something, it needs a purpose and needs to be used whilest the reader still recalls it otherwise there is no point in noting it in the first place. Ive always preferred doing worldbuilding gradually, with myself adding new concepts I feel work within the world when necessary or when it seems appropriate. I also think it depends on the type of world...after all if you are dealing with a world remarkably similar to our own then there is no point expositing on most things. Then you have the ones that are vastly different, such as high scifi or high fantasy type stuff. It's also important to note that sometimes less information is better as it allows readers to fill in the blanks, though this is something that shouldn't be used all the time.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:00 am

What part of what I said suggested there wasn't a purpose? Or that it wasn't used? <_<;

Also, people don't have the same retention level. For something like the newspaper, dumbing it down for a really broad audience makes sense. This is not the case for fictional stories. Certain genres, like mystery, are notorious for putting things here and there for you to remember, and some of them often don't become relevant until near or at the end of the story; of course, some of those aforementioned things are mentioned very early in the story. This goes with world-building-centric books as well, because they often convey a bunch of information that simply gives context for what kind of world the reader is reading about, rather than conveying it so it will be relevant to an event later.

While it's generally a good idea to not include anything useless, you also can't have a narrow view of what is considered useful, especially as it's related to any particular story.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Pata Hikari » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:30 am

The majority of any worldbuilding you make for a story should not actually be directly put into the story.

Nobody cares about the economic histroy of the city the main characters are in (Unless your story is about economics) but the history should inform how characters in the story act.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Cheb » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:04 am

Now my argument is sometimes you need a long info dump to bring the reader up to speed

It doesn't work exactly because of overcrowding. The Internet changed the landscape drastically by that now everyone and their cat can be a writer. While a great boon to the readers, this brought new challenges and limitations for the writers.

So no, infodumps are dead. You learn how to build slowly and capture your readers with something catchy right at the start, or you have no readers.
Hell, even summary writing evolved into an art form of its own!

I suppose it's like publishing a game on Steam nowadays: it should be catchy and unique to not get lost in the mire of hundred others. Ans still no guarantee it gets noticed.

The majority of any worldbuilding you make for a story should not actually be directly put into the story.

And that.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Spica75 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:26 am

AxelTheBunny wrote:true but the sentiment still rings true. If you introduce something, it needs a purpose and needs to be used whilest the reader still recalls it otherwise there is no point in noting it in the first place.


I disagree with the "needs to be used", because you might for example show off a gun/s as a way of establishing the background of a character, it still has a distinct purpose then, but no need for it to be used.

Also, don't forget that even just being a red herring is still a purpose. Agatha Christie for example was VERY good at throwing those around in a useful way.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:31 pm

Cheb wrote:You learn how to build slowly and capture your readers with something catchy right at the start, or you have no readers.

And that.[/quote]
From personal experience, I can't ever recall getting a compliment for building slowly. I've certainly gotten complaints for doing it that way, though. Too many people on the Internet have little patience, a short attention span, and expect whatever they're interested in to be delivered like junk food on a conveyor belt.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby camk4evr » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:06 pm

talonhunter wrote:In talking to a friend of mine who self publishes and also publishes several other authors, we got into a discussion about world building when writing your stories and how it effects the reader. One thing she said that really sticks with me is its better to throw your readers into the middle of a barfight instead of opening with a long backstory that won't pull the reader into your story and may loose them before the really juicy plot even begins. Now my argument is sometimes you need a long info dump to bring the reader up to speed when you introduce a story concept but is too much info a bad thing? What are some of your thoughts and ideas, pros and cons about it.


I (mostly) agree with your friend. For the most part, most of the information you need to give for people to understand your world can be told in discriptions of people, places, or characters or even in dialogue. If you still need an infodump of some kind (for example the way David Weber describes the capabilities of the weapons in the Honor Harrington books) then it is better to spend several chapters getting the readers invested with the story and character first.

It is possible to do an infodump in the prologue if you write it in a compelling way though I've only really seen it done really well in fantasy novels. A good examplke of this the books of David Eddings where, in the first book of a series, he'll write some of the world building information as a prophecy or as myths/legends as told by a story teller (if he writes a sequel series, however, his prologue is usually little more than a dry summary of the previous series unfortunately). A bad example of an infodump is the prologue to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings which is little more than an encyclopedia entry on hobbits (an incomplete one at that) and about as interresting to read.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Cheb » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:04 pm

I can't ever recall getting a compliment

Readers comments are a very, very dangerous thing wrought with sampling and survivor's biases.
Be very, very careful when reacting to them.
In short, the vocal ones could very well be a minority.
Also, many such things done right are unnoticeable. They are noticeable when done wrong, yes. It's like writing buggy code: you'd get flak for doing that while you'll never get complimented for doing it right because then it "just works". That's no reason for NOT doing things right.

If the readers are keeping silent it's either because your story is *total* crap, or because they feel you are doing it right and they have nothing to add, just enjoy it.

P.S. And only one reader in a hundred comments, the other 99 are the silent majority.
Places supporting "likes" are much better places to gauge if you are doing it right. I know of spacebattles and sufficientvelocity forums and much of my attention gravitated there (also, Dungeon Keeper Ami moveed to sufficientvelocity after addventure's demise)

then it is better to spend several chapters getting the readers invested with the story and character first.

Uhh... Infodumps scares away, involvement keeps from leaving, yes? Must balance these forces carefully.
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Re: Opinions about World building. thoughts, pros, and cons

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:03 pm

I don't like the like/dislike thing that's infesting the Internet. Its convenience invites laziness, inaccuracy and ultimately says nothing of substance because humans aren't mind readers. Plus, it can easily be abused, and is vastly inferior to 1-5/1-10 ratings, which is vastly inferior to rating specific categories that are appropriate for the format, as opposed to other things where a simple like or dislike actually does suffice. I'd much rather have stuff like:

Grammar: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★☆☆☆
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