Saturday, September 12, 2009

World Building – An Approach to Speculative Writing

World building. The very words seem epic…and daunting. However, the process is really a lot of fun.

This approach to writing consists of constructing a world before ever beginning the first novel that will take place within that world. In game design we often use this method because we need to know the scope of a game world due to limited resources. Memory and processor speed of the game platform (X-box, Wii, PC, etc.) are major factors that limit the proportions of worlds and therefore the story contained within them. I found that, while my resources for writing are limited only by my imagination, the approach still works as a type of outline for my novels.

Building a world allows us, as authors, to set rules for ourselves similar to the way an outline may work for others. Our project stays within manageable boundaries but provides versatility that a rigid outline just cannot accommodate. Think of the worlds we have read and loved and wanted to take part in: Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Brooks’s Four Lands or Landover, or Lucas’s Star Wars Galaxy. For those privileged enough to be able to write in these beloved universes, the work of world building is done and they happily write within their boundaries.

For those of us who use the world building approach, though, we dare to become the next Tolkien, Brooks, or Lucas endeavoring to evoke love for our worlds as much as these masters have summoned that love for theirs in us.

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