Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Geeks And Gamers’ Guide To World-Building


By Eilis Flynn
The problem with staring at the computer screen for hours on end is what you end up thinking about. Not necessarily the project at hand; instead, it’s quite possible you end up musing about totally unrelated things.

Like world-building. When you write fiction, you always build new worlds. No matter if you’re writing fantasy or you’re writing contemporary, you have to craft an existence other than the one you’re living in. Sometimes the existence you’re describing looks like the one you’re in but with some notable differences, and sometimes the one you’re describing looks nothing like yours, but whatever the situation, you have to make it interesting enough for the reader to want to stay in it for a while.

Welcome to world-building 101, the geeks and gamers edition. What’s the deal with world-building? Too much detail and nobody wants to hear about it; too little and your audience turns away, saying that they can’t “see” the world. What’s a good balance? What makes one created world memorable and another so very forgettable?

Could it be the type of world—you know, historical versus futuristic versus fantasy? What about the contemporary world? What about in comic books and video games and board games, for that matter? What makes each of them memorable or forgettable?

The specific genre or medium doesn’t really matter. Each has specific strengths and weaknesses, and it’s our job to identify, locate, and implement those strengths and overcome those weaknesses. Sometimes, when we are lucky, we can even identify and implement those strengths, and if we’re very, very lucky, we can even implement a strength from one genre or medium and make it work in another. But we have to identify them first.

No matter what you’re writing, the truth is that you have to establish and make your readers believe the world you’re writing about. Comic books and video games (and games in general, for that matter) have been particularly successful in doing this. After all that musing and staring at the computer screen, my friend Jacquie and I decided to examine the worlds and universes that comics and games have built, try to figure out why they work so well (sometimes even across media to film), and how we can use those concepts in our own writing, and we put it all into a workshop for the San Diego romance writers.

We’ll be taking a look at the worlds and universes of comic books and world-building from the viewpoint of games and video games. Is there some carryover? Of course there is. We’ll examine that too. Check out http://rwasd.com/training/index_flynn2.html and sign up. It starts July 6!

Elizabeth Flynn/Eilis Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for almost 40 years, working with academia, technology, finance, and science fiction, fantasy, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be reached at emsflynn.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.