How do you write an indepth world?:

Total posts: [16]

I'm trying to learn how to write a story that I could expand into a universe. Meaning spinoff stories,prequels,sequels,ect.

I'm just not good at it. Most of my stories are very static. There is no way to expand them without either retconning or leaving a big gaping plot hole.

I want to try this,but I'm not sure how. Any advice?
Avoid making characters the center of the world, as much as people enjoy reading about very important characters if you’re going for an expansive universe it’s the universe that’s “the main character.” Organizations/states/nations/corps/etc. in the real world we have a lot of these not just “the Federation/Good Guys” “the Empire/badguys” but lots of groups with their own agendas that don’t necessarily involve every other group. In other words keep stories relatively “small” not every conflict/good story has the fate the universe on the line.

edited 5th Feb '11 5:48:59 PM by GenericGuy

"If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you." —Don Marquis
3 Mukora5th Feb 2011 06:55:35 PM from a place , Relationship Status: I made a point to burn all of the photographs
Well, you have to start with the basic concept. What's going on in your world? What timeframe is it set in, et cetera.

What the above troper said is true, as well, to a point. Individual stories within the universe can have characters as a main point, but you have to use other stuff in the universe, as well. Have the conflict be between more than just The Villains And The Heroes (unless there actually are only two factions...)
"It's so hard to be humble, knowing how great I am."
The Puzzler
Reference people, places, and events and not explain them. If and when you decide to make a sequel make even more references, and repeat the whole process until you feel tired of writing that series.

Then do the same with the new series until you decide to make another new series or go back to your old one.

At least I'd think that would work. :-/

edited 5th Feb '11 8:01:42 PM by EldritchBlueRose

Has ADD, plays World of Tanks, thinks up crazy ideas like children making spaceships for Hitler. Occasionally writes them down.
This is why some people do top-down approach to story making.

If you want to expand something to be a universe, then think about what that universe is. There's no reason for your story to require retcon for this to happen. I assume we're talking fantasy/sci-fi, so the question is merely, what was the world in which your story took place? Then after that, your other stories don't even need to be remotely related to your original plot.
Ok,those sound like good suggestions. Still,I can't just make a world and the world be the story. There has to be a story that takes place within the world,and I'm not too sure I know how to do that without destroying the possibility for expansion.
Forum Villain
How do you make an world in depth? The problem that you have is that you're trying to deepen a world that exists only because the story demands it. That right there has got you off on the wrong foot. If you want a world that becomes a mythos, start with the mythos and then construct the story within it. The result is much better overall stability and consistency and hurrah! It's much easier to expand.
"Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person that doesn't get it."
Ok,I'll try that.
9 Gault5th Feb 2011 11:51:12 PM from somewhere far, far away , Relationship Status: It's complicated
Laugh and grow dank!
I, and take this with a grain of salt because I'm not actually a published author or anything- Hell I haven't even begun really writing- but I try to do the reverse. Start with the universe, set all that up first and get it nice and established, THEN write the story. I find this helps because if you have a sufficiently complex world the story then rises up from that, almost like it writes itself. If sufficiently explored things will, in theory, naturally follow the most likely course of events in accordance with the rules of the world that have been set up and how probability dictates they happen.

This all sounds very vague, I know. Was it helpful?
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10 JHM6th Feb 2011 06:32:16 AM from Neither Here Nor There , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Draw a map of what you think your world is like so far. It helps.
vigilantly taxonomish
Don't think of it as one big story, think of it as one setting for lots of stories. That setting will motivate and influence your characters, and that's how the stories happen.

The stories don't need to have anything to do with one another whatsoever. There's very little indication that Baccano! is in the same setting as Durarara!!, and much less that The Hobbit is in the same setting as The Silmarillion, but there are certain clues and shared elements of the world itself which suggest it.
Well okay let's say you've a thought...

Starting top-down to hybrid

I want to have a universe of STL moonships full of medieval troops led by high-tech religious fanatics going out to reclaim the galaxy and restore the old FTL empire even though the former method of FTL has been lost.

Now you've a universe. Now you want a story.

Okay, clearly there's going to be plenty of battles and unknown new cultures for these moonships to discover. So I think, the STL Moonship of Castille comes upon an old world of the Human Hegemony (I'm making this up as I go) from the old Imperial Starcharts (mind you star charts have to follow the stars as they move through a galaxy). But, the planet is filled to the brim with biotechnology and insectoid hordes. The human populace appears to be scattered through the planet living in small villages, clearly subjugated by the insectoids. The protagonist Aragorn and Castille will begin invading the planet!

Then you go down to a more micro level and start deciding how the war goes, what things they discover and so on. Then, now you've a setting. After you finish this novel you think, well i could do another moonship, I could do another a story from a reverse perspective, I could do prequels, I could do another story with Aragorn and Castille who after cryosleep journey eitehr something happens on the moonship or they arrive at another planet.

Micro to Hybrid Approach

I want a story of vengeance. Okay I need some characters. I'll have an emperor-cloak looking gal with a band of cybergoth warriors. She'll fight... demons. In hell. The vengeance is for her hometown being sacked by demons.

Alright I've got a sense of the setting already.

Okay there's Hell. So, let's say these are plane-shifter troops whose Empire is constantly besieged by demons that teleport into their realm. Thus, they must send forces to battle them every so often. I've built myself endless stories right there. There could be battles, political intrigue (like say demons and imperial official colluding for selfish gain on both sides), the demons could be a complex culture, the Empire might not be the only people, there could be a lot of magical powers possessed by the Imperial Planeshifters, cybergoth is cool by itself...
In Riastrad
It's been said before, but I'll reiterate:The world shouldn't be about the characters. The story should be about the characters, and their effect on the world at large. The world doesn't begin or end at the characters (unless you're writing about gods, but that's a whole different clusterfuck); the characters probably make a big impact on the world, but short of causing the apocalypse there's always more to be done.

If it helps, hallucinate details. Yes, yes, it sounds odd, but if you use sensory deprivation techniques and just brainstorm, you'll be surprised what you can come up with.
My name is Cu Chulainn.
Beside the raging sea I am left to moan.
Sorrow I am, for I brought down my only son.

14 RalphCrown6th Feb 2011 07:45:39 PM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
I come from a FRPG background, so YMMV.

The goal in any RPG is not so much to win the game as to make it possible to keep playing. The same is true of a sustainable setting. If your stories and/or heroes keep changing the rules, then you make it that much harder to create interesting conflicts.

If you want to have a consistent universe, establish some ground rules. Stories you write can use background info but not break those rules—unless you want to illustrate how the rules change.
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16 Schmitty9th Feb 2011 08:19:56 PM from Right behind you
There are many things you can do to write an in depth world. You can make a map as one of the previous posters suggested, I found it very helpful. If you do make a map, make places that are not central to the main storyline. Write a little about each country or region that is not super important to the story. For key groups, countries, etc. write a brief history of them up until the start of the story. Give yourself settings for possible prequels, sequels and spin-offs. Add characters who could be suitable protagonists for prequels/sequels or spin-offs. If it is a prequel or a spin-off, don't make these characters the main protagonist, a supporting role works a lot better because you can see the universe from a different perspective making it seem vastly different. You can make the main character of the main story appear in the prequel or spin off, but don't let them steal the story from the other guys.

If you intend on making multiple stories set in the same universe, set up a timeline so you can have some continuity. The stories don't have to be direct sequels/prequels, but should follow a timeline of sorts.

I hope I helped somewhat, I can't really think well now since its late.
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Total posts: 16