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The Quick Questions About World Building Thread:

Similar to the one in Writer's Block, this thread could be a great place for people to ask topics that do not warrant a longer discussion. This could be a good way to avoid the 2-3 post threads, start some more conversations, and help people get their questions answered a little quicker.

I guess I'll start: where's the best place to begin when creating a custom setting?

edited 17th Jan '12 8:00:05 PM by BetsyandtheFiveAvengers

 2 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 9:05:53 PM from the United States
Decemberist
What is the theme or connecting idea/goal? What must the setting be to serve the plot you have, or create a decent plot for you to use?
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
Theme of the work, or theme of the setting?

Normally, once I've already decided to create a fictional state or setting, I try to think of how the handful of characters (say, ten) I have will fit, and the begin to shape the more concrete details around that.

It's been working for me up to this point, but now I'm starting to wonder if it's a good approach or not. Technically, it doesn't really matter—I have my city, and I plan to set several stories within it, only using different continuities—but I'm curious to see how others begin.

 4 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 9:27:38 PM from the United States
Decemberist
Theme of the setting.

For example, for my current collaborative project, the theme was "a world dominated by insect-like creatures." Of course, that one is a non-narrative, pure worldbuilding project, but...
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
The theme of the setting is somewhat difficult to describe without going into a bunch of details on my story, but the overarching idea ties into the socioeconomic conflicts described in the plot.

Of course, I couldn't come up with a theme until I did tons of discovery writing to find what my project was actually going to be about.

 6 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 10:54:07 PM from the United States
Decemberist
I'm not sure what you mean. Care to elaborate?

Also, hm, the sticky has gone away. That's weird...
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
Yeah, I'm not sure what happened...

And, okay. Embarrassingly enough, the design of my city is pretty much a Great Gatsby rip-off. It's two large, equal sized land masses, East and West, separated by a river. Like I said, when I start thinking of what my setting is going to be like, I begin with picturing a few characters living there, and build up from that point.

In my notes I had two households living on polar ends of the socioeconomic spectrum: one is a Kennedy-esque legacy type of thing (old money, lots of political influence), and a no-collar, paycheck-to-paycheck family of four. I started to think of how they could exist within the same sphere, and came up with the cliched "giant suspension bridge separates the rich from the poor, " with people in the middle living on both sides of the river valley.

The depth from that set up (if there is any), symbolic, and thematic meanings come from the actual story.

 8 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:16:24 PM from the United States
Decemberist
Mm... it's possible for a city to become that way simply over time. You'd have to be careful about the design, though. It couldn't look preplanned. More like it just kind of became that way as life went on and people moved this way and that (both literally and economically).
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
Yes, I actually took the precautions to prevent that by coming up with a little backstory as to how it got that way, and I have a little expository chapter describing it. In what I've written so far, it's not completely divided, but the early design for it was.

 10 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:21:47 PM from the United States
Decemberist
You could always have the poorer island be a newer addition. You know they used to build landfills so big (and still do) that eventually they became habitable landmasses in their own right?
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
 11 Aussie Evil, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:22:41 PM from The Whatever Zone
Dignity. Ease. Disease.
What would be a good reason for two car mechanics to go on wild adventures?
nine nine nine? nine nine nine?
 12 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:23:35 PM from the United States
Decemberist
...they need special parts?
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
@Aussie: They are bored with their current lives?

@Flyboy: It is a newer addition, well...the city is "new, " in terms of time (being founded in 1921), but the gritter, rougher East side was originally established to be a safe haven for a group of people, and later, a large, social welfare and assistance project/community started by the chief philanthropists of the city that went unfinished because of a lack of funding. Now—in my imagination—it's sort of...dilapidated. There are certain patches that are okay, and most of the civil sector buildings are on that side.

 14 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:38:08 PM from the United States
Decemberist
1921... what year does the story take place in?
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
From March 2019-April 2021. For the record, it's literary fiction with some minor alternate history and magical realism thrown in.

edited 17th Jan '12 11:39:28 PM by BetsyandtheFiveAvengers

 16 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:47:18 PM from the United States
Decemberist
Mm, alright. I was confused, because, you know, I thought it was also in the same time period as The Great Gatsby.

Well... if we're dealing with modern socioeconomics combined with magic of any sort, my practical ability to help without more specifics begins to decline rapidly. I think this might warrant its own thread...
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
If you want to talk about this further, I'd rather do it over PMs. I'm kind of nervous discussing concrete story details on threads for some reason...I'm not sure why, though, to be honest.

We've derailed this a lot.

 18 Flyboy, Tue, 17th Jan '12 11:56:59 PM from the United States
Decemberist
It's not really a derail, since the whole thing is about asking worldbuilding questions.

Besides, this subforum is slow as balls, so it's not like we're holding up a cue like in Writer's Block, where questions get buried almost instantly. tongue

You'll have to PM me about it tomorrow, though, as I'm (finally) off to bed.
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
True smile

Euo will do!
[up][up] It's not that bad. I like to see it like this: people ask the questions, try to write a bit more building, and come back to read! Doesn't leave time to spam 60 times an hour. wink

Betsy, I usually follow this: world build for a while, then character develop/ plot-draft. If I need something from possible plot directions, I then write it into the world or at least play with the dynamics. Does that help?

edited 22nd Jan '12 9:15:50 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
[up] I'm actually comfortable with my characters and the plot. I'm still very much in the discovery writing phase (I don't intend to actually begin writing until June), but character dynamics and narrative are at the upmost important to me, so I spend about 75% of my outlining and planning working exclusively on those things.

But world building is really difficult for me. I pretty much write lit fic—and the thing that I'm working on is too, but it has some minor fantastic elements—so this is the first time that I've actually had to create my own setting and find out how everything works. Right now the city I made up is improbable, and while I know I need to fix it, I also know that the setting is going to be down played by all of the other aspects of my story. And there is enough realism to get me along.

I have a lot of work cut out for me.

But yes, that does help, thank you.

edited 23rd Jan '12 6:21:27 AM by BetsyandtheFiveAvengers

One of my story ideas includes dragons. I haven't decided if the story is set in a fantasy world or the "normal" world with fantasy elements, but either way, the dragons need to have some sort of food that can sustain them.

So, my question is: What sort of creature (real or mythical) would be large enough to sustain a population of dragons?

Dinosaurs, pretty much. Or mammoths. I suppose elephants would work, if its a modern ecosystem. Are the dragons intelligent? They could farm them as livestock.
 24 Madrugada, Wed, 25th Jan '12 8:34:31 AM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
You can go two ways with the food source for large predators like dragons: Large prey animals or lots of easy prey animals.

The first would be things in the hippo, elephant, rhino size range.

The second would be smaller animals with a strong herding instinct, like zebra or sheep, so that first, the dragon can attack the herd and have a good chance of getting an animal out of it, and second, even if the herd is scattered by a dragon attack, it reforms quickly, which gives the dragon a good shot at getting a second one.
'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
 25 Flyboy, Wed, 25th Jan '12 1:25:45 PM from the United States
Decemberist
Presumably, you might be better off with cows or sheep than you would something bigger like elephants or rhinos, etc.

I think cows and sheep breed faster...
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
Total posts: 323
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