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World Building: Technique: Snippet [May. 25th, 2006|06:08 pm]
Rav
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A lot of the time, I suggest that a good way to get somewhere is to write / roleplay / talk about something. Let me run over some reasons why this works for me.

1. Exploration of the World: This is kind of like playing tourist in the world you built. You need to have at least one character from the world to show someone else around, or just to follow the character.

What do you get?
Roleplaying this allows you to see things that are confusing to an outside point of view. You also have to think on your feet to fill in details.
You get a chance to examine what kind of stories work well in your world. It's very hard to have, for example, a formal ball in your gritty fishing village filled with pearl divers. You could, however, have a harvest feast or follow someone doing their work and explore local politics.
You may find your tourist is a lot happier elsewhere. That could show a shift in priorities as to where the center of your world should be.

Drawbacks?
Your focus could get too wide. If you have a thrilling fishing village and a corrupt town and your Venice like city out of lace like marble carvings and your swinging village in the vines of an ancient forest - you may have more places to be a tourist than plot to fill them.

2. Immersion: This is a two-fold goal. Immersion in the case could be immersing yourself in the world or in the characters. Hard to write scenes often don't help immersion, since you're fighting your writing skills, your goals, and your intended results as much as the world and the characters.

What do you get?
It's a good way to find out more about the world through the eyes of a chatty easy to write character, or a good way to fill in a more flat character.
Roleplaying a character is a quick way to immerse yourself in their voice, viewpoints, and ideals.
You may find out that you've got a cooler option with some characters.
You may find repeating a scenario with subtle changes may lead to the perfect end result.

Drawbacks?
Mary Sue syndrome. You could make your character so perfect or so flawed that things become utterly unbelievable.
You could get too close to your character and not want, say, anything bad to happen to them.
You could forget that some people don't know your world as well as you do.
You may be unwilling to treat your world like fiction even if it'd help your story to have, say, a door in the back.

3. Genre Emulation: This, again could be used for two purposes. First of all, you could seek traits for your preferred genre and write scenes that could show it in action. Secondly, you could see how your world fits in potential genres.

What do you get?
You get the fun of getting your end result shown in your writing. You want porn? Write a porn scene. You want tense actions leading up to porn? Write it. Later, you can fill in. Get the fun written first.
You can see that, for example, your angsty character is actually not too bad in more cheerful scenes. That may change how you use characters.
You could find out that things don't fit your genre. Your serious modern story may not work well with the mysterious D.W.E.E.B. society.

Drawbacks?
Make sure you're not getting so into your genre that you're writing cliches.

So, comments? Other potential ways snippets of writing can help you? What does or doesn't work for you?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: white_aster
2006-05-26 01:33 am (UTC)
Roleplaying works for me, and also snippet writing based on keywords or somesuch. Prompt challenges, that sort of thing. That works particularly well after already getting a list of characters. Also, something like the old out_lines community, where there are questions to ask each character. Of course, that tends to give me ideas that are character-based, rather than feeding into a big plot, but then...most of my stuff tends to be character-based to begin with. o.o;
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[User Picture]From: corvid
2006-05-26 04:42 am (UTC)
Since you write a lot of fanfiction based stuff, do you find it hard to write just an off the cuff thing with original characters? With fanfiction, I'd guess you'd already have little prompts in the "So then what happened?" kind of questions.
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[User Picture]From: white_aster
2006-05-26 04:57 am (UTC)
It depends often on how developed the original characters and their world are. If someone gives me a prompt for something and I'm told to just make up an original character and go with it, I'll usually not be able to come up with anything easily. But, for an OC that I've worked with before and know their world well, it's about as easy as dealing with a fanfic character.
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[User Picture]From: corvid
2006-05-26 08:04 am (UTC)
Hm. I, on the other hand, am utterly lost with just one character (or none.) It feels very free-fallish to write with them since it seems like the world is empty.

It sounds like you really like having the prompt, and then shuffling your characters (if not specified) and laying out the start of things and letting them go. Now I'm curious how you could, perhaps, get prompts in a scenario where you don't have the world down well.

(I don't really think much about prompts, really. Either the characters mesh so perfectly with one that I can rattle it off quickly, or I stare dumbfounded and poke at things. I really tend to work best with a nice clear mental image or a good bit of banter.)
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[User Picture]From: white_aster
2006-05-26 02:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, if someone doesn't give me a character, then I'm lost, too. But I tend to work from the characters outwards. I can populate the world just by thinking about that one character's background. They've been blessed by some god? Then they need some kind of priesthood structure for that god. Their family had a farm? Then there needs to be a farming community, and possibly a few trade centers around them. They've got a talking magical horse? There needs to be an explanation of why there are talkig magical horses, etc.

I'm also one of those people who often doesn't know how a plot's going to end, esp. if I'm looking at something long. For short stories, I'm usually ok, because the plot is part of the idea, "character A goes to the city and meets the head of the temple, decides that temple will NOT be for him", for instance. But one reason I've not written a novel yet is...well...I don't HAVE any huge overarching plot ideas. I get small, character-centric ideas.
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[User Picture]From: corvid
2006-05-26 08:42 pm (UTC)
That's a technique that works well for me. The 'why' and 'how' kind of stuff tends to give me more ideas and characters to play with. I don't tend to work well with society type scenarios if I don't have an immediate 'so how does this matter to character X?'

Have you tried using a sort of ball of string technique? Individual threads, then interconnect them? That's how I'm seeing your harem verse stuff running.
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[User Picture]From: white_aster
2006-05-26 08:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, though my ball of string sort of starts off like a chip to the windshield. :) I start with one character and then think "oh, he'd have a friend over here who's into magic and...ooh, he'd know this person over here and and and" That type of thing. That's how the haremverse has gotten so big. Well, that and blatantly filing the serial numbers off fandom characters who want to play, then having to fit them in somewhere. :)
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[User Picture]From: corvid
2006-05-26 09:01 pm (UTC)
My novel stuff was originally a "You know, Secret of Mana's many weapon thing is cool, but the weapons aren't holy enough." And then I kind of spiraled out from there.
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[User Picture]From: white_aster
2006-05-26 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, half of my original stuff ideas come from a neat idea being done BADLY, and me thinking, "If _I_ were writing that...." :)
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