So, worldbuilding isn’t writing.

These last few weeks, I’ve taken some downtime from writing to recharge my batteries. While I agree that writing often, even daily if possible, is great for that mental muscle, I’m also a firm believer in taking some time to just veg on occasion, a mental vacation. Or at least that’s what I’m calling it.

NanoWriMo is looming ahead on the horizon, and the last few days have seen me considering that beast of a writing marathon. The key, I’ve learned, is not to pants your NanoWriMo – there’s not enough time to be faking it. You need to go in with a plan, execute it quickly, and never look back.

English: Typewriter "Hermes" Deutsch...So how does NanoWriMo relate to worldbuilding, you ask?

The bulk of my fantasy and science fiction writing, one way or the other, falls into one of three universes I’ve created. Not everything, not even some of my recent writing, but more than enough. Because I’ve spent so much time developing in these universes, it’s my natural inclination sometimes to try and write within their confines (for good or ill). This is particularly true when I get the bug to write a GENRE novel. Up till now, I’ve taken my past writing and used it as a framework for further writing. What I’ve ended up with is a really well developed set of universes in which I can tell stories, even when the stories I’ve ended up with have been less than saleable.

Except I’ve never pulled it together into a cohesive whole. With NanoWriMo approaching, I feel the bug to work on a space opera epic. I have a soft spot for progenitor stories, stories where current civilizations are just walking in the footsteps of previous giants. Before I can give any thought to a new story, though, I’d like to pull together all of the tidbits, all of the races, footnotes, and research that I’ve done for the past ten years and iron it out into a cohesive unit. I think I will take the WorldBuilder’s Leviathan template  and see just how much of it I can fill in with the stories and novels I’ve already written. In part because although I have it all in my head, I’ve never made a comprehensive effort to actually make it all consistent. Truth be told, though, the bigger impetus is the realization that so far, all of this has been worldbuilding, not storytelling. When you think back to the stories that stick, the ones that really work, it’s rarely about the major events in the world. Of course there are exceptions, that’s what exceptions exist for, and no story happens in a vacuum. Well, almost no story. But the major events are the framework, the backdrop to the story. Not every story can be about Great Hero doing Great Things. Sometimes they’re about what happens while Great Hero is off doing Great Things.

This seems to fly in the face of Space Opera, which is about Great Things on a Great Scale. I know. I didn’t say this was going to be easy. I haven’t even made my mind on whether I’ll be participating in NanoWriMo this year. Regardless, I think this is a good exercise and will prove helpful in the future. It might even help me fix some of these broken stories.


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