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.


Kevin J. Anderson on Writing an Epic at Warp Speed over at SF Signal

Part of me, like someone in the comments, wants to quibble over the use of the word “writing” in this context, but you can’t argue with the results in the least. In the end, it is all about storytelling and sharing those stories, not about the mechanism for getting the first draft down.

Back in 2000, when I began to write Hidden Empire, the first volume in the Saga of Seven Suns, I went to hike a nice local trail leading up to the Palmer Lake Reservoirs; on that day and that trail, armed with my microcassette recorder, I wrote the first three chapters.

Hoping to recapture that magic, I did the same this time. With my notes in hand for the first few chapters in The Dark Between the Stars, I hit the Reservoir trail, digital recorder in hand technology upgrade. I was ready to go, with 130 chapters ahead of me.

via [GUEST POST] Kevin J. Anderson on Writing an Epic at Warp Speed – SF Signal.

File this under “another approach to try when writing it down slows down the story telling.” (Maybe that’s too long of a file label?)

A brief check in after 2 week of writing straight

Well, the blog posts may be suffering the wrath of work, but the writing isn’t. Almost. It’s been close a few times, but I’m still managing about 1000 words a day added to the novel. Technically, I’m on track for making my original goal in the next few weeks. I still think the 60k mark is a reasonable goal for the first draft, though I also won’t be surprised if I end up writing more.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - May
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – May (Photo credit: DanCentury)

Despite my hopes, yesterday never panned out for making the deadline for F&SF. No surprise, it was a long shot that I could whip something together that would be worthy of submission in less than a day. Even drawing from my back catalog of first drafts, I didn’t  have anything that I felt was polished enough to send in. Part of that, admittedly, is the acceptance that short stories simply aren’t my forte. I enjoy reading them, but when I try to write them they tend to come out as more like snippets from a longer piece, vignettes of something greater.

OK, well it was a late day for me, and I need to be up early, so there we go. Novel is currently at the 43k mark and moving along swimmingly. I can sense my ability to maintain the 1k days dwindling, so I’m trying to get as many in as I can.

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