Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dramatic Reconception

Last night I was messing around on Twitter, and I drilled down on the hash tag #amwriting, and I noticed that there was a discussion about world building in writing going on at #pvpchat. I participated for a while, and it inspired me to really expand the scope of my world. However, with everything that I wanted to add to the world some of my original concept started to feel either out of place, or just forced.

This concept that I was talking about was some modern urban aspects that I wanted to include. Modern cities, cars, technology, but the more that I thought about it the more difficult it seemed to create an epic fantasy in a modern world. Everything about the modern world is geared towards making things easier so how interesting could a journey to a coastal town be if you can drive there?

I opened a blank Google Docs document, and started hashing things out. Races, Factions, Locations, Villains, and Magic. I am drawing on some classic fantasy races, but maybe giving their origin a unique spin. I am also adding a race that I created. I also want to have multiple villains each with their own agenda, but of course there is a main villain. Obviously everything is not planned out yet, and I still don't know for sure how all of their customs or politics will work, but that's okay because I want the reader to learn about them when the main characters do, and that means I don't have to know about them yet.

I started going in to some light detail about the races and the places, and decided on a similar, yet re-envisioned, opening for my book, and immediately set to outlining it. What I ended up with was probably the largest and most detailed chapter outline I have come up with yet. It speculates that there will be 6 scenes, and I would not be surprised to see the length of this chapter extend to 5,000 words or more.

I am going to start writing on this new beginning later tonight, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.


  1. Hi, Ben. This is Scribe (@Marksmaster from twitter). I'm glad the chat was an inspiration, and could help you nail down some of the problems you were already beginning to identify. It's always inspiring to talk to other writers.

    I think it's awesome that you're doing a lot of planning before hand, but that you recognize you've got to start writing while the idea is fresh--a lot of writers let themselves get bogged down by world-building and research to the point that they never feel ready to start their books.

    As for the outline...if you feel you need a very detailed outline, that's okay, but I tend to find the more detail I put in the outline, the more I feel like I've already written my story. It takes away some of the energy.

    For outlining, I prefer Holly Lisle's note-carding method (which is on the "Resources for Fantasy Writers" post on my blog). It allows me to plan out individual scenes, which I can rearrange, edit, combine, remove, and at to as I write the story.

    The most important thing is to let your outline and world-concept be malleable as you write...but it looks like you're already open to changing your concept when something doesn't work! That's good. :)

    If you liked the discussion last night, you might enjoy our podcast: . Six chicks talking about writing genre fiction. ;)

    Take care, and good luck writing!

  2. Hey thanks Scribe. I think in one of my older blog posts I talk about how I use Scrivener to write with. I can keep track of places, characters, anything I want, and I can write the story at the scene level. The scenes are manipulated as note cards on a corkboard if you want.

    I agree about the outlining comment, but I don't think it's as detailed as you are imagining. I list a setting (throne room for example) and then one to three generic things that occur in there.

    For example it might say: Commander Aldon enters bringing word of the attack that is imminent.

    Now I know a general thing I wanted to happen, but this one item is potentially many lines of dialog that I won't know until I start writing.