1. Asaph Judea Wagner
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    Asaph Judea Wagner Member

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    The Complete Universe

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Asaph Judea Wagner, Feb 2, 2013.

    In my continued journey to create the most complete universe in the world, I formed a checklist of the things I need to look out for. This is very universal, so it supposes to cover anything you can think of. If anything is missing in you opinion, comment it please.

    *. Locations:
    *. Monuments
    *. Important buildings
    *. Neighborhoods
    *. Settlements
    *. Countries
    *. Continents
    *. Worlds
    *. Systems
    *. Clusters/galaxies
    *. Alternate dimensions
    *. Pocket dimensions
    *. Hidden locations
    *. Past or future times
    *. Wild and oceans
    *. Outer space

    Nature (some are per world):
    *. Physical laws
    *. Elements and the periodic table
    *. Sub-atomic particles
    *. Fauna
    *. Flora
    *. Sentient races
    *. Anatomy
    *. Landscapes
    *. Atmosphere and gravity
    *. Cycles (daily, weekly, seasonal, yearly and so forth)
    *. Divinity
    *. Godly personifications

    Culture (some are per culture):
    *. Clothing
    *. Architecture and urban planning
    *. Monuments
    *. Artifacts
    *. Strategies and tactics
    *. Economy
    *. Agriculture
    *. Industry
    *. Trade and services
    *. Ruling system
    *. Judicial system
    *. History
    *. Religion
    *. Language
    *. Art
    *. Sports
    *. Cuisine
    *. Customs
    *. Status quo
    *. Globalization

    Technology (some are per culture):
    *. Medicine
    *. Weaponry
    *. Transportation
    *. Communications
    *. Construction
    *. Computers
    *. Electronics
    *. Chemistry
    *. Engineering
    *. Scientific discoveries and awareness

    Character:
    *. Origin
    *. Psyche evaluation
    *. Powers
    *. Weaknesses
    *. Goals
    *. Hindrances
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What's missing is you actually writing. You have chosen for yourself a fine (and popular) way to procrastinate.

    You don't need all that in advance, and most of it will get no use even later in the novel, or even, gods help us, in a series.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I half agree with Cogito. Whilst I do like your list, you do seem to be putting the actual writing off, although there's nothing wrong with a bit of planning.

    But I do (respectfully) disagree with two of his points. Firstly, I think you do need all that in advance, and at very least it will be of more help to you. Perhaps you are not writing a series, and have no intention to, but the more you know about your world the more realistic and believeable it will become, even if only an eighth of it will actually end up in your novel.

    Also I disagree with his opinion concerning writing a series. If you want to write one, who's stopping you? Maybe you are writing only for yourself and have absolutely no desire to be published, or maybe you want to self-publish, in which case you could write a 100-part series and you could get them all published without anyone rejecting it.

    Anyway, I'm diverting from the point. Writers each have their own opinions and styles on a vast number of things, which is why variety in bookstores is such a common thing. But yes, don't plan too much, unless it works for you (planning is another issue writers disagree on).

    Hope I helped. :)
     
  4. PenTrotter
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    PenTrotter Member

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    I am very fond of this list, and think you have done a great job. But dont get ahead of yourself, you should only force yourself to fill out the things the reader willimmediatley asked once introduced into the story. Unless of coursew, your goal is to literally create a universe. That is my goal, so wouldd I be able to use this checklist for private use (I will of course change a few things)
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    What you've done is made a character sheet for a universe, which I'm not fond of for the same reasons: You're either creating needless work for yourself fabricating something for every one of those entries when you're not even going to use them or you're going to twist and writhe your narrative in such a way that it casually mentions inconsequential details just so that the entry isn't wasted.

    What you're doing is mapping a wiki for a world that doesn't exist yet.

    Are you honestly going to chart every hidden location, monument and important building in every neighbourhood in every settlement in every country on every continent on every planet in every system in every cluster in every galaxy IN THE UNIVERSE? Without even first considering if there needs to be one?

    You are going to waste the rest of your life inventing meaningless details if you try.

    Take a look at the Mass Effect Wiki entries: There are less than a few hundred planets, a tenth of which are explorable and less than a tenth of which are actually inhabited. Most are simply described in scientific terms: Size, gravity, atmospheric composition. A multimillion dollar interactive entertainment company didn't bother to get any more detailed than that because even in a story as expansive as Mass Effect, it's a waste of time. Even the character pages have little in the way of point-by-point description: The vast majority of their pages are taken up by descriptions of how the character behaves, learns and changes over the course of the story.

    No-one is going to read your list. PERIOD. There's nothing fun about reading a laundry list of geographical locations and you're going to find that writing one isn't very entertaining either.

    Now this isn't to say that you shouldn't take the time to invest immersive worlds, but this is DEFINITELY the wrong way to do it. Don't just make up obligatory details, start small and create meaningful artefacts as you progress - you know, like a story.

    The only way I can see this bearing any kind of value at all is if you were actually writing a million vignettes, with one for each entry. Take a look at the SCP Foundation wiki for an example: A catalogue of supernatural phenomena from the curious to the apocalyptic as though they were discovered and contained by a single global government entity. Some of the articles make for very fun reading.

    But if you're planning on writing a story, WRITE THE STORY. No-one ever composed an engaging grand narrative by starting a wiki. It's ALWAYS the other way round.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with tcol4417. Why are you creating a universe? You should be creating a story. Nobody is going to care about your universe at all unless there are interesting characters in it doing interesting things. Create the characters and their stories and the universe will take care of itself.

    Tolkien had stories to tell about characters in Middle-Earth before he created Middle-Earth. Stan Lee and the other creators at Marvel had characters and stories to tell about them before the Marvel universe came to be as we know it now. If you haven't got a story to tell, the universe is a gigantic waste of time and creative energy.

    Write a story. Parents read stories to their kids at bedtime, they don't describe universes. The kids say, "Daddy, tell me a story." They don't say, "Daddy, what is the chemical composition of the Hagurril Mountains on the planet Gefthal Four?"
     
  7. Asaph Judea Wagner
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    Asaph Judea Wagner Member

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    I do have a story and characters I'm proud of. This serves me for 2 reasons: expanding the universe and deepening the immersion. I don't want to spoil, but I'm keeping a deck of aces in one sleeve and a deck of jokers and the other, which is already a hint.

    We are right. This is a kind of a table of contents of an encyclopedia. It is meant to be, and it will not go down to every nook and cranny. It is also meant to be as universal as possible, so a big chunk of ti will not be taken into consideration in the next project. Still I think with every installment, there will be about 200-500 new entries. Each installment suppose to introduce many new things, but still rely on the old.

    The real question is, do you think something is missing?
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Your focus on the story instead of the universe. You're not hearing us. You are wasting your time with too much world-building (or, in your case, complete universe-building). And the rest of us are already bored, because we don't see a story here.

    Write your story. Trust me, if something comes up in the writing that demands you clarify something about the universe, you can deal with it at that point. If you are not writing your story, you really aren't accomplishing anything.

    I've said my piece. I'll shut up now.
     
  9. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I was going to make a facetious list of even more minutely redundant things, but the existing list is so depressingly long I can't muster the willpower to do it.

    Oh, wait.

    - Radioactive isotopes of elements, their half-lives and the biological effect they have on every single species in their respective worlds.
    - Which sub-atomic particles are how big and how much mass they have - don't forget to take into account the effect this will have on gravity, electrical (or protonic) currents, magnetism, EMR, etc.
    - The relationship between the gaseous, liquid, solid and biological spheres: The predatory nature of fauna, the ecological stability given by flora, different habitats (hot, cold, acidic, dynamic, arid, humid, high, low, underwater, high pressure) and how life has destabilised/stabilised ecological/atmospheric/lithospheric norms. Don't forget to include paradigm shifts like tectonic plate movement, ice-ages and alterations of planetary rotation with respect to the star(s)
    - Evolutionary history of all life, including all missing links, extinctions and evolutionary dead ends.
    - Respiratory, cardio, digestive, communicative (verbal, visual, chemical, etc.) systems for all life forms. Smaller life forms have simple metabolisms, larger ones have higher energy requirements but are also more susceptible to system malfunctions. How are these accommodated for biologically?
    - How landscapes were formed and when over what period of time. Erosion (wind/water/glacial), earthquakes, avalanches, rivers, lakes, meteor impacts, volcanoes, tectonic shifts and terraforming are just a few examples.
    - Atmospheric density and composition: Life forms are capable of metabolising and metabolising through the use of different chemicals. Fauna on earth typically burns oxygen to metabolise nutrients, while plans photosynthesise sunlight and carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons, but must still draw heavy elements from the ground.
    - Alternative sources of divinity: Holy, Shadow, Warp, Blood, Conceptual, etc
    - Famous peoples and why: Artists, scientists, engineers, soldiers, prophets, politicians, captains of industry, celebrities, sell-outs, etc.

    This is what you should do if you're trying to write a universe. Why? BECAUSE THESE ARE THE KINDS OF ENTRIES YOU GET IN THE WIKI FOR A UNIVERSE THAT ALREADY EXISTS. OURS.

    There are over FOUR MILLION ARTICLES in English ALONE on wikipedia. Now tell me how many books you've read that take place in our world that require a reading of that site in even a HUNDREDTH of its capacity. Or a TEN THOUSANDTH. If you need to constantly refer back to an encyclopedia to understand what's happening in a narrative, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. The whole point of a well made story is that all significantly esoteric, relevant knowledge is self-contained and self explained in an efficient, effective method.

    None of the things I see on your list "deepen immersion", they just add useless fluff. Unless the plot specifically involves the local history, judicial system or agriculture, I DO NOT CARE. DON'T TELL ME. NO. GO AWAY. I don't want to know and you will bore me to TEARS trying to explain.

    No respectable writer does this.
    You don't get a comprehensive exploration of every previous headmaster of Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
    It's never explained where the city of Gondor gets it food or resources, despite being an enormous fortified position surrounded by barren plains.
    Terry Pratchet makes a point of MOCKING PEOPLE WHO TRY.

    If the entry doesn't figure into the story in any significant capacity, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    What i have learned about developing a new world from scratch is that the most fun you can have is by discovering things about it as you write your story. By over-thinking the whole thing the way you do in the end you will be unable to write anything based on that world simply because you will already be bored. It is no fun writing a story about a world you already know everything about to the most mundane detail.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Reminds me of the old joke about a final exam in Cosmology 101:

    1. Define the universe. Give three examples.
     
  12. Jorang
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    Jorang New Member

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    Don't listen to these people. If this is the way you want to create your world, then do so and enjoy. I think you have quite a list there already. Start with a handful of things to describe. When you start writing and cover more and more aspects of your world, it will start to fit together like a puzzle. Good luck! I admire your way of creating a world.
     

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