1. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    World Building Advice?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by dizzyspell, Jul 10, 2011.

    I've written a crime novel set in the afterlife (as though it's evolved in the same way that life has). My plot can't exist until I've built this world because the crime (and solving of it) have no meaning until I set things up. But I don't know how to do this.

    My MC is used to being in this world. He's been dead nine years.

    I do have a character who is "new" to it. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't call for him until about 10k into the story. By then I feel like his world building capabilities are practically gone.

    I feel like most contemporary fantasy stories have someone from a world similar to our own who is drawn into a strange and wonderful land. Are there any that don't? Please direct me their way!

    Anyway, my MCs are already well-versed with the rules of their world. Until the crime is committed, anyway, because it changes things. This crime has no meaning to the reader unless I have established the world that it happens in. Then the characters discover a new things through the course of the plot, and I feel like I'm piling too much into the story.

    Ugh. Does this even make sense? I'm babbling. Please ask me if you don't understand what I'm saying :)

    Any advice would be most appreciated. I think I just need a flash of inspiration to dig myself out of here, but I can't come up with it on my own.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Is the afterlife the final plane of existence? Can people "die" there? Do they have possessions, anything that can be taken away from them? You need to answer questions like this to even define what constitutes crime in that plane.
     
  3. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    It is meant to be very similar to our own world except that people can't die or feel pain. Everything is infinite. I'm struggling with aptly describing the concept of infinity. Infinite space, infinite life, infinite resources. Trying to explain that inna relatable way is kind of tough.

    So yes, they all have posessions. It's almost exactly like our own world. Except posessions don't matter in an infinite world.

    My characters do have emotions, however. Above and beyond being dead, they are human.

    So the danger and crime aspect of my plot comes in the form of ghosts. I have described ghosting as an addiction. When you start, it strips you away from the inside out. Slowly. Bit by bit. Until you're not whole anywhere, anymore. And eventually, once you've ghosted enough, you don't even exist in the afterlife at all, and you barely exist in life.

    Keeping this all very literal, one has to take a specific drug in order to make themselves vulnerable to ghosting. Obviously it's highly regulated and whatnot. This is how the crime side of things comes into my plot.

    I have written life and afterlife as being very similar. So I want to establish that, much like in "real life", the world around them can evolve and change through new discoveries. And these discoveries impact everyones' lives.

    Anyway, the bare bones of the story is that my characters are trying to outwit a radical group who are distributing a new type of ghost drug to vulnerable newcomers.

    Hmmm. Maybe I could bring that forward. We only learn that they're distributing near the middle. If I shove that closer to the beginning (let the characters know they're doing it, don't let them know why or even how), I could maybe get it working. It would mean I would have to cut in half a lot of my investigation, but I could probably work around that.

    Another option is to make my MC a little cockier. Get him thinking and acting along the lines of: "What's the worst that can happen? I'm already dead." Because, like a good little MC's life should, his turns to sh*t throughout the course of the book.

    Another problem of mine (related to this) is that I don't know what to spell out for the reader and what they'll be able to pick up on their own. I don't want to beat my reader over the head with what's going on, but I've been criticised in the past for not explaining enough.

    Tell me, should I always presume the reader is stupid, or smart?

    :)
     
  4. Jonathan22
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    Jonathan22 Contributing Member

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    Just sit down, and think about it. Think of place names, the main places you want to have the characters base themselves in and around.

    Think of a simple order of society already used on our world before (eg Feudal, or one that mirrors where you live), and try and fill in some names for each class in case the need to use them pops up.

    Assume the reader is smart of course, but setting up a society/world the way you want it to be like is completely acceptable too!
     
  5. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    That's all good advice, but the problem is that I've done that. I know the world as much as anyone ever could.

    The problem is setting it up in the story. Ways of letting the reader know what I know. I think I'm good with character and good with plot, but I already know this world.

    The story makes sense to me, but (as with most crime novels) there are a lot of twists and turns. I already know this world, but the reader doesn't. If I don't set it up effectively, the story falls flat on its face. -_-

    It's the writing of it that I guess is my biggest problem.
     
  6. Jonathan22
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    Jonathan22 Contributing Member

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    Okay, well it should be easy if you have such a good idea. Don't spell out the world in your story then, simply add little snippets of it in naturally, as if the character isn't giving it much thought.

    For instance, 'Dizzyspell approached me, her servants hot on her heels', lets the reader know a lot about the social structure of a world right away, being that there is class divides present!
     
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  7. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Hmm... Thanks. I think I've done that, actually. Maybe I'm psyching myself out. Wouldn't be the first time :)

    What about bringing in the plot? The plot happens because the normal rules of this world are changed. Uh oh.

    I was thinking of bringing forward one of my subplots a little earlier, and building up on that before introducing the real main plot (the subplot is related, don't worry--all my plots hang off each other). Hmmm. Well, I have some ideas now at least, so thanks! :)
     
  8. Jonathan22
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    Jonathan22 Contributing Member

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    Aha, it might be your just paranoid that other's won't 'get it' like you want them to, but they probably will. Most readers are intelligent and pick up on the little descriptions!

    Good luck, perhaps post a snippet in the Novels section for a little look some time and lemme know ;)
     
  9. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    You don't build a world. You take a seed and water it and take care of that seed, and maybe it'll grow into the world you wanted. If so, good. If not, try again with another seed.

    What I'm trying to say here is that you start with that afterlife concept of infinity and ghosting and all that, and you write unrelated subplots about them, and they WILL thrive and develop right under your nose.

    When you finally realize,"Hey, when did that half-baked concept become a beautiful world?" it's time to link all the grown-up concepts. If you did it right, you should have a world made of several mini-worlds, combining the best of all of them, and discarding the worst.(this does not mean it is paradise. "The best" refers to the best concepts in that world, the best features, even if it relates to killing people or other gory stuff)
     

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