1. Jay15

    Jay15 New Member

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    World building - how to implement?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Jay15, Sep 18, 2021.

    Hi there,

    I have recently made the decision to write a sci-fi story and started by creating the world first, in which several stories can take place.

    Now I have my protagonists chosen and plot finished to about half. I have not yet started writing anything, as I am just building the outline in my head.

    As I have never attempted to write a novel, or such a long story, I started doing some research and I am not sure how I would implement the world description. It's about a two-class society if humanity evolved a certain way, about 1000 years into the future and there is a twist in the story that's supposed to come more towards the end in which the background information of this society really becomes relevant.

    I have read a lot that the story should be focused on the character and only as much should be told, as is relevant for the story of that character.

    Now I wonder how I would cram the world background information, maybe even history up to that point into the story, in a relevant way, without using exposition, or would it b ok to use exposition for the world?

    What are your thoughts on that?
     
  2. Idiosyncratic

    Idiosyncratic Member

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    While you can use bits and pieces of history and background information in your novel, I would back away from the attitude of 'I want to include all of it.' Worldbuilding exposition is for writers, we want to show off this cool thing we made and worked so hard on. Readers don't care. It's one of those kill your darlings sort of deal, separating things you love from things that actually make the story better. That being said, I wouldn't worry too much on a first draft; use exposition to your heart's content, but be ready and willing to cut a whole lot of it out later on. Particularly for a first novel, you can learn by doing.

    Now, how do you include world-info without exposition? You make the elements you want to include relevant to the right-here-right-now present-day story. There are many ways to do this.

    A common one is to turn the relevant world-info into a mystery. Hype it up, make your characters need and work for that information, hint and build up suspense so that when you finally reach the big reveal, it feels like a satisfying reward to the reader, not just background.

    Another one is to include a point of view character who needs but doesn't have the info you want to share. Then this character can ask questions that feel natural instead of 'as you know -isms'. Just be careful to make sure that these conversations are still interesting and are developing the story or character, not just serving up information, and that the world-building parts of the conversation don't go on for too long, as too much info at once becomes dry.

    A third, one that you can do all the time, is simply having the characters interact directly with the world or history elements you want to include. Let them walk through the slums and see a woman begging for water on your desert planet, while your character thinks about how their own water allowance is too small to share, instead of giving a paragraph of exposition on how water is used as a currency and is parceled out in allotments based on social caste.

    Finally, many sci-fi fantasy writers do 'cheat' and use exposition...but they do it in small quantities, where relevant, so readers let it slide. This is typically done in cases where the reader needs just a little more information to understand what's going on. The world information is serving to give more impact to the scene by giving context to it, which can be useful if you have a pov character who is already very knowledgeable and doesn't need to ask questions. Treat this option as more of a last resort though.
     
    QueenOfPlants and montecarlo like this.
  3. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    You don't. World building is for you. It isn't for your readers. They need to know only so much as they need to know to understand your world. You don't just cram all of the stuff that you came up with into the story unless it is specifically called for.
     
  4. Jay15

    Jay15 New Member

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    @diosyncratic, you have given me some very good ideas on how to implement bits an peaces, through maybe a different character, I didn't think about that.

    The thing is, a have been reading a sci-fi novel which I put down in the middle, because nothing of the world was actually explained and described sufficiently. Scenes kept changing, and I didn't know, why are the characters there, what are they doing, why is this relevant. This kept repeating. At about page 90 (of around 350) was the first time I had any idea of what was going on.

    I extremely disliked that there was no world-description at all, and that's actually what made me think about my own story.

    Like in my story the information is relevant, but until the protagonist learns a fact, that was before unknown (ur uncovers a lie). By that point, the reader should know enough background about this caste.
     
  5. montecarlo

    montecarlo Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think for a first draft it’s fine to have some exposition of the world, and get super deep into it. You can always decide it doesn’t fit later. I agree with other posters. I certainly don’t want to read a long exposition about the world building, I want to see and experience it through the eyes and ears and nose and mouth and hands of a character fighting through tribulations.

    that being said… we are talking about first draft. Write it how you want it, how it feels natural, how it engages your interest. You can always get feedback and edit later.
     
  6. Jay15

    Jay15 New Member

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    Yea, you are absolutely right, I keep catching myself overthinking everything. I should just get the story down and then do the detail work.

    But am I alone in the fact that I want to know about the world something is happening in, so I get a clearer picture of why anything is happening at all?
     
  7. montecarlo

    montecarlo Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think one of Asimov’s Foundation books did that, but it’s been so long I don’t remember.
     
  8. Idiosyncratic

    Idiosyncratic Member

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    Adding in enough information about the world to understand why things are happening, and why they're important, is key, but many readers don't want to have to pause the story to learn what they need. Really good worldbuilding gets sneaked in like a mother adding cauliflower in the mashed potatoes. It's hidden in plain sight, never slowing down the story or taking away from the immersion in the here and now.
     
  9. Jay15

    Jay15 New Member

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    Yea, thank you. I will think of ways I will accomplish that in a relevant manner. I have been thinking about it already. I guess I also have to filter out the really relevant parts, not everything might be relevant for the reader even if I myself think it's a great backstory.
     
  10. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Definitely a hominid

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    It is helpful to create a "World Bible", in which you can write all your ideas, all the background information and even entire paragraphs of exposition. It will serve as an encyclopedia for yourself while you're writing your story, but the stuff in there will not necessarily have to appear in your story.

    If you have such a "World Bible", you can make sure that your worldbuilding is consistent.

    There are already resources for this endeavour on the internet. There is, for example, a Scrivener template, but you can probably find other guides too, that give you prompts what aspects of your worldbuilding you have to think about.
     

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