1. Lanterwick

    Lanterwick New Member

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    World Creation Backstory?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lanterwick, Jan 17, 2022.

    So I am a little stuck and I have been wondering if a backstory showing elaborate lore and world building being intertwined into a creation story of the world (our own) would be a good idea and not turn off so many readers. Note: the story is very much in depth with gods and godly entities with technology and magic. Also, note: There will be very important characters (key roles, villains and so on) in the mix of this so this backstory will also be their character backstory as well.
    Would it be too uncanny to involve a detailed backstory of how the world came to be in the middle of the story?
     
  2. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I mean, is the creation myth important to the culture of your story. Or are you saying that your world actually was created by gods? In which case, I’d still question whether or not that’s important to the actual story.

    I enjoy long world building stories, but they aren’t for everyone. I loved Alaska by Michner, but lots of people didn’t.
     
  3. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall I drink Scotch and I write things

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    So it is not at all unusual to create backstories for your world. In fact, I am at fault for having so much fun world-building that sometimes it takes me a bit to get around to the writing, just because I am having so much fun with world design.

    What I will caution you against is a sudden chapter of history and lore given info-dump style or "maid and butler" dialogs. In my opinion, it is much better to either prologue your story with relevant background information so readers can go back and reference it if they get lost in your world-building. Even better, introduce your world in teaspoon-sized bites throughout the story so when your readers come up against a gallon-sized pail of lore in the climax of your work, they can just swallow it whole because whatever happened makes sense with the background you have provided.

    Some years ago, the prologue was more popular but these days fewer and fewer books have them and I think most modern readers prefer to jump straight into the pool without swimming lessons and water wings. This is why when I explain my fantasy I go for the teaspoon approach. As for having an info dump suddenly in the middle of the story to explain my world...I would feel, as an author, that I have done an inadequate job explaining things to require one.

    As I said previously, I am a massive world-building fan...my worlds, magic systems, pantheons, past natural disasters, past wars, etc, are all in place before I create my characters to live in it. I could seriously write a book alone on my lore, but I don't. For me, it is reference material and I store it wiki-style so I can reference it at my leisure and keep my own story straight. I think for people like us who go to all the work of world-building, we get super excited to share it all. Our downfall is however, we fail to comprehend that while we might be way into it, someone reading our story is going to be into the story for the story's sake and no one wants to sit through "My Fantasy World 101" to be able to enjoy it.
     
  4. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    Some creation stories belong at the start, others are great in the middle, and some shouldn't be written at all. This will depend on how it's written - so might be something to get views on via the workshop.

    2 of my 3 WIPs have a creation story near the middle - but they're short, and parodic and my storyworlds don't have much lore
     
  5. Lanterwick

    Lanterwick New Member

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    Ah, Very informative. And yes, I am indeed making the world in my story created by godly forces.
     
  6. Lanterwick

    Lanterwick New Member

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    Yes, of course. I do agree with what you said about info-dumping there. I would like to avoid that too, as a reader and an author. And yes, I can relate with getting caught up in so much world building. I will however mention that I am going to let the world building run smoothly from start to finish with my story. The problem I have is if my creation backstory (showing villain motives) would be a good idea in a twist format. I would like to show the relationship between two forces that go far back since they are both immortal and it would also show how certain things came to be like thread being weaved. It is plot oriented and character oriented.
     
  7. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall I drink Scotch and I write things

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    If you are going for a plot twist that is entirely different than just having a mid-story explanation of lore...yes, for a twist it would force you to explain (or in this case a re-explain) the lore. For example, a god whom an MC has religiously followed and has been portrayed as a benevolent deity but mid-story you find it survives, demands and draws power from the sacrificial burning of infants. That would take some measure of explanation, in my opinion, as to how we got from benevolent loving god to murderous deity demanding infant sacrifice.
     
  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I would consider this more in context of scale. What is the scale of the rest of the plot? Does the entire plot take place within a single lifetime, or is it grander than that? If the plot is small scale, stuff that happened millions of years ago can maybe be mentioned in passing, but don’t drone in with detail. Michner gets away with this because the plot of Alaska covered tens of thousands of year and dozens of characters. The sci-fi series “Foundations” is the same way, where you have grand scale creation by godlike beings but the plot covered a timespan of tens of millions of years and again, loads of different characters. Both stories are very decisive, people either really like those stories and eat up the world building or they really hate them and feel like it’s just dragging on.
     
  9. Alcove Audio

    Alcove Audio Senior Member

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    I have a similar issue.

    The history of my sci-fi WIP is lengthy and complex. A celestial event curtails interstellar travel about 500 years after homo sapiens begin populating the nearby galaxy. The cultures of the hundreds of planets each evolve differently during almost 1,000 years of isolation. During that time a few people develop "powers" - which are merely enhanced human abilities - derived from their culture and the influence of their home world. My story takes place about 500 years after interstellar travel is reestablished, so there is a two-millennium backstory.

    Is the "how and why" my characters developed their abilities germane to the story? Probably not. But the backstory of each character and their home world is fully established in my mind and in copious side notes, so hopefully the hints and references as the story evolves will be enough to establish the concept for the reader. The evolution of one segment of a subjugated planetary population during the 1,000 year "Long Interregnum" is very important to two characters, so that particular "evolution of powers", at least, will get some serious attention.

    One of the many consequences of the Long Interregnum is the evolution of militaristic societies on some planets, who, of course, begin campaigns of conquest. Does this need detailed explanation? Again, probably not.

    I tried a data dump disguised as a business presentation as my prologue, hoping that would make it acceptable as a way to establish the base-line information. The prologue and discussion are here:

    Novel - Outpost 217 | Creative Writing Forums - Writing Help, Writing Workshops, & Writing Community

    Well, nothing really substantive here, more of a note letting you know that you're not alone.

    I'm still a neophyte at this and still have A LOT to learn.

    Good luck!
     

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