Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thursday May 27, 2004. Yesterday, on a writing forum someone had looked at the task of creating a fictional world and gone "Yargh!!" Wanted advice on not being discouraged by the task of creating an entire world. My answer:

Yes. Create only what you need. And remember that you may not need to formally create anything.

Suppose you were writing a mystery story set in your own neighborhood, and in the present day. Let's say you're in Fredonia, Michigan. You don't have to know all about the town's history, except for a few things that might be relevant TO YOUR STORY. It doesn't matter that the man who made the stained glass windows for a certain church worshipped the Easter Bunny rather than Jesus; especially if none of your characters ever go anywhere near that church. It doesn't matter which bar in Toronto serves the worst hamburgers. It doesn't matter whether the mammoths which used to live in your neighborhood suffered from vitamin deficiencies. It doesn't matter what percentage of Fredonia's young men enlisted in the Union Army, or what dialects of German were spoken among immigrants in 1911.

All you need to know is enough to convince your readers that you know the place and the people. How much that is depends on the writer. Sinclair Lewis is said to have written character bios which included such details as their phone numbers. Near the other end of the spectrum, Ursula Le Guin wrote some very solid-seeming worlds without doing any conscious worldbuilding at all. (And in some of her later work, I think she did put in effort and it was worse than useless.)

In my case: I love working out all kinds of details before writing the story. But it turns out that the details which critiquers see as really solid are the ones I think up on the fly. The ones I've worked really hard on are often the least convincing ones.
Given an address in Paris (or one of several other French cities), you can use one of these websites to get a photo of the building and a local map. The instructions are in French.



From a post in soc.genealogy.jewish by someone looking for a similar URL for New York City.
Writing: Daily exercise -- Done, posted in this journal.

"Well Met, Well Met, My Old True Love" -- Red grass or green for the lawn in the final scene? I made it a checkerboard pattern. And the final scene has been fleshed out.
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?