Posted by: kshayes513 | October 22, 2008

In the Beginning…

Anyone who creates a work of fiction in any medium is creating a world. To make that fictional world believable, we have to know it intimately, and fill it with carefully selected details that create the right landscape for our characters. For a writer of realistic fiction, research may simply be a matter of detailed observation of her own daily life. A historical novelist gets heavy reading, museum visits, perhaps even travel to historical sites.

For writers of speculative fiction, world building is both easier and harder than realism. Easier, because we can make our world any way we want, and we don’t have to stick to generally accepted reality. Harder, because the farther a story departs from the familiar world the reader is sitting in, the more carefully the writer has to build the story world, to win the reader’s belief.

In 1992, when J Michael Straczynski started production on his benchmark TV series, Babylon 5, he decided to maintain a regular presence on internet newsgroups, talking about the creation and production of the show. He wanted to educate his audience about how a TV show is made: not only the flesh and bone of production, but the financing, studio relationships, ratings, and all the other complexities behind the screen.

With this blog, I want to do the same for building an imaginary world, the most distinct aspect of speculative fiction. I’m building a sub-created world from the raw ingredients of literature, history and my life. Maybe other writers will find it helpful to their own worldbuilding to join me on the journey. Together, we might find out: How is worldbuilding done? What questions do we have to ask, what answers do we have to find, to create a believable reality? How do we play god and bring this world to life?

The FAQ

Who am I?
I’m a professional writer, working mainly in film and TV tie-ins and related non-fiction. I might write a more detailed bio later on, but for now, if you do a web search for my full byline, K. Stoddard Hayes, you’ll find links to some of my work in books and magazines.

What kind of world am I building?
Khasran is an epic fantasy world, named after the capital city of this world’s main culture. What started many years ago as a concept for a simple children’s fantasy, has grown to a world with many cultures, a long history of conflict over water, and a stone-tossing game that can change reality.
For a glimpse of it, go to OnThePremises.com, Issue 2 and read my story, “The Master Patterns.” It’s the first Khasran story ever published, but not the last.

I chose Khasran for this blog because:
It’s the most complex and richly developed of my creations, so there will be plenty to blog about;
Stories about Khasran seem to interest my readers much more than other stories I’ve written;
And mostly because I love it the most. Its my Middle Earth, my Dark Tower, the main creative work of much of my life.

Rules of the Road:

I will be blogging about the worldbuilding aspects of whatever stories are current, so you can see what questions and explorations come up. Mostly that means stories already published, so I have to get going and publish more! Another incentive to write! I might also blog about worldbuilding in a story I’m still writing, if I can do it without spoiling the story.

And because a lot of worldbuilding has already been done here, I will also share the story of this world’s gestation and growth in small pieces as we go along.

Comments and especially questions are welcome. This blog is for anyone who enjoys world building, whether for a novel, a script, an RPG, or some medium I haven’t thought of; and it’s especially for those attempting major world building for the first time. Because I’m working mainly in novels and short stories just now, some of my posts may not apply to other media, but I expect most of it will work anywhere.

Please keep your comments and questions focused on world-building. If you have questions about other aspects of writing and publishing speculative fiction, you can find those answers in libraries, book stores, writing courses, and a gazillion excellent web sites.

And, naturally, no abuse, profanity, flaming, or suggesting story ideas for Khasran. Comments containing any of the previous will be sucked up in a tornado and smashed to cyberdust.

Thanks for joining me on the quest. World-building rules!

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