This post is an expansion on the world building aspect of my essential parts of prewriting theory. This theory also includes character development and literary conflict.
I’ve written about world building a lot here on The Writersaurus. Here’s some links to those posts for your perusal:
For this post’s purposes, I encourage you to spend as little time world building as possible, and only focus on those parts of your world that directly affect your story. Resist the urge to write vast lineages and histories. For most writers, doing so is a way to put off writing the actual story. You can read more about this in my post on world builder’s disease.
If you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo, you’re lucky. You have a start time. If you’re preparing to write a novel outside of NaNoWriMo, tread with caution. The following section is for you.
How do I know when I’ve done enough world building?
I’d say to look at what you’re world building now. Does it have a direct, tangible effect on your story? If the answer is no, then it’s time to start writing. Starting to write isn’t an end to world building; it simply starts to happen organically in ways you can’t predict.
Still worried you might get stuck because you didn’t world build enough? Here’s a little trick: type “TK” at the points in your manuscript you want to come back to. “TK” is a letter combination that doesn’t appear in English. Search for it using your word processor’s search/find feature, and you’ll be able to find them again easily.
One bit of world building you may not have thought of …
If you’re like me, you probably think of your novel in terms of tense conversations, close calls, and surprising turning points.
But do you know where these things are going to happen? Like, specifically? What’s the layout of the places where your characters will spend the most time?
Even in my most well-planned scenes, I waste time while writing trying to picture where they’re taking place. I’m interested in knowing if this happens to everyone, or if it’s just me. Let me know in the comments. In my next project, I hope to save time by knowing the answers to the above questions.
What world building techniques do you use? How do you keep yourself from getting world builder’s disease? Let me know in the comments!