When Best to World-Build

In my last few posts, I’ve written about my next book series and how I’m writing the plots before I start working on individual books. A blog friend, Crispina Kemp, and author of her own five book series Spinner’s Game, posted a comment saying she starts with world-building, then characters and plot, which started a thought process for me . . .

I pulled Orson Scott Card’s book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy from my library shelf. Like Crispina, Orson also starts with world-building.

He likes to doodle maps starting with the outline of the land. He adds rivers, land features, and man-made buildings. He names things and wonders why he used that name and why things are where they are. He wonders who would live there, what problems they might encounter and why. He eventually wonders, “Who is the hero of the story and what is his or her role?” The answers inspires a story.

My plots are character driven, therefore, I start with characters, and develop the story around them.

My series is set in a fantasy world. Fairy folk live in Fairyland and humans live outside Fairyland. The two worlds never mixed until I interfered and created conflict.

While I was going through the though process of how I write compared to those who start with world-building, I considered that maybe I should do more world-building before I continue onto the next three plots, then I realized something very important.

I start with characters, and develop the story around them, at the same time I build the world around them. 

In this case, I set my humans in a part of the world where there wasn’t magic. I slowly introduced magic and fairy folk into their world and explained how they got there.

In the beginning of the series, Fairyland has a protective barrier that keeps humans out of their land. But by the third book, the barrier is down and bandits are raiding fairy folk villages.

What happened to the barrier? Dragons left the land. They were the ones who built the barrier and maintained it, and when they left, it crumbled.

Why can’t magical creatures protect themselves? Because they’ve become depend on dragon magic and let their magic go dormant.

Why did the dragons leave? Because someone is taking their eggs.

Yes, I know why the eggs are missing, but if you want to know, you’ll have to read the series. ;0)

My point is, for every question, I created an answer. I not only developed the story I also build my world.

There is no one-way or correct way to write. We all think differently, therefore, we write differently, which makes for more interesting stories.

Even if you’re not writing fantasy or science fiction, you still need to create a world for your character. Where a person leaves, determines who a character is.

I’m from USA, therefore, I think differently from some one who comes from any other country in the world. Our fictional characters are the same.

Jim Butcher of Dresden Files created a detective from Chicago, Illinois, USA. Harry Dresden thinks like some one from Chicago. But his mother was a fairy from the underground world, beneath Chicago, which greatly alters who Harry Dresden really is.

Jim Butcher built two worlds, the real world Chicago and the magical world underneath, and created a character who lives in both worlds.

How do you start writing? Do you start with character, story, or world-building?