World Building from the Inside Out

landscape-615429_640One of the people who has read an excerpt from my novel thought that I should spend a little more time world building. He suggested that I read some of the works of LE Modesit for an example of great world building.

I followed his suggestion. Legacies (Corean Chronicles, Book 1)
was a fun read, but I didn’t find much that helped me.

Which left me a little frustrated. I’d read several blog posts on world building and completed their questionnaires. But still something was lacking. And I knew it.

A couple of months ago I stumbled on Janeen Ippolito’s blog post “5 Awkward Questions to ask your Protagonist.” The idea was that by asking these questions, one could delve into the mindset and cultural values of the character.

I tried it (and you can read about it in the five posts I wrote here, here, here, here and here.)

I found the exercise so helpful, I bought Janeen’s book World-Building From the Inside Out, along with the accompanying workbook.

The description on amazon sums the book up far better than I can:

Memorable world-building enhances story, attracts readership, and sells books! Find the core of your science fiction or fantasy people and instill your narrative with universal themes and concepts derived from real-world cultures.

-Explore different religions and governments with concise entries that include ideas for plot and character development
-Develop key aspects of your society without getting caught up in unnecessary details
-Learn how the deeper effects of appearance and location can enhance your narrative

World-Building From the Inside Out challenges you to go deep and build fantastical worlds that truly bring your story to life!

After going through the 5 Questions exercise, I was already a believer. After going through the entire book, I am a fan.

Not only did I think thought aspects of my world in more depth, I uncovered ways to create subplots and conflict. I was able to take my ideas and flesh them out, so that my world will be more consistent, and can show the values of the people who inhabit it in a myriad of ways.

Just thinking about how people are educated (and for how many years) helped me to refine my original thoughts, so that my world feels like an actual world and not some isolated concepts thrown together. In short, I’ve been able to make the different aspects complement each other and relate to each other.

And by thinking about what technology has been developed, the task of figuring out what houses are built of or what people use for cooking was made so much easier. Imaging tools, implements or other objects is a lot easier when I have a framework of technology that will limit what’s available in my world.

My conclusion is that World-Building From the Inside Out is one writing resource that lives up to its marketing description. And it is one resource I’ll be using for every novel I write.

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