Yes I’ve got my first Way With Worlds Minibook out! This one is on sex and worldbuilding, where we explore the biology and sociology vital to a believable setting – and so often forgotten!
I’m going to be doing a series of these, each 99 cents, over the next few months. The idea is to do something parallel to my larger books, and focus on intense coaching on specific subjects – but without giving you something overwhelming. Each book can be read in a few hours and you can get back to writing!
To celebrate, here’s what I’m doing this weekend!
So now you’ve got two books on worldbuilding to help you out. Spread the word!
But there’s more coming! I’m working on a series of smaller, more focused, more personal worldbuilding books – small, 99-cent ebooks to help you focus on specific subjects in more of a coaching manner. Those will start coming out this summer, so stay tuned!
Meanwhile, keep writing, keep gaming, and keep creating new worlds!
This one is a shift from the first book. The first book focused on a roughly linear set of advice on worldbuilding across various subjects. THis one is a series of collected deep dives on various issues, arranged a bit more freeform from the specific to the general. It covers conflicts, viewpoints, worldbuilding tools, and team effort – among other diverse subjects. It’s definitely a companion book to #1.
So give me a write, let me know if you want a PDF copy and let’s see what you think!
I’m actually getting back to these! Awesome!
Work should be a bit calmer now. We had some changes in organization and process that look to be more efficient and effective, and it’s already paying dividends in just a week. So let’s hope you see more writing out of me (though my goal is to be writing anyway).
So from here . . .
Way With Worlds Book 2 is still being edited, and I sink my teeth into it next month. It’s definitely not going to be out until February, but I can’t see it being any later than March.
The “followup” works on Way With Worlds are underway. As usually, not spilling much here (but you can find out a bit more in my newsletter if you’re really curious). More and more I’m thinking it may be worth releasing early, but I don’t want to stress myself. At this rate, I’d like to actually get people’s opinions – release it early or after Book 2?
I will say after all this I may take a break from writing on Worldbuilding. Think I’ll have said my peace for awhile.
So now that I’m pretty sure I’ll be writing on randomization and creativity, I’ve got to figure out just how to do it. I probably won’t start brainstorming it for at least another month, to be honest. What I want to do is distill all my wisdom from Seventh Sanctum into book form (hopefully, one book). The hardest part is figuring out where to start and then how to put it in some organized form.
The second part? A title.
Trying to find time to bang out the Pizza Generator as the data is all ready, so I can do something else. I think having it hanging over my head kind of killed the fun and I need to move to another generator. That happens. Maybe I’ll revisit it another time.
But we must have random pizza, because who doesn’t want kimchi and bacon pizza with havarti? Wait, that sounds good . . .
I’ve got a full slate coming up – be sure to check my speaking page!
Con-Volution is my next convention, and I’ll be speaking on worldbuilding and monsters on Friday! Go, attend!
That’s it for me – what about you?
If you’re new to the book, it’s a giant guide to worldbuilding, from philosophy of setting creation, to sex, to ecology, and more. There’s advice, exercises, several lame jokes, and some insights that should give you a different view on creating your settings. It’s designed to be a manual for the important points of making a setting.
After some sixteen years, this is the next stage in my efforts to bring this old work to life! First rewrites, now books. It’s fantastic to see this journey turn into something physical people can hold in their hands!
Certainly it’s not done yet – there’s one more book to drop in November/December (probably December). There’s some smaller followup work. But this marks that transition to the new formats.
My mind still goes back to, when in the midst of the rewrites, someone told me how they’d printed my old columns out when they were younger. It had mattered to them that much, and they remembered it that well. That turned my efforts into more of a mission.
Mission isn’t over yet. Book two drops in November/December (probably December honestly). There’s some followup works I want to do.
But today I can note the next stage of Way With Worlds has started, and it has printed pages and the smell of paper, highlighted with fond memories.
So go on, take a look. There’s thoughts on sex and religion, characters and ecology, and of course plenty of philosophy. In this age, where anyone can put out book or a comic, good worldbuilding is needed more than ever – and is where you can stand out.
Whew! Guess who’s got a book about Worldbuilding, formatted for Print and Kindle? This guy.
Of course that doesn’t mean the book is ready, it’s ready-ish. I’d reached the point where I’d edited the hell out of the book and decided it was time to format it – formatting is a great way to find all your editing mistakes as you go through the book. Now I’ve got a Kindle version that looks good and a print version on the way so I can check it out.
Which of course means I’ll probably find plenty of mistakes – print copies are great for that. But at least now any changes will be made to the configured, checked, edited, and most importantly ready-to-go final copies.
(which I realize doesn’t make them exactly final, but you get he idea)
So what this means is that Way With Worlds Book 1 is in its final rounds. Barring any major accidents, it’ll definitely be out late July.
Of course the reason I’m not pushing it faster is:
Still, it’s closer all the time. I think you’ll find it’s worth the wait . . .
The update on my first book on Worldbuilding is . . . further along than expected.
After the long editing process, the formatting for print went well (probably as I had done a lot of the basics before sending it to the editor). I’m going to format the Kindle version next – not just to get it out of the way, but because doing so also acts as yet another read-through. I actually will do that this weekend.
Once that’s done, I’ll set up the cover and a sample doc and start running print copies. I still plan to release in July even if this goes well, just because I have so much else on my plate.
Besides, Book 2 comes back from the editor end of May or so . . . and I still have the Sailor Moon book.
Though the big worry there is, as noted elsewhere, the cover. Fan To Pro‘s cover was a total pain.
I’m pretty pleased with the book, but admit there’s times it comes off a bit artsy. I think that’s the intention, but it contrasts with my usual instructional style. It’s nice to see different voices in my writing – and I am hoping to broaden out even further. I think I need to develop more “voices.”
The content is definitely solid. There’s parts I’m seriously proud of, such as my exploration of worldbuidling sex, meditations on power, and my work on magic and technology. I think people can learn a lot from this – even if they disagree with me (and there are places I see folks will differ).
And book two, well, that’s when I dive into some serious details . . .
Been awhile since a Way With Worlds Update! So let’s find out where we are on my essays-rewritten-and-now-a-book on worldbuilding.
First, there’s a web page for the first book that gives you some idea of what I’m up to. You can also see the sample cover art – and you’re going to love the final cover!
I also got the book back from my editor. My editor is a “word of God type editor” – when it’s edited it’s done. So I spent an entire day going through her edits for the first book. After about ten hours of work, I have a book that is mostly ready for publication. One more read through and it’s ready for publishing (which itself is going to take a few months).
This brings up a really good lessons – there are several kinds of editors and you have to know how to work with them. Some are like a friendly guide with advice. Others are the Word Of God. Yet others are instructional. Each is different and you have to figure which works for you, your works, and your goals.
For instance, these books, though being creative and chatty are instructional. I needed a Word Of God editor on them.
On the other hand, some of my more intimate career books need a lighter touch as an editor. They’re chatty and friendly.
My upcoming Sailor Moon book has yet a different editor, a fansourced editor with an academic background and a fandom background, which seems perfect.
Now there’s also been a few schedule changes, so let’s recap!
I think you folks are going to love the books. It’s really my near-final word on Worldbuilding, and there’s a wealth of worldbuilding advice.
Because of this, Realism is both something to seek in our work. It’s also a sign of successfully making a good world and thus a good tale from it – because people live what we create. However when we ask what realism is in an attempt to achieve it, it becomes much more difficult.
It’s difficult because realism is a trickster.
When you step back from a fiction that seems “realistic,” it may suddenly seem rather unrealistic. Yes, you related to that hero fighting a dragon, felt the fire on your face and smelled the blood – but she was fighting a dragon which isn’t exactly a realistic beast. Yet there, in the experience of a good fantasy novel, it seemed real.
At the same time, just having “realistic” elements in a tale or a game doesn’t mean it seems real. A world of cars and computers and gritty real-life experiences can seem detached, empty. The elements are real but it doesn’t “feel” real.
Sometimes dragons are more believable than accountants. Realism is a trickster.
This is because, like any good trickster, realism has more than one face – two, as far as i’m concerned. Your world and the tales and games within it need to show both faces to be truly “real.”
We can read the most outlandish science fiction or magic-drenched fantasy and be lost within it. We can follow things with little connection to our reality and live them. The unreal, the fantastic, the not-yet true can be very real in a good world and a good tale.
This is because a setting is believable if it has consistent rules and principles that are followed. It may be a realm of clockwork stars and sorcerous cats, but if people can recognize why and how, cause and effect they buy into it. We humans like rules, and when we can divine them in a work, then we can believe it.
Internal realism is this kind of realism -the realism of a setting that is consistent, if outlandish. It can be understood and comprehended and analyzed. Because there is “something” there, it can be believed. Because it can be believed, it seems real to people.
But Internal Realism has an equal partner.
When wizard cats battle among clockwork stars, we may find ourselves cheering the heroine because we understand her motivations. When superheroes thunderously battle across dimensions, the blow-by-rib-cracking blow stories make us feel each unrealistic punch. When people who never existed come from cities we’ve heard of, we “get” them. When we read of the glint of sunlight on a sea that never was, we “see” it.
No matter how untrue or fantastical or made-up, a good world with good characters, a good tale, gives us ways to connect to the characters and setting. We can relate to characters, feel their pain, gasp in wonder at a description, or nod at a man who never was describing a good Philly cheesesteak.
This is the realism that we connect to – pain and emotion, location and cuisine, a visual description that is evocative. It is the realism that connects us to the fictional through experiences we can understand. Everything else may be unrealistic, but there are elements of “real” we connect to.
These places of connection could be real historical events, believable technology, relatable characters, and visceral experiences. They can be many things, but all good External Realisms bridge the gap between us and the fictional.
Someone may fight dragons, but we relate to his need to keep an armor budget.
Both realisms are your goal as a worldbuilder and creator because they work together. Internal realism means your world is understandable and External Realism makes your world relatable. Both mean your audience connects to a setting and its characters – even if that setting is strange and alien.
If you lack Internal Realism, your world is ruleless, hard to relate to, the realistic parts floating in a sea of incomprehensibility.
If you lack External Realism, your world is one people can’t connect to. The characters aren’t relatable, the experiences lack visceral elements, the setting seems lifeless.
Together? Together you can have the most fantastical world that people can connect to. They might not consciously realize just how deep they are in a setting that is totally “unreal” because it’s so real.
Again, realism is a trickster.
How does one develop both kinds of realism? I’ve found these things help:
Developing both sides of Realism is a worthy quest indeed. It means you’ll create worlds people truly connect with -and works people truly connect with. These are powerful, affecting, and memorable.
In other words, very real.
Pretend for a moment that you’re a dragon. You have a hoard. You want to keep it protected, but you would like to grow it too and you can’t be over there, getting loot, if you’re over here, protecting the loot that you’ve got.
Lucky for you, there’s no need to choose. Those half-hairless bipeds you’ve noshed on now and again might try to sneak into your hoard every now and then, but maybe they could be trained.
Dragons have their own civilization (of a sort; we wouldn’t easily recognize it as such) but they didn’t intentionally replicate that in humans in the organization of their “hoard-keeps.” It simply grew around them. Writing and mathematics developed in order to keep better records of a hoard’s contents. A technological arms race was the product of struggles between tribes and clans, all trying to protect their patron’s hoard and seize the hoards of others.
The system became so successful that small bureaucracies began to emerge in order to manage all of the various tasks required by the hoard-keep. Having a dragon around is a good deterrent against raiders, too, so there’s another incentive to align yourself with a dragon.
Even today, dragon-run empires are effectively vast hoard-keeps. The national treasury and the dragon’s hoard are one and the same, and when the empire extends its holdings and establishes colonies it does so in order to add greater glory to the name of its dragon.
There are a few ways that this can go, none of them contradictory with any others:
We can run with this idea even if we assume that civilization arose more or less normally. Let’s push the date of the Bright Idea further into the future.
Imagine a story, told over generations, that starts with a few people that have been approached to protect a dragon’s hoard. Perhaps the dragon has made a cost/benefit analysis and decided that what it pays them will be a smaller loss than if there were no one to protect the hoard. Or maybe there’s something that people really like and dragons care little or nothing for. If dragons have valuable bodily substances (we’ll get to that next week) then maybe it bleeds itself or milks its venom on a regular basis for them.
Regardless of how it gets started, it goes on. The years pass and a secret society forms around the hoard. You don’t want to make this a matter of public knowledge if you can avoid it, after all. You want to help your fellow hoard-keepers in day-to-day life while you’re at it, too. And having a series of initiation levels will help you sift wheat from chaff and discover who can be trusted.
Imagine that the treasure of the Freemasons and the Knights Templar was a dragon’s hoard (and also not fake) and you might have the general idea.
Eventually, in process of time, the secret society transforms further. Perhaps it insinuates itself into society so thoroughly that it effectively takes control. Perhaps it becomes a religion, secret or otherwise.
Alternately, why don’t we forgo the humans entirely? We’ll get rid of the whole process of characters dying and being replaced by others, too. Instead, our story, still being told over a period of centuries, has a single protagonist: the dragon itself.
Start with the durg is born, or hatched, or whatever you want to call it. From youth to extreme old age we follow the dragon. History moves, the times change, and the world becomes ever more different. Once no bigger than a thumb or a hand, the story goes on until our dragon is as big as a mountain and has to retreat into the bones of the world or the depths of the sea.
And what would that be like, if the story continued for a little bit more? I want to know what civilizations exist beneath the waves. At the very least there must be dragons, great big ones that hibernate for years and have lived for millennia, and the kind of society that would develop under those circumstances.
By the way, does that proposed life cycle make dragons out to be like great big fire-breathing sea turtles?
R. Donald James Gauvreau works an assortment of odd jobs, most involving batteries. He has recently finished a guide to comparative mythology for worldbuilders, available herefor free. He also maintains a blog at White Marble Block, where he regularly posts story ideas and free fiction, and writes The Culture Column, an RPG.net column with cultures ready for you to drop into your setting.