Monday, November 5, 2012

James River Writers Conference Part 3

Okay, so I could be all coy and all and say I was teasing you along with this stretched out posting of notes from the James River Writers Conference.
But it really isn’t that.  It’s just … ‘life’ …and all that entails, from bad storms called Sandy, which Thankfully we did okay with, to everyday things of shopping, cooking, cleaning up, and all the laundry wearing and cleaning…. And yes, it is too cold to go …  well, never mind.

The James River Writers Conference had great information.  There was a great session on World Building.
Yes, I know there was, I had the honor of moderating it.  And there was Really Terrific information given out.   And generously allowed to be put on the James River Writers site, which hopefully will be there soon, but I’ve copied it below as well.   Here, I’ve added some of my notes.

One of things I realized as I was reading all the books and writings of the writers on the panel, which were non-fiction and fantasy writers, was that I hang around with a lot of fantasy writers.

Since I thought of World Building as a fantasy genre element.  In the research I did for the panel, I realized that Every story has world building elements.   As writers, we must bring a reader into whatever world we are writing about, fiction, no matter what genre, and non-fiction, no matter what kind.

I came across one blog where the writer posited that historical writers were some of the greatest world builders around.   
Having met Lucia Robson last year when she was at the James River Writers Conference, and read her historical fiction books, based on real people, I can understand that thought.
For my notes on my session last year with Lucia and other writers, see my blog post here
And here.
Check out Lucia’s site, Books, and Audio and Video clips here.

In studying and researching World Building I saw the long list of questions from Patricia C. Wrede mentioned many, many times.   Including, by both Lana and Malinda.  [See their sites / blogs.]            
It does have some great questions to think about.  
A Lot of great questions to ask yourself.  
  A Long list.   
        Good but long.     
             Read these instead.   It’s easier.    Then you can get back to your NaNoWriMo.   

Saturday - Oct. 20, 2012

Concurrent Sessions — 3:45 to 4:45 PM
World Building Idea Lab
Christina Lewis Halpern
Lana Krumwiede
Malinda Lo
Shawna Christos, moderator
This discussion of big-picture world building includes prompts to spark a story or enrich the world you’re writing. Great for fiction and nonfiction writers alike.

See sites and information below.     How they wrote.     Suggestions of how to World Build.  
Things to think about as you Build your World.
As well as things you might not want to do as you World Build.
From Questions to ask yourself as you begin to World Build.    
          Micro World Building.   Macro World Building.  
                Examples.  Internal World Building.      Applying to All Writers and Writing.

Not as good as being at the Conference Session, but definitely good to help you remember the wonderful speakers and their great information.
But there's a lot of Terrific information on the author's links so dig around and enjoy!

My memoir was certainly a case of internal world building. Here are some prompts for internal and cultural world building:

- Put yourself into the mind of your character. What is she seeing and how does she feel about what she's seeing?
- People like to think of themselves as rational, but really they are motivated by the push and pull of their emotions. Figure out what your character's motivation and then fit that emotion into the world you've created. For instance, if your character is ambitious and status-obsessed can you have them describe and analyze each person they see according to your world's hierarchy?
- Can you allow the world you are creating to unfold naturally via your characters' experiences and point of view?  

While my memoir is based on the real world, I felt that I was describing experiences that might be alien to many of my readers. So I used my emotions to ground people in my reality. I was concerned that people would not buy into my concept, which is that being the daughter of a very successful man is not necessarily easy. So I used my emotions to make my situation relatable. This worked for many people, though not all.

First, think of an imaginary technological development. Don't stop with the first thing that comes to your mind. Think of different areas: medical, communications, transportation, etc. Make a long list before choosing the one that looks interesting.

Answer the following questions about this new technology: 
- For what purpose what the technology invented?
- Who developed it?
- Who opposes it?

Now, look for the conflict the technology will create:
- Think of at least three uses for this technology other than the intended one.
- Think of at least three professions this technology will create or alter.
- Think of at least three ways this technology could be abused.

Now, find a character that has something at stake:
- Create three characters who have a lot to gain from this technology.
- Create three characters who have a lot to lose from this technology.

One of the things I discovered is that there is "macro" world building (politics, economy, culture, traditions of a large society) and there is "micro" world building (traditions, divisions of labor, religious practices, etc, of this particular family)

When I was developing the story idea for Freakling, I kept a notebook with all my research notes about the world I was creating. It has things like maps, floor plans, photos of landscapes and clothing, the rules of psi, a timeline of prior events. I had to keep that all straight, somehow. 

1. Ask yourself these questions about the magic system in your novel, if you're writing a fantasy:

Who has it (the magic)?
What does it do?
How do you make it happen?
How is the user affected?
How is the world affected?
How are magic users grouped and perceived?

2. Do people in your fictional world celebrate birthdays? How would they celebrate a birthday?

3. Ask yourself these questions about the power structure in your world:

Who is powerful in your world?
Who is weak?
Who wants to be powerful?

4. What is your main character's favorite place to be?

5. What kind of food would the people in your world eat on a special occasion?

And be sure to check out Malinda's link above for :

OCT 8, 2012
Five Foundations of World-building

See I told you -  Good Stuff.

And as Always, for more great Conference notes check out Twitter #JRWC12 

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