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Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:11 pm

I recently have started the first go through of my NaNo novel. (Those who wrote one and are doing this are probably groaning with me Smile) I write paranormal which means backstory and world building. Not as much as fantasy writers, but still, a lot. One of the things I realized I struggled with when I was editing my last book was info dump. I kept wanting to shove the world onto the readers, give them the set of rules, and say "this is how it is, once you have read it you may enter the wonderful world I created". And, as much as I tried to keep that in mind while I wrote this new book, I still struggled with it. So now I'm spending a lot of time editing and realizing that the readers are very smart nice people who will catch on without me shoving huge signs in front of their faces Very Happy. Anyhoo I started thinking of authors who do amazing world building and backstories and immediately thought of Scott Westerfeld with his book "Uglies". I'm still in amazement of how he really dropped readers into the world flawlessly.

So does anyone else struggle with this? Anyone editing NaNo novels (or just any novel)? And if you have any book suggestions with amazing world set ups please name them, I leave on vacation on the 9th and plan to raid the library before I go Very Happy
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Maggie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:46 pm

Well... I can't actually think of a time where I've struggled with this. My worlds are very real to me, so it's easy for me to write as if I'm in them. On the contrary, I have to remember not to under-explain things, since sometimes I might expect the reader to know more than they do. O_o

I don't have any book recommendations, sadly. Maybe just read some of the flawlessly world-built novels over again, like Harry Potter? Laughing Examine how other writers do it, and take notes. It might help??

And no, I'm not editing my NaNo novel yet. I'm giving it a rest and writing something else. Smile

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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:08 pm

Really? That's great! It's not that I have a problem knowing the world fully, it's that in the beginning I try to explain the world too much (and then under explain the important stuff :/) Like, if you think about it, a girl from the future wouldn't stop to explain what a hover board is, she would just get on it and not have a second thought about it. That's my problem, I feel the need to have my characters think about it, and really, if this is their everyday life, they wouldn't. But this is what we have awesome Betas and critiquers for!!!

I think it's definitely time to read Harry Potter again! I understand how they do it (Scott Westerfeld being my favorite example as I said Smile) now I just need to do it myself, I already did better than last time so I'm just cutting those parts out and then hoping the next book after this will have even less!

That sounds great! My plan is to do a huge revision in February so I need to get at least one done now so that making it sit and wait will be useful for me.
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Maggie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:32 am

Yeah. I totally see what you're saying! It might just come with practice. I mean, it's good you're catching it this time around! Eventually you'll catch yourself while you're writing.

*HUGS* You can do it!!

Where are you vacationing?

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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:16 pm

Thanks! Ever since I started critiquing others work and since you've critiqued mine I've really started to notice things like that in my work which I'm excited about because I can fix it all and make it amazing Smile

Thanks!!! Hopefully it all goes well!

Key West Very Happy But we are stopping at Universal on the way down to see Harry Potter world Smile
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Maggie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:11 pm

@Sarah Ack! *facepalm* I actually hate remembering my critique on your work. I feel like I was way too hard on you. *bites fingernails* But I'm glad you're seeing these things in your writing, and growing! Very Happy

Ooooh, FUN!! Buy a wand while you're there. XD (If they're not, like, $80 apiece. Razz)

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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:31 pm

Don't feel bad at all!!! You asked me if I could take you being super tough on me and I said yes Smile And the stuff you pointed out was SO helpful so your critique was exactly what I needed because I was able to figure out what I tend to do wrong in my first book rather than figuring it out ten books later.

I was planning on getting a wand until you said that... Now that I think about it what if they ARE $80 a piece O.o *hopes for cheap wands* I'll even take the broken one Ron had if it only cost $10! Very Happy
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Maggie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:47 pm

Aww, I'm glad it was what you needed! And sooo glad it helped. That makes me feel better. *HUGS*

Hahah, do let me know! (And I'd take Ron's wand any day. He's my favorite. <3)

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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:50 pm

Very Happy

haha, I will! Ron's your favorite? Mines Luna and Ginny Smile me feels like we should make a discussion topic about this xD We could see what character wins.
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:02 pm

World building. Maggie is SO the person for this. Razz And I agree on her critiquing skills. *loves her all around, really*

Despite having written a fantasy for NaNo, I don't think I info-dumped... But then, I tend to under-explain/describe, so it might just all be total vagueness. OR I did info-dump and didn't realize it. O.o

But you sound like you have it well in hand! And as to books...I agree with you on Westerfeld's Uglies, and of COURSE on Harry Potter. But alas, I'm unhelpful and have no other suggestions. Wait. I do. Cinda Williams Chima has very detailed worlds...Especially her fantasy series starting with The Demon King. But she also tends to dump a titch(that word is probably my new favorite. I've been using it a LOT. Thank you, required reading Dr. Faustus! The most useful thing I learned! xD)...or I just haven't read a fantasy in a while and I'm mistaking normal stuff....I dunno. I thought she did good. But I'm biased, because she was the first author I ever emailed, and she emailed back and was very nice. Razz
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Amanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:39 pm

I found the world-building in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series to be some of the best I've ever seen, actually—I believed it faster and more thoroughly than his Uglies series. I wish I could live in the Leviathan world, I loved it so much. Smile Also, Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, and his Keys to the Kingdom series has excellent world-building. All the new information is introduced in a way that's interesting and seamless, so you don't get bored or find yourself skimming. Well, unless you're me and reading Lirael(Abhorsen #2) for the fourth time and already know all the stuff, heh. Keys to the Kingdom is kind of paranormal, in that Arthur, the main character, has lived his whole life in the present real world, and the House is kind of a dimension within and without the world. So that + Leviathan might be more helpful to you in paranormal world-building.

As for myself, world-building comes easily now that I've stopped overthinking it, haha. When I started out at 12, there were definitely info-dumps and shoving-info-down-the-reader's-throat-with-a-rusty-spoon moments, and then I realized this and under-explained everything. But now I'm just letting it flow and it's a lot more organic and realistic(well, realistic for an epic fantasy, lol). Smile I'm currently polishing that rewritten novel I started at 12, so yes. 27% done! XD Good luck, and have fun on vacation! Smile
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Maggie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:44 pm

Sarah wrote:Very Happy

haha, I will! Ron's your favorite? Mines Luna and Ginny Smile me feels like we should make a discussion topic about this xD We could see what character wins.

OH! I do love Luna. I love Ginny too. And Hermione, actually. But Ron is my favorite out of the boys, with Malfoy being a close second. (Actually, I really love the movie Malfoy more than the book Malfoy. I hated him in the book.) And I just realized I was calling him Malfoy instead of Draco... but you guys know what I mean, right?


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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:41 pm

@Constance Maggie is pretty awesome Smile LOL! I use to info dump and not even realize it, now its painfully obvious to me so I keep doing it less and less. I'll definitely give those a try! They sound really good! I have yet to email an author but I think if I did and they responded I would love them forever.

@Amanda I've never read that series from him but I love his work so I know it's probably pretty amazing and of you say it's better than the Uglies series then I know I'll love it Smile Those books all sound amazing! Thanks for the suggestions! Thats great that you figured out the balance between over explaining and under explaining, I think I'm almost to that point Very Happy

Did you find it easier or harder to rewrite the novel? I always thought it would be harder because there's a certain story already in your head but on the other hand the world is already set up to a point so that has to make it a bit easier. And thanks! Minus the whole not having Internet for like 5 days (while we were driving and then we couldn't figure out how to get it to work) it's been great!

@Maggie LOL! yup, we know what you mean. I like the movie Draco better too, I felt bad for him in it but I had hardly any pity for him in the books. Funny enough I always liked Snape, even from the beginning. But Fred and George will always be my absolute favorites as far as the boys go.
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Amanda on Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:33 pm

@Sarah—I actually found it easier to rewrite, after I got the first ~15k down. The original novel(which was my first book) had tons of meandering, random additions that had very little logic behind them, so it was mentally exciting to be fixing such huge problems with exponentially better(but not yet great) writing. And I also added in scenes from the perspective of my favorite character, who previously showed up in Ch 18 of 21. And I gave said favorite character a sidekick/bromance, which really brought out his personality. I can't even remember what favorite character was like without sidekick. I just know it was terrible.

Anyway, yes—it was easier because I had direction and excitement about how much better it could be. And also, it took me a year and a half of on and off, semi-concentrated effort to rewrite all 111k of it(finished this June), instead of…almost three years, the first two having like 10k-15k of progress, and the last half finished in a mad dash to the end over sophomore year's summer. With an original word count of around 140k. Embarassed

The only problem I've encountered with rewriting is getting some of the old ideas fully out of my head. Every once in a while, I'll accidentally include an attitude or detail from the old version and not realize I've done it. And they're hard to pick out in edits unless you force yourself to QUESTION. EVERYTHING. Which I've been getting better at doing. Smile But I loved the rewriting. It was pretty much like writing a whole new book with similar elements/story arc.
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:30 am

@Sarah- Yes, me too! I think I might over-avoid info dumps these days, and just describe too litte. *facepalm* Razz
Yup. I mean, I would probably stop loving them if they glorified something in their books that went against my beliefs, but other than that....*LOVE FOREVA* xD


@Teo- Hahaha. HA. HA. I know who the favorite is. ^_^
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Re: Backstory/World building

Post  Sarah on Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:31 pm

@Amanda That's awesome!!! I love bromances! They are so rare nowadays in YA, I have a sort of one in the book I'm writing now and I love it Smile That sounds like so much work though! I'm not sure if I'd have enough patience for it but I'm glad you love your story so much that you stay with it!

I soo know what you mean! I've never really rewrote anything but I once decided to change the personallity of a character and I kept getting the old her mixed up with the new her, but the problem was that to me it was just her so I had to question everything to make sure I was getting it right.

@Constance I'm the same way, if they went completely against my beliefs I wouldn't read their books anymore.
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