Another step closer on the World Building Tour, 2013. Two-thirds of my regional officers are in place, and there’s no surprises, save for maybe one or two. I found it far more difficult to put these in place than to figure out where my Foundation pretty much directs the world from behind the curtain. I almost said, “Rule,” but that’s not them: they aren’t rulers. They’re more like teachers, trying to move things forwards slowly but surely.
Yes, I hear some of you going, “Not very original, Cassidy.” Well, neither is that romance novel you’re writing, so suck it. Harlan Ellison–yes, I turn to him quite a lot–said something along the lines of there are only seven or eight original plots in the world, but it’s how you give your version of that will captivate people. Sure, the love story has been done to death, but only Romeo and Juliet have pulled at us through the ages. Though Hannibal might be the one that does it for you: ah, just imagine that first dinner date . . .
Why spend all this time putting things together that, by my own admissions, may never see the light of day? For one, it makes the world more real for me. Once that works becomes real for me–not that it isn’t already–then it takes on a life when I write, and that makes it more real for any potential readers out there. Get your foundation laid–no pun here, really–and the rest will come together.
Some of this comes from running role playing games. The best games have a great world, albeit some are completely whacked out their minds, and others make no damn sense. Nonetheless, the best gaming experiences take place in worlds that are fleshed out with great locations and memorable characters. One can always hack and slash, true, but one can also immerse themselves in the feel of the rain upon their face, the sounds of the city, and the smell of the bum crawling out of the alley who’s about to shank your ass for the credit chip in your pocket.
When I put a game together I’d have a lot of background. When I ran Diaspora I laid out the ten systems used in the game, which meant plotting the orbits of about two hundred and fifty planets and objects, and defining interesting things about those places that one could more or less about with little or no breathing gear. When I ran Cyberpunk, I had information on dozens of characters the players met, and one of those dossiers ran seventy pages. There were notes on a Mage game that ran for almost five years that kept growing and growing as I continued playing.
It can be a lonely, solitary duty to put this together, but it’s a fun duty. Or it can be fun; some people may feel it’s too much time spent alone trying to come up with ideas on your own, but in the end, they are your ideas, and you live or die with them. Even if they suck–and I’ve had my share of suck ideas–they are yours. You own them. They are you.
Look at it this way: if you write something that sucks, then you know not to do that again, right?