World building: Keep it together!

I’ve recently began helping a friend build a world for a novel she’s working on, and I figured I’d pass on my suggestions to other beginning world builders.

Please note: this isn’t about the building of the world, itself. That will come later. This is about making things easier on you, the Builder of Worlds, as you begin your path to nerdy (or so I’ve been told) glory. Think of it like a shopping list, if you will.

Before I get started though, I feel I should explain that I am OCD as hell when it comes to organizing, and it carries over to my world building, so by all means, tailor the following suggestions for your own needs.

  1. Get a binder.
    It doesn’t have to be fancy, but trust me, it will make your life a lot easier.

    Now, binders come in different sizes, and different…forms, I guess you could say. There are hard back binders and floppy plastic ones (you’ll see what I mean the minute you start looking at them). So you’ll need to think carefully about what kind of world you’re building, and what all you will need to go into the details of.

    For example, in my Etlan series, I have multiple houses, and some of those houses have other houses they’re responsible for. I also have certain skill based powers, and elemental powers. It has its own language that I’m having to create, including spells and texts. Then there’s the research I’ve done for all of the above. With all of that information, I needed to get a good sized binder. The one I’m currently using for Etlan is 2 or 3 inches, and has a hard cover. It was more expensive than I preferred, but I splurged on it anyway because I needed one that was going to last.

    The one I have for “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies,” on the other hand, is only a 1 inch binder, and I think I got it at the dollar store. The reason for this is simple: not as much information needed. I have their supply list, the traits of the zombies, the timeline, and basic character profiles, and I still have plenty of room left over for any other details I might think of later. I’ll probably be able to use that single binder for all four works I have planned in the series, and then some, if I wanted.

    Think it out, plan it out.

    Which brings me to…

  2. Dividers (tabs) are your friend.
    Again, tailor this to your need. SN!tZ currently only needs four tabs, and that’s stretching it. Etlan, on the other hand, has over 30, and I’m not done organizing yet.

    tabs
    Seriously, this thing is a monster!

    I ended up having to make dividers of my own, because I wanted half-sized tabs and to have tabs at the top. Most of the dividers that come with tabs on top, have tabs that are just too big for what I need. If you aren’t picky, however, any old divider will do (I recommend taking advantage of “Back to School” sales).
    Get a bunch of the regular dividers and have fun with it. There are dividers that have write-on tabs – I do not recommend those. They start out fine, but if you make a mistake, you’re out of luck, unless you use pencil (which tends to smear), or keep white-out on hand. Personally, it’s just not worth it, especially when the cheapo dividers work just fine, and you can get them for about a dollar at Walmart or Amazon.

    There are also dividers that come with pockets. Those can be very useful as well, especially if you’re a person who jots down notes on anything you happen to have nearby. You can just slip them into the pocket in the right category, and there ya’ go. I would suggest copying the notes down onto an actual piece of paper and putting in the binder, but that is entirely up to you. You’ll end up paying a little bit more for the tabs with pockets, so consider your budget carefully before you go on a buying spree.

    A word of caution: Beware the Table of Contents!

    I know it’s tempting to make one, but unless you are 100% sure of the way you have everything organized, it is in your best interest to stay far –far- away from a Table of Contents. If you are not completely certain about the way you have the binder set up, or if there is even the slightest chance that you might add something/remove something do not make a Table of Contents. Everytime you add something or move something, etc., you will have to redo the ToC. It is time consuming and just not worth it. Wait until you’re done with that world (or at least the first book in that world), before you even think about making a ToC or an index.

    Use whatever dividers you decide on to…

  3. Get ORGANIZED.
    Seriously.

    This is one of the most important things when it comes to world building (besides the world itself). The more complex your world, the more you will need to make sure you have your stuff organized. One of the most aggravating things, as a reader, is when it’s like the author doesn’t remember the rules of their own world.

    If a certain race only has blue or green skin, do not introduce a being of that race that is, oh, I don’t know, yellow, without some kind of explanation (skin disease; mutation; crossbreed, etc.). You might think “Oh, no one will notice. They probably didn’t pay any attention to the different races.” To that, I say: ask a reader about the differences between a Tolkien elf and an elf from the Shannara Chronicles. Just warn me ahead of time, so I can pop me some popcorn. I would also suggest using the bathroom and clearing your schedule first. The bottom line is, a dedicated reader/fan will notice the differences.

    Now for my final bit of advice for this post:

  4. PLAN IT OUT.

    I know I’ve already said this a couple times, but I cannot emphasize this enough, and I am speaking from experience. I have reorganized my Etlan binder so many times, it’s ridiculous.

    Granted, that was because I started out with only one set of dividers, and had to work with what I had, but that is why I’m telling you now: get LOTS of dividers. You might end up not using them all, but it’s better to have them and not need them, than to have to reorganize the information a couple hundred times.

    The best thing to do, before you start buying anything, is to sit down, either with pen and paper or with a document and start outlining what you need to organize.
    Mine would look something like this:
    2017-08-05

    If you are creating a world (or planet) with different races and religions, you will also need to think about those. A sample of that outline might look something like this:

    2017-08-05 (1)
    A VERY simple outline.

    Use your outline to determine how many tabs you’ll need to buy. If the number is over 30 like mine, I would suggest making your own. If enough people are interested, I’ll post some instructions on how to do that.

    Try not to over organize. That was one of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Believe me, it is possible to go overboard with this stuff, and it’s a pain to fix. Keep it simple.

    Shopping list:

    I said at the beginning that this is a short of shopping list, and it kinda is. I already suggested binders and dividers, but here are a few more items you might want to see about picking up:

    • 3 hole punch
    • Notebook paper (if you like making notes by hand) 
    • Sheet protectors (if you prefer typing the notes and printing them out)

    If anyone else has their own tips and tricks for keeping information straight, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Asking for help is a GOOD thing.

I am seriously using EVERY SINGLE TAG I use for this, because this is important. A cry for help should not EVER be ignored, and the person ASKING for help should never be made to feel like they are somehow LESS for NEEDING that help.

If you are shot, you go to a doctor. If you break an arm or a leg, you go to the doctor. You don’t feel ashamed for needing help THEN, why should you when the pain is INSIDE you? When it is a literally LIFE THREATENING injury/illness? And yes, people, it IS life threatening. Or do you think they were just playing with the noose around their neck? Or the bullet hole in their head? Or maybe the slit wrists and the mountain of fucking pills in their stomach.

SERIOUSLY PEOPLE.

Do you know WHY so many people don’t get the help they need? Because there are dickholes out there who are mocking them. Who dismiss the cries for help as a “phase” until the person finally gets to the point where they think “why bother?”

And then those same assholes have the nerve to say “I don’t understand…what happened?”

YOU happened, asshole. You and the rest of society who have pushed them down one too many times, without even a backwards glance, much less a helping hand to get them back on their feet.

Their blood is on YOUR hands. And don’t you EVER fucking forget it.

 

**Note: To those of you who actually reach out to those who need help, this is NOT directed at you. And please, never change that part of you. We need more people like you.**

First off… no one panic, I’m not suicidal. Yes, I get down and feel like wtf is the point at times. I hate having to work when I know life is short and I’m not happy at my job and I keep thinking.. no one cares. If I died tomorrow, there’d be some poor schmuck […]

via Suicide… 4 words: Listen, I need help! — Kawanee’s Korner

Feedback please? Writer’s resource group.

Had an idea for a writer’s group, but instead of it being a social thing where we all grumble and sympathize with each other about the hardships of being an author, we would put out information we can help with. This would not be for publishing and whatnot, there are plenty of groups/pages already out there for that. The group would be for information like “Is there a name locals use for (this street/highway/bridge) in (this city/state/country) instead of it’s “official” name?”, “What kind of boat would be good for fishing in a small pond?” etc.

Don’t get me wrong, Google is wonderful, but even it has its limits, and it has failed me one too many times.

Each member would put what information they can help with in a post (right now, I’m floating the idea on facebook), and then a person could use the “search group” option to find what they’re looking for.

Example: 

(Person A) can help with:

local information for the following areas: Baltimore, Maryland (Greek Town & Dundalk); Russellville, Arkansas; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Gender related information: long hair, long hair problems, basic wardrobe, typical reactions.

Familiarity with: American English and colloquialisms, American school systems

and:

(Person B) can help with:

Local information: Perth, Austrailia; London, England.

Gender related information: make up; hair styles for short hair, preppy wardrobe.

Familiarity with: Queen’s English, colloquials, British/English school systems

Person C has a character with short hair, and needs an idea for a hair style, maybe a description for the steps, or a name for a certain look. They do a search for “hair styles for short hair.” 

Because Person A and Person B both listed “hair” as something they can help with, both posts pop up. Person C would read the posts and then leave a comment on Person B’s post, because she’s the one who has the information they need. Person B responds, Person C has what information they need, and can get back to writing.
Thoughts/Suggestions? Please let me know and reblog/share link if you like the idea. I need to know how much of an interest there is before I commit to anything.

Writer problems…

Don’t you hate it when you’ve been forced to concentrate on the “real” world for so long that you forget where you were in YOUR world? -_-;; On the plus side, I got my grades in for this semester and I still have a 4.0 GPA, and I’m working out some kinks I had forgotten about in the newest chapter. On the downside: the new semester starts up in about two days, so I’m probably going to be forced out of the world again. *facepalm* And, my courses for the semester after this one were changed. 

PLANNED:
World Geography
World Mythology
New Schedule:
Beauty of Mathmetics
Intro to Creative Writing
Yes, I am pouting. Yes, I am aware that it’s a bit ridiculous for a 30+ year old to be pouting like a 2 year old. No, I do not care. I was actually looking forward to the World classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about starting the classes for my actual program, and I can always do the World classes in a different term, but still. I hate it when things change on me like that. Plus, it’s math. I don’t care that it’s mostly going to be writing about math, it’s still math

Not sure if this makes sense to anyone else…

Help me out here? Something about this sentence just doesn’t seem right, and I’m not sure if it’s just me being picky or what.

*I’ll have an escort meet you there.* Alex says, and drops out of the link before the protest they all feel bubbling through Leo’s mind can make its way into words.

Thinking of changing it to this instead:

*I’ll have an escort meet you there.* Alex says, and drops out of the link before the protest they all can feel bubbling through Leo’s mind makes its way into words.

Thoughts, ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in between?