Wednesday, December 28, 2011

World-Building: When You're Missing the Essential World-Building Bone in your Body

So, I'm under deadline. I know it seems like I was just under deadline, and that's because I was. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm revising EVERNEATH 2: It's Everneath-ier. This time around, we are focusing on world-building. 

And let me tell you something right now: I was born without the world-building bone in my elbow. Doctors were amazed; they would take my x-rays around and show other doctors, and remark, "This little baby is going to have a helluva time trying to build a world that's not exactly like the one we live on."

Most of my world-building looks like this:

Okay, so lets take a planet:

Now we have to ask ourselves, where will the people live?

Let's add some land:

Good. Now, how will life grow? What will the people drink?

Let's add some water. 

And... oh crap. I've made Earth. AGAIN! 

Then I crumble up the paper and throw it away and start over. 

I was supposed to world-build in the last round of edits, but instead I threw in some razzle-dazzle. I gave my editor the old flim-flam-flummox, then I dazed and dizzied her, because how could she see that I couldn't world build when she had sequins in her eyes?

As a final number, I threw in a tap dance. 

But the thing is, I can't tap dance, and my editor could see just fine with the sequins in her eyes, and she still said, "Hey, how about we world-build a little?"

Then I tried to explain to her about my unique anatomy:

But she was not impressed. Apparently, she thinks I can do this. 

So, yon bloggerville, I think I can do this too. 

But just in case, does anyone know what the Underworld looks like? Anyone at all? Geography and demography would be great. And for heaven's sake, do not let it resemble Earth!


  1. This post is hysterical. Sequins! Good idea. I will now work on my revision to see if my editor will be able to see through all the sequins in her eyes!

  2. Nova- I bet JSG could see through anything! :)

  3. Oh my goodness you got my day off to a good start! So fun and so relatable! (Is that a real word? Spell check doesn't like it but I do so it's staying.) Anyway - my novel is set on Earth but the MC comes from a different planet, and I'm just now in book 2 having to figure out the nitty-gritty of the planet. Much harder done than said. If you find that missing bone, let me know!

  4. Suze- I so feel your pain! Stupid book two's, with their stupid in-depth worlds.

  5. LOL! This is why I do paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I can do other worlds only if it feels real enough to be like a character in the story.

    Good luck!

  6. I have to admit that I like the way Ali Cross painted the Underworld in Become. Instead of going with the typical "everything's hot as, well, ya know", she made it cold, frigid, like frostbite freezing cold. So cold it burns. Different. Very different.

    I liked that the movie Constantine made the underworld look like the aftermath of WWIII hyped on crank. Painful whipping winds, busted, broken vehicles abandoned on dusty roads, dilapidated buildings...and demons slinked from broken windows, busted doors, across missing hoods, their bodies little more than mummified skin and bones, parts of their heads and torsos chewed away, probably as part of some torture only fitting the Underworld. Not a place I would want to call home.

  7. I can sympathize, Brodi. I'm worried about the world-building issue. Have you considered having a transplant?

    Love the post, btw.

  8. *sigh* I love CHICAGO. We show that song at all the lawyer training seminars. ;)

    Does your underworld have a sky? Can it be pink? I think your underworld would have to be a place where the Everliving would WANT to hang out, and nothing says "make yourself comfortable" like a pink sky.

    Pink sky or not, I can't wait to get there myself. Edit faster.

  9. Jami- Next book, I'm totally writing contemporary realistic fiction. That's easy, right? (Kidding!)

    Angela- slow down, I'm taking notes!

    Donna- Yes, I've considered a transplant, but we're having trouble find a donor who would be willing to give up their world-building bone.

    Robin- I am editing like the wind!

  10. Hmmm, doing some world building myself - needed to know this. You explained it perfectly! Also, next time consider rhinestones - they sparkle more.

  11. I like the way Hercules (Disney version) showed the Underworld. I also like how it was done on Charmed. Maybe, you could take a bit of theirs and throw in an idea of yours? I don't know. I'm not good at it either. I must be missing that bone too.

  12. Tasha- Rhinestones! Nobody could see through those. Excellent idea!

    Jenni- Trust me, this Underworld will be a mishmash of everyone else's good ideas. :)

  13. I feel your pain. Sometimes, I just don't feel like I can be creative. Just the other night, I turned to my boyfriend and said, if these two characters had to go somewhere to find this other character, where would they go? What would it look like? And he came up with some awesome ideas that I could springboard off of.

  14. Ha. I was just having this very conversation with my husband last night. I was telling him how I was horrible at world building and how every single round of editing my book, from my betas all the way to my editor, every single one of them said: More world please. And considering I added more world at each round, by the time my editor said it, I was like: OH Noes!!!!

    Yeah, I like to build relationships not worlds. I'm glad I'm not alone in the struggle.

  15. Oh, I would LOVE to create another world. Alas, I may have been born without the world-building bone too. My best suggestion is that you have to start with the familiar so people can relate, but then change it into something that fits what your characters need to experience. Vague enough for you?

    Good Luck!

  16. Elizabeth- that's a great idea! So, you tell me, what does the Everneath look like? Feel free to leave a long and detailed comment... :)

    Kasie- Relationships are so much easier to build!

    Jenny- That is great advice. Seriously.

  17. I can relate. I am finishing up the first of a series to be put out with our pub agency. It is a ya novel but it is a futuristic world and a world exist within the one we would, or really wouldn't, expect. I have just started a blog about the finishing of the book, check it out. Creating worlds is what I love doing more than anything. follow me and comment, and email me if anyone wants to throw some ideas together

  18. I feel for u if u don't mind me saying u can look up stuff on mythology web sites and well here's what I think hell would interesting looking like. The clouds are black and dank and there's a forest filled with black trees no life time stoped no color gust blackness and on a mountain there's a decrepit castle . Hope that helps . Mio . K

  19. Lots of rocks! Um, and maybe a river of BLOOD!!! *goes back to Stephen King novel* :) :) :)

  20. Hehe. I'm actually rather good at worldbuilding. I've had lots of practice.

    Good luck.

  21. Nick P- Good luck!

    Anon- That totally helps. :)

    Jill- You can't have an underworld without a river of blood, I always say!

    Amber- Perfect. Would you like to write my sequel? I can pay you five whole dollars!