World Building my next project

Yesterday I got an Xbox One and Titanfall so no blogging or writing happened. If any blogging had happened though, it would have just been responding to the latest Butt Hurt of the Week from the SFWA/Typical WorldCon Voter/Glittery Hoohaw crowd, because this time they’re outraged and attacking a straw version of Toni Weisskopf because the real Toni said maybe they shouldn’t be so outraged and annoying all the time. Scalzi wrote a self-righteous response that was just the Internet Arguing Checklist point by point. Seriously, anybody who ever accused Toni of “hand wringing” don’t know Toni, because she is more the “neck wringing” type. My publisher is a total badass.

So you really didn’t miss much, but Titanfall is really fun.

Let me catch you guys up on what is going down on the writing front.

First off, my next book is Monster Hunter Nemesis. It will be out this summer. I don’t know when the eARC will release. The book is turned in. I got some technical corrections back from Reader Force Alpha that still need to go in. (because every bomb, bullet, airframe, and explosion in my fantasy novel about monsters has to be accurate!) Other than that, it is done.

Right now I’m working on a Grimnoir short story. This is another Jake Sullivan stand alone. Audible.com asked me for that. I’m planning on doing a sequel to Into the Storm shorty also in the next couple of months. I usually do a bunch of little projects in between novels, because when I jump into a novel I mostly see it through from beginning to end, and this next novel is requiring a ton of thought and effort.

I bounced several things off of Toni to see what she wanted me to focus my energy on next, (Having a ton of books under contract to be written is a really good problem to have) and she really wants to see this epic fantasy that I’ve been talking about for years. Sweet, because that is what I’m the most excited to write about anyway.

People ask writers all the time where they get their ideas. Writers know that is kind of a silly question because ideas are everywhere. It is rare that we can track back a whole book to one particular thing, only in this case, I actually have an answer. I listened to this song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juEVrAM9WCE liked it, then listened to it again and for fun made up a scene in my head for it to be the background music for  (Luckily I hadn’t seen the movie yet so it didn’t have any visual memories to correlate to).  That scene turned into a short story, so I jotted down the quick rough, realized that it was part of a much larger story, wrote down enough notes to realize it was a novella that I didn’t have the time to write or a market for, so then I shelved it in my brain for a few months.

The scene? A man who has been lied to about who he is most of his life returns home and kills everybody. 🙂

It is one scene, that’s it, but it set the flavor. As I had more ideas that fit, I kept tacking them onto that story, until all of a sudden I had a fully fleshed out novel in my head, just waiting to be written. (that’s why I always tell aspiring writers to keep track of their ideas, and how if a good idea doesn’t seem to fit their current project, save it for a later one where it fits better).

The big underlying idea of the story came about based on a pet peeve of mine from reading hundreds of fantasy novels.  Have you ever noticed how in epic fantasy there is this trope where some Legendary Hero saves the world from the Big Bad, and then there’s a prophecy about how in a thousand years or whatever a descendant of Legendary Hero will have to defeat the second coming of the Big Bad, only in a thousand years there is like only one Chosen One Descendant, and he’s the assistant pig farmer’s son, who now needs to go on a quest to become the new Legendary Hero?

Yeah… We’ve all read that. But here’s the thing. That’s not human nature. First off, if Legendary Hero guy saved the whole world from the forces of evil, and there is a prophecy about how his descendants will save the world in the future, he’s not going to have one kid. For the safety of the whole world he’s going to have ten wives and fifty kids. And even if he doesn’t, his kids are going to volunteer to have ten wives and fifty kids. And in a few generations you’re going to have the House of Saud.

Odds are that if there is a religious prophecy about how you are the potential savior of the world from the forces of evil, you can get away with being a dick. Of course, in the real world if you give a group of people an excuse to be jerks, they’re going to be jerks. Even if the Big Bad is real, sometimes the cure may be worse than the disease. And of course, if you push everybody else too far, they’re going to get really pissed off and eventually rise up and kill the shit out of you.

Hilarity ensues.

So Grimnoir trilogy wrapped up and next MHN out the door, last week I got down to business. 30 pages of notes, an Excel time line of 1200 years, and a bunch of hand drawn maps later I’m about ready to start the actual writing.

I’ve created worlds before, but not from scratch. MHI is our world with monsters. Grimnoir has more world building, but it is still our world, just 80 years ago after 80 years of magic. Dead Six is our world, only history veered off a bit, and a little bit crappier. This project? Holy moly. This is a fantasy and it isn’t based on any regular earth culture, so that is requires a lot more thought beforehand.

Have you ever read a fantasy and been struck by how something about that world just felt off? Or you get to some glaring inconsistency, or thing that shouldn’t exist, or doesn’t make sense, or had a moment of WTF are these people doing? I’m not talking the fantastical elements, because the author gets a pass for those, but things where the society, culture, or world just doesn’t click because there is some incongruous element that doesn’t make sense. I hate that too so I’m going to try really hard not to do it myself.

One of the best books for writers about world building is Guns, Germs, and Steel, only it is about understanding how our real world turned out the way it did, rather than creating a new one, but it should give you plenty of ideas for your imaginary ones.

Then the hard part is thinking through how an imaginary society works and the ramifications of all the things in that world. Okay, so I’m writing about a society that has a rather brutal caste system. That means I need to think through how it works. Who does what? Why? How did it get that way? Who grows the food? What is their economy based on? The system of government? So who enforces what? Why? Then what would happen if I did this? Wait, if I change this, what are the logical ramifications to this other thing? So on and so forth. It makes for a fun week, as long as I don’t think too hard about the fact that most of this stuff isn’t going to end up in the actual book.

That’s one important thing to remember for the aspiring authors, just because you can explain how something works doesn’t mean you should, because that can be boring. But it still needs to make logical consistent internal sense if the topic does come up in the story. I need to know the laws of my imaginary culture, even if I don’t talk about them, but at least it keeps me from hosing myself and writing something now that will screw me up in the future. If I know my history, even when I’m not talking about my history, I won’t inadvertently violate my own history.  Basically, the more I think something through, the more real it becomes to me as the author, the more real it is going to feel to my readers when they read it.

Religion is going to play a big part in this one, but not in the traditional manner. I’m going to give John Lennon a world with everything he asked for in Imagine, and that world is a horrible place. I keep getting told that *real* writers push message fic, so choke on this, hippies. 🙂

One reason most fantasy worlds tend to correlate to an actual historical culture (or the popular perceived version of that actual historical culture) is because it is easier for the author to write and easier for a reader to relate to. Everybody kind of knows about knights and castles and that sort of thing, so those things have become accepted fantasy tropes, which is why you see lots of fantasy where you can pick out the pseudo-British and the pseudo-Mongols and pseudo-Vikings.  It gives the author and the reader a good, understandable baseline to start with. Basic culture and even names start with a solid assumption. This is popular because it works well, but on the downside, then we have to listen to all the Glittery HooHaws bitch and whine about how come Special Culture of the Day X doesn’t have more fantasy based on it… Not that they can be troubled to get off their asses and actually create anything that anybody wants to read, mind you.

I really didn’t want to write a world based on any one existing culture, but it still helps to have a starting baseline to work off of rather than inventing everything. So I cherry picked a few historical things from different societies to help me with my laws and customs (hey, why recreate work that somebody else spent 2000 years working the bugs out of?) and mashed everything I enjoyed or thought made for cool story elements together.

Coming up with a consistent naming structure is a challenging thing, because names normally originate with some meaning from the parent language, and unless you want to make up nonsense words to serve as names, it is easier to look at an existing naming structure for inspiration. Plus character names need to have, well, character. Because I had two names that I used for the original story, and one was Thai and the other Indian, that’s where I started.

When everything was said and done I ended up with the outline of a story about a culture that was a weird amalgamation of Indian caste system, southeast Asian mythology, Mandarin bureaucracy, with a western nanny-state cronyism militant atheist mindset, and the Burakumin revolt against that led by a character who is a cross between George Washington, Genghis Khan, and the Punisher.

I love my job.

I wrote a test short story set in this universe. It will appear in the Shattered Shields anthology from Baen that is coming out in November.  Shattered Shields (BAEN)

78 Responses

  1. Scalzi has turned into a complete as clown. Maybe he was always like that and kept it quiet in order to get to where he wanted. At the moment he has turned into “I am liberal, hear me ROOOARRR!”. I just can’t read any more of his stuff. I keep avoiding reading anything hat Charlie Stross writes outside of his books because I figure he is the same.

    Anyway, glad to hear what you are working on. Publish so I can give you money 🙂

  2. That’s one important thing to remember for the aspiring authors, just because you can explain how something works doesn’t mean you should, because that can be boring. But it still needs to make logical consistent internal sense if the topic does come up in the story. I need to know the laws of my imaginary culture, even if I don’t talk about them, but at least it keeps me from hosing myself and writing something now that will screw me up in the future. If I know my history, even when I’m not talking about my history, I won’t inadvertently violate my own history. Basically, the more I think something through, the more real it becomes to me as the author, the more real it is going to feel to my readers when they read it.

    It was Ernest Hemingway who said:

    If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.

    It’s advice every writer should follow.

  3. I wrote 23 single-spaced pages of world-building notes and information before I wrote a word of my Space Opera. When you’re world-building, being consistent and keeping your crap straight is important. Hence my 1500-ish year timeline of the Space Age, including two interstellar wars, a centuries-long Interregnum period, and the rebirth of an interstellar civilization. Very little of it is even mentioned in the narrative. It was still fun.

  4. I noticed you’re on the cover of the “Baen Big Book of Monsters” edited by Hank Davis. Any word on the story involved, please?
    I notice other authors listed: David Drake, Wen Spencer, Sarah A. Hoyt, Lovecraft, Robert Bloch.

    You run in most excellent company, sir.

  5. Yeah, definitely going to have to generate some harsh words at you about the atheist thing.

    Prepare yourself to be chastised once I get home from work.

    I’m totally cereal.

  6. This sounds awesome; can’t wait to read it.

  7. Oh goody. Something else from Larry that absolutely demands my money.

    Food is soooooooooo overrated anyway 🙂

  8. I don’t really want to go to Whatever and give him the satisfaction of a further page hit, but I”m kinda curious as to what he wrote, now. What to do, what to do?

  9. Hey Larry, any more Dead Six in the hopper?

  10. >>>led by a character who is a cross between George Washington, Genghis Khan, and the Punisher.

    Shut up and take my money.

    And, yeah, I did a vague-as-hell response to the latest Thing, without mentioning names. I am so tired of this. On the one hand, it’s like they don’t want us around. On the other hand, if we say “fine, we’ll go off and do our own thing instead and leave you to your ever-dwindling pool of readers,” that doesn’t make them happy either. They will not, in fact, be happy without complete and utter capitulation. That seems like a funny form of “diversity” to me, but what do I know.

    • Gotta shut someone out, or you’re not exclusive! And hoity-toity! And all that. Except that the more exclusive you are, the fewer people you have around to congratulate you on how exclusive you are. Something like scads of cash might make up for the lack of people to congratulate them on their exclusivity, but from the sound of things that’s not really happening over there.

    • “They will not, in fact, be happy without complete and utter capitulation.”

      Yes, exactly. Underneath all their high ideals is the plain old lust for power you see in all social animals. They need to be the alpha monkeys, otherwise life has no meaning.

  11. They don’t actually want us to leave… they want us to fall on our knees and bask in their enlightenment.

    • They can fall on their knees and bask in kissing parts of my anatomy that don’t normally see the light of day instead. 😀

      • Be careful, there is an antibiotic resistant strain of gonorrhea making the rounds in the lefty strongholds of Chicago, DC and NYC. It’s probably best not to let their lips touch your nethers.

        If you really need them to abase themselves physically, you can dress up as a ruthless dictator from some hell hole country. They’ll be thrilled to lick your stable shoveling boots spotless. Just be sure to wipe them down with bleach afterwards.

      • Hmmmm….I think I might be too tall for Chavez, but I’m fat enough to pull off Castro…

        Decisions, decisions

  12. I loved this post. You had me at “Glittery Hoohaw,” which thankfully I really don’t understand. It was great to hear your source of inspiration and thoughts on world-building. I look forward to this project.

  13. The Cat Among Dragons universe didn’t start out to be so strange, especially the Azdhagi. I just wondered what a world where the dinosaurs won would be like. Then I started doing research on what happens when you have a small population, and reading about ancient China, and feudal Japan, and it got away from me. So beware, Mr. Correia, be very ware!

  14. I’ve always considered most fantasy novel tropes more as an archetypal template for what happens within the mind, heart, and soul of an individual in their inner struggle between good and evil, not as templates to be applied to society at large which is composed of individuals. Does that make sense? For example, King Arthur represents the integrating and noble force within an individual, that gives integrity to an individual that would otherwise be a beastly mass of impulses. As individuals, in our own hearts and heads, we are monarchs. Are “subjects” are all the other aspects of our psyches that we must rule with justice and understanding else we suffer lack of integrity and possible mental anguish and illness. I dunno, makes sense to me. This also explains the fairly dreamlike aspects of many fantasy novels.

  15. Till now, I’d only heard the name “Scalzi”, but nothing about him or his work.

    Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be reading him. Screeds like the one he wrote give me a bad taste, and if that’s how he is, then his work is probably not a whole lot better.

    A writer’s views are never fully divorced from his work. They can’t be if their writing is worth a hang. So, if Scalzi can’t think straight, then neither is his work going to be well-thought-out either. That, or it’s going to read like liberal utopia, and would be best used to induce vomiting.

    • On the contrary… Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” and “Ghost Brigades” were really good reads. I picked them up at the library before I knew his politics. The third book in that series fizzled. My dad said his “Red Shirts” left him flat after starting out decently.

      I’ll probably pick up his “Zoe’s Tale” at the library some day to finish the Old Man’s series. Scalzi can write a pretty good story. His essays seem to be a different matter altogether.

      • “Zoe’s Tale” is alright, but “Old Man’s War” and “Ghost Brigades” were much better.

      • As for Redshirts (included as part of last year’s Sad Puppies Campaign), the first “Coda” was mildly amusing (though in hindsight not worth the time it took to read), while the other two thirds were the kind of shallow “deep thought” that would only blow the minds of an inebriated seventh grader (Whoa! We are a tv show in another universe that is itself a tv show in yet another universe!!!).

      • Sorry for the spoiler, but now you don’t have to read it. 🙂

      • What? You mean a jumped up piece of fan fiction wasn’t the height of literary awesomeness?

        I mean, I know it won a Hugo, but it’s still just a jumped up piece of fan fic.

      • Scalzi’s taste in whose body of work to imitate is headed downhill. Way downhill.

        It used to be Heinlein and Piper (whose copyrights have conveniently lapsed, meaning that he didn’t even need to file the serial numbers off that one). Now it’s bad Star Trek fanfic (not even good Star Trek fanfic, of which there is quite a bit).

        My theory is that he knows this, and that the pic of him in a Regency dress heralds a new career direction. The only question is whether the first effort will be Pride and Prejudice by John Scalzi or Wuthering Heights by John Scalzi.

      • It was cheesy that in “The Last Colony”, mankind was saved via deus ex machina, and then he went back with “Zoe’s tale” to explain the deus ex machina.

        It was shameless enough to actually be impressive. (In a truly cynical way.)

      • Some of his earlier stuff is pretty good also. Agent to the stars has an interesting premise, and the androids dream is flat out hilarious. I don’t even mind redshirts, it takes a simple and unapologetically derivative premise and turns it into a story of mortality that managed to hit a lot closer to home than it probably had any right to.

    • His first published book “Old Man’s War” was actually pretty good. Its sequel “Ghost Brigade” was OK. Everything else of his I’ve read has been very meh. And quite honestly, I haven’t bothered to read his last few.

      Of course, during the two books I noted, he was actively marketing himself as a scion of Heinlein.
      That didn’t last very long.

      • I love how he says that while Heinlein is great that he’s just human.

        Yup, indeed, a very perceptive human. Note how he describeds fandom and every OTHER society in existence at the end of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Professor De La Paz was a prophet, really.

        Great libertarian revolution, headed by one of the most competent revolutionary organizations imagined… still succumbs eventually to those Manny so aptly names as “Yammerheads.”

        Prophet indeed. See SF fandom, the United States in general (socially and politically), Europe throughout history, etc.

        Which means Jefferson was right about the tree of liberty and it’s occasional thirst for patriot blood. Otherwise, the yammerhead parasites take over.

    • Good point. I feel the same way about David Brin. I had read much of his stuff, starting back in the 1990s and found out he hada blog a few years ago. I don’t expect ‘my authors’ to be the same as me, politically, but if they can’t deal with opposing viewpoints with some level of intelligence and logic, then I am not interested.

  16. “choke on this, hippies”

    That should be as big a mantra as “Get paid, bitches!” with Correiatech, Inc.

  17. An unsolicited suggestion: GURPS:Fantasy is a pretty amazing resource for worldbuilding in the genre.

    Granted, it sounds like you have your world pretty well figured out.

  18. “weird amalgamation of Indian caste system, southeast Asian mythology, Mandarin bureaucracy, with a western nanny-state cronyism militant atheist mindset,”

    Ought to invade them with viking-samurai-dayak head-hunters. After the revolt of course. : )

  19. I liked most of Scalzi’s work and didn’t even mind his politics most of the time. I didn’t agree with him much of the time, but he seemed to not be able to present a reasonable argument much of the time. His essay from a few days ago that Larry referenced was not one of those. I will admit that I enjoy reading a wide variety of authors and am not really interested in fandom or only supporting a single publisher.

    I read part of Scalzi and then decided to read what Toni had to say first. After reading Scalzi’s smug piece I wondered if he read the same article. I thought that Toni made some really good points about fandom and groups feeling excluded from awards.

  20. Reading that bit about Toni, I am just guessing that if the sfwa actually did go through with that earlier threat to tell her to distance herself from you or get you under control with your hating, that she told them to go shoot themselves most likely but not in as nice a fashion.

    Also I am loving this world building post. I think that problem with the whole why in the world are they doing that sort of thing, while it tends to show up more in fantasy, can also just as easily show up in other genres of writing. It reminds me of the frustration I get from some books, like Steven Kings “Pet Sematary” where it was like why in the world are they being so dense, why hasn’t anyone gotten a gun and shot the stupid evil monster already?

    Anyway this book idea of yours sounds awesome, I am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

  21. Larry,
    I think you’re very generous to give away valuable writing tips. Some of your pearls may end up getting trodden underfoot by swine, but some people are going to have “ah ha!” moments that will help them write something one day that might actually have some sort of meaningful value. In this one article alone you tossed out a few goodies that I found more valuable than anything I heard in a course on narrative structure that I paid $300 for back when $300 was more like $700 today. So, thank you!

  22. “Have you ever read a fantasy and been struck by how something about that world just felt off? Or you get to some glaring inconsistency, or thing that shouldn’t exist, or doesn’t make sense, or had a moment of WTF are these people doing?”

    Kingkiller Chronicals, the Ademre: women are better fighters because boob. Thank you for ignoring biology and physics while trying to play the intellectual, Patrick Rothfuss.

    • “women are better fighters because boob”

      Only if the writer is arguing that the men the women are fighting against get distracted.

      On that note, the Everquest raiding guild that I was briefly a part of once had a raid member who filed a (completely nonserious) complaint with the GMs because one of the raid targets, Xegony (the Queen of the Plane of Air) was distracting him with her “booby taunt”.

      😛

      • The EQ2 drider-whatevers in Kunark were distracting….

      • A certain green leather bikini clad elf, when questioned about her lack of protection, famously replied, “Do you have any idea how many men i have killed while they were staring at my tits?”

    • Whipping her shirt off was one of Modesty Blaise’s signature moves. Whatever brainless mooks she was up against would then stop dead and stare, whereupon either she would shoot them or Willie Garvin would throw knives into their heads. She called it ‘The Nailer,’ if memory serves.

  23. “…a character who is a cross between George Washington, Genghis Khan, and the Punisher.”

    Now that’s a badass I’d want to read more of. I cannot wait.

  24. I have used Aria:Worlds RPG as a ‘template’ for a lot of the fluff around the setting. It helps me to make certain the world is sane, everything from geography to population centers to economics and natural resources, to how would a particular magic system make everything ….. odd. If nothing else it forces me to think about all of those details.

    Now if I could figure out how to convert RPG plots into books…

  25. ” amalgamation of Indian caste system, southeast Asian mythology, Mandarin bureaucracy, with a western nanny-state cronyism militant atheist mindset, and the Burakumin revolt against that led by a character who is a cross between George Washington, Genghis Khan, and the Punisher.”

    You totally stole my idea. JK. Sounds like fun. I always dig a good, no great, epic fantasy.

  26. Toni is on the harassment panel here in Memphis in a couple of weeks, I wonder if something will come up

  27. He didn’t quite hit every point on the checklist. #8 was completely missing, and I don’t think I saw #6 either. The whole screed was an exercise in combining #1 and #5, with a healthy dose of #7 for spice. He edged up against #2, #3, and #4, but didn’t really hit them until I commented, using the checklist: #2, #3, and #4 were promptly unleashed against me.

    The checklist is a great tool, BTW. Thanks!

  28. Bastard. You might actually get me to write.

    • I’d noticed how fascist the hipsters are … what if the US had avoided WWII, and Nazi Germany defeated the USSR, and had a cold war with the US?

      Goebbels captures the Frankfort School, and uses it on the US … goosestepping hippes attempt a putch at Kent State, and are defeated with heavy casualties by the National Guard … The hippies are all about white purity and socialism.

      Malcolm Little ( Malcolm X ) becomes the first black president on the Republican ticket, the Second American Civil War ensues, with the Nazi puppet leader LBJ … Nazi superweapons vs. M-60A3s, and tac-nukes through Georgia … a young Oberst Clinton bleeding out slumped from the hatch of a Pzkfz-15 Leopard …

  29. Larry, Larry, Larry. How can you resist the fisking? His post was poised, nay architected, for you.

    Titianfall must indeed, be a kick. :p

  30. Larry, I have to suggest a modification to your premise on jerks. By my experience I’m thinking that a lot more people would be jerks, given the opportunity, but by and large the overwhelming majority are not jerks. The non-jerks just don’t draw as much attention to themselves, so the jerk minority stands out.

    On the other hand, if you want some examples of what a total whackjob does when he’s completely unanswerable for his actions, Saddam’s son Uday will fit the bill nicely. The movie “The Devil’s Double” is about a guy who was Uday’s double for public appearances. After escaping, his story was too horrifying to *not* make a movie of.

    When the US forces took Baghdad, Uday fought to the death. He knew what was waiting for him if the people of Iraq ever got their hands on him.

    For those not wanting to watch the totally NSFW movie, Uday was worse than that blond jerk king in Game of Thrones. Much worse, and probably insane.

    Regarding your book, it can add some depth to have most of the descendants being aloof aristocracy, but not evil. Then you could have some really thorough assholes who are bad enough to send the whole group up against the wall in the end. The dynamics of the mildly annoying ones trying to bring their utter jerk cousins into line before they start a revolt can be interesting. Possibly even have some of them feel bad enough that they betray the bad eggs to get rid of them for self-protection.

    Anyhow, it sounds great!

  31. Glad to see there’s a new MHI novel coming soon. I’ve run through the first four already and I’m a third of the way through the Grimnoir series as well. (It’s currently competing with Game of Thrones for my attention). This prospective new book sounds badass as well.

  32. One of the best books for writers about world building is Guns, Germs, and Steel, only it is about understanding how our real world turned out the way it did, rather than creating a new one, but it should give you plenty of ideas for your imaginary ones.

    The problem with it is that it is an intellectually dishonest exercise. He tied himself in knots denying the obvious facts that racial differences (a) exist, and (b) matter.

    • He also completely ignores that China had many of the same advantages that he claims led toward European domination of so much of the world, but didn’t do what Europe did with it.

      • Yea, but when you combine GG&S with VDH’s Carnage and Culture, you get that missing piece of the explanation.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Davis_Hanson#Carnage_and_Culture

      • Read it. Borrowed it from Zack Hill. I like Victor Davis Hanson.

      • Honestly, that one makes a whole lot more sense all on its own. Warfare is one of the prime movers for technology throughout human history. While GG&S is right about some aspects, such as how agriculture let to cities, etc, I can’t help but believe that centuries of constant warfare in Europe did more.

      • I think the earlier portions about the importance of climate, domesticatable animals and plants, was the most valuable, and that alone would kill a whole lot of fantasy worlds. 🙂

        In the later portions, I’ll agree more with VDH about why the west won. Though the most interesting bit from GGS was at the very end, talking about the differences between Asia and Europe, and then China and the US, and how the constant competition of smaller groups led to more innovation than one big relatively homogenous group. And that made me think of the founders and our system of states where different philosophies could compete, versus the monolithic federal levithan we’re heading toward now, though I’m pretty sure that’s not what he was going for. 🙂

      • I agree with you about the earlier portions. I was completely on board with GG&S at that point.

        VDH has me on the later portions as well.

        War has been a prime motivator for technology for a long, long time. The more wars you fight, the greater your need for more advanced technology.

        FWIW, I never thought about how that tied into our system of government and such, but good point.

  33. “That’s one important thing to remember for the aspiring authors, just because you can explain how something works doesn’t mean you should, because that can be boring. But it still needs to make logical consistent internal sense if the topic does come up in the story.”

    This is so often overdone. I want a well thought out world but you do not need to spoon feed me every piece of it. The best I have ever seen this done was with Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Frank Herbert laid out a complex world where everything interacted yet the exact mechanics believable and often unrevealed. Take that rich, intelligent world and look what happened when Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson attempted to explain every name referenced… What a complete disaster. Instead of nuance and readers being drawn in as participants to the world in their attempt to grasp it they were bludgeoned into meat putty by the disaster of it all.

    • Unfortunately, the mechanics weren’t completely believable. Worms are a: at least the size of a small aircraft carrier and b: able to move through sand at a speed faster than a man could walk.

      One word: friction.

      • Ornithopters, glow globes, Spacing Guild, Sisterhood, Sheilds, Holtzman Effect, Mentats, Buttlerian Jihad, on and on and on. There are volumes of depth which Herbert only revealed what was needed yet I fully believe he had detailed for himself.

        To complain about the worms is a different type of argument. You disagree with the possibility of their existence yet that is not the discussion. I could come up with numerous reasons such an alien life form in an alien environment may exist. One might as well argue Dragons cannot exist in Game if Thrones or undead in Monster Hunters International. Those items are core to the stories. If the author properly crafts a world with tangible depth something bordering on the realms of believability can be more readily accepted.

  34. “Have you ever read a fantasy and been struck by how something about that world just felt off?”

    That’s what scuttled the Star Wars prequels for me – well that and the choice of a sniveling twit to play The Man Who Would Be Vader. I didn’t believe Lucas’s world(s).

    I feel the same way about those Cyberpunk worlds I have read; they are pictures of worlds that the Common Man (bless his black, flabby heart) would tolerate for about ten seconds. And I don’t care how wonderful your tech is, if you piss off the folks who do the plumbing and maintain the roads, you are in deep doo-doo.

  35. I forget, is Sanderson part of your writer’s gaming group? Your non-MHI fantasy series are definitely playing with some of the same tropes he messes with in Mistborn, and I was curious how much he was influencing you 🙂 Not calling it copycat by any means… but both this and Hard Magic sound like they could be different authors answering the same writing prompts.

    • I’m friends with Brandon but we’re not in the same game group. I live about 2 hours from where he does.

      • Cool. Looking forward to reading the new series. MHI is silly fun, but I’m a bigger fan of Hard Magic. I’m excited to see your take on a world that isn’t full of gun already. Are you brushing up on your melee skills in prep? 🙂

  36. I understand the quandary sir, world building on the level you are doing requires serious heavy lifting. I’m doing some myself but not to the level you are, and that alone is back breaking. Linguistics are a monumental pain as well.
    However, this place has been of wonderful help to me in many ways. Maybe it’ll assist you too if you want to take a look!
    http://world-building.com/

    Also, the “Choke on this hippies” line made me laugh out loud! 😀

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