On the 28th of April we welcomed author and creative writing tutor David Bishop to West Lothian Writers for a second time. After his first successful workshop we asked him back to look at the topic of Worldbuilding. As always David didn’t disappoint and below the break you will find highlights from the workshop including a definition and quite a few exercises for you to try.
What is Worldbuilding?
David defines worldbuilding as
the contruction of a credible backdrop for your fiction
In practice this means pointing out the differences in the world in which your story is set and working out the cause and effect of this difference. This leads us onto our first exercise which is:
Imagine a city where everyone has a super power
Now once you have worked out what that super power list the consequences the super power has on your fictional world. For example, would new laws need to be introduced or would human interaction change?
The Red Dagger Incident
The best form of worldbuilding is when the reader doesn’t notice the worldbuilding which means it needs to be mixed in with the story and character led. A great example of this is what David calls ‘The Red Dagger incident’ which is where one of your characters refers to an incident in the past but gives no detail such as “this isn’t as bad as the red daggers incident.” This simple nine word phrase gives the world and its character a sense of history with no whether description needed. A real world example of this would be the shooting of JFK or September the 11th, cultural touch stones that almost everyone remembers.
Another way of ensuring that your worldbuilding is character led is through the following exercise. Go back to your fictional super powered city from the previous exercise and answer the following three questions:
- How does your super powered city smell at night?
- How does the city look from above?
- How does your city sound?
Each of these three questions makes use of your senses so gives the reader an intiment description of your world but also an insight into your character(s).
The above is just a taster of the advice and exercises David provided for us in a brilliant workshop. We hope to have him back again soon.
What are your favourite methods of worldbuilding in your writing?