Thursday, October 20, 2005

Procrastination World Building

I don't currently have any plans to venture into the SciFi/Fantasy genres, either as a subset of Romance or an entity all unto themselves. I simply don't have the imagination necessary to invent entire new planets and cultures and laws of physics. Contemplating the idea of time travel bends my non-scientific mind like a paperclip as it is, what with alternate time dimensions and the realities of history being changed by a miniscule event or running into past incarnations of yourself. Gak! I still don't fully grasp Einstein's Theory of Relativity or understand why jumbo jets are able to fly, so the idea of space travel or other dimensions is really out there for me. I won't even go into magic and faeries and other paranormal options because the possibilities are simply too great for my tiny brain to handle.

Even though I could never write the stuff, I love SciFi/Fantasy stories and movies. I think it's because I'm in awe of the talent required to pull them off well. Can I tell you that I view J.R.R. Tolkien as some kind of god, considering that he not only invented Middle Earth but several milleniums' worth of history to go with it? Plus a cast of literally thousands of characters. And languages. The guy invented complete languages, for crying out loud! Ones that actually sounded realistic when coming from Liv Tyler's mouth.

Anyway, if I continue down the path I've chosen writing-wise, I won't be required to do any major universe shifting. But I still have to build a world in which my characters work and play and love and fight. I'm a big fan of series featuring the same characters across stories (coughBrockmann'sTroubleshootersandTallDarkandDangerouscough). I have so many characters running through my head who all know each other and work together I've got a solid dozen books waiting on queue to be written, all of which take place in the Lynn Version of the world.

As such, I've spent the past couple of weeks doing some serious world building. My world actually takes place in the very near future. Because here's the deal. By the time I write my books, edit them, shop them around for months/years/decades and hopefully get The Call, plus the year to 18 month lead time between The Call and Book On The Shelf, whatever I write today is going to be years obsolete.

I know I can get around that little issue by simply not dating my books. Don't say more than "Present Day" in any timeline specified. I get that. What's harder, though, is that time is passing between real world events that I might want to reference and the ages of my characters. For example, say I have a guy who served in the First Gulf War when he was 22 years old. Today that guy would be 36. Since I can't move the War out of 1991, every year that passes my hero gets older and older, unless, of course, I want to have him get younger and younger when he was overseas. I don't imagine publishers are too interested in a story about a hero who served in a war when he was 12 years old.

So, do you see my problem?

Yeah, you are telling me what I need to do is just shut up and get busy writing and this all becomes a non-issue.

But, I would argue, I'm having a lot of fun building my world. I'm having a blast assembling a team of warriors, coming up with the things about them that are the same and the things that are different. I'm enjoying the research and loving creating their histories, both as individuals and as a group. I have several large spreadsheet cheatsheets that help me keep the facts straight, and since I'm a true spreadsheet geek at heart, this act of organizing and arranging is just pure geek heaven for me.

Too, I'm enjoying manipulating the world as it is to create artifical bad guys and crisis scenarios that require big time heroes and heroines to solve. It's fun making up fake countries and cities full of imaginary intrigue, danger and chaos. And it's even more fun giving my guys and gals the powers to fix everything in the end. Talk about feeling like a god.

In fact, I can kind of see why JRR Tolkien spent decades immersed in his own imaginary world. I'm certainly not about to invent any languages, but this procrastinating world building stuff is pretty cool.


AE Rought said...


This isn't procrastination, it is a very pertinent part of writing a believeable novel. Even sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal where a certain amount of reality suspension is required, the world in which it takes place must have the underpinings of normalacy.

The fact that it is fun for you, well... it's a bonus! :)

Lynn M said...

Yeah, I do know that it's important to establish the world of the story. In fact, not knowing the world often brings me to a full stop when I'm writing. I'll think of something and start writing, then realize I don't know who needs to be where and when and why, so I sit there staring at the screen thinking I need to work out all these details.

Actually, that's my goal this month. I want to work out the details. I want to be able to have a ready answer - or at least a great cheatsheet to refer to - when I'm writing and come across a situation that needs solving.

What's amazing is how much of a domino scenario it all creates. I need to know Fact K, but before I can figure out the answer, I need to figure out what Facts A through J are *g*.