The key to following today’s post on world building with my muse is the knowledge that I am at heart a scientist. A logical scientist. One who does not like to break the universal laws and concepts of science–as I understand them. One of my favorite laws is… matter can neither be created nor destroyed (in a closed system) but can be transferred.
However, I have to admit that I know from my experience as a scientist that when I setup an experiment or a DOE (Design of Experiment) with an expectation of what the most probable (according to the wonderful laws of science and the arcane, whacked, magical language of statistics)… the most probable, expected outcome… probably won’t happen. Therefore, I have come to expect surprises. From both inside and outside the box.
(Hence, the reason I say that I am a Voodoo scientist–because a lot of what I do in the mundane job involves dealing with live organisms that have this (some say cute, but I say…) annoying tendency to do the opposite of what I expect them to do. And yeah, there is a reason that a lot of voodoo scientists have a healthy dose of intuition–we need it to be one step ahead of those pesky characters, um, I mean… live organisms.)
If anyone else just thought or muttered, what the he** is she talking about? Let me explain. When you are building your world, you are basically building a DOE. A DOE is a tool that I (and many other folks in the scientist gig) use to establish a closed system where all of the input parameters are controlled. Inside the DOE with all of the input parameters controlled (i.e., temperature, incubation time, aggitation rate)… this is where your story happens. So before you can build your world, you have to have an idea of what you want it to do. Where you want it to go. What story do you want to unfold inside your closed system?
This part of world building involves a lot of day dreaming. At least for me it does. I take a story thread from my kernel of an idea, stick it in my closed system, then toss it out there and follow it through to the end, mentally. Did I like it? Not quite. Okay, go back to the beginning. What did I or did I not like about the previous story thread in the closed system (world design)? It was weak. Wasn’t unique enough. Didn’t give me the feel of what I wanted it to be. It just wasn’t cool enough for me to get excited. The magic didn’t work the way I wanted it to work. The characters don’t work there. They need something else. Yada, yada, yada. The list can go on and on and on. And usually sends me back to the beginning and the day dreaming ritual.
So let’s say that after doing the day dreaming routine n+1 number of times, I’ve finally come up with a concept that works as a closed system. Cool. I’ve got the basic idea of how I want my world to work. Now I get to add my characters that I’ll be sticking in this DOE. Awesome–next, I’ll do a dry run through of the primary, generic characters I see in my head… does it work? If it does, great! You’re done and… you’re not me. Apparently, I’m picky about my worlds. (Like that should be a surprise for anyone who knows me.)
n+1 times later… I accepted the fact that my closed system consists of two planes that are connected in a unique way. This unique way allows for the transfer of energy (magic) from one dimension to the other to occur in such a manner that one world can be almost void of magic, while the other is filled to the brim with it. And this happens in cycles. Why did I chose this? Because it gives me a way to explain to the neighbor next door (who already thinks I’m nuttier than the squirrels who are obsessed with breaking into that bird feeder over there that’s perched up on on that ten foot pole)… that the reason she can’t see the magical creatures I’m talking about is because they mostly live on the other plane/dimension–since they need magic in order to exist.
(Oh yeah, and at this point, you can probably sense that I am going to do something horribly wicked, downright evil, unfair, unjust, etc. to that other plane that is chocked full of magic–and it’s going to be a helluvalot fun. And then some. Because I will need a mechanism that drives my magical creatures from that dimension into this one… and then, I’ll probably kick it up a notch and install another mechanism that puts a choke hold on that flow of magic from the packed plane to the not so packed plane we live on. And then I’ll be presented with the sad little fact that I’ve got magical creatures who are essentially magic starved refugees who have only one source of magic on this non magically delicious plane.)
So there you have it–this is how I (as a logical creature with a tendency to look outside the box for my answers to understanding what’s in the box) build the worlds I play/write in.
I don’t know if this method will work for other world builders. But I will tell you that I have used this method not only in my mundane job (on an almost daily basis) but also in my writing to create contemporary, historical, and paranormal worlds. I have also used this method to create worlds when I have been the DM (Dungeon Master–some people refer to this as the GM or Game Master) for role playing in D&D and WarHammer systems. I know that for me, I am a detail oriented person. So I personally don’t like to go into writing a story without knowing the pertinent details that are essential to the characters’ success in the story/campaign. But again, that’s me and my quirks. 😉
Feel free to leave and thoughts, comments, or questions about my method of maddness for using DOE to build the basic world premise for my whacked (oh so very cool) stories. I originally intended to share with you on this post how I came up with the cool characters I’ve dropped into this world, but then realized that I coudn’t do that until I had the basic world premise built. So next up, I’ll look at that horrible thing I do to the other plane and what the consequences are the humans who live in this plane and… just where did I hide the magical snacks in this non-magically full plane.
Take care and happy writing!