Okay, so I’ve got an idea, a bare bones world, and I’ve incubated on it. Good job! WTG! The hard stuff is out of the way.
Now what? I need who is going to live in that world. If you’re anything like me, then you probably already have an idea of what these character races look like–how they act–what they do–what their names are–what are their cool paranormal/fantastical powers. But what are they? Are they vamp? Are they weres? Are they mythological creatures of old? Are they ordinary people pushed to extraordinary limits?
For my Tales of WOE series, I knew that one of my races were… my favorite D&D character race. Elves. But I knew that they also weren’t your average, ordinary, run of the mill–oh look Santa and his elves are here–kind of elves. Absolutely not. They have a world of their own. They have a political system. They have their woes and joys. They are a living breathing part of my creative world.
I also know that I have dragons, gods, imps, goblins, demons, and a myriad of other creatures who factor into that elven world. I also know that the world is set in contemporary times and,so that means, I have humans. Ordinary average run of the mill humans who are the ones standing behind and in front of you in the line at the store.
So how do I mix them all together? How do I make them work together in this magical world? And are they aware of each other and do they recognize other races and… how does the world work together as a well oiled machine and all its parts work together?
Mooohahahahaha—that is my secret for now and I can tell you that it’s way outside the box for most. But I can tell you the process of how I decided to merge them together. The process: stick all of it in a blender, then shake them up. And see where they land.
Yeah, like that explains anything. lol.
Okay, how did I do it. Really–how did I do it? Simple… take one character from each race. Get into that character’s POV. Present that character with the series idea and see where they go. You’ll find out all kinds of interesting information about how that race and character feel about the series goal, motivation, and conflict. Do that for each character. Then set your notes aside from that little experiement. Set it aside for one day. Do something that has nothing to do with the world you’re building.
After one day of incubation–or more if life and your process deem appropriate–then go back and read through all of your notes. Take note of the differences and items that jump out at you from the notes. Those differences and shiny differences just may end up being some of the coolest turning points in your whole series–book–or world.
A note on how deep into POV to go for each of these races during this exercise–I do the secondary characters first. Then I do the primary characters. The ones that I know will have a direct impact on the world. I do this first run through the POVs with a light–hey let’s get to know you–sort of attitude. I don’t read too deeply into anything unless I feel the pull to do so. Why? Because I am using this activity as a way to formulate the natural flow of the world for the series plot. Because what I have found is that if I read too deeply into it the first time, then I may miss the message that my creative–non logical–part of my writer had to say in the beginning when the idea was born.
Never try to overwrite that first kernel of an idea. Unless you discover that you need to. This is a part of you recognizing your process. If at any point in the world building you feel that you have gone too far or if it becomes too hard and triggers emotions of anger and frustration… then back off and go back to the original idea that started the journey.
And yeah, the whole process is circular. By the end of it, you may not use anything that you’ve written in your notes for this world you are building, but it wasn’t all for naught. Because guess what… regardless of how far into this you’ve gone, you know more about the world you’re writing in than you did at the start.
Even if all you know is what is NOT going to happen in that world.
Good luck and happy world building!