You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence,” acclaimed science fiction writer Octavia Butler once said about creating stories. Indeed, writing is never easy, and the task of worldbuilding isn’t a walk in the park either.
Creating a world for your story often begins with a blank page, but don’t worry, NRM is here to assist you in writing the perfect worldbuilding for your narrative with these four tips.
- SO WHAT KIND OF WORLD DO YOU WANT?
Can you imagine a gloomy town, with the sun barely shining like Forks (the town in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series) set in a different story, say C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia? Notice the descriptive difference between the two?
The world you create in your story should always aim to help with the story. There are many types of world you can build into your narrative: from the surreal and mythical world where witches can roam freely to the vibrant and oddly hued surroundings where every beast is a friend. Be creative and pour all those ideas out!
Also, don’t forget that the greatest inspiration you can base your world on is the one you are living in right now.
- SET A SHAPE ON THE BACKGROUND
The background is one of the essential elements in worldbuilding. Politics, hierarchy, the environment, culture, gender, and species are what create a world. Balance out each element by showing its pros and cons. Create a history for this world and write from its perspective.
Hogwarts won’t be the Hogwarts most of us dreamt of stepping inside if not for its elaborate history. The Shire wouldn’t even work if not written well on paper. Set a shape on the background of your world in the sense that there should be a set of established rules.
- AIM TO CONVINCE/ EACH SENSE CAN HELP THE LIE
The trickiest part in the art of Worldbuilding is creating an image in the reader’s mind with words. The power to manipulate and convince your readers isn’t exactly something you can practice in your writing in a day. Satisfying the five senses—touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing—should progress your made-up world into a more convincing setting.
It is best not to rely too much on epigraphs on the world because the reader can only hold so much information. Worldbuilding adds richness to the story, but it doesn’t mean that the world should be too emphasized in writing.
- KEEP IT GROUNDED
Fantasy and science fiction writer Brandon Anderson once said, “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
A writer neither needs to bombard every phrase with all the fancy words nor does he/she need to hold academic accolades to be considered a good one. Sometimes, what makes up good writing is the ability to stir emotions with a play of words. Keep your world grounded in the story.
Don’t forget, great storytellers know when to end a story! Scribble a world where readers wouldn’t want to leave even if the story already ended.
Did you know
Haley Joel Osment, the boy who delivered The Sixth Sense’s famous line “I see dead people,” got the role for one of three reasons: He was the best choice for it, he was the only boy who wore a tie in the auditions, and he impressed director M. Night Shyamalan for reading the whole script three times the night before the auditions.
The scene where Sadako comes out of the well did not use any special effects in the original Japanese horror installation of Ringu (1998). Actress Rie Ino’o was a student of the Kabuki theatre known for exaggerating movement and jerking motions to convey emotions. During the shoot, the production filmed Ino’o walking backward and ran the scene in reverse, making Sadako’s walk seem unnatural and nonhuman.
Lupita Nyong’o in Us (2019) based her character Red’s voice on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s spasmodic dysphonia, a disorder that causes involuntary spasms of the larynx. This is to remain in character as Red as it was stated in the script that she had not used her voice in many years. Lupita worked with an ENT specialist, a vocal therapist, and a dialect coach so as not to damage her vocal cords. Welp, that’s a Yale drama school graduate for you.
Jack Nicholson plauded Shelley Duvall’s performance in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 slasher The Shining. He claims it was the most difficult role he’s ever seen an actress take on, while Duvall considers it the hardest she has played in her career. She suffered from nervous exhaustion, physical illness, and hair loss throughout filming.
In case you missed it, actress Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Psycho lead star Janet Leigh. Ironically, Jamie’s first film to star in is Halloween (1978), also a horror movie. She went on to star the whole Halloween franchise—Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Halloween (2018), and Halloween Kills (2021)— which spans six decades.
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