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Tips for writing and worldbuilding - Dfleymmes1134 - 08-06-2013

Many of these may not apply to the actual EG articles, as the entire point of most of OA is to satiate the fan desire to see the details of a world.
The 7 deadly sins of Worldbuilding
http://io9.com/does-the-phantom-menace-have-better-worldbuilding-than-1026016172


RE: Tips for writing and worldbuilding - Drashner1 - 08-06-2013

Neat articlesSmile

Thinking about it, I think we do a pretty good job avoiding most of the deadly sins, with the possible exception of 6 and 7. Six because we need more stories and Days in the Life and such to really handle that bit and a lot more or much bigger ones to really come close to giving a sense of the entire scope of the setting (or at least more of it). Seven because although we list out vast numbers of technologies and cultures and groups and everything else, we don't have a lot of descriptions of how it all (or some significant chunk of it) plays together. Again, this would be helped by more stories or similar things.

Hmm. This sort of gives me an idea...

For the other 'sins', I think we do OK, although the nature of the project makes it a continuously evolving thing so if we have some element left out, its not like it won't ever be added.

Anyway, just my perspective. What do others think?

Todd


RE: Tips for writing and worldbuilding - Matterplay1 - 08-13-2013

(08-06-2013, 10:45 AM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: Many of these may not apply to the actual EG articles, as the entire point of most of OA is to satiate the fan desire to see the details of a world.
[url=http://io9.com/7-deadly-sins-of-worldbuilding-998817537
]The 7 deadly sins of Worldbuilding[/url]
http://io9.com/does-the-phantom-menace-have-better-worldbuilding-than-1026016172

Since we're a work-in-progress we don't entirely avoid the pitfalls on this list though we've made a very good beginning.

We've done a pretty good job with 1 and with 2, but the secondary note under 2 mentions something we could use a lot more of: lives of ordinary people. We spend a lot of time talking about transapients, a little time talking about the lives of famous individuals who were not transapient (or who started out as 'merely' sapient/sophont), and almost no time talking about 'ordinary folks'. By the way, for those who like to dig into 'ordinary life' for a period I recommend the works of the historian Bruce Trigger. It's a little dense, because it's geared to other historians, but for instance his book 'Ancient Egypt: A Social History' is a good antidote to the 'kings, priests, armies and public works' view of early Egyptian history. For a broader view, 'Understanding Early Civilizations' gives a broad comparative scope that takes the earliest civilizations across a range of the world (Valley of Mexico, Classical Maya, Inka, Yoruba-Benin, Egypt, Southern Mesopotamia, Shang China) and looks for common elements in the lives of the people who lived there and then.

We've avoided items 3 and 4 but with a few exceptions we've done so only in a limited sense. We've often implied or stated that polities and cultural groups are diverse, so we're off the hook there, but so far we are short on concrete examples of that diversity.

Item 6 could use a lot more work, as we're all well aware. I mean to address this myself in the near future, with some items on what it's like for a human (or someone similar) to take a walk, or take a meal, or listen to the sounds in the neighbourhood, or use 'the facilities' either in a public or private space, or carry out other mundane activities.

In general, our answer to a question about the setting has often been to discuss what the archailects or the lesser transapients would do, or do about it, rather than to consider what life is like for the vast numbers of ordinary sophonts whose lives are largely unaffected by them because they are beyond the range or beneath the notice of the setting's transapient 'macrobes' as our own microbes are beneath the range and notice of humans. We have many more vignettes to paint and stories to tell.


RE: Tips for writing and worldbuilding - Drashner1 - 08-13-2013

Reading Stephen's thoughts, a notion occurs - From time to time we've had stories or vignettes (e.g., traveler's notes) that take place at a written up locale within the setting. Usually, it shakes out that we put a link from the relevant EG article(s) to the story that illustrates it. Perhaps we should push this a bit more and in a somewhat different manner.

Instead of writing stuff that just happens to be in a particular place we've already written about, maybe we could look to add stories/vignettes to the already existing worlds/systems in the setting. So the EG on Djed could get a vignette or day in the life set there or the like. Ultimately we might shift these to their own tab or window on a redesigned website so that people could have a more 'holistic' experience of them as part of the overall description of that world or system. Illustrations relating to the story could also be included if anyone gets a yen to do some.

On a couple of related notes:

a) Sort of tying into the 'Pulling Out All the Stops' thread I posted earlier - one of the thing we (and a lot of hard SF) tend to do is spend a lot of time explaining the nuts-n-bolts of the setting when writing stories. Lots of exposition on HOW something (usually a gadget) works. Perhaps we should move away from that or try to avoid it in our storytelling and simply 'show' the tech in action without bothering to explain how it works. That's sort of what the EG is for anyway. If we really want to we could perhaps include links to the relevant EG pages if the author cared to. Or fold excerpts from EG entries into the story.

b) One thing we might also do to help address the diversity of the setting (which can sometimes feel as intimidating as trying to drink from a firehose) is step back from trying to describe the vast swathes of diversity across the entire setting or an entire empire and instead focus just on one world or system or hab. An easy starting point for this could be the capital systems of each of the Sephirotics. Many of them have fairly extensive writeups already, so it would give us a starting point.

Basically we might set up a major page or series of interlinked pages about a given capital system (although could use others if we wanted) that gets into aspects of not just the tech and infrastructure but the different races and clades living there, the various cultures, the religions, arts, etc. etc. including the lives of the 'average' people. This could let us concentrate a lot of information in one place while also giving us the flexibility (via the magic of linking) to add or collect content organically instead of trying to produce a single massive article covering all aspects of everything (which can be pretty daunting in its own right).

What do y'all think of the above? What other ideas do folks have on how we might improve our depiction of the setting?

Todd