Friday, October 4, 2013

Storyworld Builder's Disease

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

I mentioned how I really got into this whole storyworld building thing early on when I was working on By Darkness Hid. I drew the map, I named the cities, I wrote a history and a description of each city, I researched climates and the animals and plant life that went with each type, I drew floor plans of castles, got lost for a while researching types of swords, then--since I'd been a fashion design major--I thought it might be fun to draw the clothing for some of my main characters.

It was during one such fashion coloring moment that my husband said, "I thought you were going to write a book."

And I was like, "Oh. Yeah."

An early drawing of who became Lord Nathak
And I looked around me. At the mounds of papers, the piles of markers, the lead stains of the side of my hand from sketching the map again and again to get it just right. I looked at the pile of encyclopedias on the floor, the binder I had started to organize all of these things. And I realized that I might have gone too far.

So after about three months of playing with my storyworld, my husband knocked some sense into me. I set aside my piles of storyworld stuff, and I started to write the book. Good thing Brad had said something. If he hadn't, I might still be playing around with that storyworld today!

This is what's affectionately known to science fiction and fantasy writers as Storyworld Builder's Disease. And it happens to the best of us. Because you know what? It's fun to make up a new world! And it can suck you in. And you can get lost there for a very long time.

Some people like it there. You never have to actually do any writing in that place.

But do you want to write a book or what? Because if you do, then you've got to do the hard work of writing that book.

So take the time you need to build your storyworld. But give yourself a deadline, and when you reach it. Stop. Write! You can always go back and create a deeper storyworld. But if you get lost forever with Storyworld Builder's Disease, we'll never get to read your staggering work of genius.

Have you ever had Storyworld Builder's Disease? How did you come to realize it? How did you get past it?

12 comments:

  1. Oh goodness, thank you, thank you, thank you! I have not begun to make my story world yet (saving it for those long car rides across America ;) But now I know to set a period of time! Btw, that drawing is totally awesome! :)

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  2. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Storybuilding can get pretty exciting, if you ask me.
    I am so excited because for once, a character looks exactly like I pictured him to be!
    (Which is saying something. Must mean you're great a description.) :)
    Like TW said, that drawing is awesome!

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    1. BTW, I don't think i've ever gotten Story Builder's Disease though. Sounds scary. Did you have to get a shot? XD
      Well, I do know for one story world, I had several ideas for it that I began thinking more than I usually do for a story world.

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  3. I've never had Story Builder's Disease, but I definitely get Character Developer's Disease. There are way to many options available for a writer to waste time and never actually write. The solution...WRITE! :D

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    1. P.S. I didn't know you were an artist, Jill. ;)

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    2. Maybe you should have illustrated Blood of Kings more. :)

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  4. What I do to prevent myself from too much planning and day dreaming is I write the first three chapters, decide if the story is definitively something something I want to continue working on, and then spend about a week on character drafts, world development and the like. I also then write the ending and do some basic plotting. But I only give myself about a week or so. Then I get back to writing. ;)

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  5. I get this all the time. Got it for the one I was planning for this November, and now I'm tired of my story and I hate the whole thing; the plot, the world I created, and every single character. I guess I'll just have to take a break from that particular story! It's because I spent like six months meticulously planning every character (and there are a lot of them, so.)

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    1. That happens to me if I plot it to much, I think. I just start to hate it all! Haha, but it can be disappointing because plotting can be fun...:)
      I don't think I've ever had that disease, but I used to make if up more as I go along, instead of now where I try to have a pretty good idea and basic plot.

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  6. I think this can happen for any novel you're writing ... whatever genre. Great post, Mrs. Willamson (and I love your drawing).

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  7. Yeah some of my friends and I do that--the drawing part is a doosey for us, haha. Usually we have our drive to take us through though. We're a special group of writers. :) Jill, do you think you could sometime post your drawings somewhere for us fans to gawk at? Would be kind of cool to have a picture in our heads.

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    1. From Amo Libros:
      Ooh, yes please!!! I love to look at authors' pictures of their characters!!!!!

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