Friday, August 22, 2014

Do you need help with your storyworld?

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.

I helped Jill proofread her newest release, Storyworld First: Creating a Unique Fantasy World for Your Novel, and it was so much fun.



I'm not a fantasy writer, but I was fascinated by the process for creating a whole world to tell a story in. If you're a fantasy writer, you need this book, and here's why:

1. Jill breaks down the process in such a clear way. She starts with an overview of the components of world building, and then she delves deeper into each one.

2. Jill has written award-winning fantasy and sci-fi books, so the girl knows what she's talking about.

3. Jill encourages writers to write their heart and write their story, but she also pushes writers to be unique and to work hard. The effect of this feels like being given a warm hug and then a pep talk.

4. Jill talks about her own mistakes. This is such a rare trait in a professional artist, and it makes it so much easier to learn from her.

5. Jill doesn't just talk about how to create unique beasts for your world, how to integrate your map into your plot, or how to develop interesting magic. She walks you through it with the same worksheets and helpful lists that she uses when working on her storyworlds.

Storyworld First is available in both paperback and ebook forms, and should totally be on your wish list, if not your buy-right-now-because-I-must-have-it list.

I'm giving away an e-copy of Storyworld First to one lucky person. This giveaway is open to residents of all countries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a non-fantasy writer, I'm curious to hear from you fantasy writers. What part of worldbuilding is your favorite? With what do you struggle the most?

65 comments:

  1. I love worldbuilding, having at least ten worlds in various states of development, all of which are connected on some level. Personally, my favorite part of worldbuilding is the physics. I love messing around with the shape and composition of a new world, and forcing myself to think through what the repercusions of those changes might be. (i.e. in my inverted sphere world, light serves as a repelling force in place of gravity, which means that one is much lighter at night than they are during the day, which means most flying creatures are at least somewhat nocturnal.) My least favorite is ... hard to pick, but I'll go with the history. There's just so much of that you have to develop if you want to make a believable society.

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  2. I am so going to buy and read this book!!!

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  3. I love creating different landscapes in my story world but I can't ever think of what to name them. I would love to win this book, it would be a great help to me!

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  4. I don't have a twitter, or a facebook. Could i do the same thing on pinterest? (Follow Mrs. Williamson, say something about the giveaway?) If not, that's fine :)

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    1. The reason why Pinterest isn't an option is that you can only add Pinterest to Rafflecopter giveaways if you have a paid account. I don't have a paid account. Otherwise, absolutely. Pinterest is my favorite :)

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    2. Oooh...good question. How would we log that on the giveaway?

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    3. I can't think of a good way to, sadly.

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  5. I could really use a book like this, contest or no. One of the most difficult parts of writing for me is not only designing a vivid world, but also selecting how much of it needs to go into the book. Maybe I'll get a few hints on the first part, at least!

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  6. I need to read this book. I write primarily fantasy, but I haven't done much work on my storyworlds. One thing I do enjoy (and have done a fair bit of) is creating the legends and history of the storyworld. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  7. The thing I enjoy most about creating a story world is figuring the landscape and environment. I think I struggle with making the world seem real technology-wise, even if the novel isn't a sci-fi genre.

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  8. Not boring my readers with too much description. And, conversely, including enough description so that my readers feel like they are really there.

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  9. I love to build storyworlds because it allows me to be fully in control, and it lets me change certain variables to make life that much harder for my characters. But I struggle with setting boundaries for what can and cannot exist in my world.

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  10. I'm an in-my-spare-time writer and fantasy started to inspire me when I saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the cinema when it came out. At the moment, my siblings and I are working on this elaborate world, each with our own countries and ideas so the challenge at the moment is to fit everyone's ideas into this world, but I love having complete control over 'my' countries and pulling inspiration for fashion, culture, names and geography from pretty much everything.

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  11. I definitely use world-building in what I write. I like to create the history and legend of the world with songs and tales and beliefs. But I also like to explore the cultures of our world and mix and match things together to create a whole new batch of cultures for the new world. :)

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  12. Oh wow. I'm just starting to work on the world building for my WIP! I need this sooooooo bad!!!!

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  13. I absolutely love creating the scientific laws and magical abilities of the world that make it so different from ours. The hardest part for me is making the place different, but not too cliche. I also have the tendency to want every kind of terrain in the same world, and often that's not realistic! :)

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  14. Yay! It's finally out! Amazon, here I come. :)

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  15. MoreShipsThanTheNavyAugust 22, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I tend not to do enough world building at first, so the storyworld ends up pretty similar to Earth. When I do flesh it out in my head, I generally don't include nearly enough description. (53K fantasy, anyone?) I really love creating the magic of the world, though. In this story it's an integral part.

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  16. World building is one of my favorite parts of creating a story. :) Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway, Stephanie. Jill's book sounds and looks and great!

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  17. Looks really good! I haven't gotten into any of my fantasy books yet but I do write science fiction which has its own share of world building. With my lack of world building skills, I should really stick to contemporary :)

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  18. I love making maps for my fantasy storys, but it's hard for me to landscape.

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  19. I only write fantasy once in a while but I think my favorite part is making up unique creatures and landscapes. Least favorite? Names. Ugh.

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    1. Yes, most definitely, names are tricky stuff. And I am only too glad to find people who agree with me. Until now I thought I suffered alone!...

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  20. For me, I absolutely love drawing maps. When I was younger and started reading the Chronicles of Narnia, I would stare at the maps for hours. I also like making up cultures--giving the reasons why these people dress this way and hunt this way... etc.

    My least favorite part is probably names. I struggle with making names that sound not-modern but are also prounounceable.

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  21. I love mapping out the world and the history. :) I struggle with names mostly. :)
    Thanks for the AWESOME giveaway!!

    -Ryebrynn

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  22. Story worlds are probably my favorite part of any book :3

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  23. I'm going to read this book, contest or no contest! My first draft's storyworld leaves much to be desired. (Like landscapes, maps, cultures, religions, explanations, etc.) I'm beginning to think I might be better suited for writing contemporary, lol. But my MC is not, and neither is her story. And so I find myself writing fantasy. :)

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  24. Hmm. I tried to post a comment and it didn't work. Here's to hoping I don't comment twice, now.
    I'm not much good at world building, which is one of the reasons I don't write fantasy or sci-fi. I know there's plenty I can learn from this book, though. Plus I currently own all of Jill's books, so I'd hate to break that record. :P

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  25. This is exactly the book I need. Fantasy is my first love, but I'm really weak as far as worldbuilding goes. I can't wait to read this!

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  26. My favorite is developing the social rules and biases within which my characters will interact. My least is historical back story. I love history in real life, but I have a hard time creating history for a whole society.

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  27. I suddenly find myself in need of inspiration. Any suggestions?

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  28. My story world is a combination of futuristic and fairy tale elements.

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  29. Just the book I need! I'm writing a fantasy story right now and I'm having a little trouble with the story world.

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  30. I'm not a fantasy writer, probably never will be. A thought just occurred to me, though--don't all writers, whether fantasy or not, build worlds? Maybe not as much as a fantasy world would be, but we all DO build worlds, whatever we're writing about.

    And, since I do in a sense "build" worlds in my historical fiction, I'd say my favorite part is making the world fit or go against the people that are in it. The hardest part would be imagining how it looks, and then trying to describe it.

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    1. Absolutely we do. We're still creating a storyworld that we hope the readers don't want to leave, same as fantasy and sci-fi writers.

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  31. This book sounds great, Jill! When I first started writing fantasy, worldbuilding was my least favorite part, but now I'm totally in love! I got a lot better after I took Econ and Government in school, so if any of you are really struggling to worldbuild.
    Best of luck on the book release, Jill!
    ~Sarah Faulkner

    Inklined

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  32. My favorite part of world building is creating the different cultures and figuring out how they affect and interact with each other. I also love coming up with the history, much like my literary role model J.R.R. Tolkien.

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  33. I really struggle with making my worlds BIG enough. They tend to be big in my head but I can't get all the detail down on paper without...you know...info dumping or anything. But I do love creating creatures and scary jungles and scenery. ;)

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  34. I've barely started writing any kind of fantasy anything, so my storyworlds could use some, er, a LOT of work. Yeahhhh...let's not even go there. :P Favorite part? At first I thought it was names, but I changed my mind pretty fast. Yikes. So now, it's probably coming up with unique locations and culture things. It's hard, and I'm still pretty bad at it, but it is fun. :)

    Question...does this mean there's going to be, like, a Go Teen Writers series or something?! Because that would be AWESOME.

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    1. Do you mean of writing books? I'll neither confirm nor deny that Jill and I are discussing another writing book...

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    2. Yes, I meant of writing books. Eeep!

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  35. Histories of different cultures and races is a huge task! So is creating realistic geography and climates. But I enjoy creating different races. Creating stereotypes for them, exceptions to the stereotypes in my characters, and unique appearances. Feuds between nations is so much fun as well - using the stereotypical characteristics of a nation's people and then putting a people bound to come into conflict with the first nation right next door to them is such fun. Watching their cunning, aggressiveness, and stubbornness clash and thinking, "Haha, you people are ridiculous." Then remembering that I made them that way. O.o

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  36. So excited about this! Looks like a great book, Jill! I'm not the greatest with world building, so this would be fantastic.

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  37. Amazing looking book! Creating a world can be difficult when trying to make it different and unique.

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  38. Worldbuilding is fun but hard! I especially struggle with the geography.

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  40. Wow, this looks like a really great resource! I love world building because I love describing the scenery/setting, but sometimes I struggle with the more important details. And the last thing I want is a vague story world! Thanks for the giveaway :)

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  41. I think my favorite (and also, perversely, the most difficult) part of worldbuilding for me is the culture. It's so much fun to apply weird little tidbits and customs and have my characters encounter them.

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  42. I think one of this hardest parts is making sure that it all fits. There may be an element of suspended reality, but it still has to work. Dragons may be deafened through this weakness, and magical butterflies have this strength, and the hero has these abilities and this race can do these things -- but it all has to fit together and make sense. That's what makes tolkien's books to intricate and real.

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  43. To me, world-building is one of the best parts about writing in the fantasy genre. I enjoy creating races, cultures, climates, languages, species and playing around with them all. I also enjoy putting the Pinterest storyboards together. ;)

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    1. The hardest part, though, is creating languages that sound realistic and are also consistent.

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  44. I absolutely love fantasy, sci-fi and all things speculative. I do have a hard time with storybuilding, though I enjoy it, I often find it to be overwhelming to know where to even start, and I often quit before I start. It is imperative to a good speculative novel though, which I want to be able to write, so I am very looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this book! :D

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  45. This book looks pretty interesting, though I write little fantasy.

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  46. I love creating the legends and history of my world, and the way each culture interprets those legends. The hardest thing about worldbuilding (for me, anyway) is definitely creating the geography and maps (and making them even semi-plausible). This book looks awesome! Fingers crossed that I win!

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  47. The hardest part of world-building for me is history. I usually know where things are now, but not why and how they got there. And even if I do have the history worked out, I never know how much/little to use.

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  48. I've been thinking about writing in fantasy, but I would still love this book because I'm curious about the process!

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  49. AAAH!!! This is AWESOME! Just what I need right now as I've been struggling with creating a unique and imaginative world.

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  50. Ooh... this sounds great! I'm working on a sci first and a fantasy so this seems useful. Entered!

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  51. My main struggle is focusing too much on the characters rather than the story world. This book looks awesome!
    In Christ,
    Sarah

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  52. This looks like an awesome resource. I'm in the middle of a story that I'm sure I need more work in world building.

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  53. I'm sure I could work on world building more than I have right now. I want to make an unforgettable world, and this book seems helpful!

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  54. I absolutely love world building! I love creating the history, culture, government, magic, language, etc. for a new world. I think my biggest challenge is knowing how much to put in! I tend to go a little overboard.

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  55. Worldbuilding is fantastic! Most of all, I love creating cultures and weaving in little details about how people live and how it's different from where other people live. The hardest part for me is probably how the school or the occupations differ from today's modern day educations and such. It's hard to think into the future like that and imagine how the opportunities will realistically change.

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