World-Building 101

Over the course of the past year or so, particularly after embarking upon writing a fictional novel, I've had a fair number of people ask me where I start. This is a very personal question, because there are as many ways to start writing as there are writers. The best I can do is to share the strategy that has worked for me up until now — and will inevitably change and morph.

For the novel I'm currently finishing, I chose to start with the setting first. Or, in other words, I chose to start with building out a world! This "world" was initially much smaller than what most people would consider a world to be. In fact, it only amounted to a single building — the village TAVERN.

I first conceived of this TAVERN as the centerpiece of village life, a virtual "hub of humanity" where various people could come and go as they pleased. Many of these people are local residents, oftentimes life-long inhabitants of the town that has grown up around the TAVERN. And this is where the concept of characters started for the rest of the story.

Even the simple choice of a TAVERN necessitates the presence of certain people. One such person would be the TAVERN OWNER, which then opened me up to making certain choices in terms of characters such as friends and family. In this way, conceiving of characters became unavoidable, even before I had fully developed my world.

Although the world of the TAVERN is essentially identical in appearance to the world outside of it, the characters directly involved with the TAVERN have a very different perspective on the innermost workings of the world. In many ways, they can be viewed as the last bastions of Alchemical thought — potentially providing readers with a very different lens to view the world through.

After many months of writing, I decided it was finally time to codify the "rules" of this world. I was initially inspired by Chuck Jones's "Road Runner Rules". From there, I explicitly developed the rules for the outer world of "Eksolann" before finally fleshing out the rules "Easolann".

Like the "rules" created by Chuck Jones for the Road Runner, none of these rules represent "Laws" that cannot be broken. Instead, they help provide me with a set of guidlines to assist me in a remaining consistent with my world-building.

As always, share your questions and comments below!