MISADVENTURES IN WORLDBUILDING

Well, this post is going to veer into a much different direction than I first intended.  It was supposed to be an inspirational piece about how one can follow a singular vision to create a fantastic alternate universe.  “This means something.  This is important.”

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Yeah, something like that.

A few years ago, when I first started writing Halteres, I spent countless hours worldbuilding.  I researched (which I LOVE), drew heavily on my background in evolution, ecology, biotechnology, astronomy, and environmental science, and did painstaking calculations to ensure I created an extraordinary, plausible world.  Yes, I did math.  If you don’t believe me, here are a couple of products of my work.

HALTERES SPECS

HALTERES- TIME AND MOTION

I checked my work against the masters; Tolkien, Herbert, Simmons, and Corey.  I tried to avoid the pitfalls by crosschecking with the experts.  These two articles were among my favorite.

Five Worldbuilding Mistakes Even Enthusiasts Make

and

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

I thought I was on the right track.  Hey, it all sounded good to me!  I was like, “Load up the gunships, let’s unleash Halteres on the world!”

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But Halteres never got picked up.  I shied away from criticism, was reluctant to do rewrites, and moved on to the next project, Opposable.  Then, just today, I stumbled across this quote.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfill their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically necessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.”

M. John Harrison

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He’s right!  Everyone was right.  My critique group was right, RJT was right, SLB…was right.  I got lost in my own world…building.  My writing was bogged down with details, sucking all the life out of the story.  I wasted so much time attempting to ‘exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there’.

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No I didn’t!  While Halteres may never find its place in the literary universe, it had to be written.  It was my sanctuary in a very difficult time.  It’s an achievement I’m very proud of.

I certainly don’t regret writing Halteres.  I’m glad I did all that research and (ugh!) math.  It now serves as my textbook.  I can draw on it for current (Opposable) and future (Ghasm) projects, touch on it, tease it in a way that’s far more effective.  Halteres will always be a part of my writing, and who knows, we may all end up there eventually.

Thank you all for your support and feedback.  Sorry I’m so slow to come around, but hey, I’m a writer lost in his own universe.

Until next time, bother me, I’m razing a world.

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About the author

The universe planted many ideas in my mind. I pass them off as my own, but know they're stolen. My ideas gain traction, grow, and consume me. I become my ideas. The universe implants the idea of me in my brain. I am stolen.

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