Tag Archives: Worldbuilding

14.24: Political Intrigue

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER.

In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for stories in which the flow of information and misinformation affect the shift of power, and how to craft those stories so they’re, well… intriguing instead of being boring.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take a classic fairy tale. Assume that the fairy tale was just the cover story…

Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Choshki, narrated by Priya Ayyar

14.23: Governments Large and Small

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

What kinds of governmental systems do you live within? What kinds do you implement? Answering these questions can help you with the worldbuilding of political power structures. In this episode we’ll talk about all that. (Within our time limit, of course.)

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

 

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Come up with your own system along the lines of the “four estates” model common in the west.

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine, narrated by Amy Landon

14.18: Setting as Theme

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

Theme is one of those high-falutin’ concepts we’re often reluctant to approach in a nuts-and-bolts sort of way. In this episode we’ll talk about how our themes can be communicated through elements of our settings, deepening reader engagement with the things we write.

We offer examples from our own work, and from things we’ve watched or read which have done this in ways that resonated well for us.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Rob Kimbro, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Pick a sensory thematic element, and make it recurring. Determine a reason for it to appear in each scene.

Babylon 5, by J. Michael Stracynski

14.14: When To Tell

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

“Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about telling. (We’d show you about telling, but we still don’t have a video feed.)

Credits: This episode was recorded by Rob Kimbro, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Pick an important scene from your work. Cut it. Now have a character transition us across where that scene used to be.

The Hobbit: The Two Hour Fan Editby Fiona van Dahl (and MGM/New Line Cinema/Wingnut Films)

14.11: Magic Without Rules

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’ll talk about not just about the why, but also the how.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take a story with rule-based magic. Now have the rules all go wrong, the characters realize they don’t really understand the rules at all.

Bookburners, by Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, Margaret Dunlap, Andrea Phillips, Brian Slattery, and Amal el Mohtar

14.10: Magic Systems

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa.

NOTE: In this episode we’re talking about “hard” magic systems, where there are well-defined rule sets (even if the reader isn’t shown them explicitly.) Next week we’ll talk about “soft” magic.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take a “soft” magic system, and turn it into a “hard” system. Give Gandalf rules

The Third Eye, by Mahtab Narsimhan

14.9: Showing Off

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

Let’s infodump without infodumping. Let’s deliver lots of exposition without sounding expository. Let’s talk with the maid and the butler without having maid-and-butler dialog.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson

 

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Write some ephemera for your world

Shadiversity (Vidcast), by Shad M. Brooks

14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon

We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked:

  • What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process?
  • How do you treat overlaps between real-world religions and fictional religions when the fictional religions are part of the story’s fundamental conflict?
  • How much worldbuilding do you have figured out before you start your first draft, and how much do you discover on the fly?
  • What’s the point in a book beyond which you shouldn’t introduce big worldbuilding elements?
  • How do you ensure that the world comes through as a character of its own?
  • How much change to terminology is too much?

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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What do you do about time in your universe? Spend some time considering how it is demarcated in your setting.

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik