The Seven Deadly Sins of World Building

Last week, I wrote a post on What is World Building and answered that question with notes I’d taken from Elizabeth Bear’s workshop at Context. This post continues those notes by talking about the seven deadly sins of world building. I chose to make this separate from the other post because these things are important and deserve individual attention.

The 7 deadly sins of world building…

  1. Not thinking of the basic infrastructure of the world– the reader doesn’t have to see it, but it needs to be added if it’s different- you don’t have to make the reader think everything is plausible, but just enough.
  2. Not explaining why the events are happening now– make sure to explain why things are happening now and not another time- Why these people? Why the palace?
  3. One dimensional analysis of people and places– don’t do stereotypes like fake Japanese or Natzi.
  4. Creating monolithic groups– this planet is a desert planet- all people are scientists- there are always counter cultures to other cultures.
  5. Inventing a history that’s totally logical– sometimes things happen just because- sometimes there needs to be fuzziness.
  6. Not giving a story sense of place and not giving story sensory details– What’s the sound of the place, the smell?- get the technicalities right.
  7. Introducing magic and extravagant levels of technology– what are the consequences of having a microwave oven for example. The focus isn’t the gadget, but the consequences of using the said gadget.

A great list of things to remember when world building! Can you think of anything else to keep in mind while world building? Please feel free to share below.

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