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World Creation or Plots and Characters?

#1 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 05 March 2016 - 08:22 PM

Introduction, question, howdy to the board ...

Me: I'm new to the Malazan thing -- just got Gardens of the Moon and have read the first 100 pages or so (city of Pale has fallen, and the Hairstyle dude wizard whatsisname has ended up transmogrified into a wooden doll by dangerous ancient magicky stuff, that's about it). Yes, I found the JPG here which indicates suggested reading orders without spoilers, etc.. I looked around. :D

I am (kind of) enjoying the HUGELY encyclopedic scope by which the world (of all these Malazan-related works of fiction) has been invented. But, for me, I wonder ... is it too much? I'm happy that I'm not confused by the characters, even though Erikson has introduced like 40 of them in the first 100 pages of GotM (see? I'm using an abbreviation!), so that's credit to his skill at making them memorable and distinct and at SHOWING rather than TELLING us what they're like. I like to think that I'll write fantasy and sci-fi with a healthy dose of world-creation in it. But I'm unlikely to read all 10 Malazan novels, or even to read all the way through this first GotM novel before I move to something entirely different (Dune? rereading Pullman?). I would thus ask ...

What's the right mix?

On the one hand, world-creation is a great and fun thing, and the explanations and demonstrations are all a delight to concoct and then to share. Making up the rules of magic; the various races; the history of the continental shifts and drifts; the political scene; the various cultural groups and political backgrounds; the borders of warring states; the empires and rivalries and languages and family ties; the technology; and ... the PLANETS ... and so on. It's great to just make it all up. Tolkien kind of did that with his Silmarillion as backdrop to his LotR. Tolkien's son then fleshed it out into more of a narrative, from what had been left mostly as a set of rules about "where the elves used to be before they got whacked over there" type notes. World-building, right, that's what fantasy is all about, right?

On the other hand, too much world-creation and all you're doing is writing your own imaginary encyclopedia (or a Wiki?). If you want to make a character interesting, or reveal a startlingly original insight about the plight of the human condition in this middle of the teens of the Twenty First Century, or make your readers laugh and cry and say it was better than "Nunsense," you need to have real literary interest, not just encyclopedic interest. You need to plot it, and populate it, with events and people that readers can identify with.

How much world-building is not enough, enough, or too much?

(PS -- Has this been covered before? Do aspiring writers think about it at all? I worry that I err on the side of excess encyclopedia and insufficient character, plot, drama, literature. I am still working on the third hundred years of history of sound-changes in the second language of my fifth non-human race that had an ancestral homeland where ... etc. etc. ... )
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#2 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 05 March 2016 - 10:49 PM

I do think about this somewhat. Unlike anyone I've ever heard about I tend to focus on retarded details such as how big of a force / how much heat / how much light can a level X mage generate, how common are level X mages, what was the world population / population density in the year X, what is the land area / population / maximum army size / urban population / capital city population / capital city land area of a kingdom... All kinds of useless stuff that no one except me will ever know about. :D I also like creating maps, so I have spent hundreds of hours doing them. Unfortunately, just like with the aforementioned stuff, I'm never happy with anything I do and constantly re-do and change stuff, so instead of having the most detailed world map in the history of literature, I merely have 27 different world maps. :D Insanity / obsession takes many forms...

IMHO Malazan leans a bit too much on the world building side of things. Wheel of Time and ASOIAF are examples of books that I think have a very good balance between plot and world building.

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 05 March 2016 - 10:53 PM

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#3 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 12:47 PM

View PostEsa1996, on 05 March 2016 - 10:49 PM, said:

IMHO Malazan leans a bit too much on the world building side of things.


It does? When I think of excessive world building, I think of thirty pages describing the frescos on a pillar or the various types of mushrooms that you encounter in a local forest. The beauty of the Malazan world is that the world building aspects are dropped in naturally during character conversations, observations or events. They serve the development of the story, not sit there to colour in a non-vital piece of background.
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#4 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 07:28 PM

View PostGorefest, on 06 March 2016 - 12:47 PM, said:

View PostEsa1996, on 05 March 2016 - 10:49 PM, said:

IMHO Malazan leans a bit too much on the world building side of things.
It does? When I think of excessive world building, I think of thirty pages describing the frescos on a pillar or the various types of mushrooms that you encounter in a local forest. The beauty of the Malazan world is that the world building aspects are dropped in naturally during character conversations, observations or events. They serve the development of the story, not sit there to colour in a non-vital piece of background.


That is very much true (The worldbuilding in Malazan is dropped in smoothly etc.), however, I think that Malazan lacks a clear main plot and the continuity / unity it brings, something that I personally want in a book series. It feels a bit like a series of standalone novels with mere side plots continuing from one book to another. The worldbuilding in the books never gets obstructive or annoying though, rather it is absolutely amazing. So, probably what I'm trying to say is that while the world is one of the very best ever created, the main plot is not (The plots within individual books are great though). In short, more time should have been put to creating a more coherent main plot to get the plot to the same level of awesomeness that the worldbuilding is on.

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 06 March 2016 - 07:35 PM

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#5 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 04:54 AM

Oh, I don't mind the seeming absence of a "coherent main plot" as much as others, maybe. I find the fact of interwoven, interrelated narrativeS (plural) to be quite pleasing, as long as the narrative that I'm presently reading is interesting enough in its own rights as well. I'm finding a few of them very good, but a couple of them really dopey, as I proceed through GotM -- it's like, "Oh darn, that stuff about So-and-so is over, and now we have to go back to that stupid Somewhere-and-such to deal with those idiots again, drat" and I start to think maybe I'll jump pages. But generally the author doesn't seem as bad as that, I'm creating a hyperbolic example. Mostly he manages to convince me that plots A and B are going to matter to plot C early enough. Some of the new settings bug me a bit, and I'm starting to notice a few missed opportunities or obvious devices, but maybe that's because I'm too cynical a reader in the first place, deliberately going out of my way to find out where the author "screwed up" sort of.

Anyway, on the question of world-building in the Malazan parts that I've read (only the first 1/4 to 1/3 of GotM) -- as a first-time reader of it, I don't find it overly burdensome. There's not the annoying "now, you see, there were seven different ancient races, the Thulgog and the Thulgamaog and the Fruglethulgog foremost among them. Let me now explain the relationships between the Thulgog and the Fruggle...". That just sucks when you do run into it. It gets old, pompous, uninteresting, and just plain boring. In fact, as an avid student of this stuff, I'd guess that an author over-explaining is probably the most common BAD aspect of badly written fantasy novels. Here's an example everybody probably has read: I think Tolkien gets a bit too explain-y roughly at the point of the Council of Elrond in the Fellowship of the Ring. First we hear about the history of Gondor, then it's off to some extra annoying talk talk talk talk about enmity between elves and dwarves, then the history of Moria, then the relationship between ... oh jeez just get on with it. I think Tolkien was deliberately giving readers an overt sense of the complexity and viability of his world, making that as a deliberate choice. "Better give them some real old-fashioned history textbook now." But that's a choice which would have been at least partly motivated by the time in which the work was being written. There was the author's awareness that he was doing something almost entirely new -- world-building and fantasy were minor genres at the time, with only a few precursors (Edgar Rice Burroughs, f.e.) whom Tolkien could have relied upon as being familiar to his intended reader(s). Different story by the 1990s when Erikson's stuff is coming out. By then any good readers have experienced a TON of world-built fictions with utterly new planets. Generic expectations would differ greatly from Tolkien's time to Erikson's.

In fact, if anything, GotM seems to me to err just a little bit in the opposite direction, not ENOUGH over-explaining. For example, we met the giant dragonfly creatures upon which our soldiers were going to travel through the air, and we heard about the flapping. But we didn't get ANY description of a character's experiences UP THERE in the air. "Whoa, I can see a long way down. That's kinda scary!" or whatever. So far in what I have read, there have been three, four major episodes in which I've been told that the characters last night or yesterday were flying elsewhere a long ways away on the backs of the giant dragonflies, but there's been literally no examination of any character's emotions DURING the flight. That sounds a little to me like an author going out of his way to NOT belabor his worldly creation invention things. Or another example, nothing anywhere says that a Barghoul is a RACE of creature. I had to look it up in the index, didn't know WTF was going on there when we first met one. I was wondering, "So, is that something that hangs out in a tavern? The job of serving wench, the job of bar-keeper, the job of bar-ghoul, the job of scullery maid ...". Later I realized I was misunderstanding something, and finally figured it out. Could have done with an explanation. Or maybe I missed it, reading too fast? Or maybe or maybe or maybe ... But that's just about Erikson.

More important to me for this discussions is how would MY OWN works come out? My concern is, that when I'm writing my fiction, sometimes I don't know what's reasonable. For example, I send my characters into outer space. Chapter five, they're off on the other orbiting celestial body, and they're having fun bouncing around because the gravity is low there. Someone decides to play a game of golf on this moon. Whack! How far does the ball go? Is it sensible to say that it entered orbit? Or just, that it traveled forty miles? Or, nine hundred yards? I don't want to figure out all the goldurned physics of it, right there when I'm getting the creative juices going about how character QRST just realized that he could open a golfing range for visitors to this new planet and make some money. I need to just, kind of, KNOW how far the ball went. And everything else. I need to KNOW it right away, and I need it to not get worked out later by nerdlinger readers who catch me out by pointing out that in chapter eleven I claimed that this moon was about six hundred miles in diameter and therefore the gravity would probably have worked out to be such-and-so and thus the golf ball would likely not have gone the distance I said it would.

See how it can go wrong? Tolkien did himself the favor of keeping it all on Earth, but just renaming most of Earth and rearranging what was already familiar. The instant you start adding other things, like different gravity, you start getting other effects. For example, in GotM there's the Moon's Spawn thing floating up there in the sky. It sounds like it's big enough to count as a spare mountain in size, and I think that might have a little bit of its own micro-gravity. But would that extra bit of gravity, when it moves nearer or farther from the city of Pale, affect the tides in the lake? What about grass, can it actually cause the tall, flimsy wheat on the planet's open grasslands to sway a bit to the side if it gets low enough on the horizon of the planet? Is Erikson going to use that idea, or am I supposed to just not think about it? I don't really mind, for the purposes of GotM and the enjoyable reading that's going on. But I do worry that I might start introducing that kind of question into the minds of my readers, if I happen to create something with similar problems. And gravity is just one rather obvious example. What about other potential contradictions? In political histories, in language roots, in racial characteristics, in any of your fictional world-building ... how do you know that you've done too much or not enough?

Humph. Same question.

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 07 March 2016 - 05:09 AM

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#6 User is offline   Kanese S's 

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 01:17 PM

View Postcliftonprince, on 05 March 2016 - 08:22 PM, said:

Introduction, question, howdy to the board ...

Me: I'm new to the Malazan thing -- just got Gardens of the Moon and have read the first 100 pages or so (city of Pale has fallen, and the Hairstyle dude wizard whatsisname has ended up transmogrified into a wooden doll by dangerous ancient magicky stuff, that's about it). Yes, I found the JPG here which indicates suggested reading orders without spoilers, etc.. I looked around. :D

I am (kind of) enjoying the HUGELY encyclopedic scope by which the world (of all these Malazan-related works of fiction) has been invented. But, for me, I wonder ... is it too much? I'm happy that I'm not confused by the characters, even though Erikson has introduced like 40 of them in the first 100 pages of GotM (see? I'm using an abbreviation!), so that's credit to his skill at making them memorable and distinct and at SHOWING rather than TELLING us what they're like. I like to think that I'll write fantasy and sci-fi with a healthy dose of world-creation in it. But I'm unlikely to read all 10 Malazan novels, or even to read all the way through this first GotM novel before I move to something entirely different (Dune? rereading Pullman?). I would thus ask ...

What's the right mix?

On the one hand, world-creation is a great and fun thing, and the explanations and demonstrations are all a delight to concoct and then to share. Making up the rules of magic; the various races; the history of the continental shifts and drifts; the political scene; the various cultural groups and political backgrounds; the borders of warring states; the empires and rivalries and languages and family ties; the technology; and ... the PLANETS ... and so on. It's great to just make it all up. Tolkien kind of did that with his Silmarillion as backdrop to his LotR. Tolkien's son then fleshed it out into more of a narrative, from what had been left mostly as a set of rules about "where the elves used to be before they got whacked over there" type notes. World-building, right, that's what fantasy is all about, right?

On the other hand, too much world-creation and all you're doing is writing your own imaginary encyclopedia (or a Wiki?). If you want to make a character interesting, or reveal a startlingly original insight about the plight of the human condition in this middle of the teens of the Twenty First Century, or make your readers laugh and cry and say it was better than "Nunsense," you need to have real literary interest, not just encyclopedic interest. You need to plot it, and populate it, with events and people that readers can identify with.

How much world-building is not enough, enough, or too much?

(PS -- Has this been covered before? Do aspiring writers think about it at all? I worry that I err on the side of excess encyclopedia and insufficient character, plot, drama, literature. I am still working on the third hundred years of history of sound-changes in the second language of my fifth non-human race that had an ancestral homeland where ... etc. etc. ... )


Personally I don't know that I've ever seen another author do as good a job at plot and character development while creating anything on the scale of the Malazan world... but then again, that's maybe partly because this setting was built by two authors, not one.

I would suggest at least plowing ahead into Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice. By then, some of the things about the setting are familiar enough that you aren't constantly reeling just from information, and some of the characters repeat.
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#7 User is offline   Kanese S's 

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 01:33 PM

View Postcliftonprince, on 07 March 2016 - 04:54 AM, said:

Oh, I don't mind the seeming absence of a "coherent main plot" as much as others, maybe. I find the fact of interwoven, interrelated narrativeS (plural) to be quite pleasing, as long as the narrative that I'm presently reading is interesting enough in its own rights as well. I'm finding a few of them very good, but a couple of them really dopey, as I proceed through GotM -- it's like, "Oh darn, that stuff about So-and-so is over, and now we have to go back to that stupid Somewhere-and-such to deal with those idiots again, drat" and I start to think maybe I'll jump pages. But generally the author doesn't seem as bad as that, I'm creating a hyperbolic example. Mostly he manages to convince me that plots A and B are going to matter to plot C early enough. Some of the new settings bug me a bit, and I'm starting to notice a few missed opportunities or obvious devices, but maybe that's because I'm too cynical a reader in the first place, deliberately going out of my way to find out where the author "screwed up" sort of.

There is a coherent "main" plot, but it takes a couple books to actually figure out what it is.

Most of the books (I say most because it's late and I can't remember if there's an exception) have several plots and groups of characters going along at once. How related these are to each other varies. Usually they, ahem, converge. How much you like various plotlines depends on which characters you enjoy spending your reading time with more. And sometimes, on reread, that will change.

Quote

Anyway, on the question of world-building in the Malazan parts that I've read (only the first 1/4 to 1/3 of GotM) -- as a first-time reader of it, I don't find it overly burdensome. There's not the annoying "now, you see, there were seven different ancient races, the Thulgog and the Thulgamaog and the Fruglethulgog foremost among them. Let me now explain the relationships between the Thulgog and the Fruggle...". That just sucks when you do run into it. It gets old, pompous, uninteresting, and just plain boring. In fact, as an avid student of this stuff, I'd guess that an author over-explaining is probably the most common BAD aspect of badly written fantasy novels. Here's an example everybody probably has read: I think Tolkien gets a bit too explain-y roughly at the point of the Council of Elrond in the Fellowship of the Ring. First we hear about the history of Gondor, then it's off to some extra annoying talk talk talk talk about enmity between elves and dwarves, then the history of Moria, then the relationship between ... oh jeez just get on with it. I think Tolkien was deliberately giving readers an overt sense of the complexity and viability of his world, making that as a deliberate choice. "Better give them some real old-fashioned history textbook now." But that's a choice which would have been at least partly motivated by the time in which the work was being written. There was the author's awareness that he was doing something almost entirely new -- world-building and fantasy were minor genres at the time, with only a few precursors (Edgar Rice Burroughs, f.e.) whom Tolkien could have relied upon as being familiar to his intended reader(s). Different story by the 1990s when Erikson's stuff is coming out. By then any good readers have experienced a TON of world-built fictions with utterly new planets. Generic expectations would differ greatly from Tolkien's time to Erikson's.

You won't get much of that in Malazan. You get lots of information about the world and its history, but you get it in bits and pieces as things come up, and it's up to the reader to fit those bits and pieces together. This is very deliberate, and the fact that how much you know of something shapes how you think about it is definitely explored. Especially when it comes to conflicts, both past and present.

Quote

In fact, if anything, GotM seems to me to err just a little bit in the opposite direction, not ENOUGH over-explaining. For example, we met the giant dragonfly creatures upon which our soldiers were going to travel through the air, and we heard about the flapping. But we didn't get ANY description of a character's experiences UP THERE in the air. "Whoa, I can see a long way down. That's kinda scary!" or whatever. So far in what I have read, there have been three, four major episodes in which I've been told that the characters last night or yesterday were flying elsewhere a long ways away on the backs of the giant dragonflies, but there's been literally no examination of any character's emotions DURING the flight. That sounds a little to me like an author going out of his way to NOT belabor his worldly creation invention things. Or another example, nothing anywhere says that a Barghoul is a RACE of creature. I had to look it up in the index, didn't know WTF was going on there when we first met one. I was wondering, "So, is that something that hangs out in a tavern? The job of serving wench, the job of bar-keeper, the job of bar-ghoul, the job of scullery maid ...". Later I realized I was misunderstanding something, and finally figured it out. Could have done with an explanation. Or maybe I missed it, reading too fast? Or maybe or maybe or maybe ... But that's just about Erikson.

I think it's worth noting that we, the readers, are more stunned by the giant dragonflies than the characters are. By this time the Moranth have been working with the Malazans for quite some time. The book very much has the feel of dropping into a story in the middle. And that's intentional.

Quote

More important to me for this discussions is how would MY OWN works come out? My concern is, that when I'm writing my fiction, sometimes I don't know what's reasonable. For example, I send my characters into outer space. Chapter five, they're off on the other orbiting celestial body, and they're having fun bouncing around because the gravity is low there. Someone decides to play a game of golf on this moon. Whack! How far does the ball go? Is it sensible to say that it entered orbit? Or just, that it traveled forty miles? Or, nine hundred yards? I don't want to figure out all the goldurned physics of it, right there when I'm getting the creative juices going about how character QRST just realized that he could open a golfing range for visitors to this new planet and make some money. I need to just, kind of, KNOW how far the ball went. And everything else. I need to KNOW it right away, and I need it to not get worked out later by nerdlinger readers who catch me out by pointing out that in chapter eleven I claimed that this moon was about six hundred miles in diameter and therefore the gravity would probably have worked out to be such-and-so and thus the golf ball would likely not have gone the distance I said it would.

Sometimes I think this is why SE leaves things vague. But then, Wu is very much NOT Earth.

Quote

See how it can go wrong? Tolkien did himself the favor of keeping it all on Earth, but just renaming most of Earth and rearranging what was already familiar. The instant you start adding other things, like different gravity, you start getting other effects. For example, in GotM there's the Moon's Spawn thing floating up there in the sky. It sounds like it's big enough to count as a spare mountain in size, and I think that might have a little bit of its own micro-gravity. But would that extra bit of gravity, when it moves nearer or farther from the city of Pale, affect the tides in the lake? What about grass, can it actually cause the tall, flimsy wheat on the planet's open grasslands to sway a bit to the side if it gets low enough on the horizon of the planet? Is Erikson going to use that idea, or am I supposed to just not think about it? I don't really mind, for the purposes of GotM and the enjoyable reading that's going on. But I do worry that I might start introducing that kind of question into the minds of my readers, if I happen to create something with similar problems. And gravity is just one rather obvious example. What about other potential contradictions? In political histories, in language roots, in racial characteristics, in any of your fictional world-building ... how do you know that you've done too much or not enough?

Humph. Same question.


Keep in mind when reading Malazan that you're not reading an omniscient narrator perspective. Pretty much at all times you're operating from the perspective of whichever character the narration focuses on. So don't take anything as gospel. Also keep in mind that magic is while, not exactly the most common thing in the world in this setting, still very much a real force that is common enough to have been weaponized in an organized fashion by multiple societies. So there's also that.

While there are lots of ethnic groups and races and so forth in Malazan, the authors actually don't go into much detail as far as languages.
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#8 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 04:51 PM

View PostEsa1996, on 06 March 2016 - 07:28 PM, said:

That is very much true (The worldbuilding in Malazan is dropped in smoothly etc.), however, I think that Malazan lacks a clear main plot and the continuity / unity it brings, something that I personally want in a book series.
[...]
In short, more time should have been put to creating a more coherent main plot to get the plot to the same level of awesomeness that the worldbuilding is on.


Have you finished the series yet? Because there is definitely a main plot spanning all ten books and it is pretty awesome.
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Posted 08 March 2016 - 04:26 AM

Yeah, the arching plot really becomes noticeable in book 6, though. Takes a while.

If you want a BIG series with ONE main plot... it's going to stretch too long - and the books you mention at the top are great examples of that. Wheel of Time gets waaaaay too tired and drawn out. ASoIaF is getting waaaay too long and drawn out (despite having plenty of political switchbacks). We KNOW where it is supposed to go, so storylines like The Bowl of the Winds or The Young Dornish Guy in Essos (forget his name already) just keep us away from where it ought to be going. Thus, slow everything down. Malazan, meanwhile, gives you chunks of history - each one contributing in its own way to the finale without pointing it at you constantly. It makes each climax better on a book to book basis, I'd say, and goes along with the general gist of the books: that they are a HISTORY and history has no central character, beginning and ending, or main story.

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 03:48 PM

There's definitely a balance to be struck. Some series get the story up and running but the worldbuilding takes a lot longer (Wheel of Time). Others sacrifice story in favour of worldbuilding (Way of Kings) and the latter is never really going to work. Malazan manages to favour the worldbuilding because each book has a self contained story which contributes to the main plot.

On my part, I try to keep the worldbuilding contextual - character thoughts and the like. That way I can build the world up whilst advancing the story.
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Posted 11 March 2016 - 02:43 AM

Funny how this thread brought responses from people interested in something other than the initial question, about how to know when to stop doing one's own world building. Most of the recent responses are discussing how one should go about reading Stephen Ericson's world-building and what techniques and assumptions would be best for figuring out his universe. I guess I was more interested in the question of WRITING than reading, which is why I chose this sub-forum rather than that one, but that's OK, we can all bring in our two cents! I don't own the internet! :thumbsup:

Anyway ... now I'm going to respond to an example ... giant dragonflies ...

I DON'T think it's worth noting that we the readers would be less familiar with giant dragonflies than a character on Genebackis would be. I think, rather, the reader is king, and if Erickson wants to make some things seem normal or de rigeur to characters, things which are actually fantasy-world concoctions of his, then he will be doing that sleight of hand in a different way. For example, I could imagine an Erickson character saying, "Hm, what's that smell? Meh, yet more gol-danged sorcery ... smells like the sorcery of Jaghut though ...". To me, this "meh" phenomenon is something Erickson does a GREAT job with. So, we readers learn that there are smells to sorcery; AND we readers learn that, to the characters, SOME smells of sorcery are familiar but some are novel.

Whatever it is that we the readers DO or DON'T know, is what we the readers will bring to the book AS READERS. The character who flies on the back of a giant dragonfly for the first time in his life has a first-time-in-his-life experience, by definition. Whether the author deliberately or accidentally chose not to belabor it, is a little beside the point. To me, the point is, the author did something which I (as a "normal" reader) noticed, and which left me disappointed and under-informed. This (very mild) lacuna is going to happen, whenever you create a world and then populate it. There's got to be something that you leave out of your explication. For better and for worse, as others have mentioned in this thread.

So, I'm not really discussing the giant dragonfly episode to complain about Erickson or to laud his choices; I'm just bringing it up as an example of the problem that arises, in world-building. That problem is, you have to EXPLICATE some things which are de-facto to the characters, or else the readers won't be able to get it. (Recall the first time we readers traveled in a Warren? Erickson "brought us along" by telling us what the character Ganoes Paran experienced, as his first time traveling in a Warren.)

That's one aspect of world-building to be dealt with. How much do you TELL? And when can you artfully NOT tell, and not even SHOW, and just assume and elide over?

But there's another question. For me, another related aspect, is simply, how MUCH of world-building should I do in my spare time in the first place? Even if I never reveal some of it to my readers, how much of the unrevealed needs to be carefully worked out in detail? As opposed to, how much of it can just be thought through quickly, so that I don't really have to come up with specific timelines? How do I know when I've done enough, too much, or too little background planning for my own purposes? Never mind whether or not I actually go into describing the history of my planet, or its natural fauna and chemical processes, to the readers. That's a DIFFERENT question. This question is, rather, simply how much of it do I need to KNOW in the first place?

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 11 March 2016 - 02:46 AM

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