I’ve been neck deep in revisions for my novel these last few weeks. Going through word by word, chapter by chapter making adjustments as I see necessary. It’s a weird feeling looking back on text I had written and seeing different kinds of glaring mistakes or weak prose that seems so obvious to me now. It’s hard work, there’s no denying that, but in many ways it’s exciting as well.
This step in the writing process allows me to look at my story overall and find the weaknesses within. I have a personal preference for detailed worlds and as such I felt my own was fairly detailed before I started my first draft. Boy was I wrong.
In the months since I finished that draft I’ve had countless ideas and realizations that flesh out my world and slowly make it a thriving, living thing. Whole cultures are being fleshed out and even ideas for a detailed sequel are roaming through my mind.
I think well thought out worldbuilding is a hallmark of this generation of fantasy writing. Not to say there aren’t examples of this in the past, J.R.R Tolkien comes to mind – creating entire languages and creation myths to accompany his work. However, there seems to be a surge in the modern day to ensure more books are a fleshed out success.
Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, each of these New York Times Bestselling authors has crafted a world, or in Sanderson’s case, multiple worlds that seemingly rival our own in detail and complexity. This is the kind of fantasy I strive for. Writing that helps tear down the wall separating us from the world locked in the pages.
The best part about being a writer is asking the question, “What if?” Asking that question a few more times not only improves your story and plot but also makes you really sit down and think things through regarding what exactly it is you want to put on the page.
So go, craft cultures, customs, people, and worlds. Then reap the benefits of forging a world others can escape to.