World Building Notes, or Lack Thereof

World building is a hugely important part of any story. Whether you’re writing in the real world or creating somewhere completely new and fantastical, a writer needs to be able to paint a picture of the setting they are writing in. The places need to be deep, vibrant and—perhaps most importantly—consistent. Even subtle discrepancies can pull a reader out of the moment and detract their enjoyment from the world you have created and the story you are weaving.

When it comes to creating a new world some people like to create whole worlds and detail things that may not ever make it into a story, where as others create the world as they go, only constructing the pieces of the world necessary for the story being told. Personally, I use a combination of both. Certain parts of my worlds are fleshed out beyond all necessary detail where as other entire continents are just a single word scrawled in a notebook somewhere. Which brings me to my point.

Notes are important for continuity. Especially when writing several different stories all in the same world, as I plan to do with Twyned Earth. Up until I started packing to move, I thought I’d been pretty good at making my notes on the Twyned Earth. I. Was. Wrong.

I had notes. Quite a lot of them. All scattered throughout a multitude of different notebooks and in different states of completion. I had notes on elves on no less than seven books, in photographs of my whiteboard that had been mixed in with cat pictures and in piles of loose leaves of paper, all of varying sizes. There was unique information about them on pages that were scene plans. And that was just elves. The system was… less than ideal. I decided that this would be a good time to start collating everything properly and bringing all my information together. It was while doing this that I made an even more worrying discovery.

A lot of my meticulous world building had never even been written down. Ever.

That’s right. I’d apparently been trusting my years of crafting this world with nothing but my brain. The same brain that makes me walk into a room three times before I remember why I went in there. Needless to say, I was a little spooked. All those ideas that I’d thought about on those long, slow days at work, those great little details I’d come up with in the shower, all those things that I was certain that I’d written down somewhere, I hadn’t. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite so inspirational as discovering you’re an absolute muppet.

Operation: Write Fricken Everything Down And Put It In This One Folder commenced immediately and shall be continuing for quite some time. My writing time now includes updating these notes as I go. So I guess this post is a bit of a reminder or a suggestion. Maybe go and check on your important notes. Some of them might not be as great as you remember them.

For the sake of continuity I’m going to be forcing myself to keep this folder up to date. I love fancy notebooks but it’s time I get all of this information organised and together. Also written down. At lot of the things about Twyned Earth I just know. Let’s face it, I probably spend more time thinking about TE than just E. However, my memory is far from perfect. Far, far from it. Which is why I seriously need a complete set of hard copy notes of my world building. From now on, nothing will be going into an MS without it going into the folder at the same time – or preferably before.

Have you experienced a similar scare? How do you organise your writing notes?

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Thursday’s Children: Gardens

A weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them. Join us!

On Sunday, I went to a garden centre with my father to buy a huge bag of bird seed. Now, this might not sound particularly inspiring but it lead to me spending a good hour pottering around my own garden taking pictures in a flurry of world building inspiration. I’ve always had a keen interest in plants as I was pretty much raised as my dad’s gardening apprentice (I was once sent home with a note from my teacher for arguing that it wasn’t a Daffodil, it was a Narcissus and proceeding to list the different types). The garden has always been a place I loved to be and, especially as a child, a place where my imagination went rampant. I discovered on Sunday that this had not changed.

Already feeling rather inspired and uplifted as we perused the plants, when I came upon the following (which a snapped a sneaky picture of)  I felt the sudden pang for some major world building. World building is one of the reasons I love fantasy so much. I adore being able to completely create a world from the races, religions, economics all the way down to something as simple as unusual flowers. I don’t know why I particularly fell in love with these flowers but something about them just jumped out at me.

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Sneaky garden centre shot.

So, when I got home I went around my garden and ended up with 76 different pictures from around my garden. Once I had done one complete lap I went back inside and looked through them all on the computer. From this short escapade, I found world building ideas just jumping into my head – and that is the wonderful thing about world building. All it takes is a little bit of inspiration toward one direction and then the ideas branch outwards and upwards (not unlike a plant) and from a picture of a bluebell I find myself developing a whole set of social etiquette for an invented race.

So, I thought I would share a couple of the pictures I took of my garden with you! Please excuse the quality – they were taken on my phone and I’m not exactly a photographer as it is. Still, I think they get the point across. Obviously I can’t bombard you with them all (as much as I’d like to) so here are a few that lead to a LOT of ideas.

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A trillium by the steps.

Short cut to the pond.

Short cut to the pond.

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Gorgeous and vivid Japanese maple.

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Bamboo sun shield.

As usual, click the linky and find awesome posts! You know you want to. Go! Steal their inspiration and do something creative.

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