Were The World Mine…

24 Sep

Well, okay, for now a lot of these aren’t not ours, but rather some other very creative souls’. We discussed last meeting just what makes these worlds so darn good…and what makes others not quite as successful!

What Works:

  • Unifying details make the world go ’round; whether it’s the color schemes found throughout Wes Anderson’s films or the car-based imagery of Mad Max: Fury Road‘s post-apocalyptic world, these aspects provide a sense of atmosphere for readers and viewers, allowing them to better understand the world
  • The size of the world most definitely influences how it presents! JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth is a sprawling land that lends itself to the wealth of languages, history, and myths that Tolkien created for it, but not every world needs such an extensive system to be a super interesting experience. Worlds that echo our own (like Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) or worlds that are a tiny little slice, a microcosm even, of the real world (think Parks and Rec) still entice audiences!
  • Sortability. What’s your Hogwarts house? Your Camp Half-Blood cabin? Being able to sort yourself into the world in question makes it immersive! It’s a feature of the world that is by no means necessary, but it’s definitely fun.
  • Take the main characters out of the world for just a moment. Would you still want to read about the world? A lot of our favorite worlds–Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings–have tons of other stories that take place in them, and we’re still definitely interested in them!
  • A consistent tone throughout different settings is important, too. A Series if Unfortunate Events, for example, retains its eerie theme throughout the vastly different places its characters visit.


What Doesn’t Really Work:

  • Subtlety is key; while kitschy story tropes can be fun and most certainly can be done well, don’t overuse them. Too many bold aspects of a story can make it seem laughably bad (see: Tyra Banks’s Modelland)
  • Sometimes there is too much of a good thing; this applies to description too. While ambling description of rivers and mountains and cities are beautiful, some instances don’t call for total disclosure of the areas and things around. If you want to build a mystery about the world or some aspect of it, then less is indeed more.
  • Several people mentioned books with wonderful settings that could have been so cool to read about…if only the plot had gone somewhere. So, have a direction for your plot and world, as well as a way for them to interact!
  • In James Cameron’s Avatar, the world itself is absolutely breathtaking: cool creatures, beautiful scenery, and hints at what could be a pretty cool culture. Unfortunately, for a lot of us it just seemed to fall short; the land of the Na’vi felt a lot like a Stock Alien Planet™ and could have been changed out with many other fictional planets and very little of the narrative would be changed. On that note, give your world narrative substance to balance out its awesome appearance!
  • A bad attitude can ruin a lot of things–even a fictional world. Reluctant heroes are tons of fun, but let your characters enjoy the world they’ve come into a little! Audiences can absorb the views of the main characters, and if they’re not enjoying the world to some extent, then neither will the reader.

All in all, I think one of the most important points we covered is that, for your own world, it’s important to find a balance between what you’ve found that works; does a smaller or larger world fit what you want to accomplish? How can audiences immerse themselves? It’s totally your call, but hopefully this discussion was of some help in guiding your worldbuilding!



2 Responses to “Were The World Mine…”

  1. NerdyWordyOverlord September 30, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    I can’t believe Modelland made a comeback. I am both horrified and delighted.

    • brenantel October 2, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

      I feel like it may become a staple of “what you probably should not do” in the worldbuilding discussion lmao

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