Breakout 4: World building panel

Mel Scott (moderator), Keri Arthur, Denise Rossetti, Alison Goodman, C. S. Pacat

CS Pacal

  • Writes fantasy with gay princes

Keri Arthur

  • Dark urban fantasy

Alison Goodman

  • Fantasy, sci fi, crime
  • Wearing steampunk shoes

Denise Rossetti

  • Sword and sorcery fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Erotica

World building is important, and needs to be consistent

Good to use pinterest for world building – can create it visually, and reference as required

Learn skills that can be adapted for setting (fighting, crafting etc)

Reference and technical books are good resources

Meet with people who do the role you are researching – be careful if it is a mercenary!

Can be difficult to get access to these people if not published

Urban fantasy writers can ‘cheat’ by using a real setting


Don’t forget RWA is a resource

  • People have jobs in RL that can be useful
  • May have contacts outside RWA who can help
  • Access to experts
  • YouTube is excellent resource


Hardest part:

  • How much to create
  • How much to include in story
  • CS Pacat finds it best to do worldbuilding first, separate from writing.  Can then include what the character sees when she gets to that scene
  • Make it real to the reader
  • Extrapolating ramifications of creation – eg political systems or religion on society.  Different gravity, two suns etc
  • Denise – builds a bible with alphabetical list of characters and creatures and the setting details
  • Can be hard to introduce a new world without doing info dumps – Denise does by using deep POV
  • Keri includes information during action scenes
  • World build in two directions at the same time (eg GRRM – the castle is as cold as the mountains beyond the Wall)
  • Read other fantasy authors, see how they have done it.  Mark up their exposition
  • Alison – no more than 3 sessions of exposition at a time
  • Denise – turned her ‘bible’ into an encyclopedia by one of her characters, and put excerpts at the start of each chapter (may not be referenced again, it gives flavour to the setting)
  • Fantasy and Sci Fi readers will tolerate more worldbuilding, it is part of the genre
  • CS Pacat – when a character enters a new space, they can orient themselves and also orient the reader
  • Can be useful to have chronology of events for setting (people, events, places etc)
  • Keep to your own world rules
  • Good to cut back on setting in the editing stage
  • CS Pacat – each writer is only capable of a certain number of things (eg 5 or 10) and may spend most of it on worldbuilding.  Be aware of own limitations

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