Rough worldbuilding ideas

  • Maybe you need to look at this from a different perspective. Instead of making the story about heroes stopping Sontar, you make Sontar a background figure. A mystical character readers & other characters alike know about by rumor and religious argument. (Do we really want to be fated?) The characters, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how to either

    a) contact the gods and convince them to let their world be open to other worlds
    b) find a way to open worlds, maybe with magic portals or something
    c) maybe one is a doctor or scientist with the idea that souls are more powerful magic than anyone can imagine, but the scientist has been disgraced and must find new patrons for their continued research

    Eventually, they might come into contact with Sontar. They might realize what he's doing and try to stop him, maybe with a fight, and maybe with words. Ultimately, though, I don't think everything in the plot has to be focused on stopping Sontar, and I think that might be where you're hung up when you try to develop the plot further. Instead, make Sontar the backdrop for a boss battle before you get to the gods, or something along those lines. Still an antagonist, but not the main antagonist.

  • True. That's actually how I am seeing it it right now--but to me it's important to establish the main background and conflict (Group A wants to follow Sontar and Group B doesn't, say). I thought of picking the whole thing up after the world is cut off from the gods, so the main conflict is, 'what do we do with the magic now?' The characters who have no interest in restarting the world would need a good reason to leave the world alone, as well as a concrete thing that happens to the magic as a result after the world is over. I think once those things came together, the rest would be easier.

  • Maybe the gods had a stronger hand in keeping magic controlled than people realized and it's going out of whack. The seasons are crazy and illness is spreading like nobody's business. For those that are more magically talented, they find themselves overloaded with the amount of magic available to them, incapacitating them at best and causing them to create (sometimes fatal) mistakes at worst. For the less magically talented, they're finding it easier to pick up on the magic around them and wield it, but, having no practice, sometimes the results are... also less than savory.

    Random thought: As a final spite, the gods put some object that helps keep the magic balanced in a hiding place. Thus, the heroes must find the object.

    Perhaps the wielder of this object obtains total power over the magic of the world... including the power to change history?

    As for needing a good reason to leave the world alone... you don't have to have a perfect reason. Just have them be of the mindset that this is the order of the world; therefore, it must come to pass. Otherwise, you messed up the world. Good job saving the world. Thanks so much. Now the world is OUT OF ORDER.

  • Well, I think I mentioned there was another powerful being earlier who is interested in keeping the world the way it is--Sontar's opponent. There would be a magical tug of war of sorts between them if Sontar also becomes that powerful--but the people of the world are the ones who make the call as to which being gets dominion over the world's magic. The only thing I can think of is something can go wrong with Sontar's plan that the main characters find out, but I'm not sure what the wrong thing would be or the deeper consequences if it did.

  • I don't know. I can imagine that the constant tug of war would cause further issues with the fresh surge of magic, though. Maybe you need to figure out the rules of your magic to go further? (if you haven't already.)

  • Probably. I did mention I'm not too good at this. :/ I feel like if I come up with rules before I have a plot, that will cause more issues than it fixes because if some plot point conflicts with the magic rules, one will have to be scrapped and I've been working on the potential plot a lot longer than the magic stuff. I came up with more ideas I'll need to post when I escape my job for the day, if you're still interested in reading them? There are some things I'm planning on overhauling, so if it clashes with what's already here, assume it's an overhaul/reworking of certain ideas. I just need the whole mess to make sense eventually so I can start writing it.

  • I think that's part of your problem. You're terrified of changing any aspect of your plot. Which I understand completely; this thing is your baby, you've been working on it for a decade, I do understand. I have an unfinished story that I am worried to start working on again because I know I have to overhaul part of the world. But sometimes you have to make those changes. And sometimes, it turns out that the plot is better with that change than it was before.

    For Earthlings, I had a half-created FTL system. Because 2/3 of the novel is, ultimately, spent on a spaceship, I had to know how fast it moved and how it worked, etc etc. Unfortunately, it gave me a headache to think about. So I was like, "nah, I'll work with it later". And not building those rules before I started writing ended up giving me more of a headache because I needed to know when plot events would happen and I didn't have a timeline because I didn't know how the FTL system worked. (And then when I started to math it out, I based the time on the quickest ship in the fleet, not the slowest. Oops. Still haven't reworked it.) Once I had those rules to work in, I found it was actually easier to start writing again, because I knew what I absolutely couldn't do and I knew I had to find a way to get around that. This left my cast scattered in three different places, but it also opened up new avenues for the plot to explore, which never would've happened if I hadn't laid down the rules for FTL travel.

    Yes, rules and confines can make it difficult, but I've found that rule and confines on your world force you to be creative and figure out alternative solutions to both your problems & your characters' problems.

    In the long run, it might cause you to have to change plot elements, but I really think coming up with rules on the magic will help you brainstorm because you don't have endless possibilities anymore. You need those in the beginning, when you're trying to lay down the foundation of your plot, but then they just get overwhelming.

    It will also be less plot-changing than you think to develop your magic or other parts of the world, because you already have a plot that you can work around. If certain healing abilities don't fit with a plot element you've already planned, then scrap those healing abilities entirely. If you're having a hard time with an important part of the magic system, then work on a part of the magic system that is completely irrelevant to anything that will ever happen in-story and see how that affects other parts of magic or the world.

    Yeah, I can read over them :)

  • Thank you. I think I'll have to probably scrap the whole thing and begin from scratch because my thought patterns tend to lapse right back to what doesn't work if I keep any part of the old stuff. I'll post what I have and see what happens. I'm not optimistic any of the plot will be better for it, but one never knows.

  • How's this project going? I'm interested in how it worked out.

  • It hasn't gone much of anywhere yet, I'm sorry to say. Nothing I've tried has worked.

  • @Rose Have you tried using any guides to get some prompts on what to focus on or where to go next?

  • I've tried very general guides, but they're too generic to be very helpful. "Have you tried looking at it from another angle?" Yes. "Have you tried walking away?" Yes. I typically am less of a 'guide' person than a 'prompt' person because it helps me focus more.

  • @Rose Here are a couple of sources that might be useful?

    • 30 Days of Worldbuilding - This one is 30 15 minute exercises that cover everything from the climate & geography to the politics & economy. I've never used it personally, but I've recommended it and seen it recommended before. I'm not sure if you would like the way the exercises are formatted or not?
    • Basically 90% of Tumblr's writing blogs. This is the World Building tag from Nimbles Notebook (which I might end up digging through myself!), this is Fix Your Writing Habits, and then I can't find anymore or think of anymore off the top of my head, but both of those blogs have rec pages and other tags to go through that can be helpful!

    The only thing is that it won't really be coherent, i.e., the questions or prompts will be random (unless you go into a more specific tag), but it might still be useful?

  • Thank you. I've tried some Tumblr blogs before. I think some of the issue comes from the fact that my worldbuilding usually comes as it's useful/relevant to the characters and not the other way around--so certain things are nice to think about and have answers for, but they don't really mean anything until they have some attachment to a specific character/storyline/whathaveyou.

  • @Rose Sounds like me. Maybe you need to look for more plot prompts instead, then? Work on your plot, then worry about your world?

  • Those were my thoughts. I've been combing a lot of sites trying to find something to use. My new work schedule and other commitments have made that hard to follow through on, though. Like today I've been up since 4:30 in the morning because of work and can barely focus, so I'm sorry if I'm being terse or not making a lot of sense right now. I'm just...blocked and don't give a flip about anything going on with this project right now because it's so freaking hard.

  • I understand :) Do you think you need to take a break for a while until you can get used to your schedule? Feeling less strained/less like you need to work on it right now, and getting back into a mindset that you can do this at any point during your free time when you want to, might help get your juices going again, maybe?

  • My schedule's always going to be a mess because lol retail. My muse has a tendency to be a huge jerk and run off with things that have nothing to do with what I know I should be working on. I was thinking that focusing on characters and their interactions/goals might help when I clear out my unrelated backlog, you know, just take small snippets of each character, use a prompt, and put them in it to see what comes out. It might not be good or usable, but it would be something.

  • Oh, I see. >.<

    It might be worth it to explore the unrelated backlog, just to see what comes of it. You might end up with interesting tidbits that, with minor (or even no) changes can fit into your world, even if it's just in the background. In my two main worlds that I work in, they've been built through combining world elements and taking a character originally built for one world/story and putting them in a new one.

    I definitely think that focusing on characters might be useful. Just knowing what their motivations and goals are can be really helpful in figuring out how they're going to interact with each other & the plot. It might influence how the plot turns out in itself.

  • they've been built through combining world elements and taking a character originally built for one world/story and putting them in a new one.

    That's what I'm doing with most of them. I've explored the idea longer with some characters more than others, so now I guess I should get started on the new set. I think what also helps me is when someone/something (like a prompt) says, 'X has happened to your character, or their goal becomes/is Y. Now what?' because then it feels concrete and my inspiration attaches to it rather than running off.

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