What to Do About Your Worldbuilding Gaps by Jasper Ezekiel
This week’s featured article is “What to Do About Your Worldbuilding Gaps by Jasper Ezekiel.” Enjoy!
As a fantasy writer, I’ve done quite a bit of world building in my day. But I have a confession.
I secretly really don’t like to do it.
World building is something that I feel insecure about because of all of the overly critical people I’ve seen online, tearing apart jokes and little details from popular franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
World building is partially so difficult because it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole trying to fill in gaps of information.
For example, in your world, red might be the color of royalty because of a special pigment that is used to dye one’s hair red.
- But where does that pigment come from?
- How is pigment made in the real world?
- If it’s made out of stones, who mines the stones?
- If it’s made out of animals, how are the animals treated?
- How are animals typically treated in your world?
- What kind of animals exist anyway?
- How do scientists classify them?
Every question raises a dozen more until you feel overwhelmed and frustrated that you can’t think of all the answers.
Every question creates the knowledge that there is a gap where information should be.
So what is a conscientious writer to do?
Take a deep breath. Know that there is a way through your difficulty.
The Truth About a Fleshed Out World
We all know it’s good to have a fleshed out world.
True confession: Like a lot of writers, most of what I write doesn’t make it into my final draft.
A lot of what I write doesn’t even make it into any kind of draft at all and remains in the folders I keep of character backstory and world building. And that’s a good thing!
I don’t write the kind of stories that include five hundred year long histories of how red pigment was discovered, then was over mined, then it was popular with the king until a cheap alternative took off and it lost its value and so on and so forth. Boring! At least to me!
Yet, it’s impossible to have a perfectly fleshed out world without any gaps. That’s life!
Do you know how your world came to be down to every little detail? I’m guessing not. Very few people do.
Where to Focus: What is Relevant to Your Story?
So here is what I do. I focus on my story.
I build my world around what is relevant to the plot and emotional journey of my characters.
I leave some gaps, intentionally, because that’s what fanfiction is for–filling in the gaps with gleeful minutiae only a superfan cares about enough to put into fan fiction. (Ask me how I know!)
If there is an aspect of your world, some little detail, that is not entirely explained, if your story is compelling, then the reader will fill in that gap for you.
That’s the beauty of reading vs. watching TV or film.
Gaps are Beautiful – Gaps Fuel Creativity
Let me tell you another secret.
As a reader, I love the gaps.
For years, all I wrote was fanfiction (oops, secrets out!) about the gaps in world building in the two or three video games I was obsessed with.
The gaps are a good thing!
The gaps fuel creativity in the reader.
If you’re afraid of a reader becoming frustrated with the gaps in your world building, just know that out there somewhere is someone who feeds on the gaps in fiction and will fill it in for you. (Thank you, dear readers!)
Ultimately, don’t stress.
Creating a new world by yourself from scratch is one of the most difficult parts of writing.
No one said it was easy and if they did, they had some kind of help that they’re not admitting to.
Write new worlds without fear and have faith in your creative energy! It has carried you this far!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jasper Ezekiel, a poet and fantasy novelist and an editorial assistant and copywriter for Writer’s Fun Zone. He is queer poet from the Bay Area. In his free time, he does a wide variety of fiber crafts like knitting, crochet, and handspinning. He’s been published in The Berkeley Times, Milvia Street, and Pedestrian Press.
Want more help for your world building?
Then check out Beth Barany’s free workbook, World Building for Fiction Writers, and get help fleshing out your thrilling and unique story world.
Sign up here: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/world-building-resources
More articles on world building for fiction writers: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/world-building-resources-for-fiction-writers
Do you want more support for planning and writing your novel?
Then check out our Plan Your Novel resources here: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/plan-your-novel-like-a-pro-and-have-fun-doing-it