How to Build a Fictional World by Kate Messner

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Kate Messner goes over some great worldbuilding 101 concepts on how to craft a fictional world. Here are the questions she poses in the video to get the ball rolling on your terraforming:

  • Are you working in the past, present, or future?
  • How did the world come to be? What past events shaped the world to what it has become now?
  • What rules are in place here?
  • Laws of gravity?
  • Laws of society? What rules are in place to punish those that break them?
  • What kind of government rules?
  • Who has power? Who doesn’t?
  • What do people believe in here?
  • What does this society value most?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • Where do the inhabitants live, go work, and school?
  • What do they eat?
  • How do they treat their young? The old?
  • What relationship do they have with the animals and plants of the world?
  • What do those animals and plants look like?
  • What kind of technology exists? Transportation? Communication? Access to information?
  • How does this world shape the individuals that live in it?
  • What kind of conflict is likely to emerge with the characters in relation to the world you created?

Should I Quit?

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I am struggling with writing my novel right now, and it’s been difficult to scuttle through this particular rough patch. Luckily, it occurred to me that one of the ways I could inch myself up this uphill, winding road is to write my way out of it and get to the root cause. And I don’t think there is enough in the writing blogosphere that is written when things aren’t going well for the writer. To me, it seems like advice from writers comes after things are gliding along smoothly for them. The tone in their advice has a feeling of fullness because they’ve already healed the cuts and bruises from scraping through the tunnel. Me, on the other hand, I’m still stumbling around in the dark; My WIP is dead in the water. The words aren’t flowing through like they did when I wrote my first novel. It’s mostly due to this rather fickle beast trying to commandeer my writing down two different directions: Should I quit and move on to another project? Or, should I weather on?
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Fueling the Creative Tank

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Shuttle Creative Fuel

I‘ve been in that sort of year in review mode, thinking about the topics I have chosen to write about on the blog this year and if they were in line with the original vision I had for Creative Carnage. When I first started the Carnage in the summer of 2013, I had this image in my head that all my posts would be about writer’s block. Not only how to recognize it in all of its varied costumes but to tackle the clever charlatan head on. That ultimately transformed into being an umbrella vision that included many different types of posts, but all with the running theme of providing content that was crafted to foster creativity. That is the cure, I think, for writer’s block. As I read over past posts, I was impressed with some and cringed at others. I realized that I grew up as a writer on here, and seeing old writing is like running into an ex. You’re never quite sure how it’s going to go because it depends on how you and the other person have changed since the relationship ended. Anyhow, during my stroll down memory lane, I had an epiphany about creativity. Well, I guess it was less of an epiphany and more of something I always felt intuitively but just never articulated: Writer’s block is always going to happen in some form. It’s a part of the writing process. Read More

Where I’m at in life. . .

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. . .I’ll order a book light to read books at night in bed so I don’t wake up my boyfriend with obtrusive lamps before I buy a replacement for my toothbrush on the fritz. Priorities are in check.

Other than that, I’ve been chugging along with world building for my current sci-fi novel, and I should have a post out by the end of this week or early next week. It will be the most important post I’ve ever written about creativity. No big deal. 🙂

1959 Interview Quote from Rod Serling

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In 1959, Mike Wallace interviewed Rod Serling, the producer and narrator for The Twilight Zone. The piece of the interview I have encapsulated below is Rod’s response to Mike Wallace after Mike read to him a soundbite from Herbert Brodkin (another TV producer) about Rod’s work: “Rod is either going to stay commercial or become a discerning artist, but not both.”

“I remember the quote. He gave it to Gilbert Millstein when Millstein was doing a profile on me in the New York Times. I didn’t understand it at the time. I failed to achieve any degree of understanding in the ensuing years, which are three in number. I presume Herb means that inherently you cannot be commercial and artistic. You cannot be commercial and quality. You cannot be commercial concurrent with having a preoccupation with the level of storytelling that you want to achieve. And this I have to reject. I think you can be, I don’t think calling something commercial tags it with a kind of an odious suggestion that it stinks, that it’s something raunchy to be ashamed of. I don’t think if you say commercial means to be publicly acceptable, what’s wrong with that?

The essence of my argument, Mike, is that as long as you are not ashamed of anything you write if you’re a writer, as long as you’re not ashamed of anything you perform if you’re an actor, and I’m not ashamed of doing a television series. I could have done probably thirty or forty film series over the past five years. I presume at least I’ve turned down that many with great guarantees of cash, with great guarantees of financial security, but I’ve turned them down because I didn’t like them. I did not think they were quality, and God knows they were commercial. But I think innate in what Herb says is the suggestion made by many people that you can’t have public acceptance and still be artistic. And, as I said, I have to reject that.” by Rod Serling

Here is the full video interview (caution: the quality isn’t the best). Here is the full transcript.

State of Mind

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Cleansing State of Mind

Writing feels an awful lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One with a several thousand piece count—minimum. And the pieces aren’t precut at all. I have to jerry-rig them by picking and choosing things from my environment and sharpening those people, experiences, and settings into prose, bit by bit. It’s one big mind game for me. When everything aligns, it’s an amazing high and makes me feel like I’m assembling an epic story. Characters are falling into place, plot arcs are squaring out the edges and aren’t trying to derail the story with chipped pieces, and I’m in this heightened sense of creating something. Box cover? Pfft! I don’t need to consult that for direction because everything fits together perfectly. But then sometimes it’s not so great. Someone clearly stole a few pieces, and trying to figure out what’s missing and what’s throwing things off is like trying to step out of a nuclear wasteland. Except every step from the bleak milieu leads me to smashing my nose on a brick wall. It’s brutal. . . it’s broken teeth and blood. Over time though, I’ve learned to endure it, as it’s not only strengthened my framework for writing, but it’s also fleshed out and strengthened the state of mind for the characters I create.
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