Category: Worldbuilding


No, that’s not all one topic (though it sounds like it would make an interesting discussion). I’m just giving you an update on some things over at my other site that you might be interested in.  Continue reading

Customs of the WorldWhenever I talk characters and worldbuilding, at conventions or in classrooms, I always recommend several books. One of them actually isn’t a book at all, and it’s the only one that I mention in both contexts.

It’s a lecture series from The Teaching Company, titled Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are. This is intended to be a course on understanding world cultures, but it’s a vital resource for creating cultures in both fantasy and science fiction. It’s also a great secondary resource for creating different personalities between characters.

As of this post, it is currently on sale at The Teaching Company’s website, starting at $35 for an audio download. I cannot recommend it too highly. You should all go get it now. If, however, you’re reading this after the sale has ended, I’ll explain why it’s worth getting. Continue reading

Four things you can learn about writing from Soulless:

  1. Regency/Victorian stylings. If you want the feel of 19th century England, it’s obvious where to go: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and other authors who lived in that period. Sometimes, though, it’s refreshing to look at someone taking that period and messing around with it, allowing you to see what’s essential and what isn’t. If inserting vampires, werewolves, and ghosts into everyday Victorian society isn’t “messing around with it,” I don’t know what is. 
  2. Sexual humor without vulgarity. It’s a fine line between joking about sex and being crude. There is a lot of sexual humor in this book, but it is funniest when couched in Victorian speech patterns and indirect phrasing. See what you find funniest, and ask yourself why.
  3. Floating perspective. There’s a reason why floating perspective is frowned on in modern fiction: it can get hard to keep track of which person you’re supposed to identify with. It works in Soulless mainly because the literature of the real-life period did it; but to make it work, you have to avoid getting too deep into one character’s perspective before shifting into another’s. Pay attention to where the POV shifts in the middle of a scene, and why Carriger keeps it from being jarring.
  4. Avoid infodumping. Read the first chapter and identify the information that is just placed there before it’s truly needed. Compare this to other parts of the book where information is not given so quickly. How would you rewrite the first chapter to give a steadier, more gentle flow for information? 

There are books on my shelf written by a man with two names. Those names are David Wolverton and David Farland.  Why he publishes under two names is irrelevant to this post. What is relevant are these facts:

  1. He’s good.
  2. He’s entertaining.
  3. He’s an excellent teacher.
  4. His son is currently in the hospital, fighting for his life.

Yeah. Heartstrings are tugging. Continue reading

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