May 17, 2011

Storymakers: WORLDBUILDING & that guy with two names.

Yesterday I shared a few things I learned from Clint Johnson about conflict. Today I'm very pleased to share a little from a class I took from Dave Wolverton/Dave Farland, author of the RUNELORDS series, and the OF MICE AND MAGIC series. He writes Sci-Fi under his given name, Wolverton, and Fantasy under the name Farland. He's written and published over FIFTY books.

I was SO excited to take his class.

One of the incredible things about the Storymakers Conference is that they offer two full days of classes, offering 7-8 classes EVERY HOUR, each different, with only a few repeats for easier scheduling. I was able to attend NINE unique classes, each of my choosing, totally personalized for what I wanted or needed for my stage of getting published, the genres I write in, and the particular issues I am struggling with.

My brain is still stuffed.

Up to this point in my writing, I have stuck with Contemporary Romance. And as much as there is a bit of world-building there, it is all very familiar and now and established. The characters and story are what make it unique and fresh, the setting, hopefully, provides a bit of escape. I LOVE it. My first release, Grace & Chocolate, is coming out in 2012 and I CAN'T WAIT!

But, I'm attempting to write Fantasy right now (I have two more contracted romances waiting in the wings, one complete draft, one half, and a complete historical romance draft, so I'll still be doing that, OF COURSE), and I really wanted to hear Dave Wolverton's take on WORLD BUILDING.

Fantasy settings are important because they can limit the kind of character you have (era, knowledge, attributes), can create immediate conflict (geography, climate), and affect social stuggle (slavery-mining, kingdom-oppression, desert-water wars). In creating a world, keep in mind that the world can be used to CREATE CONFLICT. I hadn't considered that but can think of numerous examples in the Fantasy I've read, and have since found opportunities to apply it to my story, and it's very exciting!

One of the pieces of advice I really appreciated was to keep it simple. Don't make it too strange. Fantasy has a wide readership, no matter what age you intend to write for, and the world still needs to resonate with readers. If it's too strange, too full of the unrecognizable, readers won't relate. This was a relief to me, because I'm still considering the "strangeness" of my world as I write the story. For me, it will be easier to add as I see the opportunity.

Dave taught that magic systems have to be grounded on something conceivable. Rules apply. Harry Potter needed a wand, and had to study the spells properly. There were limitations on age, places (Hogwarts), and forbidden curses. In LoTR, magic stemmed from the ancient creation of elves and dwarves, each with unique abilities and limitations, and an equal but opposite force of evil. In Eragon, the use of magic drained the user. Checks and balances. AWESOME.

Dave touched on religious systems, the mythology of the world. Creation stories, worship, these are all a part of every civilization to ever have existed. Though not predominate in Sci-Fi, I dare you to find a Fantasy story without some sort of worship or existence (ancient or otherwise) of higher power. I knew my story needed a mythology from the beginning. Thinking on Dave's class, last Friday I wrote the creation story of my fantasy world. Want a peek?

 Okay, fine I'll post the whole thing.

The Three
Three immortal siblings, Light, Dark, and Life, chose to create a world on which to place their progeny. Light filled the sky and reflected in the waters and off the mountains, claiming the day. Dark moved through places light could not reach, expanded beneath the waters and glorified the night. Light deepened her brother’s darkness and Dark threw his sister’s luminosity into bright relief. They complimented one another and brought balance to the world.
Their brother, Life, woke what lay dormant, rushed into every moving thing, touched man, leaf, animal. The world rejoiced in sound and song, praised Life and Light during the day, and reverenced the quiet Dark.
But when Light set a moon in the night sky for man, Dark grew bitter, and allowed his jealousy to simmer, to swell, to rage. The season came when days were longest, driving Dark’s bitterness to hate. At dusk, when Light was at her weakest and Dark had just begun to stir, Dark found her, smothered her, and wept with madness. Retreating to the shadows, he vowed to hate all of Light’s creation, and scoffed at Life’s sorrow. Dark could command luminosity, could shape and subdue it, perhaps even create his own, and the world would praise him.
But Life gathered the luminosity while Dark raged in the deep. He wove Light’s power into the breathings of the world, into rock and tree, creatures of ground and air and sea, the movement of the world and everything in it. And finally, into man.
And into the noblest and most humble woman, Life bestowed a particle of Light’s pure power, a carrier of his sister’s luminosity. And to stand beside her, Life entrusted the most courageous and loyal man with guardianship over her. Together their lives would be extended, and they would carry on Light’s work. They and their children would forever be entwined with Life, and forever bear the assault of Dark’s madness and jealousy.
These, Inheritors and Guardians: the children of Hysbryd Golau.

I loved Dave Wolverton's class. He is cutting back significantly on his workshops because he has just been asked to be the screenwriter for RUNELORDS, movies based on his own books. WOW. I feel very fortunate to be able to attend one of his classes, and I wish him the best.

What aspect of worldbuilding do you enjoy? Do you hate?


kbrebes said...

Simply beautiful writing, Krista! Awesome. Terrific job! LOVED it!

Kimberly said...

Krista, that gave me CHILLS. Fantasy was my first love, and reading your words made me fall in love with it all over again (plus, I started working on an old fantasy novel of mine yesterday and I'm having so much fun).

Can't wait to read more!

Shanda said...

I love your creation story. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it. I can't tell you how excited I am for the day I see your books on the shelves. :)

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

Neat! Cool creation story and great looking blog.

Anonymous said...

Wowza! You make me want to write fantasy. Maybe after the contemporaries I'm on. :)

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