On World Building

Something I came across (and which would be lost, but for the Wayback Machine):

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.

 

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The Parabolic Fabulist

Air Raid shelter in Trieste, with text

About ten years ago I had this idea of a half-poetry, half-prose piece of surreal fiction, that stayed locked in my head and grew rusty over time.

A few months ago (starting with NaNoWriMo 2015, but continuing after that), I hashed out some of this in actual words, and put it together, and after much fear and self-loathing, put it up as an eBook on Amazon.

If you have the right amount of morbid curiosity, you can check it out here, but a couple of warnings:

  • It might read as very amateurish, and perhaps even a bit ”adoloscent-ish”, but much of that is due to when some of these ideas first arrived in my head

  • The form is very unusual, with alternating ”strands” instead of a chapter-based book. Again, this might seem nonsensical, but it’s how things came out and it seemed natural. I’m pretty sure I will never do this again.

The only objective good part of this is that I think I enjoyed the experience1 and definitely want to do it again. Maybe the next time I can promote what I’ve written more unapologetically.


  1. Scrivener was very helpful (even though I barely scratched the surface of its features), and the free Preview app that ships with OSX is all I used for the cover. 

NaNoWriMo 2015

I’ve been fooling around with the idea of NaNoWriMo (or NAtional NOvel WRiting MOnth)1 for a while now, but this year I’d like to commit to it publicly.

I don’t think I’ll actually end up writing 50,000 words, but I will write something. I don’t really have anything in mind, but I’m not too worried about that because:
– I’ve heard that you shouldn’t expect to write anything good anyway before you’ve written a million words2
– Instead of pursuing self-consciously “serious” ideas, I’ll use some obviously adoloscent-ish material I dreamed up a decade ago
– I have to try this once


  1. BTW the name is catchy, which is why you also have NaNonWriMo (for non-fiction), NaPlWriMo (for playwriting, and IMHO unpronounceable), NaNoDrawMo (for drawing), NaNoGenMo (for novel generation), and NaBloPoMo (for blogging). 
  2. Attributed to David Eddings … or perhaps Ray Bradbury. Who knows.