I recently attended Fantasycon, which is a fantasy conference… or convention, I’m not entirely sure which. Well whatever it was I attended it and went to a bundle of very interesting panels on things such as fighting, war and one particularly interesting panel on the social infrastructure of a fantasy world and what elements you should focus on. Unsurprisingly the elements you should focus on are the ones that are actually relevant to your overall plotline, and while expanding the world more can be vital to making it feel big and real, too much can take up time that could be used for writing, or delving deeper into the parts of the world that are really relevant to your plot. I believe it was Brandon Sanderson who said on the panel that “It is always more interesting to go deep than to go wide.” in respect to world building.
Brandon Sanderson also said about how he had a friend who had been world building for about the past twenty years and didn’t really have a time in sight when they would write the books. Quite the interesting cautionary tale, as it can be very tempting to just world build and world build forever and ever, getting every little nook and cranny of your social system, and knightly orders or whatnot filled. You have to world build with an aim, the aim to actually write the thing. It is best to have more world than you show the audience, as that can help you have a real feeling world, and gives you some room to stretch if need be. But it is important to not go too overboard. Of course there are probably exceptions as there seems to be with everything under the sun, but still a good thing to keep in mind.
Another thing I noticed while at Fantasycon was that on the panels the bestselling authors often seemed to be the most charismatic and outspoken. That got me off wondering if whether the fact that they have quite strong personalities seeps into their writing making it have a bit more flair, combined with their general personability with people they meet in the publishing industry making them memorable. Meaning that it could help being a bit of a character to be a popular author. Though there is always the factor that they could have a bit more confidence in themselves due to their success, and the fact that during Fantasycon they are surrounded by people who know their work and on the whole like it. Sort of a chicken and egg conundrum, does the personality help with the popularity or vice versa.
And on that note I will end this post, and leave you with a picture of a pangolin, which is an animal i recently discovered existed and by god they are hilarious. They’re like armadillos who tried walking on their back legs.
Image Sourced from David Brossard.