World building. Books and blog posts have been devoted to world building. It’s important, not just in high fantasy novels but in contemporary work too.
World building affects your story logic. And if you have faulty story logic…you’ll be rewriting.
So, knowing all this as a writer, when I told my son, “You can have a freeze pop any time of the day, but you can only have three per day.” – I should have written down the rules in stone. (In my defense, I was really tired of being asked if he could have a freeze pop, and really, it doesn’t matter when he eats one.)
What I didn’t expect:
- That he’d eat three in a row.
- That he’d eat one before breakfast.
- That he’d eat one right before dinner.
- That the freeze pop could be eaten along with dessert but not count as dessert.
- Roll over. If we were gone for the day, it meant he could have six the next day.
So, go check your world building. Ask the questions. Or you’ll pay the price later. Just like I did.
What are the questions? I’m sure there are lots of great questions about world building. But two big issues stick out for me.
Consistency: Make sure the same rules apply to all characters in all situations through out your story. No cheating.
Motivation: What is the motivation behind a world building rule? Use common sense. Don’t create a rule just to make something easier for your plot.
Tell the truth – Have you ever made a decision as a parent and not thought through the consequences? Or, what are some good world building questions you’ve learned? (By the way, I don’t regret telling my son he could have a freeze pop any time of the day because it still made my summer a whole lot easier! I just should have added some disclaimers.)
Funny post, Laura! My kids are masters at finding the “loopholes” in something I’ve said. I also get them to read my drafts to find all the things that don’t make sense or they think are ridiculous.
Thinking about the details of how my story world works is something I’ve been doing a lot of lately, in revising my latest novel. I find I’m stopping every few minutes to think, “Why is it like that?”, “How did it get that way?” or “What would it be like to live with that rule?” It’s making my story much richer and more multi-layered.
Great Andrea – I’ve been trying to work out story kinks like that before I write, but some can’t be dealt with until you’re in the middle of writing.
Great analogy here. And your son is a sly one, with that rollover rule, lol!
I’m not a parent and don’t plan on being one anytime soon…but I’m tucking this popsicle post away in my mind for the day I am one!
I loved this post, just loved it!
Laura – oh yes, my son is a crafty one. I worry about him! “popsicle post” *laughs*
Not only do you give great writing advice, you have now armed me with knowledge of what I can expect once my two kids get a bit older!
Great analogy and insights into world building.
Great world building thoughts!
I did try once try to get the whole allowance thing running, along with a list of duties the kids needed to do to get it.
They didn’t do them, and they didn’t care about the money.
Stevem – Thanks! You are too kind!
Lydia – Some kids are just no motivated by money! Rare but it happens. Or they are young enough that the ends doesn’t justify the chores!
Too funny. Love the roll over part. That’s something my kids would think of, too.
This post was a great reminder as to why world building needs to be rock solid. Thanks Laura!
Freeze Pop Roll-over–That might make a good title.
Alicia – Thanks! And thanks for commenting!
Paul – It would be a futuristic cryogenic type novel for sure.
And I”m not even really sure what cryogenic means. 🙂
I like being the uncle who helps my nieces and nephews see that the world isn’t black & white. There’s a strict no-swearing rule in my sister-in-law’s house. A decent rule. But a thread of self-righteousness in the house was getting annoying. There’s one swear in all of Harry Potter, when Molly Weasley saves her daughter’s life and yells to Bellatrix something like, “Not my daughter, you b**ch.” Even Molly, the uber-mom, who would never swear, knows there’s a time and a place. Now one of my nieces & I have a code. We won’t say the b-word. But, at the right time, we might mutter, “Molly”.
Kids are so smart…they’ll find the loopholes in every rule.
It’s funny, because I thought world building was only for fantasy writers, but now I realize I was wrong. Even in contemporary stories, there is a world I’m building!
I missed this post the other day, Laura! I love it–and it’s so true that even we contemporary writers need rules!
BTW, I think my daughter would get along with your son. Popsicles for breakfast…lol.
Girl, you are DEEP! Sigh. Yes, I did make MANY decisions that I regretted as a parent.
And apologized and asked forgiveness from both of my kids in tearful confessions years later. God granted me that gentle smile from both of them and an, “It’s okay, Mommy.”
LOVE this blog.