Why I Wrote It: Worldbuilding Checkup

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Worldbuilding Checkup” is a strange book in the lineup of the Way With Worlds series. The books consist of two guidebooks and then an ever-expanding set of books on specific subjects. Why, suddenly, have a book that’s all “let’s check on the basics”? Well, that actually tells you something about my methods.

Originally I never intended to do more than six of these books.

The smaller “Worldbooks” as I call them were originally designed to be tie-ins to address subjects I wanted to write more on, and get interest in the core books. To flesh them out I went over the core books, the past columns, and subjects I really wanted to write more on. Out of those notes, I realized that a book on more abstract questions would be useful.

See, a lot of the original six books were deep dives on subjects that really needed more exploration – gods, magic, sex, and so on. But among my notes were a lot of questions that could be asked in the abstract – is your world internally consistent, is your timeline useful to you, and so on. I realized that there should be a book that was just “hey, let’s see if your worldbuilding is working.” Then the notes easily became a full book.

Thus, this slightly odd entry in the series was created.

Somewhere after the first six books were written I realized I was on to something and decided to keep going. I also raised the price as a friend with a marketing background noted people would take them more seriously – and I suddenly sold more. There was a market here (and, strangely, I found sometimes charging more is a service that helps people see that your work is valuable).

So as more and more books were created, I realized this book has a special place.

Maybe you don’t need a deep dive on creating believable methods of reproduction or you don’t care about superheroes. None of my specific subjects interest you because you don’t care or you’ve got a good handle on them. But if you’re wanting just a quick check-in to see “hey am I doing this right” the book has you covered – and it definitely does sell, though not as much as others.

I’ve wondered if maybe I should consider other checkup type books, probably one on record-keeping and saving data. Or maybe it’s a one-off. I don’t know yet, but the joy of writing these books may lead me to a new one eventually.

There’s two lessons here.

The first is that for any kind of specific set of guides or instructions, you may need something more abstract or high-level. It may not be for everyone, but there are probably some people who know enough or want that view.

The second lesson is, well, plans change. Now this book is an odd one in the expanded series – but one that may in time inspire more works . . .

Steven Savage