Angel Up Front, Devil In The Back

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As I write many books on worldbuilding, one might assume that my motivations are wise and benevolent. You can put away any image of me as some saintly writer, as anger and frustration infuse plenty of my work.

I’m fine with this. More than fine, I’m happy.

I’m not saying I don’t want to help authors and creators – I do. There’s something magical about being able to give worldbuilding advice that leads to a new work. Every book I sell feels like both a triumph and a reason to be humble because every one might be the seed of work surpassing anything I could do. I care about what happens to my fellow creatives.

Behind this angelic feeling is a blazing furnace of frustration.

My worldbuilding books started from sheer frustration about terrible worldbuilding. From role-playing games to “continuity optional” television, bad world design poked at my soul. There’s something about seeing good stitched together into some half-alive monstrosity. I wanted to see less of this, because creators and their audience deserved better.

The subjects I choose for worldbuilding books often come from frustration over “why is no one focusing on this.” Seeing conspiracy theories recycled into fiction, I did a book on that. Tired of the same old superhero stories, I did a book on that. I’m in the middle of a three-part book on disasters and worldbuilding, and you can pretty much guess why.

I’m good with this. The devil of frustration needles me about bad ideas and writer’s books that don’t help writers. My benevolent (dare I say angelic?) side drives me to do something and help people out. It’s a partnership of heaven and hell that keeps my writing going, and keeps me helping people.

If you’re worried “oh my writing comes from some dark places,” then trust me, you’re fine. It’s what you do with it. The Devil helps the Angel know where they’re needed.

Steven Savage