Tag Archives: worldbuilding

Those Important Days In Our Stories

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

I was discussing Serdar’s upcoming worldbuilding-intense novel Unmortal.  It’s a setting with many stories, but his philosophy is one novel a setting, so he told the most important story to tell.  I commented offhandedly, “In a 1000 years find the most important day.”

What story do you tell in a world is a powerful question.

We usually build worlds for a reason because we have some idea of what story to tell.  But if you’re a heavy worldbuilder (like myself), questions arise as you write the first story or plot the next.  You have to ask “what is the story worth telling?”

Without spoiling my plans, my Avenoth novels originally focused on college students and faculty in a techno-mystical world.  Without spoiling my plans, my initial plot was not as interesting as asking how did we get here.  In a way, I ended up writing prequels to a novel that may never be – exploring what kind of people teach in a world of internet-using gods and mystic technology.

The second novel, “A School of Many Futures,” was a similar experience.  Originally the story was a mix of murder mystery and parody of conventions and trade shows.  It would see my collection of hyper-competent but oddball heroes try to shepherd a group of students through rolling chaos at a giant convention.  It was amusing, but the story was just “an idea,” and it didn’t have reason to exist.

As two of the characters are freelance teachers, the notes that became “A School of Many Futures” fit far better.  It fit my themes, fit the characters, and let me further explore the themes mentioned above.  It also fit my greater goals of deconstruction, and it was a pleasure to take on the “magical school adventure” trope.

What about my unused ideas?  My extensive notes have been used in a world guide for readers and may be used in an RPG.  Avenoth is a large setting that plays with tropes – perfect for a game.  Your unused ideas may find similar life in other places.

As writers, we must remember our audience only has so much time, and we have so much time to write.  Asking “what is the story worth telling?” is a question we can’t avoid.

Steven Savage

Angel Up Front, Devil In The Back

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

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

Why I Wrote It: Superheroes And Worldbuilding

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

Superheroes and Worldbuilding is one of those books that seems obvious for me to write. The superhero stuff has been big for years when I wrote this book in 2018, so that had to be my motivation?

Not really.

Sure, that was one reason – superhero stuff was getting more exposure, so why not a book on worldbuilding and superheroes? It was timely, but that was a minor motivation.

The major motivation? I love superheroes and have been writing about them for years, and superhero fiction is fascinating because of what it is. Allow me to digress as I discuss how superhero fiction is both a genre and something more.

On one level, the superhero genre seems to be its own thing. It’s got certain beats and tropes, the common idea of “alternate identities fighting crime and such.” I could expound on the superhero genre in detail, but suffice to say, “it is a unique genre, and I find it interesting.”

But there’s another layer to the superhero genre – it’s a “meta-genre.” Superhero stories of the past were often their own thing – crime drama, supernatural revenge, etc. These tales began crossing over in the early years, and soon you had detectives and aliens versus demons and bank robbers. The superhero genre is a “wrapper” for genres we’d otherwise not combine coming together.

We have seen genre fusions in vogue the last decade or two, but superheroes were doing it decades upon decades ago. We didn’t always notice it because we wrapped them up in another genre and made four-color adventures on paper.

I’ve written superhero stories alone and in groups, watching various genres come together seamlessly. I’ve played superhero RPGs doing the same. Though I fell off of most American superhero comics, I still follow shows and of course, anime and manga. I love superheroes.

So the reason I wrote this book? It was timely, and I had developed a lot of opinions to express! Now I had a unique way to do so, with my book series.

Of course it helps people which was a motivation. I have sequels I may write as there’s more to get out of my head. But as for now I got some of it into “print.”

If you have a passion, deep opinions, why not do a book about them? It’s your record, your thoughts recorded, your opinions made accessible. It’s worth it personally – and worth it as you may help others!

Steven Savage