Why I Wrote It: Way With Worlds 1 and 2

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

Way With Worlds, both the core books and the minibooks, have their origins in the murky early days of the internet.

We’re going back to fanfiction.net and sffworld.com and the rest. Strap into the Wayback machine.

So way, way early in the internet days, I think maybe 2000 or something, I became aware of the sheer talent in fandom. The internet jacked everything up to 11 and you just saw so much power, especially for writers. Fanfiction, original fiction, AUs, all of it was exploding across the internet (as well as freaking out some company’s legal offices).

Now I’d always been big on Worldbuilding from my ‘zine and RPG days. I love making a good setting and was developing original works myself. I’d also been on one major shared-universe project as an editor, and that taught me a lot about setting creation. Seeing so many people creating made me think I should share some advice.

So Way With Worlds started on Fanfiction.net. Then it spread to sffworld.com. And I wrote.

And kept writing.

And kept writing.

Even when I stopped, I posted the old works up at www.SeventhSanctum.com, my generator website. I would get emails about it now and then, over the years.

I can’t say they were the best written thing. Some were great. Some were just rants in organized forms. But they did reach a lot of people, and that was important; my goal was to empower people.

But if they weren’t the best written, they obviously reached people. Still, one learns over time, and if people still wrote me about Way With Worlds why not improve it . . .

Thus I set forth a project to rewrite Way With Worlds, I think around 2014. I would improve and expand upon them, and update them for modern times where more and more people were self-publishing. As I recall, it took at least a year to do – and it gave me even more feedback from my readers.

That feedback also included memories and thanks from previous readers. That’s when I realized there was one more step – people should be able to get my columns in an even more refined form – books.

I was literally thinking about rewriting and rewrite to put it in another form. That seemed weird to me, but then I realized this made a lot of sense. A book is easy for some people to read as opposed to a bunch of blog posts. A book is a way to present select columns and expand on them. A book also let me update all the stuff I learned in an update.

Thus I rewrote the rewrite and turned it into two books. This was educational.

Remember how I said a book presented data differently and gave you options? Yeah, its a totally different mindset. I had to ask how columns were associated with each other. I had to ask how they did and didn’t work together. A book is curated and I had to curate my own work into a more formal format.

I gained a lot more respect for people who blog-then-book. I could see how it helped, but also required transforming works in different ways.

Thus in 2016 the first book came out, where I expounded on my basic philosophy. Book 1 is a fun, tight, interesting read that helps people adapt a mindset appropriate to worldbuilding. In retrospective, it was a bit like the way Agile discusses both Philosophy and Method.

But there were also tons of columns left over! Good ones! So I created Book 2 to round up deep dives on certain subjects (not as specific as others, hang in there). They paired nicely – core philosophy, then deep dives on important subjects. It was a great two-book series.

On top of that, I had killer book covers, great editors, and they were quality product. They really were a different animal than the columns, and I felt like I’d evolved my work to a final state. I guess it was sort of Pokemon of writing.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Some years before I did Fan To Pro I’d kicked around ideas about writing career guides that coached people with friendly questions – kind of like sitting in a coffee shop with me. I came up with the idea to do this for Worldbuilding subjects, especially ones that were important to me. I would use them as fun tie-ins to the core books.

They took off like crazy. People loved the idea of personal, coaching, deep looks at specific subjects. I also enjoyed writing them, so . . . now I write one every few months. People keep reading them.

So that’s how it began. Early internet posts re-evolved to modern times. Modern rewrites evolved into books. These books inspired simple tie-ins that became their own thing.

Everything evolved, often surprisingly. It was also totally worth it.

So what lessons are there for you:

  • Feedback matters. Give it to inspire and direct people. Take it to remember your work matters to people – and it can be better.
  • It’s worth updating old posts if they help people. You evolve and change, people do, so update your best advice to be better.
  • Blog-to-book or columns-to-book is very legitimate (and has been done for decades). It also gives you options and direction that blog-style writing doesn’t. Converting something to a book makes you think.
  • Experiment with your writing, including things you publish. It gives you feedback, and you may find paths you never expected.
  • You never know 100% what’s going to happen. So be open to new ideas.

So that’s the story. Will I ever re-re-rewrite them? Probably not. I might update the core books with some tweaks, or polish or correct some things in the minibooks, but they’re pretty stable. Of course they’re stable because I learned so much from rewriting . . .

Steven Savage

Make It So: Cataloging Writing Places

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

This is an idea that struck me recently, an idea I liked enough to want to write it down and share it before doing it

I’m part of several writing groups and have a lot of creative friends. Often we meet for discussions.

One thing that comes up in our discussions is “we really should meet and write together.”

Then there’s the question of where. We’re in a dense urban area, which means may possible coffee houses and such to write at. We’re also in an area where the coffee houses and other writing spots get crowded because, hey, it’s a dense urban area.

I’d taken to trying out a new spot each week, and then an idea struck me. It’s an idea I’d like to try for myself, but wanted to share it with all you creatives. It’s about finding good writing spots, but also being social (and if you aren’t feeling social, you can sorta reduce that part).

It works like this.

ONE: Have your writing group come up with a list of places you might write. Yes, most will be coffee shops, because they’re basically coworking spaces where you pay by drinking coffee and eating pastries.

TWO: When a member goes out to write or draw or whatever, they select a space out of the list no one has tried yet. They let everyone know so they’re welcome to join them.

THREE: Everyone goes to said place and writes/draws or whatever. If it’s terrible or bad, feel free to move to another area of course.

FOUR: The person who started the meeting and/or the people who attended write up their experience and share it with the group. You could even keep a public blog to share with everyone in your geographic area.

FIVE: Keep an updated and ranked list of the various locations so people can go to good ones – or find new ones.

Sure it’s a simple idea. But there are various benefits:

  • First, you have a neat social thing to do with your creative groups, but one where there’s not pressure to be overly social.
  • Second, you find cool places to be creative.
  • Third, you support good local businesses.
  • Fourth, you find where not to go and avoid wasting time.
  • Fifth you might have a cool writing thing to do keeping a blog, a review, section, etc.

I hope to try something like this with my groups in the next six months or so. But give it a try yourself (especially if I get too busy to try it).

Steven Savage

Find Your Block

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

As I’ve spoken of before, it’s a good idea to make space for your creative works. Setting aside blocks of time for your work over trying to plan every hour is really beneficial. Having elaborate plans makes most of us feel pressure, having space to work feels like freedom.

However, as I’ve talked to creative types, I’ve found something else: we each have different “ideal” sizes of blocks and how to arrange them.

My idea block of creative time seems to be at least an hour, preferably more. It probably tops out at about two to four hours when I need a break.

On the other hand, I met a person who sets aside entire weekends to write and can churn out over 50,000 words over two days.

Why is this important?

First, finding your ideal creative “block time” means you can work out your schedule so you have time to create. It could be an hour at a time, so you can arrange many different efforts into an evening. It could be you need big blocks of time, so you pick a weekend day to do creative works.

Secondly, finding your ideal creative “block time” removes pressure on yourself. We creatives are constantly hearing how we should create, but finding how we create makes it ours. We may be able to use all that creative advice, but in our way.

Third, simply, you learn a lot about how you work. Finding the ideal timeframe for you to create lets you learn why. Other insights will probably follow.

So ask yourself – what is your ideal block of time to set aside for creative works? You might be surprised where that question goes . . .

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 2/16/2020

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s see where all my projects are – you’re also going to notice slight schedule switchup. I’m doing these the same time as my newsletter so everyone gets an update.

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Gods and Deities Book has been published! You can go buy it here!
  • Way With Worlds: I’ve also started the next book – Conspiracies And Secrets!
  • A School Of Many Futures: I’m now editing the first draft, a mix of re-outlining and rewriting.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: Work more on Conspiracies and Secrets. I think the likely publication date is late March.
  • A School Of Many Futures: I want to heavily edit the first three chapters and replot the remaining nine or ten chapters.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I’ve gotten some help on the Python coding as there’s real subtleties. My goal now is to get the advanced generators coded in the next 2-6 weeks.

Steven Savage

Cooking With Steve: “Northern Pizza”

In my book series, there is pizza. Sure the worlds around the star Avenoth are fictional, but pizza exists there. In fact, in two forms: Northern and Eastern.

Eastern pizza is like the pizza we’re used to, with a bit of a Korean/Mediterranean flair. Thin crust, lots of stuff.

But Northern Pizza, the original pizza, is different – its thick bread baked with mashed beans, greens, and spices. A one-stop lunch that originated in large bakeries and working-class restaurants.

So I decided to try and create it. Here’s the recipe – so far

Ingredients:

  • One whole wheat pita or thick, large slice of German Farm Bread or similar thick, dark bread.
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Hummus (or mash up garbanzo beans, 1 tbsp crushed garlic, 2 tbsp lemon juice).
  • 1 cup highly shredded greens like spinach or highly chopped broccoli. Add some onion if you want.

Instruction:

  • Mix greens and hummus.
  • Spread evenly on bread.
  • Bake until toasted and top is slightly browned.
  • Serve.

I’ve made this a few times and really enjoy it. I’ve got to perfect it a bit, but as a kind of “open face hummus burrito” it’s good. Doubtlessly I’ll experiment more – and maybe tweak my backstories a bit.

Sharing Your Work And That One Person

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

We want our creative works to reach people – to inspire, to guide, to entertain, to salve pains. We want to change the world in our own way. So do many other people.

Being a creative puts us in a curious position of feeling like we’re competing. If you had someone say they wished to feed the hungry, they wouldn’t worry about competition. If you knew someone who wished to clean up the environment, they’d welcome all comers. But creative works tend to make us competitive because people have limited attention.

There is rarely a shortage of the poor. There are no shortage of environmental challenges. But when we wish for attention, well, that’s a limited resource.

Which is why, if we want to make people laugh, educate, and overthrow tyrants, we have to rethink how we reach out.

We have to think “how can I help.” If our creative work has value – and let us assume it does – then the real question is how do you help people out.

How do you get the right people to read your book, appreciate your art, and change the world because of a single poem? There’s no right answer, because every work is different. But asking that question of “how do I help” is important.

(If creativity is your career, “how do I help and make a living” ramps up the challenge).

However, there is one thing to consider – have you reached one person and changed their lives?

Many an author or artist or musicians knows this experience. There’s that one person that follows your book, hung up your art, or told you your song got you through a tough time. That single moment is valuable, unshakeable, and powerfully personal.

Those are the moments to look into. How did you reach them? Why did you make a difference? What happened?

Then you can ask how to repeat this moment. How do you repeat that success in having your comic or game get into the right hands? That one person may be the key to transforming the world.

Sadly, you may not be able to find a lesson. Many of we creatives keep shambling forward and trying. But consider the following:

Even if you reach only that one person, there’s hope you can find out how to reach more.

Even if you reach only that one person, that’s one work. Your next work may reach a million.

Even if you reach only that one person, if you reach the right person, they change the world.

That one person is your sign to not give up. After all, that person didn’t give up on you . . .

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Magic, Technology, and Worldbuilding

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

This was the second book in my “Way WIth Worlds” Minibooks. Why I wrote it is twofold.

On the larger level, this was me wanting to try out writing a series of focused worldbuilding books. I’d decided to work on six at first to try it out, originally as tie-ins to my Way With Worlds books. Later, as I’ve noted before, I found these were valid on their own and began writing them regularly.

But that’s the general thing. Let’s talk why I focused on Magic and Technology – together.

Because for your worldbuilding magic and technology are the same thing. I’ve said it many times, and I gave myself an entire book to talk about it. So it was kind of cathartic.

See, Magic and Technology are how characters work with and change the world. Rituals and coding, spell gestures and wiring, are all just “I want to do X so Y happens.” For the sake of worldbuilding, they’re almost always the same.

This is important because we so often focus on the differences between magic and technology. This leads us down the path of focusing on the differences between them. We ask what the magic system is like. We ask how probable the technology is in our world.

But these differences are only a small percentage of all the questions we should ask bout a world.

How does this work? What is the impact? Who teaches it? What is the effect? Once we decide on a magic or technology, the major worldbuilding questions dwarf the questions of “how many necromancers can dance on the head of a hard drive.”

Putting this in book form felt great. Here’s the hard questions to ask about magic or technology. Here’s the social impacts to think about. Here’s all these questions without getting lost in differences.

If I hadn’t done the Way With Worlds series, this probably would have come back as another work, perhaps a larger book. Instead it got to be part of the larger picture.

This will always have a special place for me, because of this.

And that’s why I wrote it.

Steven Savage

You Are The Art

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

We wish our creative works to reach people. We want to shake the thrones of tyrants and overturn oppression. We want to make people laugh, to soothe their cares in the world with fun. We want to sneak behind boredom and stab it in the back to free people’s imaginations.

Yet, will we ever do this?

Will our works reach others? Will they touch them in the ways we hope? Will we inspire others like we were once inspired?

You can never be sure of this. Your work may not be recieved in the way you expected. Time to spread your creations may not be at hand. Your latest creation may have flaws that keep it from reaching others, flaws you don’t know until it’s completed.

We may not change the world with one book or song. We may not change it in a hundred. It can be frustrating, these unkowns, these failures, these unsureties.

If you have these frustrations, be assured you’re not alone. Your friends and fellows share them. People you pass in the streets have novels they fear won’t be loved and art they hate.

But still, what can you do? WIll your work change the world?

Perhaps, but consider what you do change for sure – yourself.

As you create something, you change. You learn new skills and hone ones that exist. You think thoughts you never had before. You study and dream and practice. Each work you create changes the world – by changing yourself.

The person that starts writing a book is not the same person who completes it. If you are aware of it, that new you becomes a better person – wiser, more skilled, and more aware.

This new person you’ve become can change the world. They have better understanding, make better decisions, are more adept at their creativity. You are your own creative work, and you become more by pursuing your dreams and creations.

This new person may fail at one creative work, yet they have grown. Their next story, or piece of art, or book may shake the world. They may realize how to promote old work with new insights. The future you has more and more chances to change the world – because they grow with each creation.

May your books be read, your songs be sung, your art appreciated. May you change the world for the better, but always appreciate how everything you create helps you become an even better person.

And, consider that as you evolve in your writing or drawing, how stealthily and subtly it happens. Your sentences and verses push you forward to become something more. The tyrants, both men and ideas, won’t see you evolving or growing. They won’t know how you might evolve.

Until, perhaps, it is too late for them.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Book Roundup For February!

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Steve’s Update 2/3/2020

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s see where all my projects are!

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Gods and Deities Book is edited and formatted for print!
  • A School Of Many Futures: The compete draft is done!
  • Seventh Sanctum: The Gemstone Generator has launched.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: Publish the Gods and Deities Worldbook and move on to the Secrets and Conspiracies one!
  • A School Of Many Futures: I’m taking a week break then I’m going to start doing editing passes – first will be a readthrough with tweaks.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Continue Python coding as I have one more codebase to rewrite before my next steps.

Steven Savage