World building is one of those tricky things that I think is based on experience and preference. I was reading Brent Week’s blog earlier, specifically in the writing advice area, where he was talking about world building. Now having read all of his books, I do feel he is fairly legitimate at building up his worlds but apparently some of his critics would disagree. After all what are critics for besides nay-saying what they cannot create, muahaha? He talked about his Night Angel Trilogy’s world building like this; Book One – City, Book Two – Nation, and Book Three – International. If you haven’t read his books, you should go get them right now, seriously go…. now! Every second you waste, Mr. Weeks kills a kitten.
I think that is a very interesting and useful way to go about world building. I am particular to slower world building myself. I don’t really want to have the first 186 pages of a book cramming everything about a world down my throat, I want to explore and discover things as I read and the story unfolds. To me this feels more organic and natural, you wouldn’t describe the entire state of Idaho in the first dozen pages when the story takes place inside a city for the first half of the book, would you? Regardless of the fact that Idaho could be summed up in two pages, perhaps a page and a half.
A close friend and I are creating a very exciting and fresh type of fantasy world. I hesitate to use the word new, because it HAS been done before, but not HOW we are doing it. Anyway, as we create and define the world for the main story arcs we hope to write, we have decided to take a largely slower but still plot-paced view on world building. Revealing as much as is needed, without giving the whole cow away. Why? Well because we don’t think the reader wants a dissertation on the various villages and cultures as the main characters progress through the narrative. Not to say there is anything wrong with that, but we aren’t trying to reproduce The Wheel of Time or Lord of the Rings here.
I like my world building to be like roasted pork, slow cooked and so juicy it falls off the bone. Think about it.
However, some people might not like slow world building, they might want a detailed map and topography from the start. So who is to say what is right? Everybody has their preferences, slower is just mine.