From Reader to Writer: It’s All About the Questions

It’s so easy to make excuses to not write. Besides the traditional reasons like lack of time, inspiration, or endurance, using the excuse of “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I don’t know where to start” are great ways of letting those unfinished ideas drift into the abyss. Even though I have a fancy piece of paper from a fancy university that says I should know how to write, it’s still one of the hardest things to do. From character development to subplots to the type of language you choose, the technicalities of writing can lead even the most motivated writer to giving up the whole thing. To yank me out of this mentality and really get this ball rolling, I’ve recently found an awesome resource on Daily Om called How to Write Your First Book.

This blog-style course is really helpful in just getting down to it. You want to write? Well…then you have to write, and not just scribbles of ideas and hopeful dreams. You have to get into the trenches and answer those questions. What is the story? Who are the characters? How will you make the audience care about them? This course does a great job of literally giving you the questions and saying “okay, it’s up to you. Answer them.” As I’ve gone through the course, I realize so much of gearing up to write is about taking it one question at a time. I’ve spent an entire week mulling over one question until the answer showed up. When it did, I felt more confident in how much stronger my story’s foundation was.

Even when writing plot, the best way to tackle such a gargantuan task is to simply ask what could happen.

When you answer that question, ask it again. Then again. Then asks things like “who is my main character at the end of all of this? Why did I just take my audience on this journey?” By the end of those questions, the answers will be the skeleton of your work.

I think right now my biggest struggle with writing is relying on my own brain power to answer all of these questions. Being a writer means being decisive. You are the ruler of this kingdom, the god of this world, and it’s a lot of pressure to make so many decisions! But with each choice you make, it gets a little easier, and your writing gets clearer.

Good luck, writers, and keep moving forward!

From Reader to Writer: World Building Resources

Both readers and writers can agree that one of the best parts of stepping into an imaginative story is the immersive world building. From Tolkien’s Middle Earth to Rowling’s Wizarding World, the intricacies of creating an entire world are addictive. For genres like fantasy and science fiction that rely on otherworldly elements, it’s a writer’s ability to engage the five senses which hooks us into a story even more than writing plot or characters.

But when it comes to world building, the pressures of playing god can sometimes get really overwhelming. How do you keep it all straight? How do you determine the origins of your world, the climate, the geography, not to mention the cultures, races, plants, and animals that make your world not only believable, but habitable? How do you even know what questions to ask or what information is most important in your story?

As I’m working through my own writing, I’ve found that world building can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s immensely enjoyable to get lost in a world so different from my own, but world building is also an excellent excuse to create and create without really writing anything. I want to be careful not to risk getting “world builder’s disease,” an affliction that plagued even Tolkien where a writer creates every tiny, little detail of a world, inevitably running themselves into the ground and burning out.

To keep my thoughts organized, I’ve discovered this incredible resource. WorldAnvil is a free website that lets a writer, artist, or role-playing gamemaster organize an entire world in an encyclopedia format. The website has an article for various types of entries, and the articles prompt a range of questions that guide you through construction. WorldAnvil also has paid subscription options that offer access to more resources and functions in the website, but you can use the website without having to pay a thing.

I also found WorldAnvil’s YouTube channel and this video on tips for worldbuilding helpful. Beyond WorldAnvil, there are some great videos featuring advice from both seasoned writers and RPG game developers. This video on fantasy map construction is awesome!

Another amazing resource is best-selling author Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing. Many of his classes are available on YouTube including this one on worldbuilding.

When writing a story or even developing a world for a role-playing game, there are many elements and decisions to make. It’s intense and rewarding. Use this phase of your creative journey as an outlet to be eccentric and try things. When the real plotting begins, you’ll be so immersed in your story that much of the work will already be done.