Writing Diaries

On Writing #1: Worldbuilding and Info-Dumping

I am going to pretend we all are friends and you have a fairly good idea of how my mind works so let’s get down straight to it.

Writing is hard work. I know many people think it’s all sitting in coffee shops dressed hipsterishly, sipping on overpriced coffee while writing a word every five minutes or so until somehow, magically, you have a book.

That cannot be further from the truth.

For one thing, you usually don’t have money for overpriced coffee. For another, asking a writer to put on clothes other than pajamas is usually asking for too much. (This is, of course, a generalization and not all authors spend all their lives in pajamas. Just the majority of it.)

When I wrote The Road of the Lost I first came to appreciate how difficult storytelling can be. I came to know how much the story is influenced by the character telling the story. Croi, the protagonist of The Road of the Lost is a very eccentric, a very loud, character and writing her is in some ways easy. She always says everything that comes to her mind. She’s irreverent and optimistic with loads of energy. The Road of the Lost is written in first person present and I realized how limited I am by the perspective when it comes to worldbuilding. In first person, the world can be built to the extent the protagonist knows it and as she finds out more about the world, so do the readers. You can’t talk about politics or economy or anything if the protagonist has no idea about these things.

In my newest writing project, The Fire Within, I have chosen to use 3rd person omni because I may as well pull out all of the stops to build this world that is just so intriguing in my mind. Of course I am not entirely sure I am even capable of transcribing the vision in my mind to words on the page but since this world belongs to me, I will do my best.

And gosh, my best is currently kicking my ass.

As a reader, I know that swathes of info-dumping, though sometimes necessary, can often lose the reader. So I am trying to maintain a fair distribution of action and movement while establishing the fictional world and it’s tough.

So tough that I have had to resort to longhand because the whiteness of the computer screen mocks me in ways I don’t want to think about.

I write a “dirty draft” where sentences and words are flung haphazardly at the page not even pretending to try to make sense. Tonight I will attempt a first draft where I will do a better job of trying to make sure my sentences sound like sentences and not a green monkey’s laugh.

Show don’t tell is always the mantra with writers and for good reason because as a reader, I know that being told how a character feels is very different from being shown the same thing. But as a writer, I don’t often know how to show the thing my character feels.

But I guess that’s the challenge of any thing you do. Strive at it and hope you learn it before you pull all your hair out.



5 thoughts on “On Writing #1: Worldbuilding and Info-Dumping

  1. Oh, this was very helpful because well, this is also me some of the time. Knowing I’m not alone is … comforting. Though, of course, you’ve actually finished a novel (or two, or three) so you know it can be done! I can’t wait for you to do it again!

    And man, “You can’t talk about politics or economy or anything if the protagonist has no idea about these things.” is currently my problem with writing Jia as my MC. Thus, the switching around to different perspectives. Which, as you know, has its own problems …

    Hey, are you gonna make this a series? You should! I’d tune into your thoughts on writing over anyone else’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to be careful not to “info dump” when I wrote my novel, Red Flags. But in my case, the alternative turned out to be a longer book. Most of the story is set in the Soviet Union, which means I had to show (not tell) readers what it was like for my characters to live there. The main character is an elite-level figure skater. I assume that most people who buy my book are familiar with the sport, but not on a deep level– it’s my job to show it to them. Also, the sport has changed a lot since the time period of my novel. Even the scoring system is different. Again, it’s my job to show the readers something that is new to them. If the same story were taking place in America in 2016, it would probably be a hundred pages shorter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yaay, I’m glad I’m not the only one who is tormented by these things. And I definitely am making this a series because I reckon I will come up against more issues while writing this book. I hope Jia can fight these issues soon! *hint*

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I definitely feel the same way about a blank screen. I dabble in crafting poetry for my own enjoyment, and I often find that I have to scribble out my first drafts on a sheet of paper because the empty screen is just too intimidating! Plus I can scribble and highlight and underline to my heart’s content as I cut my draft to pieces with a pen. :)

    Liked by 1 person

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