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Elandera

Worldbuilding advice you'd give to new/aspiring writers

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Hello! It's been a while since I've been in this part of the forum. I'm requesting a bit of help and a few ideas. This summer, a company I work with (we help people with the process of self-publishing) is holding a writers' retreat. I've been tasked with instructing the segment on worldbuilding. I'm pretty well-versed in the topic, but I'd like to get other opinions as I put together my plan.

What advice would you give to someone who's just getting into writing? What do you wish you would have known? Is there any particular part of worldbuilding you love to see in books you read? What authors (outside of Sanderson) do you think do a good job at worldbuilding? Why?

Thanks! Also for a bit of background, I've already gone through Sanderson's videos about worldbuilding and plan to incorporate some of the ideas. 

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@Elandera I'm guessing you've watched Brandon's videos and listened to Writing Excuses, so I'll say my own take on the topic :-) :-P

 

In order:

  • First, decide if you are world building to make a setting, and based on that setting make a story, or are you starting with the idea of a story, and from that making a setting for it? It doesn't have to exclusively be one or the other, but decide where you are beginning. One might require more world building than the other, but deciding on this helps with answering the next question.
  • Second, when you world build, first decide how much you are planning on doing, and how much you need before you start writing - it is too easy to get wrapped up in a cycle of figuring out new elements. Instead, choose how far you need to go on vital parts, and then focus on them - focus however doesn't mean ignore the rest. Is the politics of the world important? Then focus on that. Is the geography of the world unimportant? Then don't focus on that, but you can still have elements of that involved as well when you plan, and it might partially support the politics, or allow you to spark off a subplot. Which leads to the next point.
  • Thirdly, once you start world building, for any given section you world build, think in three ways - how does it tie to the past (as in, what in the past could have caused this), how does it tie to the future (as in, what are its implications), and how does it tie to the present (as in, how does this element interact with other current elements). Most importantly, how do they come together to produce inevitable outcomes where two current events lead to an inevitable third in the future, or are both the result of something in the past, and so on and so on? Considering how they interact might also allow you to realise areas which need to be changed or given more explanation or support, or which could actually drive the story.
  • Fourthly, even if you are world building for the sake of the story, its okay to make a section of the settings background independent of the main story. There is no need to shoehorn it in, but you can also use it to hint at the greater depth and complexity the setting has, even if it doesn't directly contribute to the main plot - but remember the second bulletpoint above!
  • Fifthly, it doesn't have to actually be as deep as it looks, but as long as you have a general idea about what isn't being shown, that can be enough - but if you like, then go deeper, but not at the expanse of not telling the story, if you want to tell a story.

 

Sections of world building I enjoy usually varies in a story, but I like technologies and how they impact a society, different cultures interacting and being confused by one another, or just accepting that it is one of those things those crazy foreigners or aliens do (especially when that is an attitude both cultures or species have for one another). Symbiosis, culturally or technologically or biologically, robots, etc. are what I like, as well as colonies starting to form or having to support themselves while dealing with dangers. Wars where the complexity and issues are shown, where the heroic side - if there is a clearly heroic side - has its own evil men fighting for it, and the villains have their own noble warriors who fight to protect a home that doesn't deserve their loyalty.

 

Hope this is helpful!

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Posted (edited)

The main advice I would have is know when to let the Rule of Cool reign and flex the rules of your world and when to be completely true to the world.

Edited by Invocation
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It's fine to not do your worldbuilding first if you're just eager to start writing, but it's probably worth stopping at some point to codify and figure things out properly. Don't do a whole 300k word draft and then realise your worldbuilding doesn't make sense because you'll just have to spend time rewriting (I did this once and it took an entire year to fix all the worldbuilding issues and then make them fit with the story).

Keep good worldbuilding notes but don't spend too much time writing them instead of the main story (another thing I'm bad at).

All elements of worldbuilding will generate points of conflict that can be used to inform the story, even in subtle ways (I like to weave these small points of conflict into the lives of side characters and auxiliary characters to give them some extra depth). 

Cultures are not monoliths. Be sure to show individuality and variation within cultures.

 

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I don't actually consider worldbuilding one of my strong points, I think I'm much better at character, but I hope this is till somewhat helpful.

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Thank you all so much! This presentation isn't until the end of June, so if anyone thinks of anything else, I'd gladly accept it. :)

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"Environment shapes culture"

A society's industry, economics, politics, and customs are all dependent on one another, and most of it is in some way related to the environment in which the society lives (or was first formed).

In a desert agriculture is never going to be the main industry, so a desert society might be pastoralists (cattle-raisers) or miners (or something else), and they will be dependent on trade with other cultures for resources. It's also likely that there will be some amount of raiding to get resources, which raises the value of military might, so the leaders of the society will probably come from the military. So military success equals political authority. And so on and so on.

If land is fertile, however, growing your own food should be more efficient than raiding or trading for it. In this case military might might not be as important as wealth, so the political elites might be merchants (but more likely landowners).

 

The good part about sci-fi or secondary world fantasy is that it doesn't matter in which direction you go:
You can build the culture from the ground up, so to speak, starting from the environment, and then deciding how it shaped the people, brick by brick.
Or you can decide on an aspect of the culture you want in your story (Oh, that's so cool, I wanna write about that!), and then reason your way back to how that aspect was formed.

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I'm glad we could be of help :-) what might be a good idea is if we give you some examples off the cuff of some world building, so quickly do some world building on some new settings in this thread to show as examples at the retreat, along with the world building from published authors such Brandon and others' work? @Invocation, @Kureshi Ironclaw, @Eagle of the Forest Path, what do you think?

 

I'll start, and I'll do this stream of consciousness style with a new setting.

 

Seed ideas:

Spoiler

So, lets start with a fully seperate world, so not doing urban fantasy. Or, maybe ... lets do urban fantasy, but on a different world to this one. Actually, lets make it so that "humans" are the fantasy race, and other races don't know about them. I recently rewatched the Spiderwick Chronicles, and there was a reference to "if the villain gets the book, then nothing will be able to stop him, not even humans." So, humans are a more powerful race than faeries, either due to unique magic, or technology, or maybe magic is technology. Or ... no, I don't want to use a certain idea right now, I would like to save it for another story. Actually, no, lets do this, just a little though - its an idea I had about how humans might be feared by aliens because imagination can control them, so humans could control the aliens. Lets use that. So, seed idea one, humans are actually the faeries, the setting has faerie races which think humans are a myth, and human imagination can reshape faerie society.

Lets get a second idea, as this is enough for a base, but we need to expand it out. Lets think ... lets think ... I recently started replaying a few Star Wars games, so lets go with an idea from Jedi Outcast, about the valley of the Jedi and the villain wants to gain access to its power to empower his troops. Lets also use an idea from Knights of the Old Republic about being trapped on a planet that is being locked down by the Sith and trying to escape. So, the villains in the story are trying to secure a magical source of power to empower their troops, and a group of people are trapped on a planet trying to escape it to continue to fight a battle. For extra interest, lets make those two groups separate, the villains trying to secure power are actually different from those that trapped the one group on the planet.

 

So, three seed idea - 1) humans are to faeries what most people would say faeries are, with power over the faeries, 2) the villains are trying to secure a source of power, and 3) another group of villains trapped a heroic people on a planet who are trying to leave.

 

Initial:

Spoiler

Lets have a look at this. One possibility is that faeries only exist because of human imagination, while another is that faeries existed on the planet before humans arrived, and another is that humans and faeries both arrived together, either knowing about one another or not. For now, lets put that aside, and look at the next possibility - the power source the villains want is actually human imagination, and lets assume that this is something unique to humans, so the villains are trying to become humans.

Something which we haven't considered yet is the type of faeries the setting could have - that can be left for later, something to consider the further into the story we go, and the more the setting needs it. Are the faeries human-like, or plant-like, or animal-like, or a combination? We can consider that later, and also how this ties into the setting. For now this is just the start, a basic description - we can add more later.

So, the world has faeries of several types, with their own opinions and attitudes and abilities, but all are influenced by humans, which are a myth, and a feared one. Humans either have to be invisible, or able to pass themselves off as faeries, possibly due to using imagination to imagine themselves as faeries. Or they can make faeries think of them as not being there. Lets make this interesting! Lets have it that there are some humans who use imagination to pretend to be faeries, who actually have lived with faeries and maybe even have some half-faerie children - reverse changelings - and some humans who use their powers to become invisible, living in their own hidden villages, with some trade or conflict between humans who disguise themselves and those who isolate themselves. Side note, but I always liked Gummi Bears and the fact that in a setting with magic and ogiers etc., it was talking bears that were the myth. Now, do humans who can make themselves look like faeries have something which makes them vulnerable, or a tell that they aren't faeries? If it is imagination, then it probably has to do with making sure they don't think of themselves as humans while in disguise.

Now, the trapped on the planet part - do we actually want to use it? It seems like adding it might cause issues with the setting, if humans and faeries arrived seperatly. Lets reduce that in importance a bit, and have it as a side element, that maybe some humans from another world arrived, rather than all humans. Actually ... yes, lets have it that when the new humans arrived, driven to the planet by faeries from another world, they came into conflict with the humans and faeries on this world. Yes, yes, something the faeries on the planet don't know about, the existence of alien faeries at war with humans, fearing the human imagination which can make new faeries, and change existing ones. And the conflict between humans, those who joined the alien humans to take the planet, sharing their faeriphobia, and those who still see value in faeries.

Actually, how much power do humans have over faeries? Probably not that much, but enough to be frightening. The alien faeries don't want to interfere with the existing faeries on the planet, but the conflict caused humans and faeries to fight, the war the aliens brought causing pain on the planet while the native faeries didn't know what was going on. New faeries came into being during the battle, human imagination causing them to form, and some species changed during the conflict, but they don't know how it happened.

Wait .. how did humans and faeries come to be on the planet originally? And what about the faeries trying to gain human imagination, becoming human? The first can be that humans and faeries once worked together to arrive on the planet, faeries a natural product of human imagination, and faeries are naturally present all over where human live. The second can be that an ancient conspiracy of faeries knows about humans and wants their power, even though most faeries think humans are a legend. Lets have faeries having magic, but imagination can replicate some of this, so the humans pretending to be faeries can still pretend to be faeries.

 

Refined:

Spoiler

Humans and faeries came from another world, but in the past humans went into hiding, though on other worlds humans and faeries exist in either peace or conflict. The setting is urban fantasy, with several races of faeries living in harmony, with hidden humans who can disguise themselves as faeries living among them, in contact with but also shunning humans who maintain there own invisible society. A few generations ago, new faeries seemed to come into existence, and existing faeries were changed during an event that faerie science can't explain - something theorised to be tied to how faeries originally came into existence - but which actually was due to a conflict between extra terrestrial humans and faeries spilling onto the planet, only recently contained, and those new faeries are the result of imagination left uncontrolled. A secret society of faeries know about humans, and crave the power of imagination, the power humans possess. All faeries have some imagination, but not enough to affect changes to the environment. These however, want to take the power of humans, and become humans, using that power to dominate faerie society. This puts them at odds with both humans and another group of faeries, whose mission is to maintain human secrecy and also limit the destructive potential human imagination has, policing the hidden humans, and also trying to track down any rogue humans or alien faeries that wish to continue their conflict.

 

A lone young faerie, meanwhile, has discovered something shocking: if they think about something hard enough, they can make things change. This shouldn't be possible, unless ... unless their father, who disappeared years ago wasn't actually a faerie ...

 

Thats it for now - I'll add more to this later, but as an example as the ideas came I hope this is helpful.

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My biggest piece of advice would be to consider what ramifications your magic/technology would have on the real world. Can people teleport? Then think about what that would do for transportation. Can people get nutrition from sunlight? Well, what's that going to do for agriculture?

And so on and so on until you've got something that feels developed.

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@Elandera I hope you are well. Sorry I haven't posted a followup to my previous post, as I've had a lot of real life pressures going on at the moment. I would like to do at least one more post to expand on the setting if its not too late. How long before the writers retreat starts?

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29 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

@Elandera I hope you are well. Sorry I haven't posted a followup to my previous post, as I've had a lot of real life pressures going on at the moment. I would like to do at least one more post to expand on the setting if its not too late. How long before the writers retreat starts?

It starts tomorrow! I'm super excited :D Feel free to expand still, even if you can't do it tonight. We're going to be starting up a podcast soon, where I can share more advice. Thank you!

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8 minutes ago, Elandera said:

It starts tomorrow! I'm super excited :D Feel free to expand still, even if you can't do it tonight. We're going to be starting up a podcast soon, where I can share more advice. Thank you!

Will do! Hopefully I can get it posted before tomorrow night, my time (UTC+2:00 :-P ). Good luck at the retreat, and I hope you all have fun!

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Okay, this took a week longer than I had hoped to find the time to do this. Sorry about that. Here is the second instalment of the world building idea. Following the summary of the previous points the post will again be done stream of consciousness style.

 

Previously we left off with the following ideas discussed. Slightly expanded upon, they are:

Spoiler
  • On this planet humans are to faeries as faeries are normally to humans; a hidden, mythic race with strange powers that most dismiss as a legend,
  • There are other worlds where humans and faeries exist, sometimes in peace and sometimes in war, but on this world something happened in the distant past, possibly a war, and so humans went into hiding, but whether because they lost the war or because they didn't want to destroy the faeries is not said,
  • Humans on this planet are feared by faeries - either those who know they are real or those who regard them as "fairy tale" horrors - due to human imagination being either their origin or related to their origin, and thus human belief has power over faeries, though to what extent is not clear, aside from being able to make more types of faeries, or change existing ones. The power isn't actually that great, possibly due to the limitations of individual rather than collective imagination, but it still is frightening to faeries, and possibly can affect space outside of just affecting faeries, though how or why is not said,
  • Humans have been in hiding for a long time, but recently there was a war - or a new war if in the past a war was what lead to humans going into hiding - due to other humans and faeries, who were at war with one another, arriving in the system, bringing their war with them. Some native humans sided with the alien humans, while other native humans and some native faeries fought against both races of invaders and turncoat humans, but most of the faeries native to the planet new nothing of this battle. This conflict, hidden from most eyes, has shaped modern faerie society over the past few generations,
  • There are several types of faeries, and more came into existence during this secret war, though to the nature of what caused these new faeries to exist is not known to most faeries. Some might have the appearance of miniature humans, animals, or plants, etc., or some chimera with elements of these. As each is based on human perception, some follow certain stereotypes, such as dog-types being loyal, or wolf-types being cunning, though each member is an individual and so free to break from any perceived trait. Whether the new faeries formed entirely from imagination, or were made from existing faeries, is not said,
  • One group of faeries - the possibly villainous, or at least frightened and hostile, alien group - knew about humans and wanted to destroy them. Faeries have power, magic, but human imagination not only makes them immune to faerie magic, but also lets them do things magic can't. Thus this group of faeries wishes to destroy humans, and so their conflict with other humans started the war. They are gone now, maybe, but their goals and their battles shaped faerie society, even though most faeries don't know this,
  • Other more active villains also exist - the second more active group of villain's goal want to become human, and in so doing to gain the power over other faeries, though for what reason they want that capacity hasn't been said,
  • Humans can live among the faeries due to the ability to disguise themselves as faeries, using imagination to think of themselves as faeries and trying to forget they are human unless completely alone, as thinking of themselves as human makes them turn back into humans. Some humans, however, instead choose to remain human the whole time, and instead use imagination to be invisible to the faeries, and maintain their own societies, which may or may not trade with the humans who disguise themselves as faeries
  • Some faeries know about humans living among them, and don't trust them, including distrusting the humans who are not living among them. This is an ancient conspiracy turned government organisation or organisations, and has some roots with the active villains, though many more members oppose them. Their only goal is to make sure humans don't cause trouble for faerie society, and make sure they don't use their abilities to expose their own existence due to the inevitable resulting conflict, though their purview also includes preventing other faeries who likewise try to reinitialise contact or conflict between the groups,
  • The main character is a half-human half-faerie (a reverse changeling) who recently discovered this fact, or is beginning to realise that they aren't entirely faerie, and this gives them human-like abilities, with their imagination giving them powers that faeries don't possess.

 

Stream of consciousness:

We can take too routes with this, one being to expand on the setting more before working out which plot fits best, or world building around a decided upon plot. As we already have a scaffolding idea for a story - reverse changeling and villains who want the very power the main character has - lets go with the latter. Lets examine each of the story ideas now and both expand and connect them, with the rough idea of the plot as a guide. We already know this is going to be an urban fantasy, be on an alien world that nevertheless is still familiar terrestrially, and society has both a distant history (how humans and faeries originally arrived and interacted, leading to humans hiding) and a recent one (the hidden war and the new faeries). For now, while we do this lets try to answer some of the "not said" questions, and see where that takes us.

 

(Added outside of stream of consciousness: Main plot and faerie types)

Spoiler

The main plot should involve the main character discovering their abilities, or having already discovered them and now experimenting with them. Lets go with the second, as it lets the character already have some familiarity with their abilities and to have already considered some of their own questions on this. The character likely has already wondered if this is the mythical "imagination" that humans have. Should they also have magic, which they can use with imagination? I think yes, though if imagination can replicate some magic then maybe not. No, no, the idea of magic and imagination interacting is too interesting and adds a lot of possibilities. Better to have it that there are some things imagination can do that magic can also, and so humans who disguise themselves as faeries disguise themselves as faeries who have magic that can be replicated with imagination.

Of course, this adds the question, what types of faeries are there? And if humans have already lived among faeries, then they wouldn't disguise themselves just as new faerie types as those faerie types would be intensely scrutinised. Likewise, new faerie types wouldn't be the only ones with abilities that imagination can duplicate, or else humans couldn't have disguised themselves as faeries before those new types emerged during the recent war. Of course, as faeries are related to human imagination, then in a sense imagination can indirectly control magic. Lets not worry about that at the moment, and instead settle on faerie types.

If humans imagined faeries, we could go with classical faeries - though "elves" and too-human looking ones might be shunned, though no faerie would dare to admit to believing in the silly legends of humans existing. It probably would be that ingrained prejudices would be in effect, so they wouldn't fully know why they didn't like them, or if it was because they looked like "monsters" they would find some other reason to justify it. Some things which technically aren't faeries could also be included, like fauns, centaurs, etc. though how they vary in size, and if two different types of faeries having children would result in a hybrid ... lets have it that boys take after their mothers, and girls after their fathers, a bit of a twist on the usual logic. It also means if the main character is a girl then her father being human would also be a logical conclusion, someone who disappeared long ago. Hmmm ... some humans can go invisible, and if the father went to join them ... if the father of the main character actually was one of them ... if he was raised by them, believed the invisible human societies propaganda about it being better to remain hidden, but then fell in love with a faerie girl ... No! No, a better idea! He fell in lover with a human girl who disguised herself as a faerie! This girl shouldn't be the main character's mother though, that would defeat the idea of the main character being half human and half faerie. Unless ... no, no, that would make an interesting twist, but it would have to be foreshadowed. Lets keep that on the back burner as an option for later to consider, that the main character actually doesn't have any faerie blood at all, but either one or more of her parents thinks she does, or maybe both know she isn't but the girl believes she is and so her entire life she thought of herself as a faerie naturally ... but then she wouldn't have magic ...

We are getting off track, but in a good way, and should remember this line for consideration later. For now, though, the way I was originally thinking would be her father fell in love with a human woman pretending to be a faerie, but she died after he came to live among faeries, and then fell for a faerie girl on the rebound, and got her pregnant. This could be a conflict in several ways, the question on if this has happened before, the faerie secret society that tries to regulate human activities getting involved, the villainous group trying to capture and study them when they become aware of them, as they could be a key to them gaining powers. And emotionally, the issue of being or discovering herself to be the child of a father who didn't want her - unless he did and had to leave, as even if he didn't love her mother he might have loved her, and maybe he grew to love the mother ...

Although, what would the mother's species be? Of course, it would be best to make things unique, but we can also take existing faerie types and expand them. Lets do that, going with the mother's species or type ... probably human-looking, though others might work as well. I've always liked centaurs, so lets go with centaur, although what would her father have been? One that has abilities which imagination can match. Only problem is we don't know what magic can do. But we do know what imagination can do - shapeshift (look like a faerie) and form new faeries, and possibly change the world. Changing the world is best a power of imagination only, or else how could the girl find out her abilities are strange. So shapeshifters. Elements could be shapeshifters ... and I always like writing elements and elementals ... yes, her father could have taken the shape of an element. Classic elemental creatures would work better here than eldritch ones, and gnomes, sylphs, etc. are classics for earth and air. Her father being a gnome appeals to me, so lets have him be in the form of a gnome, but a gnome better matching the setting - lets have each faerie type be a mixture of at least two of the mentioned ones. Centaurs can be a mixture of human-like and animal-like, while we can change plant-like to element, so the main groups would be ...

  • human-like and animal-like - centaurs, fauns, etc. - powers of the animal in question, and lets have these be the new type that emerged, as the girl would be half faerie of the human-like and animal-like species, and half human, and with this groups link to the recent war that can tie her more closely to it and its aftermath
  • human-like and element-like - gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, undines, and plant-like, with shapeshifting into their element, and maybe skill with controlling it, salamanders and gnomes are engineers, building with blacksmithing and masonry, respectively, while sylphs and undines could be aeroplane pilots and sailors
  • animal-like and element-like - maybe slamanders should go here ... no, we can leave them there, maybe even having been changed in the war from being in this group to being human-like. Rather, make these the more animal like, so this lets us make new ones, like dogs made of steel and wolves of iron - iron should be a weakness to them so this type could be enforcers or criminals, their power letting them harm other faeries while being immune themselves? This could be an enemy to fight for the main character. The dogs then could be protectors. Their powers could be a mixture of the two above, control over the element but in the form an animal would take, so for example snakes made of fire which had control over fire and could use it to bind someone in place, or their bite was a poison that turned into fire.

Actually ... would there be animals in this world? Probably, or else what do they eat, unless other faeries are non-sentient which the sentient ones hunt. But what would humans eat? Are the faeries made of physical matter or just imagination? Probably a mixture of the two, so that adds limitations. Lets have animals which the faeries - the non-plant elemental types - eat, and that can also add to the idea of discrimination, the animal-type faeries looked down on by the non-animal types. Although, most types aren't non-animal, so ... maybe the mother would be flattered that someone of one of the privileged types wanted her, if only on the rebound. Although this also makes it interesting if all are either part human-like or part animal-like ... then the lowest group would be the two which are a mixture of both - the mother's type - while the other two could discriminate against one another for being too similar to either animals or the mythic humans. Unless there were also those which were of only one type ... lets not do that. This adds an interesting idea, of two groups at the top which don't like each other, and a new group at the bottom which both look down on. We don't have to consider every type right away, there can be room to add more, but we should establish a pattern which others can be added to later, so there is an existing framework.

This also raises the question of her mother's relation to the original object of her fathers affections. If the main character's father liked her, she probably looked human, but might have been from either human looking group. Was she also an element-type - the easiest for a human to turn into - or an animal-like type - something risky for a human to take the form of. What about ... what about both? If her parents were both humans - most humans would probably either choose to mate with other disguised humans, or be forced to by the secret society trying to keep them from breeding ... which also could explain if her father wasn't married to her mother ... but then this would have happened before ... either way, she might be one of the children of the union between two different types, which probably only retain the hybrid look for one generation, so a new category doesn't have to be made for them, and even if they mate with another hybrid, their children would look like one group or another. But no, we already decided that children look like the opposite parent. Which means the main character would look like a gnome ... and I would rather she look like a centaur ... 

No, we could change the rule, but lets keep it, and lets have her look like a gnome, look like one of the privileged classes, but her mother would be lower class and looked down on, something which frustrated the main character. But this has gone off topic. What was the original person her father wanted's relationship with her mother? I like the idea of her being upper class friends with a lower class woman, seeing past the differences, especially due to her hidden secret. The scandal in the faerie society about someone of noble blood consorting with and even being friends with a human-animal-like faerie! Not that there is anything wrong with them, of course! We aren't against them, cleaning up rotting food (they eat that, you know! So disgusting! I bet the element-animal-like ones also do that too, whatever they say!)

Faerie society prejudice could be a staple of her early life, and also could explain some of the faerie secret society's attitude to humans, who choose to hide among the upper class - maybe even among the upper class the human-element-like ones are considered upper class, as they would have been around with the animal-element-like ones before the human-animal-like ones appeared. This also can be the first reveal - if the parents of the one her father had loved originally were found by her, and then discovered to be human by her, and giving her clues ...

 

Okay, this is going on quiet a while, and we haven't even covered the "not said" questions. Lets quickly tackle some of them, and then give a more refined outline to the plot.

  • Why humans went into hiding originally? Not because they were defeated, but because humans love the faeries, or did? Yes! Rather than war it was love, and to defuse a war that had started due to faerie fear - over the generations some humans have lost this love, but many remember and that is why they stay in hiding, and why some live among them even though there are entire human societies which function with faeries not knowing they are around, and why they put up with the secret society trying to control them
  • Full power of imagination? We actually did cover this one, sorry! Its the ability to change appearances and to shape the imagination that composes faeries, so to generate or manipulate an existing property. Maybe the planet actually was settled because it let imagination be shaped, and once that imagination is around a form of life it becomes less malleable? So the faeries have souls, but not of human design, rather once imagination has developed a soul is sent, a spirit, to make a soul form the source of human spirits, God, so humans don't make life, and they acknowledge this, rather it is like pregnancy - a process humans can attempt to start and even accidentally start but which isn't fully understood and is a gift to them, thus making humans something which it is understandable faeries fear them - imagination is dangerous, but they aren't nearly as powerful as the faeries fear - the faeries which know about them.
  • Did new faeries come from changed faeries, or not, rather being entirely new? Both - some changed, and some entirely new emerged.

 

Now, a quick sketch of the plot, the first of a series, as well as parts that can be used in the seven-point structure for it, or a possible seven-point structure, which will be covered next time.

Some key events - discovering she might be part human; learning how to use her abilities (gnome and imagination); being pursued and having contact with the secret society (wanting to prevent her from spreading the "taint" of being human), the villains (wanting to study her), rogue humans (wanting to prevent her from spreading their power into the faerie gene pool); emotional turmoil thinking her father didn't want her, wondering who she is, frustration at how her mother is treated, frustration at the difficulties of learning who her father is and where he went; learning about the parents of her fathers original love - who are both upper class, like she technically is - are humans and getting their help; disappearing to where she thinks her father is.

 

So, we clearly have three plots: an action, being hunted plot; an emotional arc of coming to terms with who she is; and a mystery plot, finding out who her father is. The second and third plots go well together, as she learns more she can first get intrigued as she starts to learn, then despondent as she finds out more about how she was the result of a fling, then despair as events crash in around her from the first plot, and then hope and encouragement from the two humans who can reveal what they know about her father, how he loved her even though she was unplanned, and what they know about the other human group who hide (as they are from a family that has lived among the faeries for a long time, loving from up close, a theme for the story, while the others they think of - and say - prefer to keep their distance, not knowing it is loving from a distance, which is what her father does!)

 

We can work out when key events interact next time, including how the different groups after her go after her and when, and their own actions interfering with each other.

I'll summarise this in the next post, as this one is rather long.

 

(Please note that this is representative of what what my brainstorming looks like. When I write down ideas I normally put down a summary and conclusions of the brainstorming, and any questions to still think on, though to each their own :-) I also will revise ideas later to make them mesh. Also, while rules can be changed before the story is written, and indeed should be revised as more is learnt, rules can also encourage development of the story along lines that might not have been obvious. And once a story is written, don't just change the rules, unless discovering the rules weren't the case is part of the plot, or characters only think they know them.)

That concludes this for the moment. I will conclude this later with a third part. Take care!

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