Insights from three critically-acclaimed authors of fantasy fiction about the intricacies of world building. World building is cool and fun, but it's anything but easy. It takes you to the heart of culture and human nature.
Recently I was reading about medieval privacy in Barbara Tuchman's 'A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century' when I began to see a series of privacy-related stories pop up in the news. Around the same time, I was starting a new writing project at work related to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, a new privacy law with wide-ranging implications for businesses and consumers. I started to wonder: how does medieval privacy compare to privacy today? Does the contrast between the two teach us anything interesting or valuable about modern privacy? Is what we have today really "better"?
Some paintings that have inspired me over the past few weeks as I scribble away in my spare time.
Arbortext Editor is a software program that lets you do "structured writing"---a special kind of writing in which every piece of content you compose follows one or more predefined rules. In theory this helps writers to develop consistent, high-quality content. The problem is that the tool has a lot of serious shortcomings. Here's my wishlist of things to improve.
As an aspiring author and dad whose scarcest resource is time, I was motivated by a recent interview with Diana Gabaldon, author of the 'Outlander' series. She speaks candidly about outlining, parenting, and writing at midnight.
In 'Steal Like an Artist,' Austin Kleon encourages artists of all stripes to curate a collection of whatever captures their imagination, whether pictures, movies, books, quotes, etc.---things that resonate powerfully with your personal artistic tastes. In that spirit, I recently added something to my collection that I think other writers of fiction might appreciate, and in particular writers of fantasy fiction.
The reason I first got into Dungeons and Dragons was to use my imagination to go on Tolkien-esque quests, and to get ideas for fantasy fiction stories I would like to write one day. I achieved both of these goals: D&D is a wellspring of inspiration for fantasy writers, and an excellent narrative testing ground for anyone brave enough to try their hand at being a Dungeon Master. But looking back I can also see how the game allowed me and my friends to encounter our mythical western roots. We weren't just goofing off and having fun (though there was plenty of that), we were accessing what James Poulos calls our "historical memory" whenever we fought against monsters, talked with gods and mystics, bought medieval adventuring gear, and explored castles and temples.