World builders and a busy month writing

This last month has been so busy, between continued progress on Blood Dawn and the increasing complexity of balancing my evolving narrative and all the notes that go with it and editing projects. (I’ve edited six books in the last two and a half months!) I’ve been quite busy, more busy than I like to be, but I also find when I’m busy that I’m often more productive.

On the topic of increasing complexity, here’s one monkey who has been getting heavier as he perches on my back: world building, undeniably my favorite aspect of epic fantasy. When I was young, I used to pore over Tolkien’s maps, and got so excited by them that I started drawing my own. Doing this generated stories, which generated more maps, then notes about the places in those maps. Of all my writing notes from my adolescence, most of them are maps, or setting descriptions, or languages. It really took me a long time to get into storytelling and put world building in proper perspective.

But it’s had its rewards. All those maps and notes chiseled out a little universe in my brain as I grew up, familiar vistas, names, legends, things that remained constant under the constant influx of new ideas. And so as I sat down to write Blood Dawn, I didn’t need to invent a new world. I had only to draw on this familiar thing.

Yet story generates world, as I’ve found. I learned not to get bogged down by detailing settings too much (this can even go with characters, but that’s a separate topic), because the live story often calls for something else, and introduces surprises. This time around, I’ve followed a “collect and organize as you go” approach that’s worked quite well. It’s really evolved quite beautifully, yet now those notes are getting large, to the point that I’m having to learn a new program called Wikipad so that I can build a wiki to make for easier retrieval, better interlinking, and reducing duplication that can often lead to contradictions in my notes as I update them.

As I said, monkey on my back. However, this monkey has given me an idea. As I do my research and start transferring my notes to a wiki, what better a time to learn from other fantasy writers who have their own skills with world building?

Enter the World Builders series, a guest blog feature I’ve been developing this last few weeks, which I’m hoping to release soon. It will be a great chance for you to meet other great epic fantasy writers too, so I’m really excited about this opportunity to share my blog with other talent in the epic fantasy writing arena. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I released my second newsletter today, sharing the third chapter of Blood Dawn. I’ll be sharing a chapter a month, so if you want to get in on this behind-the-scenes action, you can subscribe to it here. I also shared a map, based on my notes, which I’ll be sure to link you to in next month’s letter.

Well, it’s time to get back to writing, and editing…and that heavy monkey on my back.

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About John Robin

John Robin is an epic fantasy writer, professional editor, and lover of imaginary worlds. He write stories about magic and myth, human suffering and the power to rise above it. He loves world building, coffee shops, mathematics, chess, and is an avid author community builder.
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