Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Four-Part Writing Special // Part Three: Story World

And thus, another Wednesday.

Never mind that it's actually Thursday morning here. Due to time zones, it shouldn't be too obvious. Hopefully.

This whole "schedule" thing... it's actually quite good for me, if I admit it. Not only does it mean I post at least once a week, but it means I stay up late on Tuesday nights stressing! Typing and backspacing and typing and grimacing and slapping my laptop. That's basically what I'd be doing anyway, so I might as well get something productive out of it.

(This is in no way an admission that I need a blogging schedule. I'm a pantser.)

You can find Part One here, Part Two here, and now - Story World: Part Three of the 4-Part Writing Special! 

1. Name a unique aspect of your story world.


Well, this post didn't last long. *leaves*


I'm a pantser, okay?? That means I set stuff up when I need it.

So far, the setting has been: the forest (Ranwood); a small town just outside Ranwood; and the Beast's manor-house-thing inside Ranwood. I haven't even named the country or its capital - but I am feeling the results of that now.


Probably the most unique aspect of my story world is that, for fantasy, it's a later-feeling time period? Almost Edwardian, maybe?? (Or Victorian, or Georgian... I wouldn't know.) More like ferns in white conservatories, a cottage rough grey wood and checked curtains, high arched ceilings in halls full of white pillars.

...Actually, I found a few pictures which fit the capital, if that helps:

2. Talk about one of the important animals in the story (someone's pet or horse; or a fierce animal the MC must defeat).

Old Bill is a very important part of set-up at the start of the story. Billie would love to have the use of him for doing the heavy work around the house, but she won't ask. So Josie claimed him (without considering) and has used him to ride around the forest hunting and being dramatic.

(I should mention: I did not copy Bill the bony old pony off Tolkien??)

Another important animal which was present for like 2 pages but played an important role is a dog. It doesn't have a name, but it has a good nose. Jemma went and got it so she + Zephyr + his men could track down where Elsie'd gone when she ran. So. Thanks for snitching, slobbery dog.

[That last sentence was Billie. Just so you know.]

3. A paragraph describing something in your storyworld (building, landmark, etc.).

The Beast's home/manor? is the biggest feature at the moment. (Apart from Ranwood forest. But it's just your standard cliche fantasy forest. With bandits in it.) I had to find a floor plan for it before I could write - because I'm terrible at visualising settings - and you can see that floor plan HERE.

That's a modern 'manor', of course, but I've scribbled on my copy to turn it back into a fantasy building. (The Beast, for example, probably does not need a three-car garage. It can be a mini-museum or something. Also the 'lanai' verandah has been changed into a conservatory.)

Like that, but not quite. But this is the closest picture I can find. More ferns would be good.

4. Something dangerous in your storyworld.

The Beast has the potential to be quite dangerous. (Especially if you hurt his tea. Or ferns. Or china.)

I mean, my Beast doesn't have an eyepatch... but close enough. :P

(He counts as part of the storyworld, right??)

There are bandits in Ranwood forest. They are SUPER DANGEROUS. *cough* actually they're all just big softies. And goofs, sometimes.

But... I think Mrs Potts could be dangerous! She's a ball of glowing light, but capable of handling physical objects. Such as saucepans. Which she briefly attacked the bandits with [except that's the scene I'm still on, so I don't know how it plays out...]. Anyway. She doesn't like Billie - who keeps smashing stuff and making Count Laszlo anxious - so she could certainly be dangerous.

Otherwise, the villain. Who... I haven't developed yet. (I'm starting to see a theme here??)

5. Something delightful in your storyworld.

Rowan. Also Zephyr. 

I CAN COUNT PEOPLE AS DELIGHTFUL THINGS FROM MY STORYWORLD IF I WANT. (And I do.) It's my story. *grumpy face* And I say ROWAN AND ZEPHYR but don't make me pick.

I also find Elsie + Zephyr delightful and completely squishable.

...if you want actual storyworld answers, I'm trying to play with features that wouldn't be the first thing you think of when you think "fantasy". Like the rather period English conservatory. Or the tea + china + scones. Or the entire aesthetic of the Beast's manor. Personally, I find it delightful.

6. A movie soundtrack that would complement the setting.

I don't know.

It's only recently that I've started listening to music while I write. And I don't watch many movies (comparatively). And Marvel soundtracks would hardly fit anyway, and Middle-Earth soundtracks are a bit high-fantasy (also I don't want to be cliche), and I need to find my story a soundtrack but I haven't yet.

Although I do have a few I found for a few dramatic/feelsy scenes. They aren't from a soundtrack, though.

Two Steps From Hell: 
Clair Voyant || Sky Titans (a bit too "epic" to fit perfectly, though)

Alexandra Streliski: 
(I was trying to write some painful/feelsy dialogue and put these two, with a few of her other songs, on repeat.)

Helen Jane Long: 

7. How does the geography impact the story?

Ranwood forest plays a big role - "cliche fantasy forest" is a hard thing to live up to! At the moment, it impacts the plot mostly by exacerbating the sisters' problems. For example, their cottage was damaged by the Beast, so Elsie and Josie will struggle to get through winter without Billie to fix it. (See the next point for a further note on the winter thing.) Apart from that, the bandits live in it, which impacts the story because I get 143% more words when the bandits are there providing sass.

8. Is there a particular location or time period your story you had in mind when creating your storyworld?

Just your standard northern-hemisphere forest... *rolls eyes* (I'm thinking I'll maybe change it to more of an Australian-inspired forest? I'm sure we have some good features for worldbuilding somewhere... I like the idea of fire being the danger, instead of snow/cold [which we do get in some parts of Australia, but I have basically zero experience with].)

As for time period, it probably feels later than a lot of fantasy. I haven't picked a specific era, but various elements are semi-modern (as in, not medieval? I guess that's what I'm trying to say??)

For example, my storyworld has teacups (not sure if the whole tea/coffee thing is going to stay in, but at the moment I'm having great fun playing with it - although I haven't used the words "tea" or "coffee"). It has high-roofed halls of white stone and libraries full of books. I feel like I'm trying to get an almost Victorian whimsy in?? but it wasn't meant to be modern (still pre-Industrial Revolution, for example).

Probably the easiest way to get a feel for the time period would be to look at the pictures from the first question. Because despite being a writer I still don't know how to word, apparently.

9. What is the climate like, and does it play a role in the story?

The climate is your standard sort of... I don't  know... There's snow in winter?? (which is bizarre because I've never experienced snowfall) (and don't have snow myself)

BASICALLY, go back and read questions 8 + 9 again because I think I covered everything I know (it isn't much) in those ones.

10. Are there any traditions, and do they have an effect upon the plot? 

There is an important tradition/lore/ancient legend thing. It says that any offer to pay another's debt must be honoured. Even if that debt is a life. And in that case, you cannot harm either the one who owed the debt, or the one who offered to pay it.

So now the Beast has a girl living in his house and smashing his china.

He doesn't like it, for the above-mentioned reasons, and she doesn't like it, because she hates being useless and unable to rely on her own strength. (Also she's watching Elsie and Josie mess things up through the fantasy/book equivalent of a camera installed in their cottage.)

But she can't leave, because then the debt would be un-paid. So she takes out her feelings on the china. Which I think I already mentioned.

But yes, that's one tradition that strongly affects the plot. 

There you go! You now have a confession - in writing - of my deplorable lack of worldbuilding. Do you have any tips? How much worldbuilding do you do - and how much of it do you use? Do you plot or pants your worldbuilding? What's the most unique feature of your storyworld? What bit of worldbuilding are you most proud of? Any special traditions?

And don't forget to check out the posts from the other participating bloggers! Which I will link here when my eyes are doing better at staying open! or never. I might forget. I'll try not to.

Julian || Sarah || Ivie || Lisa || Faith || Lila || Evangeline


  1. Awesome, as usual. Can I just say I'm in love with the whole feel of the Beast's house! Lovely!

  2. Can I go live in the Beast's house? I'm very small, I'll avoid him, he won't even know I'm there!!! :P

    1. ...are you very quiet, Gray?

      The Beast will consider it. Since you're small. xD

  3. This sounds like it's going to be one of my absolute favorite fairy tale retellings! XD

    1. Aw, I hope so, Lila! <3

      (...of course, that would require me to finish it...)

  4. The Beast's house O_O Wow. But this sounds like an awesome story. You have too let us read it some day :)

    1. Thanks! I'd love to let you read it, Ani... you know, if it ever gets finished... and then published... Until then, we're both going to have to make do with snippets ;P

  5. This is great, Jem! You've clearly put work into your storyworld.

    1. Evangeline, I have put practically nothing into my storyworld xD xD (I guess I'm good at bluffing?? ;P)

  6. You should make the forest into the bush!!! And have the kookaburras wake them up with their laughter and have bottle-brush and everything. xD That would be awesome!

    1. It feels weird writing a setting that's nothing like I've ever experienced (and seems like a bad worldbuilding/author thing to do?) So yes to bottle-brush! and heat instead of snow! and maybe emus xD What do you think, Melissa? Emus in fantasy? ;P

  7. I like the idea of Australian-izing the forest, with bushfires and all. It would be almost refreshing, although I do actually enjoy what I hear of the nothern-hemisphere's forest.

    Also, your introductory paragraph about blogging schedules and stress. I feel you there, which is probably why I've never stuck to scheduling. It has a great many benefits though - good on you for going for it!

    1. I love reading about the northern hemisphere's forest too, Jessica - and it's certainly easier to find pins for my aesthetics board if it's all snow and pine trees xD But I thought - what if instead of being afraid of snowfall, they're afraid of bushfires? And I think I might explore that whole shift in the setting... after NaNo. ;)

      I'm pretty sure I won't be sticking to scheduling either - with the fourth part of the Special posted, I am no longer required to post on the same day as everyone else. I am freee ;P

  8. I don't world build (too much) because my WIP is historical. But as you'll see whenever I get around to posting #3--there's some of that for me too. I feel sorry for all of you fantasy people building a world from ground up. Not only physically--but what are the rules of this society? Who governs who. Tough stuff. But I liked what you said about the debt must be paid as the tradition in your world. That's a BIGGIE. try to get lots of scenes pointing in that direction. :)

    1. Building an entire culture (or several) is definitely a major thing - there's so much to culture that we don't even normally think about. Fortunately there are other people who are better at it than I am, and I can read their posts for tips. ;)

      Thanks, Mrs Baldwin :)

  9. Okay. I have Things To Say.

    Firstly... Teach me your pantsing ways!!!!!!!! I'm mostly a plotter by nature, but one of these days I am going to fully pants a novel wooot!!!! So I need tips and instruction and wisdom????

    Secondly, Mrs. Potts is a ball of light??? Does this mean that she is not a teapot in your version????

    Thirdly! Your names!!!!!! Aghhhhhh!!!! Lazlo and Elsie and Rowan and Zephyr are my favorites so far and they are lovely!!!!

    Lastly, I love how you set this up! The original makes zero sense, so I love that she is paying a debt and that the Beast has to respect that. It WORKS.

    1. Pantsing 101 by Someone Who Totally Knows What She's Doing:
      1. Get shiny idea
      2. Sit in front of blank page/screen
      3. Procrastinate
      4. Realise you REALLY LOVE your shiny new idea... you just wish it would write itself
      5. Spend 10% of the time writing and 90% of the time staring at the wall
      6. With some crying thrown in there, if you're so inclined
      These guidelines are 100% guaranteed to drive you mad if followed correctly. xP

      Yes, my Mrs Potts is a... glowing orb??... because I made it so she's not an enchanted person, she just is.

      Naming characters is definitely not my strong point (I'm undecided if 'Billie' needs to go ;P), so I'm happy to hear that I did well with some of them!!

      Thanks, Kate! Haha, yeah, original versions of fairytales make no sense - which is possibly part of the reason I'm drawn to retellings?

    2. AWESOME. I will follow them to the letter!! (I am serious about wanting to give it a try sometime, though. It goes against my nature, but I MUST DO IT.)

      That's lovely. I am in love. Can I beta this book when it is finished, preeeetty please??

      I like Billie... it's sort of oldfashioned and modern at the same time, somehow. Reminds me of Jo from Little Women.

      RIGHT?? We must retell all of the things.

    3. Yesss. Follow my words. Turn to the madness. And tears. (I'd love to try plotting! which should be exactly aligned with my nature?? but I haven't managed to do yet? Have fun pantsing! [I think things like NaNo dares are easier to use when you're pantsing?])

      I have to finish writing the first draft [and second. and third.] before that... xD

      I've never thought of her being like Jo, but maybe she is in some ways!


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