This Metaphorical Bar ep. 3: Worldbuilding in Second World Fantasy

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Who We Are

Robyn Fleming: I write and wrangle children in Tucson Arizona, and I have spent objectively way too much time with flatworms.

Carla M. Lee: An author, artist, and attorney living in the Midwest USA and when I drove past a graveyard this morning, my dog started barking at nothing at all. I think she’s warning me about the black dog.

Karen Healey: An author and teacher living in Otautahi New Zealand, and I outed myself to a staff meeting last week.

Note from Carla: Robyn had some recording issues. There are a few minor places where she’ll drop a word or two and during her definition of second world fantasy (about 18 minutes into the episode), a chunk of her definition, including the first part of an example, were lost. We apologize and are working on making sure this doesn’t happen in future recordings. (However, we’ve recorded several episodes prior to editing this, so there may be issues in the next few podcasts as well. Where possible, I’ll note anything big that is missing.)

What We’re Drinking

Karen: coffee, instant, added cinnamon sugar

Carla: iced water and White Claw hard seltzer with natural wine

Robyn: in an effort to be less boring, Mountain Dew Ice — bad, baaaaaaaaaaad idea – it’s like someone distilled Sprite into syrup, then water out of a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bottle

What Ponies We Are

Robyn: Rainbow Dash

Karen: Pinkie Pie

Carla: Twilight Sparkle

Episode Summary

Topic: Worldbuilding in Second World Fantasy

Definition of second world fantasy: a setting that is similar to our Earth but is not Earth; it is irrelevant whether it is or is not connected to our Earth. No need to establish why characters are human-like and live on an Earth-like planet.

  • Start with the characters, people/relationships/dynamics and then build a world that gives them that kind of ideas and personalities.
  • Read good second world fantasy and pay attention to the world building and the practical things done to create it — e.g., how does this change also change the way people behave or organize themselves.
  • Whether it is important to do a real deep dive into world building really depends on what the focus is for the story itself. However, second world fantasy is not alt-history is not portal fantasy. Good second world fantasy cannot have only surface level changes and otherwise is just our world plus that thing.
  • There are many things that you the author need to know but the readers don’t need to know.
  • Finish a first draft. Without a first draft, there is no story, there is no second draft or third draft or published book without a first draft. Don’t get caught up in creating elaborate character files and world histories. Everything can come in later after the first draft is done.
  • Play around. First drafts are incredibly flexible.
  • Constructed languages can be fun and interesting, but you don’t have to do a full, complete language or include grammar as plot points.
  • Play Civilization 5 or 6 to do some world building playing, interdependency of culture and tech and science — caveat: it is very Western culture biased and believes that technology and culture evolve from state one to state two and twenty and it is an inevitable timeline every part of civilization must pass along.

Things mentioned in the episode

Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Bartender

Michele: Favourite way to relax?

Robyn: Sleeping, because parent of small children. Playing Marvel Puzzle Quest.

Karen: Reading. Playing with make-up and hairstyles with YouTube videos.

Carla: Drive around with the windows down and the music up, preferably in temperate weather. Hit things to calm down – boxing, etc.

Find Us Online:

Carla: @carlamlee on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram 

Karen: @kehealey on Twitter, @karenhealey on Tumblr 

Robyn: @robyn_writing on Twitter

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