Several years ago, I started working on what started out as a cyberpunk story world. I wanted some futuristic place of my own that would allow me to play with ideas I want to explore in the course of my stories and projects. I even wrote a short story set in that world to get the ball rolling. (I was still writing novel manuscripts at the time, so writing a short story was a pretty big deal for me.)
And then the storyworld became a notebook section where I would jot down random story ideas and worldbuilding notes. One would argue that allowing an idea this big to percolate is wise, but ultimately it wasn’t getting me anywhere. It certainly wasn’t getting me closer to having my own storyworld to play in. So, at the beginning of the year, I decided to start working on the various story ideas I’d been jotting down for years. Many of them combined nicely into what is slowly becoming short story collections.
There has been a problem, though. My world notes have historically been scattered across physical and virtual notebooks, many of them incomplete or not really thought out yet. That’s been a stumbling block because I tend to run into that problem while I’m in “OMG! Must write all the things!” mode, and stopping to take the time to resolve the scattered notes I need for a particular story has often been enough to stop all forward motion on the story itself. Not exactly productive.
It occurred to me a couple of months ago that I could organize as I go, that I could focus my worldbuilding efforts on what the current story needs versus what already exists for the world and handle it in these little bite-sized moments. When the story draft is finished, it’s much easier to go back through the current gathered notes and shake them out to match what has become the reality of the world. So with each story, the world becomes that much more solid, with a clear example of the world in action. It also allows me to test out world ideas and see how they would play out in a practical setting before making them a confirmed piece of the world.
If anything, it’s added another layer of experimenting and playing with my world, and really letting me get into how things work and how they got the way they are. The hardest part now…is keeping the timeline straight and keeping story groups in the right distance timewise from other stories.