Writing Is A Bad Habit: Empty Spaces a.k.a. World Building and Lack There Of

So I’ve been away from the writing article thing for the past few weeks, trying to get a dent made in my TBR list, but something has come up that I must talk about.  It’s something I’ve brought up undoubtedly many times, but it seems to be something that needs to be repeated.  It’s time to talk about world building again, folks!

We all know what world building is.  We should also all know how important it is to do.  No matter what your setting is, no matter how familiar or contemporary it might be, there’s always a need for world building in any book.  Why is that, you may be asking?  Why should I take up a chunk of my narrative and my reader’s time talking about a contemporary setting, for example?

The first reason is that, no matter how familiar the world you may be writing in should be, there will always be someone unfamiliar with it.  Be it foreign readers or simply sheltered ones, you will always find people that will be lost by your world.  It can even be something more specific, such as a specific subculture, that may be familiar to you, the author, but it still needs to be explained to a broader audience.

The second reason is more subtle but even more expansive.  Simply put, your world, no matter how based on a ‘real’ world that it may be, is going to be intrinsically different than the actual world it is based on.  The process of creating it in a fictional format filters this new creation through your own thoughts, beliefs, and experiences.  By that lone fact alone, your ‘real world’ may be considerably different in tone, fact, or history than the actual reality around us.

So, just as you shouldn’t overdo exposition and world building, you can’t cut it out entirely either.  No matter how simple or how ‘real’ your world may be, you still need to take at least some time to fill out that world, or at least describe your unique take on that world.

What do you think?  Leave any ideas, insights, or criticism in the comments below!  Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

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2 comments

  1. Yes. I was just working on this on my own masterpiece today. It was so spare, I wanted to get to the story and leave out the unimportant details. And I’ve got this weird thing about info dumping. But, after seeing how some of the NYT bestsellers did it, I decided if they can infodump, I can infodump. I’ve subtly altered the manuscript to throw in a few more descriptions to fill out the white space with more stuff. It pads the manuscript, too, so I feel like I’m making progress. 😀

    1. It’s one of those things they always tell you NEVER to do, but the reality is that you sometimes HAVE to info dump. There’s just a core amount of information the reader needs and you need to give it to them!

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