LESSON How to Completely Fake It

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Revision, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. How To Completely Fake It

    World building can seem intimidating. There’s so much to learn, so much to know. To be the perfect world builder, you’d have to be all knowing. Sadly, or perhaps not so sadly, none of us are. That means that none of us will ever be the perfect world builder. You can increase your knowledge, research, study, even devote your life to it if you so choose, but you will never know everything there is to know about this subject. You won’t even come close. You’re going to be off about things, make mistakes, have moments of sheer indulgence. Someone is going to come up to you and say that you did something wrong. While this may seem offputting and overwhelming, don’t fear. It also means that every one of us fakes it. Something or another is going to be pure guesswork, fancy, or hypothesizing.

    This should ease your mind some. If everyone else is faking it, you can, too. In fact, anyone can come up with a world. Starter worlds might not be the best, they might be silly, or you might be embarrassed by them years later, but they are a valuable experience and let you know what you do need to learn, where you do need to focus, and if you even like world building before you get into the real heavy lifting. But even this can be intimidating. So here, for your use or not, are a few things that will help you get started and let you fake the rest. If you can do these few things, you should be able to make something fun, simple, and workable that will let you know if you want to pursue world building more seriously. If nothing else, it will help you flesh out your RP worlds a bit.

    Know your Genre
    Some people complain about pigeonholing. However, knowing that you are working in a certain genre means that, should you have to absolutely look something up, you have a starting point. It also lets you know how to describe your creation to others. One of the first things many people will ask is what genre it is in. Don’t be surprised if you run into people who don’t like that genre. That’s their thing, and there is nothing wrong with it.

    Know your Size

    Are you creating a scene, a setting, a world, a solar system? If you are faking it, it might be best not to go any bigger than that. You’ll have your hands full as it is. Know how large you want this creation to be. Having that boundary should keep you from wandering all over the place with extraneous knowledge. If you just want to make a bar on Earth, there is no reason to really detail the whole planet.

    Build on What you Know
    Everyone has an area of expertise. When I was a teenager, I knew so much about cats. It was no wonder that my first world that I actually sat down and built was based around flying cats. There was a lot more going on, but there were certainly flying cats. Your area of expertise doesn’t have to be the focus, but if you work it in there, it gives you an anchor point to hold onto and will lend you a bit of confidence.

    If You Don’t Know It, Change It
    It’s going to happen. You’re going to get something wrong. Don’t fret. Unless you are doing realism or sci fi, you aren’t going to have to worry about these things so much. Fantasy, modern fantasy, magical girl worlds, etc. are going to be a lot easier to fake. (Though most of them will still have things like gravity and food.) If you don’t know something about physics, religion, etc., you can pretty much custom tailor it for your world. This is not to say that you cannot start with realism or science fiction. I started with science fantasy. If you are going the sci fi route, sci fan is the safest. The one thing to remember is, if you set a system up, whether it be magical, scientific, or subway, keep it consistent in your world.

    Silly is Okay
    Having silly elements or elements that are just “out there” is fine at first. They work for you. If nothing else, you can revise them later. However. One route you probably don’t want to go is the route of the absurd. To make fun of something eloquently, one must understand it. When it comes to world building, that is a lot of understanding. People are more unforgiving about comedy than almost anything else, so tread carefully if you feel you must do parody or satire with your world.

    Don't be Afraid to Leave Some Things Unsaid
    If you are making your first world, or any world, for that matter, there is always a temptation to give too much detail. However, if you know next to nothing about something, it might be best to gloss over it. You may not know how cellular division or geology work. Don't focus on that. Chances are most readers won't notice and those who do may be able to help you fill in the blanks. Also, if you are going to use your world for writing or roleplaying, some parts of the world may actually develop during the roleplay or writing. This is especially true of characters, NPCs, and places. You can't cover all the bases, especially when you have a group of players mucking about in the setting, so it is best to not try and best to leave yourself some wiggle room.

    It Is Your World
    One thing you are going to have to learn to say is “It is my world, I want things this way, deal with it.” In a nice way, of course, though sometimes you may have to be firm. Do not take this as an excuse not to accept help and criticism when you ask for it. Be ready to rework things if necessary. However, if you have something about your world you really like and someone is insisting you change it, be firm. (This does NOT hold true when you are building a world for someone else. In that case, you are on their time and should be making something for them, not for yourself. Don’t let ego get in the way. However, at this point in your world building career, it is unlikely that you are working for someone else, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this that much.)

    If you keep these things in mind, you should be able to fake your way through building that world or setting that’s been floating around in your mind. Give it a try and remember to have fun. Keep in mind that if you decide to get serious about world building, you will have a lot of hard work ahead of you, but this is just your trial run. So keep it fun.