An Exercise in Worldbuilding

As I start working in earnest on my novel, I find the most difficult aspect of the process is the worldbuilding. In the very limited formal education I attended (I missed five days of public school before graduating high school but never was fully there mentally), I never bothered to take a real writing course. Thus, I have no real idea what I am doing.

One thought I’ve had is to write short stories set in my fictional world. But as its a large, basically Earth sized fictional world, I find that as I create a race or culture or ethnicity or nation, there needs to be a real world historical corollary, otherwise there is no real understanding for the reader without huge amounts of exposition.

On Unnecessary Words, the blog I update several times a week, posts are capped around 500 words. So the exposition needed to describe geography, religion, culture and politics won’t fit if I choose to post a story there. People have to know my world without me explaining it to them. The beauty of the blog is that I don’t have to remain focused; in fact even with the relatively short posts I write, I have a lot of trouble staying focused enough to complete three hundred word posts, working on longer fiction or enough short fiction to really give people a sense for the scope of the world.

A lot of people have recommended Stephen King’s On Writing to me (″>On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft</a><img src=”″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

) over the years and my wife actually gave me a copy a few years back after she read it in college. I just don’t know anyone who has used the lessons in the book, which admittedly I haven’t read, to any success other than Stephen King. Anyone who has read this, let me know, is there any way to boil the whole thing down to a couple short bullet points so I can avoid reading the entire book?


About Jeff McElroy

After serving for four years as a Power Ranger, Jeff McElroy left the service to pursue a career in the arts. Paintings of cats and unicorns taking naps together earned him international fame and a ridiculous financial nest egg. Retiring at the early age of 23, he spent the next forty years living on the shore of Lake Huron. Mr. McElroy burned through his monumental monetary cache and needed to return to work. This time around, he has decided to pursue writing as a career, which is why he has invested his time and money in the blog you are currently reading.
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