Worldbuilding

By Dustin Tigner
Worldbuilding

Disclaimer: Welcome to my spoiler-free journal. This is where I record my thoughts and feelings as they pertain to what the hell I just wrote. I may explore writing craft, productivity techniques, bemoan running out of my favorite snack, or anything else. You've been warned!

Are books set in stone?

I read that a successful GameLit author is planning to return to her first book in her series to give it some polish. She has now been writing for a few years and has learned a lot in that time. Given the length of the series, she wanted to ensure the first books matched up with the later books.

A reader who learned of this author’s plans exploded. The forensics team had to scrape brain matter from the monitor to figure out what happened.

I’ve never before witnessed someone get upset over an author wanting to improve the quality of their work so that new readers may give it a chance. This reader was of the opinion that, despite nothing major changing, to change anything was strictly out of the question.

Threats were lobbed. “Change it, and I’ll never read your stuff again!”

I bring this up because . . .

The first draft of Challenger Sarah’s book is nearly done. However, to finish the book, I need to dig into a lot of worldbuilding that, until now, I’ve been discovery writing (figuring it out only when the story needed it).

Unfortunately, this has created problems. The biggest problem is how it limited the creative scope of the Arachnomancer series. By not investing the time to dig into the world, I didn’t have that content readily available to enrich scenes, locations, game systems, etc.

In a very real way, I’ve been blindly charging forward and making decisions that don’t hold up well. The longer this goes on, the more restrictive these impromptu decisions become.

So I repeat, are books set in stone?

My answer? They are not.

A reader who feels so entitled to the version of a novel that he or she would effectively blacklist an author for updating it is an ignorant, supercilious idiot. Authors update their books all the time.

There are typos, logic errors, confusing phrases, inconsistencies, and a whole host of other possible errors that get through even the most strict of editing. Authors aren’t perfect, and neither are editors.

But even beyond errors, I believe authors should be able—within reason—to make changes to their creations. This is less acceptable but more ideal than the alternative: having future books be limited by the first book.

Examples!

In Arachnomancer book 1, I provide two mentions (one in the appendix) of what happens when someone reaches level 5: they get to choose their mount. In this single paragraph, I listed out four or five fun-sounding mounts.

Now that I am digging into twenty-four character classes (and based on how I’ve handled this same thing in Sarah’s novel and Arachnomancer 2), I realized there’s an inconsistency and implicit limitation to creativity.

Mounts should be themed around the person’s divinity choice and affinity. Those of Shadow, for instance, should not have the same types of mounts as those of Light. This presents a lot of fun content that hasn’t been explored.

When I go back and edit Arachnomancer 1 and 2, I’ll change the game prompt to provide options that Dhane sees but are not the same options everyone gets. I’ll also add these other mounts to scenes here and there.

This doesn’t change past events at all. It merely adds to the worldbuilding.

I’m also going to change some of the divinities. They are mentioned once in the appendix. Instead of Ferret, we have Weasel. Instead of Hornet, we have Bee.

And lastly, I’m going to make adjustments to the economy. Arachnomancer 2 mentions that a Tier 1 soldier in the Army of Light will make 1 gold a day. Now that I’ve actually dug into the economy, that’s about $1,000 a day. Crazy. I’ll adjust the numbers to be more consistent and then have a solid foundation for future books.

That’s it! That’s what I’ve been doing today. I made a ton of progress, but I’m still not ready to finish Sarah’s novel. I’ll take one more day to dig into these details and return to writing on Wednesday. :)