Summer Camp 2021: The Pledge
The 2021 edition of World Anvil’s annual Worldbuilding Summer Camp begins on July 1, and I’m here to speak briefly about what I hope to accomplish during this momumental month of… monumentality.
In case you’re not familiar, “[d]uring Summer Camp,” World Anvil challenges writers, gamemasters, and other worldbuilders like you and me “with 31 worldbuilding prompts to get [us] motivated, inspired, and ready to worldbuild!”
Reflecting on Last Year
Last year’s Summer Camp was my first big community activity as a World Anvil user, and I got so much out of it.
As a writer, I learned all about the weirder side of my fictional world. But more importantly (to me, at least), I made acquaintances with a whole new crew of writers and creatives. And in the middle of a pandemic, before which I was already feeling separated from the posses of writing and creative friends I’d made over the years, being part of a community again was a godsend.
I don’t feel like I gave back to the community as much as I was given—so, if there was a downside to last year, then that would be it. But there is always this year to correct that!
Planning for This Year
WA’s jubilant Janet has helpfully prepared a series of six scintillating questions for any and all worldbuilders who hope to participate in this year’s challenge. And so I, like the good doobie that I am, shall answer them.
Which project are your worldbuilding efforts tied to?
As I’m in between writing novels in my Stains of Time series right now, with the fourth one in editing and the fifth one planned for writing later this year, I plan to use this year’s Worldbuilding Summer Camp to continue dreaming up the stories I plan to tell after I’m done with Stains.
What world are you working on?
Which area of the world(s) are you working on?
How much are you aiming to complete?
Summer Camp happens to fall during one of the few slow periods in the year at my day job, so I aim to complete all 31 prompts that are thrown at me.
Then I aim to throw them right back at my rabid readers! They’re tough and they can take it, because they hunger for tasty tales and mouthwatering worldbuilding above all else!
When will you write?
In the mornings, before work begins; in the evenings, after work ends; and during a vacation from work that has yet to be planned but must be taken… or else!
Who is your support network?
The community on the World Anvil discord has been my primary support network during the past year, through Summer Camp, WorldEmber, and all the rest. I anticipate that to continue to be true this July.
Add to that the supportive community of readers signed up for my monthly newsletter, and I feel very supported indeed.
And now, to make things official
I, the ever-loving effervescent enigma that is E. Christopher Clark, pledge to go Diamond or Die™ by the thirty-first of July in this year of our lord two-thousand and twenty-one.
Organizing My Worldbuilding
For Week 2 of Summer Camp Prep, the Powers That Be have tasked us wee worldbuilders with organizing our worldbuilding. And helpfully, they’ve broken that task down into three tasks:
- Image Inspiration; and,
It took some time to find the right system for categorizing my vast fictional world, a place I’ve been writing in for nearly 30 years now, but I eventually landed on nouns. Specifically, I thought about the way my elementary school teachers taught us to define what a noun was. It was a person, a place, or a thing.
Of course, there are dozens of sub-categories beneath that main group—but the key to a good categorization system is to give the reader/user an obvious place to start, something they will undoubtedly understand.
I’ll confess that this part of the homework was the hardest for me, and is the reason I’ve avoided doing the homework for so long. See: I make nearly all of the art for my site myself. And while I would love to just whip up a bunch of images this week that I might be able to use during Summer Camp, I don’t have the time or energy to create anything that I won’t absolutely be able to use. And given that the nature of worldbuilding for Summer Camp is responding to prompts we won’t know in advance, I’ve just been stumped as to what to do here.
That said, what I’ve landed on is this: pulling a few images from my archives that are the type of images I think I’ll be able to whip up in July, even in the midst of writing my behind off.
The first kind of images I feel confident I’ll be able to pull together are character portraits. I’ve got the creation of these down to a science, and I’ve built up my tolerance for creating shitty ones that I might replace later. I simply open up Daz Studio, spin some dials, look for some appropriate clothes and a pose, and I’m done.
The second kind of images I think I can pull off are composite landscape images. I did this pretty effectively for the Peculiar Plants challenge and I think I can do it again. That said, I’d really like to start using the app FlowScape for this. But though I was excited when I picked it up a few months ago, I haven’t really touched it since. So I’m trying to be realistic.
The final kind of image I’d like to be able to create, but need to be careful about spending too much time on, is what I’ll call a “full scene” image (like the one above). I had so much fun putting this together for my Costume Challenge article, but I spent so much time on it. And with 31 prompts to write in July, I need to be mindful of falling down image creation rabbit holes.
While I have ambitious plans for overhauling my already working-well design for this site, that is going to have to wait. There is too much writing to be done, and too much art to be made, and I’m pretty happy with the way my site looks right now. And judging by the comments I get during livestreams where my stuff pops up, most people seem pretty OK with what I’ve got going on here, too.
So, that’s that. Week 2 of Summer Camp 2021’s homework is in the bag. If you feel like it, leave a comment below with your thoughts on what I’ve added this week. And be sure to share your own Summer Camp homework, as well. I love to see how others are getting themselves ready for this awesome event.
Getting More Readers
Here are some action items for myself I’ve come up with after going through Week 3 of Summer Camp Prep:
- Add a Further Reading section to the sidebar of all Summer Camp articles;
- Use Global Footer (or similar) to push people toward reading the free excerpt from the first novel in my series;
- Include a Call to Action at the bottom of each article (possibly in the Comments section?), asking readers to Like and Comment;
- Start streaming (for real this time) and attend other folks’ streams
- Share articles on Discord, as I did last year; and,
- Share articles on Facebook and Reddit groups, or at least get active enough in those groups to feel comfortable sharing in the future.
Article Release Plan
Just to make sure I have my strategy etched in internet stone, here’s my checklist for releasing each article:
- Write the darn article, silly-pants;
- Create art for it, if you haven’t already, or else just give yourself permission to make this one text-only;
- Tweet about it with the hashtags #WASummerCamp and #worldbuilding;
- If there’s an art piece to go with it, throw it up on Ye Olde Instagram;
- Ignore the urge to post it on Facebook, because no one there cares if it’s not a meme, a picture of the kids, or a picture of some memory we shared together;
- Experiment with posting to Reddit or a Facebook group, but be prepared to give up because those places scare you; and,
- Share on the World Anvil Discord, to the most supportive group of people you’ve yet found on the Internet.