Combating World Sprawl
A common problem amongst Worldbuilders is that we enjoy our hobby too much. We never stop building, and yet find ourselves having no product to show after months,but are, or even a lifetime of crafting. We just keep adding to our world. Today, lets take a look at some of the ways that the infamous World Sprawl can show itself and how to keep our building in check.
Take a read through World-Building with Greebles, Nurnies and Wiggets to see how deep to take this type of information. Have these types of things in your world, but don't write more than a passing mention on how the serial number of your robots are written on the inside of the left arm socket.
Or, you've spent 3 days writing about the Kings Guard, but your players are only just meeting the Sewer Rats tomorrow night. Kings Guard is, like, 3 more sessions away.
Or worse, you've written every bit of information about your setting you could think of. Everything is ready for the next phase of your project. But where should you begin? That's right, you've given yourself too much choice to be able to go back to the original story of two brothers backpacking across the universe on a quest to pour their mother's ashes in Sirius.
What you have done here is filled more of the grand, verbose World than was necessary for you to create an end product. It's been either unproductive to your story, a waste of time when you don't have it, or has left you in a state of choice paralysis.
How do I avoid this fate?Avoiding these two tipes of World Sprawl is difficult. It takes discipline. It takes courage to tell yourself that you don't need to write that article on why your insects all taste like candy. It tales wisdom to know when you should dive deeper into a concept, and when you should just skim the surface. First and foremost, you must have a goal. All the work in the world is meaningless if there is not a defined, achievable goal to meet. Here's the quick points of a good goal:
- Specific Specific goals have defined parameters. "I want to write a novel" is not as specific as "I want to write a gripping crime novella set in Ancient Egypt." Thinking about the specifics can help focus your work, and help you start to explain it to those that will support you.
- Mmeasurable How do you know younhave met your goal? Setting a measurement of completion helps to show how on track you are, and early in to your project, allows you to see if your goals are too lofty to be attained. "I want to write a gripping crime novella set in Ancient Egypt of 20,000 words," will let you know when younhave completed it, keeps you from accidentally writing a novel, and has become an almost fully fleshed out goal.
- Attainable Can you actually complete the goal? This is one of the most logical steps, but also the easiest to pass due to human stubbornness. "I want to write this novel in one night" is not attainable, nor is "I want to become a Velociraptor".
- Realistic Is the goal logical given your skills and education? "I want to write about Ancient Egypt using my degree in Native American Culture" is just... Odd. Having no knowledge or even intrest in the subject matter can make the project unfullfilling.
- Time-bound For Americans, this one is extremely difficult. We hate giving ourselves time-limits. But, without them, we won't know if we have been productive in our project. Set a realistic goal, some where in the month - 3 month span for non-moneymaking goals, 3 - 12 months for moneymaking ones. "I want to write a 20,000 word crime novella set in Ancient Egypt, using my Egyptology degree, before I graduate next may (8 months)," is a fairly solid goal.
What are your goals?Drop down what your goals are in your worldbuilding in the comments below, and I will add myself to your personal update crew!
Cooper's ToolboxOne of the best ways to keep your brain under control ia to talk with others about your ideas. Keeping track of what others want to know more about can help you see if you need to dive deeper or can keep at the same detail level you are. If your audience is snoozing off during your explanations, reel things back to a more relaxed detail.
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