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Explaining Your World

Part 2: Use More Words, Less Often

Last week, we discussed the concept of not talking about your world. This can be a fairly large struggle, especially for those of us that get easily excited about our projects. This week, I'm here to show how to talk about your world in a more organic, and more easily consumed way.


Separate Ideas from Concepts

When I go to begin a conversation about my World, I lead with one of two opening lines. "I've got an Idea" and "Here's the Concept". The distinction is an important one, and tells my audience how much engagement I am wanting, how long I may be talking for, and what the end point of the conversation will be. An Idea is normally something short, where I may only have a vague understanding of the underlying sciences and history of the thing. At longest, three sentences of text. This tells my audience that I am looking for further development ideas. What could go wrong? What should I keep in mind about physics/chemistry/psychology? A regular chatter may know that I will probably come back an hour later with a revision, or not at all if I get engrossed in study based on the feedback.
A Concept is more long form, usually taking the shape of an Elevator Pitch, describing overarching themes and plots. Here, my reader knows that I will probably have a short text wall for them to go through, and be expecting more in the way of criticism than assistance like with an Idea.

By seperating these two out, you can better assure your listener of which direction you will be taking your worldbuikding during the conversation. With an Idea, there is a lot of back-and-forth, with you developing and asking questions of your audience as they also give answers and ask questions of you. On the Concept side, conversation is more one way, with you providing information, the audience processing, and then returning a response. With both, it is important to listen to your audience. If they ask you why your space elves have long ears and you go off about why they are so well trained with ranged weapons, you have failed to honor the conversational agreements. If they tell you that pacing feels slow for what appears to be an action scene, and you begin to ask if they think you should write more description, you have failed to process what they have given you.


When to Use Concepts Instead of Ideas

Whenever you want to chat about your world, or someone else asks about it, take into account your situation. Is it your morning break? Probably best to just toss Ideas back and forth. Is it the end of the day and you have an hour of congested traffic to kill in your carpool? Drop the heavier Concepts into the conversation amd see what your fellows think. Ideas give the ability to escape, Concepts involve some time and concentration.

Cooper's Toolbox

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