Have you ever wondered how authors keep everything in their minds? I mean, there is A LOT out there for us to know…and we’re the ones who made it up!
I swear as a reader I had no problem remembering from the fifty series I read what book had what type of vampire or werewolf and the rules that went with them. Like what powers they had, what they could do in the sunlight, how their bites work…even their birthdays and long lost fifth cousin.
But as a writer, I have to write it all down.
That’s probably because I have a semi photographic memory so I can remember things I read like that, but if I had be to be one who made it up? Yeah, not so much. I mean, if I think about it, I remember, but I don’t want to get it wrong.
The problem with world building is that once you build a world, you need to remember what you built. You can’t change things and break your own rules. Once you do that, you lose respect and readers. Now I’m not going to out the few books I’ve read who didn’t know how to keep their world building together, but I will mention a TV show.
Now, I know this TV show like it’s my BFF. But I also know that they mess up. Take for instance the gym in Monica and Ross’s parents’ house. In the early part of the series, they say they turn Monica’s room into a gym later, in fact, they even have a scene about it in the first season. But then at the end of the series when the parents are moving away, Monica comments that they changed it when she was in college. Or how Ross was conceived. One time they say he was a happy accident in an attic, the other time he was a medical marvel.
Or how about how Rachel and Chandler met? With their flashback episodes, they’ve completely blown the pilot apart by showing Chandler and Rachel meeting in five different ways.
They messed up a few times and it hurt my respect for the show because they couldn’t get their worlds correct.
Now as for books, I need to know that the worlds won’t break their own rules. Like a certain werewolf can’t start out with one power, then have it change later.
Now how to writers keep up with this? For most, the make a book bible. Or a note file. Or just SOMETHING that has everything written. For me, I use One Note.
Each series is different notebook and then each book has its own tab. I keep up with their characteristics, powers, timeline, images from their setting…pretty much everything. Each book has a note pad alone with their outline and other plotting things.
If I ever get lost, I usually can find it in the appropriate place. If not, I go back and read. And yes, I did crop the picture to make sure I didn’t spoil anything LOL. But every author has a different way to do things, but for me, this is working.
As soon as you start a book you are building a world and you need to keep consistent from chapter 1 to the end. It’s even more so for a series. You can’t change it. You can add to it, but you can’t break your own rules. The more detailed and complex your world is, the harder it is to keep up to date. Yet readers and authors love it complex, so we keep up with it.
Its rewarding to make sure your worldbuilding is complex and RIGHT. One of the best thing about being an author is creating your own worlds, however, you need to make sure you don’t change things. Keep organized. I tell people I have outlines of my outlines and spreadsheets of my spreadsheets.
I’m not kidding. It’s not stifling. Far from it. It keeps my head in the game so I can write what I want, when I want. If I’m spending hours of my time trying to remember the name and features of that one guy in that one scene in that one book, I’m wasting my time and making not worth it.
Now this post was really a post on organization for me, but if you ever need any help in making pretty OneNote files, let me know!
Tell me, how do you keep your world building up to date? Do you find it difficult? Have you ever read a book where they broke their own rules? (Keep it nice, don’t tell me the author or title)