Tags: writing

Alessandra Kelley Artwork

World Building

This is an essay I wrote after giving a talk to my daughter's fiction writing class on the subject of world building in fantasy writng

World Building 101

            World building is a vital but often invisible art in the process of fantasy writing.  The superficial view of a fantasy world is as the environment in which a story or stories takes place.  Looked at from this perspective, the most important things in the world are places for events to happen.  Superficial world building focuses on appearances: what does the terrain look like, where are the cities, and so on.

These questions miss the most important element of world building.  A world is not just where things happen, it is how things happen.  A world reveals its nature in how things happen.

This gives a great opportunity in writing because the nature of the world becomes a character in a fantasy novel.  The ways of the world can carry at least as much meaning as the personalities and choices of the individual characters.


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Alessandra Kelley Artwork

Computer Programming as Teaching Tool

My two jobs have nearly opposite ways of handling language.  Writing uses the humpty-dumpty rule that "when I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean."  Computer programming uses the principle that a word means exactly what it is defined to mean with no wiggle room at all.


Does this mean that I'm walking around hitting myself over the head whenever I use a metaphor or suggesting that something more poetic than the word "while" belongs in loop constructions?  Not really.  Well, not often.  Okay.  It's been known to happen.

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