An Unlikely Coping Mechanism
I was like every other creative kid growing up. I had imaginary worlds that I created to help me deal with problems in my everyday life. I created a planet called Planet S. Please forgive me for being unoriginal, but the S is for Stephanie. I was six. I can’t even lie, and say I wasn’t one of those girls who wanted to be a princess because I love princesses. I knew I wasn’t born a princess on Earth so I created a new planet to rule.
Planet S got me through physical therapy when I was little. I would pretend that the exercises I had to do accomplished different tasks for the kingdom. It even helped me get through when my physical therapist moved away. I told myself that the Queen stepped down, and trusted the princess to handle the affairs of the kingdom with the help of her advisors. I got older and learned that this process is called world-building when you are a writer.
This is probably why I tend to write fantasy now because I’ve always enjoyed creating worlds. I think about world-building constantly. It’s actually my favorite way to “deal” with writer’s block. I will sit there and think about the history of the world I am writing about, and write about a character in the past that lives in the same universe as my current project. I convince myself that if I know about the past then it will strengthen the original plot. Sometimes it works, but more often then not I end up with spin-off series that I can bounce between whenever I get stuck.
I had a teacher once who taught me that world-building happens whenever you tell any story. You have to show your readers how things work in the setting of the story, and that has stuck with me. I look for world-building in everything now regardless of the genre. In the past few weeks, I have been obsessed with world-building. The main universe I am working with currently has a lot of internal conflict within the royal family, but not with any of the kingdoms around them. I don’t think there is any country in existence who has only suffered from civil war. I also think that an outside enemy can bring the other kingdoms together in a cool way like how the United States came together for a short period of time after 9/11.
I also think that an outside war would make more sense because the real world doesn’t stop spinning when someone has a lot of anxiety no matter how much we wish that was the case. World-building helps everyone see hard truths about the world through a softer lens so it’s easier to understand when it happens in reality.