Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I should have nine weeks worth of world building done by this point in time.  As I have no real amount of followers, I'm not too concerned that I'm disappointing any of you with the lack of these updates.  My blog hits are very small and mostly from Russian spider crawlers to send spam my direction.  The only other major source of traffic I get is people searching for the movie Clueless.  Yeah, I don't get that either.

For almost all of February, I've been drifting between one of two locations in the Lexington are of Kentucky.  I have been going through one of the hardest personal experiences of my life.  I'm personally doing quite well, but meeting my obligations has been difficult.  I haven't had a good location to set up to do my world building.  I need space for this.  I need to spread out on a desk.  I need my printer.  I need my notes.  I need, well a lot to do this right.  And, right now, I'm unable to do that.  I don't have regular access to most of the things that I own.

I have NOT given up on this blog.  I have not given up on this project.  I will do fifty-two world building blogs posts.  I will complete this project.  I will make the blog look nice.  I will do links to every single entry and make it accessible.  I will update them as I get along and make changes as I learn more information.  I will make it a useful resource.  And maybe, just maybe, it will be decent enough to attract others to the information and become a useful internet resource for others.

- Josh, signing out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

World Building: What Week Is This?!?

Life is fun.  That is all.  On with the world building.

I prepared the screen shots a while ago and I've had minimal to no internet the last week.  So I'm only now able to get around to getting this post together.

I am perhaps one of the most disorganized persons on the planet.  One of the reasons that I'm undertaking this projects is to improve my organization.  Being able to access information on my world is critical.  If I need a reference or need to update a reference, knowing where that information is and being able to find it quickly is going to save me time.

As was discussed in previous posts, I'm both in need of a digital copy and a hard copy of my world information.  The first set of instructions are how I am organizing my information for the digital copy.  At the very end of the guide, I will show you how to then use this information into a program that I highly recommend to easily compile the information into a hard copy.

Before getting into the file tree that I use, on my computer I always use three folders, okay that's a lie.  I TRY to use three folders and I usually just end up using two of the folders.  The folders I use are docs, bak, and temp.

The docs folder is where I save everything with the exception of pictures and game saves.  The bak folder is simple.  Once a month or when I remember to do so, I transfer the bak folder to a CD and/or a USB jump drive.  I then wipe the bak folder and copy/paste the entirety of the docs folder into the bak folder.  The temp folder is where I drop download files that I either only need for a little while or before I transfer them to a permanent home.

To start off with, in my docs folder, I created an folder for worldbuilding.  Because I have other worlds besides my epic fantasy, I created a folder just for this particular world.  In my case, because I'm going to have information I share publicly and I'm going to have information that I'm going to keep secret, I have created three folders.  The compiled folder is the combination of the two folders.

With my worldbuilding, I added folders for each of my different major categories.  I have all major kingdoms in their own folder, a folder for the noble houses, a folder devoted to people and places of interest that require a more detailed entry, a category for the Fae, and finally, an entry devoted to the magic systems.  This is not, at this time, a final list.  I may change things as time progresses, but for now, this information is the information that I foresee needing.

Each folder will contain files for the different areas I create.  For example, my entry on Salicard is saved in the folder settlements -> KoD as it is a part of the KoD kingdom.  As I add new cities, I simply save them in the appropriate folder.  This allows me to have a quick reference to the information on my computer instead of having a large document to scan through and find what I'm looking for.

Now, for a hard copy, my recommendation is Scrivner.  I use this program for 90% of my writing.  It is well worth the investment.  I use maybe 20% of the features that Scrivner offers and it saves me a lot of time with my writing.  For the worldbuilding compilation, I simply broke down folders in an identical way to that of my worldbuilding folders.  To create a hard copy, all you need to do is update the corresponding file in Scrivner with the text in your physical file and then you can compile the information to a single document.

Setting this up took no time at all and now I have no excuse to begin organizing my information together quickly.  In the future, I'll look into Scrivner more in depth and how you can use it to help you with your research and worldbuilding.  For now, this will have to do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Regarding the Building a World Series

As my few viewers may have noticed, my series on building a world is often times delayed being posted, missing links, missing attachments, and often missing formatting.  Unlike previous blog posts, this series is also about my exploration into the worldbuilding experience.  I'm learning and teaching as I go.  Because of this, this requires an exorbitant amount of extra work on my part.  I have to do my worldbuilding and write up the blog related to the worldbuilding I'm doing.

One of my intentions is to get ahead a week so that I can spend a week writing the next blog and still get the editing done for that week's post.  As I move along, I plan on going back and revising the older blogs and posting a master list.  This project is going to require a lot of extra work, but I'm hoping that it will pay off in the end.  I appreciate your patience.

Building a World: Week 4

Settlements – Going Deeper

Last week, I talked about creating a template for designing settlements. I talked about the information that I would need in my templates and how to figure out and organize that information together. That information though, isn't enough for worldbuilding. This post is going to talk about how using information from your world building of one settlement can be used to better develop out your world. In this particular case, I'm going to use the created settlement of Salicard from my last week's post in order to improve the worldbuilding of not only Salicard, but the two neighboring settlements.

Salicard is one of the locations that I need in my story, but I know little about it. It is located on the southern portion of my world, another area that I know very little about. In my previous attempts to write my epic fantasy, the lack of understanding of this section of the world has been a road block that has interfered with my writing.

I indicated that there are two road ways in Salicard. Plot wise, it is important that Salicard have restricted access. Later, as the story progresses, it is important that this city location be difficult to reinforce. Just declaring that the city has two roadways is not sufficient worldbuilding. I can use this unique detail about the city and play around with possibilities to understand the city better.

I could simply declare that the city has terrain that makes it difficult to traverse. As it is, the city already has a crevice located to the north. Having two complicated terrains is a stretch and it is a simple way out. In my notes, I indicated the High Lord Raiz is in charge of the local province and that he resides in Salicard. As a more interesting piece of history, he restricts the roads as a means of controlling trade. The less roads to navigate around, the more travel is required for merchants. The more roads the merchants need to travel, the greater the tolls they need to pay.

Additionally, there is another reason for not expanding the roads. To the east of Salicard is a large forested area. The forested area, while a valuable resource, is plagued with a hostile species. It is quite possible for the High Lord to build a road through the forest and supply it with protection, but to do so would require he spend extra money from his coffers to fund the protection. So, instead of creating a new trade route, he just tolls his existing roads and enhances the income.

With this information about Salicard, it gives me additional information that I can use for building the neighboring cities. To start off with, the settlement to the southeast is going to be a larger trade destination. Any merchants going through there are going to want to buy supplies, possibly trade in that location, and will need a place to stay. When you have a major trade route, it establishes other businesses. So, by knowing that the city to the southeast is a major node in the kingdom, I can infer that the city is larger than Salicard. The city located to the west would have the opposite impact. It is more isolated from the rest of the kingdom. Merchants would definitely trade in Salicard, it is where the rich family lives and would attract business. But, the merchants are rarely going to travel further. The tolls are already devastating them. So to the west, you will have a smaller settlement. Also, food is not the best commodity for shipping long distances. For that reason, it would make sense that a settlement west of Salicard is going to be agricultural based.

Now, in my epic fantasy, I had a nobleman who was in charge of a small settlement and was below High Lord Raiz in stature. This smaller settlement becomes a better choice for his home than what I had originally designed. He's located to the southwest of the Fae Kingdom and from an isolated section of the world. He would be in charge of providing soldiers for the High Lord and the King's Army, and would likely lead that himself. He would also certainly be the Lord in charge of the settlement. I don't have a settlement name yet, but by worldbuilding one settlement, I was able to establish details about two settlements, including finding a way to link in an existing character to one of the newer settlements. This information was established simply by looking into the trade routes of Salicard.

Just as a reminder, the idea behind this series is not to share all of my world, but to show you how worldbuilding can help you improve your writing and get yourself on track again. Next week, I'm going to talk about storing and organizing the information in both a hard and digital copy in order to make finding information simpler when doing your writing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Building a World: Week 3

((so yeah, this is not at all formatted.  no images.  no attachments.  I'm going to spend a day this week going through all of my entries and fixing them up.  Sorry!  - jkeezer))

The point to creating objectives is to use them. Last blog entry, once of my objectives was creating a personal reference for my world. Specifically, this was the objective I created.

Creating a hard/soft copy of my world as a personal reference in order to maintain an accurate and consistent portrayal of the world during the writing process.

Right now, I'm working completely from scratch. I have some reference sheets that I've downloaded from the internet. I have some documents that I have created. But as far as world building is concerned, I do not have any sort of system in place for the process of world building except for when it comes to my Elders and even that system is a big fat mess that needs to be cleaned up. So today, I'm going to focus on creating my first system for organizing my notes.

I'm going to be focusing specifically on settlements. Today's work will be considered a rough draft system. As time progresses, I very likely will have to make changes to this system. As long as I'm improving the system, it is okay. I just need to avoid scrapping the system and starting over. Entropy is my worst enemy.

What information do I need to include in my document:
Settlement name
settlement size (approximate)
political structure
important figures
important landmarks
major imports/exports
road networks
demographic information
military/enforcement abilitiy
history (brief)
general notes
(looked up CIA Worldbook here
Geographic location

(looked up wikipedia)
climate (general information, not detailed)
Cityscape (Districts/Architecture)

(This is a cover sheet)

In the case of my world building, I opted not to use area or the break down of the land use. This choice was because I feel that the information gets too detailed oriented. I don't want to get caught up in the details or I'll be lost forever in world building. For you, you might find that this information is more useful. However, this is why I include general notes, if it is something that is important, such as a really large city, I can highlight it out there.

Like with my objectives blog, I started clumping together the related pieces of information that I needed for my city information. I created headers for each category of related information and sorted them out. I deleted a couple of the entries. This was the updated list:

_Basic Information_
Settlement name
Political Structure
major imports/exports
military/enforcement abilitiy

important landmarks
road networks

Settlement Population
race/gender composition
important figures

History (brief)
general notes

Next, I'm went through the list and made a few cosmetic changes. For example, I'm merged the political structure and the leader(s) section together. I removed notable structures, because I now have a section on architecture, and I moved culture to demographics after removing the race/gender composition. In my world, the races are significantly segregated to the point that it isn't worth putting into world building notes without it being identified elsewhere. For your, it might be significant enough to include.

With my final list, all the remains is making a template. I prefer to use Open Office because the program is free and after having used it for a while, I can work my away around to make templates and other fun little forms. You can use whatever program you prefer, or if you happen to own Scrivner, like I do, you can simply include your work in there.

After laying out the information as a template, all that remains to begin making the documents. You can print out blank copies for when you are away from your computer and save the template files for each of your settlements as you go along. I've included the template for Open Office here as well as a PDF version of one of my settlements using this template. Feel free to edit the template as you see fit.

Next week, I'll be using the template again to get into more meaty aspects of worldbuilding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sick Day!

I'm feeling really under the weather today.  I'll do my blog entry tomorrow next week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 2012 King of the Hill Finale

It has been a long road reaching this point.  I've reviewed and compared every movie of the year until knocking the best films of the year down to two movies.  In the end, two movies very similar movies were able to face each other to be crowned the 2012 King of the Hill Champion.  And I never would have predicted how similar the two movies would be, right down to the movie poster.

Comparing the two movies Brave and Hanna is like trying to rate the toppings of pizza from the same pizza joint.  I cannot begin to identify how great both the two movies are.  What sets them apart are the finer details and these get down entirely to personal taste.  Like the pizza analogy, both movie fits a different mood.  I'm not always in the mood for pepperoni; sometimes I want to have mushrooms.

Brave is a Pixar film aimed for a younger audience, but still with elements appropriate for adults.  Hanna is live-action film aimed for adults.  Both movies are great on my movie watching pallet.  The differences make them next to impossible to compare.  I've made several attempts to write this comparison and each time, I've scrapped my writing to start over.  When determining what I like in a movie, I look at the plot, the characters, and the visuals.  So, for this final showdown, this is how the two movies will be compared.

The plots between the two movies are not really comparable.  However, I can compare them based on the level of enjoyment into the plot.  Hanna is an action film that also tells an allegorical tale of the loss of innocence.  The plot was very well written and had me drawn into it from start to finish.  Brave is a children's action story about a girl's rejection of her parent's wishes and the bond between mother and daughter.  Between these two films, I feel that the better plot has to go towards Hanna, but only ever so slightly.  Brave story, while a good one is something you can find more commonly in other movies.  This was never more true then when I compared Brave and Whip It last week.  The mother/daughter story is one that is in lots of movies.  While it is refreshing to see this story told to a younger audience, it doesn't make the plot better than other movies of a similar nature.  In Hanna, the loss of innocence plot is allegorically present and leaves a common action film on the surface.  This plot makes it far more complex and worthy for the plot category.

Visually speaking, what makes Hanna strong is it's blending of the visual techniques with the plot itself.  And while this is all well and good, the visual on their own are nothing of super significance.  It has been over a year since I saw this film now and I can remember some of the visual tricks, but nothing outside of the tie in to the allegorical story.  And for that reason, these visual tricks are more related to the plot of which Hanna was already awarded the winner.  Pixar is famous for their visuals.  They have always gone out of their way to make the look of their films visually stunning.  This movie was no exception.  Everything in the film from the Will O' the Wisps to the stunning visuals within the castle are top notch.  There is absolutely nothing missing from Brave in this category.  For this reason, Brave wins.

I've saved characters for last.  If there is a winner to be found in this film, it is to be found in the main protagonists.  And this is, again, a tough call.  Merida is a strong, powerful female character of the same strength and age as Hanna.  So which one of them is the stronger character?  The answer lies in character growth.  Merida's growth comes from her making a giant mistake and having to go out of her way to resolve her error.  In doing so, she learns more about herself and her parents.  She grows significantly from this event.  Hanna, however, has her growth more subtly.  She is thrust into a world outside of her comfort zone.  She is forced into a situation in which she must depend on herself and learn to trust others.  That trust causes those people problems, which she must grip with the guilt.  And, ultimately, she must find her own strength to overcome the final step in her character.  While both movies contain a powerful character in them, the character of Hanna is more realistic with her subtle development and growth while Merida's growth is painted clearly on the screen.  While I will forever give Pixar credit for creating a character that parents can discuss with their child, I want my characters as real as possible.  Hanna has that defining trait.

Plot Winner:  Hanna
Visual Winner:  Brave
Character Winner: Hanna

2012 King of the Hill Champion:  Hanna