Blog Entry #20: Writing Advice-Worldbuilding #2: Organization

I should probably take a brief moment to point out that if you are serious about your novel, you should be using Scrivener to write it. Scrivener allows you to keep your chapters separated, your research organized, and lets you split your screen to easily access all your information. If you don’t have access to Scrivener, I would recommend having several word documents separating the more important aspects of your worldbuilding. Characters, cities, magick/supernatural, technology should all be separate so that you can easily access them at your whim. You want to format your worldbuilding in such a way that you don’t have to search to much for things, but also so that you can freely write and rely on your previously created information without having to slow down your progress.

For the most part, I’m going to be blogging here assuming that you are using Scrivener, as I have used it as my sole word processing document for the last three years. I have self published four novels using Scrivener and have written countless other projects on it. So, organization. As you keep the pieces of your novel separate, you can rely on these pieces to carry you through your story. At this point, writing should be almost autonomous. You should only have to worry about your story, your sentence construction, your characters, your pacing. Things like ‘how far away is this city?’ ‘who has this weapon?’ ‘who is this person’s relative?’ ‘when was this person born?’ ‘how do these characters know each other?’ should be easy to pick out of your worldbuilding document, or at the very least able to find rather quickly.

Proper organization of your worldbuilding pieces will also result in a much easier time reading over your first draft and editing it in the later process. You will construct it to the point that it’s a glossary or encyclopedia of terms, and this way you can either make your novel a tight read or create something as sprawling as A Song of Ice and Fire. Once you spend the time creating and organizing your worldbuilding document, you will be surprised at the quality and detail that exists in your own writing. After some time, you will begin to understand how the greatest science fiction and fantasy authors are able to make such sprawling worlds. Think of your worldbuilding documents as cheat sheets that you can rely on as you wish. Any time you forget part of your sprawling, constructed world (which you will) you can easily fall back on the hard work that lifted you up to this point.

So, organize! Create that amazing world that has been in your head for so long, but don’t short change yourself. Keep things as neat and tidy as you can. You don’t need to go through a full outline or bring your worldbuilding down to a level of detail that impedes you, but if you have enough information created and organized to which you can easily rely on it, your writing will become smooth and easy. Your beautiful, sprawling world will come to life as easily as if it has always existed.