Some Tips I Learned about World Building at Phoenix Comicon

PHXCC-2014One of the best writing panels I attended during Phoenix Comicon 2014 was the Really Epic Epic Fantasy panel. It had an incredible lineup of epic fantasy authors, including Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear and Sam Sykes.

I neglected to take a picture of the panel. *facepalm* But I did manage to take notes. And I’m going to share some of them here.

When it comes to world building, Patrick Rothfuss said he creates a world that is more than just a movie set. If his readers take a wrong turn in his world, he wants there to still be a world there.

World building, he says, is the writers “deep root”. It informs the world and provides conflict in the story.

He also said — and I found this to be a lightbulb moment — that when characters just bicker for no reason, it’s a sign of a lack of conflict in the story. And that lack of conflict can be made up by more robust world building.

As she’s world building. Elizabeth Bear says she asks the next question, and the next question, and the next.

Scott Lynch suggested writers identify what they love and care about most in their world, and aim for that first. Then they should bend the rest of the book around what they love.

Sam Sykes’s advice was to tap into the collective experience and create a world bent on destroying your characters. Doing this will combat the feeling that the story is forced, because the conflict will be grounded in the world.

I was hoping the panel would end up on YouTube, but so far I don’t see it there. If it shows up, I’ll update this post with the link. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips from the pros as helpful as I did. And if you haven’t been to Phoenix Comicon, you should really check it out! It’s a treasure trove for writers.