Worldbuilding for Masochists

Worldbuilding for Masochists

A podcast by three fantasy authors who love to overcomplicate their writing lives and want to help you do the same.

Episodes

August 10, 2022 54 min

In this bonus episode, your hosts gather together in real life at ArmadilloCon 2022! We talk about why we love worldbuilding, what our strategies are, and take a bunch of really fabulous questions from the audience.

Because this episode was recorded on-site in a convention hall and because it is a bonus episode, this is essentially raw audio! So you're getting us unfiltered and unedited... and you're getting the chaos of re...

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What happens when you have to build not just one world, but a whole passel of them? In this episode, guest Valerie Valdes joins us to talk about how an author can craft compelling adventures in spaaaaaaaaaaace.

The vastness and potential diversity of space makes for an appealing sandbox for writers to play in. In a genre that often depends on the element of handwavium to make its interplanetary travel, interstellar stations, and la...

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DUN-DUN. Law & Order. What does it mean in your world? Who makes the laws, and by what power do they do so? How easy or difficult is it to change the rules? Guest Victor Manibo, author and real-life lawyer, joins us to discuss how different structures of formal and informal policy could affect the choices your characters make.

So much of law comes down to "who is allowed to do what." But where's the line between a l...

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We've talked about big holidays and religious observations before, but what about the small, weird, highly-location-specific festivals and traditions that might dot the landscape of your world? From cheese-rollings to local saints' days to parades to "hey, all our squash came ripe at once, guess we better do something with it!", how do the people in your world make their lives a little more interesting with periodic...

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We kick off our fourth year of the podcast with a conversation about how to fill in the rest of your world, beyond the immediate scope of your plot. What's outside the borders your characters are familiar with? What's beyond the woods we know? Is it "here there be dragons" or a highly-detailed map with every corner marked?

Your methods of showing that may vary depending on if your characters are isolated village fol...

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Your characters and the relationships they have -- romantic, sexual, friendly, familial, professional -- will drive much of what readers connect to in your stories. So what sort of relationship dynamics do you want to build into your world's cultures? Foz Meadows joins us to discuss all the things that make up the space between two or more hearts.

From power structures and politics to financial inheritance and gender roles, the...

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When it comes to worldbuilding, what's the difference between going deep and going wide? Kritika H. Rao joins us to discuss finding the balance between the things that are tentpoles of your world and things that can be window dressing.

How do you choose what to focus on? How many worldbuilding innovations might be too many innovations? In this episode, we discuss different processes of worldbuilding and how an author's choi...

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Everybody's got to eat. But where does the food in your world come from? Who tends livestock, who transports it, who turns it into a meal -- and how?

In this episode, guest Sarah Gailey helps us think through the practicalities of feeding your characters so that their hanger doesn't derail your plot! We also examine the intersection of food production and consumption with colonization and imperialist violence.

Please note t...

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What makes a nation? Who decides where borders are, or even what borders are? What unites a people, within a country or across those borders? What differences are there between cultural identities, ethnicities, and nationalities -- and where do those concepts overlap and intersect?

In this episode, we discuss ideas of citizenship, belonging, invasion, defense, and self-definition -- and how you can complicate or literalize all of t...

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April 13, 2022 64 min

Worldbuilding is, often, about choices. What bits stick out at the top of the iceberg, and what stays beneath the surface? What shiny ideas can you make tentpoles of your world, what might be cool ornaments but are not essential to the book's functioning, and what can you simply not find the room or justification for? In this episode, we return to our co-built world and play a good honest game of fuck-marry-kill with some world...

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Where does worldbuilding fit into your overall process of writing, rewriting, revising, writing some more, and writing again? In this episode, we welcome back Melissa Caruso to help us think about the granular details of synthesizing your worldbuilding with your drafting and editing.

Characters exist within their worldbuilding, and worldbuilding can drive plots, but how do you bring all those things together during the act of creat...

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Fashion: not just a frivolity, but a component of worldbuilding that can communicate so much about your world's resources, industry, and power structures, as well as characters' individual choices and personalities. Guest Natania Barron joins us to explore the potential presented by frills and furbelows of all kinds.

From bifurcated Celts to Tudor sumptuary laws to lavender pocket squares, what inspiration can you find for ...

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This one's for the cartography geeks! We know that's a lot of our followers. Peng Shepherd joins us to think about what a map of your fantasy world can tell your readers, what the social and cultural implications of a map's presentation might be, and how much time you should spend squiggling in all those little fjords. Plus: Schrodinger’s Continents, a bowling alley on the Enterprise, and an augmentation for our Magical...

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When you've introduced elemental, supernatural, ethereal, or diabolical powers into your world, what does that do to your society? Guest Kate Heartfield joins us to discuss the rules, regulations, and roguery of magical worldbuilding!

In this episode, we explore the two levels that magical ethics can operate on: within your world, and within our world. What are you saying when you decide who has access to magic, how they contro...

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When your characters push boundaries, defy authority, and get down and dirty -- well, how do they do it, where do they do it, and just how much trouble are they going to get in? In this episode, guest Elsa Sjunneson joins us for an extremely naughty exploration of obscenity and transgression.

Engaging with obscenity means building complex social dynamics within your world and communicating those ideas to your reader. How can you br...

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January 19, 2022 62 min

It's time for another Listener Q&A episode! Wherein we discuss fjords, metallurgy, giant Martian otters, bouncy castles, starch-based food categorization, and much more.

And, because you asked, here's how you can nominate Worldbuilding for Masochists for a 2022 Best Fancast Hugo Award:

  • Eligiblity: You can nominate us (and all your other favorite works from the past year!) if you either had a qualifying membership to Dis...
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    January 5, 2022 10 min

    Happy New Year! In this minisode, your WFM hosts take a little time to reflect on this podcast's growth, our Hugo Award nomination and the ceremonies, our experiences at WorldCon, and where we're going from here. Many, many thanks to all you listeners, to our amazing scribes, and to every guest who has joined us to discuss the wildness of worldbuilding!

    Transcript for Episode 67

    Join us on Discord!

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    So you've got lore galore, complex sociopolitical tangles, and a history that reaches back through the ages. How do you show that on the page without infodumping? Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, who together make up M. A. Carrick, help us explore building a world with deep historical roots while communicating that history in a way that feels natural and exciting for a reader.

    How do your characters think of their world's hist...

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    On this podcast, we talk a lot about how economics play into other elements of worldbuilding, from death to politics to food -- but we've never before looked at finance and currency by themselves! In this episode, we take the plunge and explore how to build an economy into your fantasy realm.

    Do the people in your world have currency, or are they bartering? Or do they even conceive of value in that way at all? Do they have a co...

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    Y'know, the thing about the world is... It isn't static! It changes, all the time, and if you want your invented world to feel real and full of life, a great way to do that is to make sure it also changes. But how do you build societal change into your fictional world? Guest Fonda Lee joins us to discuss cultural diaspora, temporal shifts, geopolitical cross-pollination, and other exciting ways to show the natural shifts an...

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