Class Notes Session 3 – World-building

(Saturday class – you haven’t had this session yet, don’t worry, we will this weekend!)

Week Three deals with the world of the story: both the setting (the world as the characters know it) and the world of the narrative (the world as the readers, who have the benefit of additional information like title, tone, and style, know it).

We looked at the beginnings of several pieces, including one of my all-time favorite books, Matt Ruff’s SET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER and Sara Genge’s short story, “No Jubjub Birds Tonight” from the anthology DESTINATION FUTURE.

Looking at the punctuation of the beginning of Stephen King’s THE STAND helped talk about how a world gets set up by style and narrative methods. Tone was compared to the emotion conveyed by a human voice and I mentioned that if you have two strong emotions working in a story, the best effect is gained if they are contradictory in some way.

We also talked about some of the things involved in style and the strategies for looking at your own work in order to figure out what’s characteristic of your style. I mentioned that often in writing one returns to the stories that shaped and fascinated us and pointed to “Magnificent Pigs” (CHARLOTTE’S WEB), “The Mermaids Singing Each To Each” (THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA), and “Long Enough and Just So Long” (“The Menace from Earth” and PODKAYNE OF MARS) as places where I’d done that in my own work.

In talking about metafiction as a particular style, we looked at the beginning of Kelly Link’s “Travels With The Snow Queen,” from STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN.

In the area of world-building, we meandered freely, talking about how much detail to include, the advantages of writing in a persistant world, using sensory detail to make a world feel real, the RPG approach and how it can lead to cat-vacuuming.

Next week’s assignment is the expository lump exercise, taken from Ursula K. LeGuin’s excellent book, STEERING THE CRAFT, which will start us off talking about delivering information, using description, and literary devices.

Check out the classes Cat gives via the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, which offers both on-demand and live online writing classes for fantasy and science fiction writers from Cat and other authors, including Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Fran Wilde and other talents! All classes include three free slots.

Prefer to opt for weekly interaction, advice, opportunities to ask questions, and access to the Chez Rambo Discord community and critique group? Check out Cat’s Patreon. Or sample her writing here.

Facebook Twitter Email

Related Posts:

About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
This entry was posted in teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.