On World Building

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Anthologies, Short Fiction

I’m a world builder. Maybe it’s the years of being a RPG Game-Master (or DM or Storyteller depending on your system). Making a world real enough for the characters in games to interact with has lent itself to doing the same for my fiction worlds. Sometimes the world is built in big sections before the first story ever comes to mind. I have a big fantasy trilogy in me and a few already written short stories that sprang from just that kind of process.

Then there is the kind of world building that I did for Cobalt City. This has been a much more patchwork process, done in a seemingly never-ending series of questions to immediate issues and world-defining answers. What is the local government of Cobalt City like? I don’t know. I haven’t needed to define that yet. What has the role been for super-powered individuals in times of war? I have answers for that, and examples, and reasons why it’s that way because I’ve needed that information for stories. With Cobalt City, a lot of this ongoing development has been slow going, only necessary when I’m working on a new project or answering questions for someone doing an anthology story (provided they don’t answer the question themselves).

The tempo of that world building is speeding up this year, due in no small part to the increased number of Cobalt City side projects. The first adventure arc of Cobalt City Adventures Unlimited audio drama podcast (available now!) let me bring vampires into the Cobalt universe. I just finished scripting the second adventure arc that dealt with Chinese army secret research projects, a monastery high in Tibet where Archon and Gallows did some training, what happened to the Icons (Cobalt’s mysteriously vanished previous super-team), and most importantly, set up a huge anthology for sometime in the future. I can’t give details, but there have been little clues in three of my novels.

And then, I have the Cobalt City Neighborhoods project that kicks off this month. The define the character of each of Cobalt’s eight districts/neighborhoods through stories that could only really happen in those locations. The first, which I’m in the midst of scripting now, takes place in the exclusive enclave of Regency Heights on the bluff across the river to the south. And more than showcasing that neighborhood, it gives me a rare opportunity to explore Doctor Shadow. There are stories that can only be told, things that you can only do with an immortal, 3,000 yr. old Egyptian sorcerer as your protagonist. I can hardly wait to roll this out in a few weeks.

But in the meantime, I need to finish writing it. Back to that now, I suppose.

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