A well defined storyworld can take time to develop, but the effort is well worth it. A rich storyworld is a writer’s playground with lots of interesting things to explore, whether it is a character’s background, the history of a particular setting, or a framework for multiple interrelated stories.
The development of the storyworld involves identifying and describing each of these:
- Characters: Details of their physical, psychological, behavioral, and social characteristics as well as their motivations, values, needs, desires, and fears.
- Significant Objects: Details of their physical characteristics and intrinsic and/or symbolic value.
- Settings: Details of the topos (physical characteristics, physical laws that govern the world, etc.), demos (the people or other sentient beings, their society, culture, and technology), and the chronos (the “official” and unofficial history of events in the storyworld).
- Events: Details of specific changes in the state of the overall storyworld or individual characters, objects, and settings.
The temporal attributes of the storyworld are also important. Storyworld time is the span of time within which all settings, characters, significant objects, and events occur within the storyworld. Story time is the sequencing of fragments of storyworld time as seen from the perspective of characters used within individual stories set within the storyworld.
This temporal framework is flexible enough that it allows for approaches like flashbacks, flashforwards, and non-linear sequencing of story fragments to simulate dreams, visions, psychological phenomena, and other situations.
In the next post I’ll take a look at some of the key narrative design tasks you need to take care of before you begin working with characters, significant objects, settings, and events.