All the Writerly Things: Subjects to Help World Build


Hello, friends! Welcome to my first installment of a new series I'm doing, called All the Writerly Things. Once a month, around the third week, I will be posting anything and everything about writing, whether it may be snippets of my pieces or some advice accumulated over seven years of engaging in the craft.

I've been in school for about a month now, while some of you are just embarking on your first week and others interact with the daily norm. Learning is an integral part of the writing process, particularly when it comes to world building-- how heavy is a guillotine? What significance do moon cycles have to various cultures? World building is an immense task to drag upon as writers, and some days, it's rough and feels like you don't know anything.

As a senior, there isn't a lot of leeway on what kinds of classes I could take, but for all of you underclassmen and learners at heart, here are five subjects to study to help with the process of world building!

This was my favorite class my junior year because of the immense feeling of empowerment to change the world, but that is not the reason I've added this to the list. Environmental studies is the study of the natural world and how humans interact with it, so topics such as human population, water cycles, and peat are all touched upon which helps with world building for two reasons. First, there is a STRONG correlation between a country's economy and the well-being of the environment which explains why some countries in novels are better off with numerous resources or faltering due to over harvesting. Secondly, environmental science delves into how biomes and it's smaller counterparts are composed, such as where certain plants are more likely to grow and thrive, so once the basis has been established, it's easy to look through and say, "Oh, I want this desert to have these plants," which cuts research time a lot.

The study of the behavior and mind. I haven't taken a class on this, but I love to read up on Myers-Briggs types frequently as well as why some behavioral patterns exist. Everything hailing as high as how personalty and development occurs down to the seemingly small topics, like cognition and how people remember things all come down to this line. This is an important subject to study more for the villian's sake, to perhaps see why their backstory and motivation has formed them into the person they are. It's almost creepy, like picking away at their brains-- but then again, it is our job as writers to do so.


Just take any history and all history, where it be ancient civilizations, world history, or United States history and government. Across all branches there are fascinating tidbits of information scattered throughout that can help give quirks to your novel's world. Like psychology, study anthropology, the study of cultures. Be warned, though: cultural appropriation, or using elements from another culture outside of their original contexts, causes a lot of backlash, so be sure to do heavy research to avoid that at all costs.

I've yet to actually take this class next semester, but the study about how the market works, how individual consumers affect it, and the role of economy are all integral to help develop a sense of currency which in term can contribute to the main dilemma of a novel without it directly being involved. Suppose characters want change because the market is fluctuating. Maybe hard times have stricken, but the government isn't helping, causing animosity to form and tensions to rise.


Friends, I have spent the past four years of my life reading in English authors dismissed as archaic from society but pose interesting ideas: Aristotle. Socrates. Thoreau. Machiavelli. Buber. Rand. Out of all these authors, most could only name the first two right off the bat. Even thinking about their ideas give me a headache because of the complexity of them. Don't just read up on Philosophy to brainstorm darling quotes: it's good to study and look at different beliefs not to necessarily agree with them, but to see their perspective of things.

What other subjects would you include? Do you agree and disagree with the list?

26 comments:

  1. Ah, I'm done with those days, and am instead interacting with strangers on a daily basis at work. It gives me some great character and conversation ideas! But a writerly friend recently took Psychology, and she and I have been chatting about that recently, and how to apply it to writing.

    Wherever you look, you can find things to help with your writing! I love it!

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    1. Honestly, psychology is one of the best subjects for studying characters, although it can be a rabbit hole because its all incredibly interesting! For instance, I'm reading more into Myers Brigg cognative stacks-- apparently, the first one (the dominant one) will end up matching what your first letter is. For instance, if someone's an ENFJ, then their dominant function would be Xe, x standing for the primary part and thus the extrovertedness. However, in order to balance that out, their secondary function would have to be the opposite (i.e. Xi).

      Isn't it just awesome???

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  2. I've never looked at these subjects as something that would help, BUT YOU'RE RIGHT. I look forward to worldbuilding and trying out these approaches. :)

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    1. I'm glad, Evangeline! Just absorb and take in as much as you can from your surroundings. ^.^

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  3. Great ways to look at these classes, I've never thought of it this way before... except I've always been interested in psychology. :)

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    1. Psychology is THE BEST. I kind of regret not taking it this year, but I'd have to give up Spanish and I LOVE learning new languages all the time.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  4. Yes, history is SO helpful with writing, especially if you like writing historical fiction like me. =) By the way, I love your blog design! Did you do it yourself?

    Micaiah @ Notebooks and Novels

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    1. HISTORICAL FICTION IS THE BEST. I'm thinking about writing something correlating to one of the decades (the Roaring 20s, the forties or the eighties, as they're all the most interesting and would be super fun to write about). And yes, I did do my blog design myself! Blog designing is really calming for me. xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  5. Since you mentioned philosophy: something neat I learned last night is that philosophy or philosopher comes from philos (loving) and sophia (wisdom). So on its original sense it means lover of wisdom. 😊

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    1. I HONESTLY DIDN'T KNOW THAT!!! >.< That is literally the neatest thing ever. Studying the basis of words also helps, alongside the definitions of names. Names are probably the most interesting things ever alongside psychology.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  6. Great post idea! My world history class last spring helped me formulate SO much of the politics in my current WIP, a dystopian novel, plus reasons that the king might be assassinated and a bunch of other stuff. Cultural anthropology was a really cool class that gave me lots of story ideas.

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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    1. Oooh, a king that may get assassinated??? Do tell! xD I'd love to hear more about cultural anthropology, honestly, especially those pertaining to the east side of the world. While I was born there, I was raised more on the west side but I love the various differences in both cultures. It's fascinating to what society valued at certain time periods.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  7. I can't really use any of my current classes for any of my works - unless I made a WIP about a museum....

    But those are some really great suggestions, Abby! I'll have to look at my old class notes - I should have thought of doing that before!

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. HONESTLY YOU SHOULD. And Catherine, m'dear, you probably have the greatest advantage over everyone else at the moment because museums have so much art, history, and science that there's bound to be something you can draw inspiration from! Can't wait to see what you create from those class notes!

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  8. Wow this is pretty darn smart Abby! Right now I am taking a class in Careers and another in Entrepreneurship and both are really helpful to character building as a story writer. We get a lot of speakers talking about their personal experiences and we get a peek into their lives which REALLY helps especially if your characters have the same careers/personalities.

    Great post Abby! xoxox

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    1. I wish I could take a class in Entrepreneurship! :D You're so lucky, Anna! And Careers has got to definitely help you a plenty, and I honestly can see how those two can help build writerly character. xD And that's true! Just listening to people and interacting with them, both formally and informally, really helps a ton.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  9. Your blog looks awesome! Also a lot of these classes look like they would be so fun to take. :)

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    1. Thank you, Nabila! I know you're in middle school, but if you wanted to take these classes in high school, it's still a possibility!

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  10. YAY WRITERLY THINGS!!!!

    This is a super interesting list! I've found psychology to be SUCH a helpful class for writing. I took it fall semester of last year, and it's still one of my favorite classes that I've ever taken.

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    1. All the writerly things!!!

      GRACE ANNE I AM SO JEALOUS YOU TOOK A SEMESTER PSYCH CLASS. Most of the classes here (I can't take dual college enrollment mainly because the option is in a campus too far away to drive daily) are year long, and it makes me cry a lot, ugh...

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  11. It's so cool how you're able to integrate the things you are learning in your classes into your writing. It makes school more interesting when you know you can use it in what you love to do! :)

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    1. Doesn't it? It's honestly the way I perceive the world: learn everything you can and if you can, try to use what you've learned to the best of your abilities. :D

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  12. Writing is such a cool thing, because almost everything is relevant! Psychology is so interesting! I'm studying counselling, and it's fascinating to learn more about people and thinking and behaviour. And go you with studying philosophy! It's something I'd like to spend more time on, but as yet I haven't read very broadly. I also like to make sure I spend solid time in the Bible so I don't get confused with different ideas, and I can see whether things line up with God's word more clearly - so it seems there's not time for both.

    Thanks for the post! It was interesting, and all the best with your senior year! xx

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    1. TRUE! Jessica, that's awesome you're studying counselling! xD And hmm, I can see how philosophy can detract from reading from the Bible. I do think it is interesting though, if you read the Bible and find philosophical pieces that may clash for whatever reason every once in awhile, because it does help expand your views and while you may not agree with the other side, at least you see their points better. That's the best part about reading. ^.^

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  13. This is such an interesting concept! And one that's totally true. I guess I never thought of that before. Thanks for sharing, Abi.

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    1. Of course, Gracie!!! xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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Hi, friend! Just remember to keep comments clean and kind, or I will have to delete them. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog-- I cherish every kind word sent my way.

Stay strong and wonderful!
xoxo Abigail Lennah