World Building for Writers: Beyond the Science
Instructor: Debra Kraft
Have you ever tried to put yourself into the mindset of a god? The fact that you are reading this suggests you have. After all, you are interested in creating something only gods can create. You want to build a world. Whether you want to enhance a role-play gaming experience, to provide the setting for a story you want to tell, or simply to boast to your friends that you did something they would never attempt, World Building for Writers: Beyond the Science should help you to pick a starting point as well as to plot out a journey that will take you wherever you want to go.
It is important to note however, that our world building will not include astrophysics. Not only am I not a scientist, there are already many excellent resources, both online and in bookstores that can help you with the sciences necessary to ensure a breathable atmosphere or a viable gravitational pull. What I am providing instead are some tools to get your rough structure built beyond the realm of science. We will look into how your world is peopled. We will try to determine what makes the inhabitants 'tick' by considering what sort of experiences frame their thought processes and what tools they may have to guide their actions.
World Building for Writers: Beyond the Science is an interactive workshop designed to incorporate slide show presentations with internet chat. Email or message board correspondence among classmates and the instructor is also encouraged between classes.
The course syllabus is as follows (note: not all assignments are deemed "homework;" some are completed in class).
• Introduction & Workshop Overview
- Students will be introduced to the instructor, the workshop materials and the rules of engagement (including Schizophrenic Writers Syndrome and Suspension of Disbelief).
• Building Blocks
- Students will be provided with the 4 initial building blocks (virtually, not physically): PEOPLE, TOOLS, RULES and BACKGROUND
- Students will begin to explore the nature of the first building block: PEOPLE by discussing religions and belief systems
• Assignment: SWS & The Cult of the Butter Hoarders
- Students will continue to explore the nature of the first building block: PEOPLE by discussing language, education, family, cultures, etc.
• Assignment: Fairyland Sub-Cultures: Entitlement & Victimization
- Students will explore the nature of the second building block: TOOLS by discussing aspects of travel, communication, architecture and other things that enable your world's inhabitants to act/take action.
• Assignment: Ancient Tablet--Translation
- Students will explore the nature of the third building block: RULES by discussing aspects of scientific/magical/judicial laws, political systems, economics, and other things that constrain your world's inhabitants in whatever action they need or wish to take.
• Assignment: Rule Breaking Work-Arounds
- Students will explore the nature of the fourth building block: BACKGROUND by discussing historical figures, myths/legends, prophecies, and other things that have served to shape the cultural viewpoints on your world.
• Assignment: Heroes & Villains
• Assignment: Prioritization--Importance Rating (Worksheet #1)
• Putting it Together
- Students will complete Worksheets 1 ~ 4 to outline at least (1) action scene and (2) characters.
Start Date: Contact Instructor
Workshop Duration: 6 WEEKS
Private Mentoring: $35
As a Wayne State University merit scholar in the early '80s, DM Kraft studied under Detroit poet ML Liebler, who inspired her creative ambitions in a variety of literary endeavors. In addition to poetry, DM Kraft has been writing fantasy fiction and building the worlds necessary to accommodate that genre for nearly three decades. This experience, together with a background in teaching at the secondary school level as well as in a corporate environment, has led her to develop the "World Building for Writers" workshop, through which she hopes to share what she has learned with other writers.
DM Kraft’s key influences in the field include Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson. On the subject of World Building, she credits Lee Carroll, a long-time role-play gamer with degrees from Harvard, Cambridge and Tufts, as a mentor
Great Lakes Booksellers Association (GLBA)
Academy of American Poets
Canadian Federation of Poets (CFP)
Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN)
Critters Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Writers Workshop
Motown Writers’ Network (MWN)
Detroit Institute of Arts—Founders Society (DIA)
Zoetrope Virtual Studio