Friday, October 23, 2015

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much World Building?

I've tried reading some of the big names in fantasy adult fiction. Brandon Sanderson. Scott Lynch. Brent Weeks. Honestly…I was bored. I hate that, but I was. The world building was so dense that I felt for every interesting conversation that lasted five pages, we got at least ten pages of descriptions of the world - some that don't even seem to play into the story.

It's like the authors are so pleased with the world they created that they have to tell you every minute detail. That makes me loose interest so quickly. I know, I know, you don't have to tell me: world building is super important in a fantasy story.

I don't disagree. However, I don't find it interesting to read three plus pages about gladiator fights against sharks (hello, Gentlemen Bastards) or page upon page of fights where no one throws a punch or casts a spell (hello, Mistborn). As fun as the idea of these books are, I think they both really need a strict editor. (Sacrilege, I know. I know, too, that I digress.)

Sometimes, when I'm sitting there reading a fantasy, I cannot even remember what the countries are called because it like this huge influx of information all at once. I love world building, but I'm starting to think there's too much. I've read books where the world comes alive so vividly I can remember cities and countries names long after finishing the book. But I've also read books that, even while I'm reading them, I not sure where it's supposed to take place. I've actually found myself flipping to the map at the front of the book just to remember the name of the country!

I do love heavy world building, and I'm definitely onboard for worlds that are vastly different than ours, but I don't want the world building to take over the story or - *shudder* - become the story.

I like world building that doesn't takeaway from the characters, either. I've even read some books where the world building is introduced through the characters and I think that's great. I also find conversational info dumps easier to process than page upon page of narration.

I like to feel that the world building is fully integrated and the author was picky enough to cut out the world building that doesn't have an impact on the story.

What do you think? Do you believe less is more when it comes to world building? Or do you like loosing yourselves in dozens of pages worth of culture and customs?