For the fourth Worldbuilding Summer Camp 2020 Preparation Challenge, we’re talking WORLD PRIMERS and WORLDBUILDING RESOLUTIONS!
Worldbuilding Primers are really useful. In terms of scope, they like somewhere between an elevator pitch and YOUR WHOLE FREAKING NOVEL OR CAMPAIGN SETTING.
A world primer is designed to introduce people to your world. If your world was a novel, what would be written on the blurb – the information on the back of the book – to intrigue readers? Basically, if someone asks “so what’s your world about”, this document should give them the basic answers – and it should make them want to know more!
For RPG Campaign Settings, a Primer provides the information your players will need to get started. For readers of a novel series or comics series, it might present the basic premises and information of your world setting, and contain details about which of your stories and novels are set there.
In this challenge, we’re helping you build a primer for your world. BUT if you’ve already got a primer you’re happy with, why not create some Worldbuilding Resolutions? You can find that task at the bottom of the information about how to build a world primer.
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE IN A WORLD PRIMER?
As worldbuilders, it’s easy to fall into the trap of including too much information. After all, everything feels important, and those little details are what make your world stand out from the crowd. But the trick of a good world primer is that it provides the feel and tone of your world, with a few of the main hooks or unique selling points.
If you completed task one of this series of prep-challenges, you’ll have a list of meta-information, like your genre, the feel of your world, and the unique selling point. You don’t necessarily need to state them in bullet points, but some of the core information here should be included in your primer.
Consider colorful ways to convey this information. For genre, for example, a lot can be conveyed with colour scheme, design, font choice and imagery. If your world setting is grimdark, you might include sentences like “a dog-eat-dog world”, or use punchy, gritty language.
Most importantly, make sure that the hook – the unique or exciting core-concept of your world – is conveyed, or at least hinted at. People want to know why they should be getting excited about your world.
Set the Scene
The primer describes the world not from YOUR perspective, as an omniscient worldbuilder, but from the perspective of your players or readers. Set the scene in terms of what is generally “known”. What is the main geography? Who are the people(s) of your world?
You might want to include a small timeline with a few major events in living memory. I’d limit this to 5, and certainly no more than 10. You’re trying to give potential fans the flavor of your world, not a whole meal!
Imagery and Music
A big page of prose is hard to digest! Break your primer up with some core imagery for your world. You might choose to include a sound track or sound effects too, to help create the mood for your world setting. If they’re not spoilers, you can draw this media from your Curated Inspiration Board, from week 2’s prep challenge!
The Active Area
Remember you probably won’t be revealing the WHOLE PLANET in your primer – in fact, you might not have built it all yet!
Whilst it can be useful to give a brief overview of your world setting (for example, “there are three known continents” and their names), don’t try to go too broad with your information here. Chances are, you’ll have an active worldbuilding area (as defined in week 3’s preparation challenge). If you’ve been building your world for a while, you may have a few other worldbuilding areas fleshed out, too.
Add a few more details on these areas – you may even denote them as Areas of Interest in your world.
If it’s genre-appropriate, including tantalizing hints of secrets, mysteries, and adventure hooks can be a good way to hook potential fans of your world. And finally, small hints about your Drama – that is the ongoing current affairs in your world – will make your world seem like it’s alive and in motion.
Design and length
Most importantly, your primer should not take long to read. Do not include large swathes of prose! Remember to use the other tools at your disposal, including:
- tone of voice
- imagery and media
- graphic design elements like font and colour
- Titles and headers
- collapsible boxes
And finally – show your reader where to go next! Is there an extended introduction to your campaign setting? A free short story they can jump into? A list of playable races? If they’re hooked and want to know more, help them get to the next tantalizing piece of information which will get them playing your game or reading your novels!
HOW DO I MAKE A WORLD PRIMER?
In this challenge, we invite you to create and share the primer of your world! If you’ve done the previous challenges, you’ll find that information very helpful in building your primer! If not, then don’t worry – you can still take part!
- Start with a generic article template.
- Read the section above carefully. Note down the information you want to convey to your readers – the important points from your Meta, Setting the Scene, Inspiration and Active Worldbuiding Location information.
- For each piece of information, consider how that can be conveyed? Can you use imagery, quotations, graphic design elements?
- Now consider the language and tone of voice you want your primer in. Is it a cold, clinical encyclopedia? A traveller’s guide to the world? Is the language grim and gritty, or poetic and lyrical?
- Once you have your prose, make sure you’re using design elements to their full. Are you using headers, quotations and the sidebar carefully? Have you included imagery?
- Show your reader where to go next!
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE A WORLD PRIMER?
If you already have a worldbuilding primer, why not think about some worldbuilding resolutions? In this challenge, we encourage you to up your worldbuilding game by creating worldbuilding resolutions! You’ll be using a combination of your own critique, and reader comments.
- Read through a selection of your previous articles – between 10-30 of them is a good number.
- Comb through previous comments left on your articles. (If you don’t have comments on your articles you can skip this step – but why not consider getting yourself a critique partner?)
- Consider the feedback from others, and also what critique you have of your own work. Are there any themes or trends which pop out?
- Choose one to three aspects of your work you’d like to improve, and turn them into resolutions! Resolutions work best as positive statements (“I WILL”, rather than, “I will not”). They are also best if they are actionable, clear and quantifiable!
Some examples of worldbuilding resolutions might be:
- If your articles have a lot of typos:
I will always run a spell check on my articles, and read them aloud to find any grammar problems!
- If your articles are very long (and therefore hard to read!):
I will make sure my articles are under two thousand words, and edit my prose to remove redundancies. If I have more to add, I will add it as sub-articles.
- If your articles lack description:
I will include at least two quotations and/or descriptive flavour texts in each of my articles
Previous Summer Camp Prep Challenges
Want to catch up on our previous challenges? They’re linked below.
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