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Proposal: Worldbuilding

In light of the discussion happening over here, I want to get this particular part of the discussion going.

This proposal is actually incredibly broad. Most of the time, I think that's a good thing. Worldbuilding is a broad task. But there's definitely a possibility that we're heading into something too broad.

So let me start by asking the following question:

Is character development (any details of one specific person in the world being constructed) or story/plot development considered on-topic here?

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My opinion on this question is that no, character development and plot/story development are off-topic on this site.

These two categories are looking into something that has moved beyond the realm of worldbuilding.

I would say that if a question applies to one specific person (or even two specific people or just something that doesn't apply to a broader class or group of people) it is off-topic. Discussing classes or groups of people might be on topic, discussing individuals is not.

Likewise, if you're asking about specific events in your world or asking about storytelling elements, these should be closed as off-topic. Worldbuilding is not storytelling. It's building an environment in which stories can happen.

  • I would say the only caveat to this would be under the specific events category. Mainly meaning that certain specific events...perhaps, "What would the local and global impacts of a major meteor strike be?" That could strike me as on topic say it happened in the past and the repercussions to society and development were...bla bla bla – James May 16 '14 at 19:19
  • Hm. @James, I see where you're coming from, and I agree that should be on-topic. (Well, pending the outcome of this discussion.) Though even the way you've phrased it is not really about a specific event, but about the general category of meteor impact events. I just don't think we can answer the question, "Character X's family dies when Country Y bombs the city. What kind of way is most reasonable for him to respond to this?" – rbwhitaker May 16 '14 at 19:43
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    Agreed, how it impacts a character is a no, but perhaps how it impacts a society/civilization could be On-Topic I think. – James May 16 '14 at 20:26
  • I don't know if you can effectively build a world without knowing historical context for that world. So certainly a little bit of character or plot development should be allowed, at least for a small number of very influential people and events. – ilinamorato May 29 '14 at 19:43
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I would say, only if the character is a major historical figure who has affected or is intended to affect the development of an entire civilization. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Columbus are a few examples from history. There are not many who have such a widespread, lasting influence, and for world building purposes, the emphasis ought to be on the enduring consequences of their activities or the movements associated with them.

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    Elminster...Nero...major historical figures could be in I suppose IF the question is not about the character but rather their impact on the world. – James May 16 '14 at 19:20
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Only if the character or plot question is specifically related to how feature of the world might affect character development or plot. For example: "I'm moving this village from the mountains to the coast. What can I use for plot advancement in place of an avalanche?"

  • See this strikes me as looking for a literary device...maybe its just how the questions is worded though because if I re-write the questions as. In the mountains you could have an avalanche wipe out a village, what coastal natural phenomenon could do the same" sounds better, but I am still not sure it fits...you're not talking about the world, rather a very specific event at a very specific place. I don't think this works for me...but we can always see how it pans out should we make it to beta – James May 28 '14 at 18:43

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