World Building vs Setting

I got about 60k words into something before really internalizing that setting and world aren’t the same.

The setting is the scene. It’s the hotel, the dragon’s lair, battlefield, or bar. The world is the connection between settings. The world dictates whether the hotel takes payment in dollars, doubloons, or credits. It determines the species of dragon, whether they are multitude or singular. Why are the armies battling? What kind of people are in the bar?

The best way to get to the world is through settings. If the hotel has some people, those people tell the readers concrete specifics about who lives in the world. If the old guys at the bar are complaining about passage rates to Alpha Proxima or the recent profusion of dragons, we know even more.

But the setting tells us more, things that can be in any world. Are A and B having a relationship argument? That’s common to all worlds with people as we know them. Their specifics are useful to the world, but we can’t have their argument about forces of nature, light speed, and good versus evil. They need to be mad about needs, who keeps eating the leftover cake, and why A keeps looking at C. Your story is based on setting. It takes place in the world.

They’re close but not the same.

6 Weeks

I read somewhere that stress can be turned to excitement and vice versa largely through mental activity. The claim seems a little excessive, but the cost of trying it is low. Changing my internal monologue from ‘This is going to be rough’ to ‘This is going to be exciting’ is a low-cost activity, and if it works, even a little, good.

Of course I’m not really expecting this to do a whole lot by itself, but I compare it to drinking more water. If you need water, just drink more water (provided you can, yadda yadda). There’s low cost.

Anyway, I’ve got 6 weeks before things get crazy again. 6 weeks. I’m really going to try to knock out my Kindle Vella project and make some progress on the research. With luck I can get the first done and out my door, and if I can finish the FPGA work and segue into the physical detector, the latter will have made big gains.

6 weeks.

This is going to be exciting.

Second Drafts

There’s this weird feeling when I realize I’ve written myself into a corner, where the problems can’t be evaded. A yogi couldn’t stretch through this. And I’m merely flailing. I needed to establish arcs, flesh out details, and establish cast 50k words ago.

And then I think, oh right, second draft time. That’s what this is: time for a second draft. There’s a term for it.

And all the tension, frustration, and questions collapse into anticlimax.

TV Tropes

You know how sometimes characters…have hands!?!?!?!?

Often, the most important character will have…a name!!!!

Subverted when the main character…doesn’t have a name.


Ending a sentence with a preposition is the sort of thing up with which I shall put.

Coincidentally, you can look up English grammar. If you’ve got a question, or a couple formulations both feel right and you’re curious if there’s a rule, try looking up the answer in CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style). If one choice feels particularly better, clearer, demonstrates better character voice, etc. then use that. But if two choices feel about the same, CMOS might have a clear rule. At the very least, following the rule gives you cover when some pedant decides to interrupt.


Writing fiction makes me feel like an evil chessmaster, sitting in the dark. On publishing day I reveal my plots and stratagems, and either conquer the world (or a few readers) or die trying.

Also, just finished a reread of the Return of the King, capping my reread of Tolkien’s big 4. It’s better than I remember. The parts I remember disliking (trouble in the Shire, slow ending, etc.) are actually fitting. The general mood, one of a world fading, I still passionately disagree with, but the book itself is better than I recalled.

Where are the rings?

For my own reference.

Armist found a bag with nine rings. She put one on.

Obrecht and Tatianna robbed her, taking the bag now holding eight.

Obrecht and Tatianna each took one, leaving six in the bag.

Bleys found the bag (6), wears one, runs down Tatianna, meets Spait, flees. Rings are disseminated and recollected. One goes into the river.

Fiona collected five including Tatianna’s and has Gerard walk the Pattern with them. The other four (Bleys’s, Armist’s, Obrecht’s, one in river) are elsewhere.


I reread Fellowship trying to regain the joy of it and maybe hatch some story ideas.

The former happened. It’s better than I remember.

The latter sort of happened. I did forment some story ideas, but they’re gaming ideas. I got plots for DnD games, not fics.

I’m going to go get a cookie.