Rules are meant to be followed / rules are meant to be broken / you can bend something pretty far before it breaks.
If there’s one thing that bugs me in any story, it’s when a writer sets rules in place for how his world functions and then at the crucial turning point, breaks the rules in order to fit the situations reaction to create an outcome to fit the plot. Or if you go all Greek about it, Deus Ex Machina.
World building is a slow and tedious process but if you stick with it, it will reveal great results. The devil really is in the details and believe me, your readers / viewers will be watching and these days, thanks to the interwebs, they can broadcast their displeasure instantly and widely. In fact some individuals with little or no social life live for your smallest mistake. Others just have their own personal ax to grind and you walked into their swing.
Because I’m a real nuts and bolts kind of guy, details are very important to me. I’ll go so far as to actually map my action setting so I can game out the positions of the players involved in my scenes. I don’t write all of that description down but it certainly informs my own writing as to the blocking on the page. I used to do it for my film scripts but stopped because locations are decided in preproduction and production and why make extra work for yourself on the page when the description, “A run down Victorian style house,” will do.
Taking the time to build your world plays well into the whole, “Write what you know,” thing. You can spot a writer who knows nothing about weapons in a heartbeat. You can also spot one who’s never been in a fight or taken a hard shot to the head as well. Now getting the shit knocked out of you isn’t the best way to do that sort of research but talking to people and gaining insight through the experience of others is never a bad thing. As a writer you should talk to random people as much as you can, everybody has a story to tell. You just need to keep your bullshit / personal bias filters set to the requisite levels to read between the lines. We all like to be the hero, it’s a rare few who will tell the truth warts and all.
My point here though is, when you build your world stick to the rules you’ve created, no matter how much of a pain they create for you later on. It’ll force you to be creative when you need to solve the problem of the corner you’ve painted yourself into. Don’t rely on happy coincidence (even though it might have saved your ass on many occasions in the real world) your readers wont buy it and they’ll grumble. Worse than that, they won’t come back to buy more of your stuff.
And while we’re on the subject of coming back to buy more stuff…
There’s a new book available for preorder of a series I really like. However, the publisher is Penguin and they are asking for $13.95. As much as I like the series, I just can’t see myself shelling out that kind of cash for an E-Book. I’m old enough to remember when $5.00 was expensive for a paperback. It’s not that I’m cheap. If it was a non fiction historical reference book, I probably would shell out the almost fourteen dollars but as a fiction book, ten bucks is pretty much my limit. I know that the Amazon Hachette thing has two well entrenched sides to the whole issue but I’m going to have to side with Amazon. Lower pricing will lead to a larger number of buyers of any book. I wouldn’t even blink if the price was five or ten dollars (well I might grumble a bit about the ten bucks but I’d get over it) but fourteen bucks is pushing me away from my impulse buy response. If I were that author I would be asking myself the hard question, “Am I really getting what I need out of this relationship?” Because the other side of the coin is, that author is getting 30% of the take as opposed to 70% if he did a bit more of the work themselves.
I haven’t read a physical book in three years, since I got my first Kindle. I have however, read over two hundred books in that three years and yes I know I’m in the smaller percentile in regards to my consumption of written material but I’m not alone and that number of books even in E-format requires a substantial monetary commitment on my part.
It’s no secret the big bookstores are dying, it’s no secret the big publishers are struggling and it’s also no secret that e-books gain a bigger percentage of the market share every year. I think it’s time for every author to ask themselves the question, “Why am I relying on others when I could just be doing this myself?”