I’m working on an autobiographical piece, a piece titled “How I Started Hacking” – I thought it might interest the community to know how one of the Hacker Noon devs got their start, how I ended up where I am today. I’m also working on a Hacker Noon 2.0 development update, coming soon! This update will largely focus on the work I’ve done on the CDN, and SSO.
I’ve been writing a fantasy novel for the past two decades…It’s still in the research/world building phase though. It’s something I check in on every now and then, and I figure I’ll get around writing it when I’m in my golden years…
I wish there was a super-like button. This is so cool! I like to write short stories, now and then, and those always require some “background” writing, building up the characters and the world around them in my head. But I’ve never approached something so ambitious.
Can you share any details about the novel? Any juicy tidbits to keep us going while we wait? Are we talking high fantasy, like Lord of the Rings, or something more like the Kingkiller Chronicles?
Definitely High Fantasy. I grew up reading the likes of Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Ursula LeGuin, Terry Goodkind, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin (with a splash of Stephen King), so the long form series is in the bloodstream.
So far the journey follows two young warriors (best friends and rivals), who discover there’s an entire world outside of a homeland they thought was the entire world because of their geographically remote location untouched by the outside influences. Their paths diverge in two unique ways, and come back together, and diverge, and come back together. All the while, learning the ways of the larger world which changes them both culturally and spiritually, but both unique to the lands and the people they visit.
Definitely ambitious. Who knows if it’ll ever get finished.
Ursula LeGuin! One of my favorites. Have you read The Lathe of Heaven? You owe it to yourself to read Terry Pratchett as well. His writing is like Hitchhiker’s Guide in a fantasy setting, very dry humor.
That story sounds fascinating! Looking forward to reading it and seeing the potential showdown between the two friends when they come back from their travels… You have to finish it now! I already have ideas on what’s going to happen to the characters – your budding universe has been firmly established in my head, and I need to see how it ends now…especially while I’m waiting for the end to the Kingkiller Chronicles.
I wrote a chapter many years ago, and quickly realized how much work it was going to be just to build out both the physical world i.e. continents, bodies of water, distances (to determine appropriate travel times, which creates the problem of modes of travel), terrains, climates, resources, etc., and the cultural/sociological world, i.e. apparent/perceived/established borders (which informs the foreign relations), different peoples, customs, proclivities, battle styles and strategies, weapons technology, the very serious challenge of creating a believable system of magic that is both effective and not so OP’d that it would make mundane solutions obsolete, etc…I want to take the natural evolution of the various species into account too, which would write (or not) the histories of each as well as inform the natural environments each evolved from.
As I wrote, I found myself reaching for what the characters would do and say in response to the moment they were in (Genghis Kahn would react drastically differently than the Shah of Persia, even in a simple conversation, and for very good reasons, for example), and thought that if I thoroughly knew the history of the worlds they each evolved from, and the cultures that conditioned their behaviors, it would stand to reason that a lot of the interactions would write themselves.
Like I said though, the scope of this project makes it more for my golden years, so I’ve been pecking away at the research piecemeal (whenever the mood strikes) with a friend (who’s also busy with life and stuff) for a while now. Maybe I should open the research up to a limited crowd source of interested parties. Not sure if I’m willing to do that though…
I’ll leave this here for interpretation and/or flights of fancy:
I haven’t read The Lathe of Heaven. I’ve read a handful of the Earthsea books from her.
I never got into Terry Pratchett for some reason. So many great authors, so little time in this place…I did very much enjoy Hitchhikers though. The book, and the text adventure game…
I have every intention of writing this before I leave the planet…I’ve spent the last decade and half immersed in music, so this has been cozily nestled in the trunk for a long time. Just talking about it makes me want to start back up again.
Great stuff! I agree, world-building is capital-H Hard. I’ve tried it as a DM for a D&D game I was trying to start…it didn’t take off, for a multitude of reasons, but the difficulty of world-building always stuck with me.
The Lathe of Heaven is more sci-fi than fantasy, but still very much worth reading. If you like Le Guin, you should probably check out Samuel Delaney too.
Getting back to building worlds, I’m reminded of something Philip K. Dick said on the topic. He essentially said, if you have something like microchips in your story, you don’t have to explain everything about the microchips – just have one of the characters casually reference their existence and let the reader infer what they will. You might already be doing this, I don’t know…it’s just something I read fairly recently, in the past year, that really stuck with me and helped me. Hopefully it’s helpful to you!
Opening up the research would be an interesting experiment, for sure. I know it’s your baby, and damned if you’re going to let the world corrupt your baby, I get it. Maybe it’s something you could experiment with on a smaller story? I’m just curious to see how it would play out. Collective authorship is extremely interesting…
tl;dr keep writing! I want to see this story on the shelves!
Yeah, dude. I’ve seen some pretty involved D&D situations that come close to epic level proportions, and that’s just for a gaming session, let alone a series of novels…
I get Mr. Dick’s point. There’s a similar principle at play in shooting film (letting the viewers imaginations fill in the intentional gaps/assume the audience is as intelligent as you are), but I guess I look at that as more on the “front-end” side of the artwork.
To make an example in the creation of Hacker Noon 2.0, I would imagine the front-end will be as solid as it will be only as the result of a thorough, and robust back-end development, and that the users will invariably feel any shadows of inconsistency.
You may be right though, there may be a tinge of dogmatism/perfectionist in my approach…
The question becomes, would said baby be corrupted, or would it be creatively augmented by opening up the research? What mechanisms would have to be in place to ensure the vision remains pure, and the world built remains consistent? Does it need to be my vision, and my vision alone? I wonder.
My story would follow two main characters and the transformations they would undergo as a result of discovering a world they never knew existed. But what if that world were created by many people? Discovering the world would become a genuine experience for both character and author. And if there are, let’s say billions, of potential characters in the world, there could many different writers writing from the same shared universe.
We would need to come up with some D&D-esque parameters…
Good point! I never thought of the backend as supporting frontend consistency, at least not in those terms, but you’re absolutely right. At the same time, if a robust backend is paired with an ugly, inconsistent, confusing frontend, the product’s perceived quality will suffer regardless of how robust the backend is. This is getting outside of your metaphor, but you got me thinking haha.
Oh I didn’t mean that at all! Your dilemma in world bullding just reminded me of that bit of advice, and I have trouble with it myself so I thought it might apply. I meant no offense. And I especially wouldn’t call your approach dogmatic or perfectionist. It’s your story! You have to write it your way, first and foremost.
This is a super interesting question, one I think @Dane would have a good opinion on. Myself, I think the story would be different, absolutely, but it would be made into something more by the creative input of others. It would be greater than the sum of its parts. In order to preserve the purity of the story as you intended it, maybe you could have some sort of federated governance over the creative process? This is worth a post of its own, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts there. What would such a federated creative system even look like?
I don’t know if we’re on the same track here, but what I took from that is: you could have potentially thousands of characters in the book, one for each author, that tells the story from their perspective! That would be a cool project all its own, aside from your dream story. I wouldn’t muddy the waters there by introducing such a radical concept. But it is interesting…
Ultimately, I think we’re talking about two stories at this point: your dream story, which would be yours and yours alone, and a collective story that’s told by hundreds or thousands of people in a shared universe. Both are fascinating…
I think that still applies. The frontend, in my mind, would be how talented the writer actually is. Their way with words, their ability to convey truth, etc…
No offense taken whatsoever. We just shootin’ the shit, mang. Maybe that was more me projecting my own self recrimination…
I really don’t have an answer for that. In my mind, it would have to be totalitarian in nature, but I was picturing a spreadsheet with attributes for characters, countries, climates (micro/macro), sociological structures, etc. That’s a lot of possibilities, but it might actually be a fun community project.
Yeah, the thought only occurred to me as result of this conversation, but it would absolutely be fascinating to see how it would develop. The potential for crossover events in a successfully crowdsourced world with interesting characters would be pretty badass. I seem to remember a set of books and characters that were written back in the eighties(?) that did something like this, although, I’m not sure the world was crowdsourced.
I am drafting a new article to motivate entrepreneurs close to giving up due to multiple-failures - I am calling it “The art of not giving up”. aiming to encourage and motivate What do you guys think of this topic?
I am now completely convinced that we need to write a story collectively, with the community. If anyone here is interested in this project, we should talk!
How would such a project work in practice? I’m not sure, myself. I’m thinking you could have each person respond to an initial writing prompt with a paragraph, people could reply to that paragraph…it would be fascinating, for sure. Any ideas on how this might actually work?
Awesome title, first of all! I strongly believe that gumption is a requirement for anyone working in a startup. In other words, you can’t be hapless – you can’t throw up your hands and say “I can’t do this”.
I’m just thinking aloud here, but I think that theme has to be present in such an article. What do you think? In any case, I look forward to seeing your article!