Tag Archives: World Building

11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez

Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default decisions for who will step into the scene next.

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Cast your book! The instructions are here, and you’ll follow them by filling out something that looks like this casting sheet. The sheet is read-only, but you can copy it or print it or whatever you need to do in order to create one of your own.


Child of the Wilde, by Gama Martinez

11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney

How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters?

Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE to address all this.

Liner Notes: We mentioned some resources for those wanting to get clothing right in their work:


Describe the same outfit from two different point of view characters.

Bluescreen, by Dan Wells, narrated by Roxanne Hernandez

11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. joined us at LTUE for a world building discussion centered around the way the environment informs the story. We talk about lead in Roman plumbing, water lilies in Las Vegas sewers, and coal power in the British Empire, and how these examples can help us more effectively use the environments in our stories.

Liner Notes: We mentioned both Americapox, The Missing Plague, (a YouTube video) and the excellent book Guns, Germs, and Steel.


Come up with a fantasy fuel that has extreme, but unintended consequences.

Solar Express, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr, narrated by Robert Fass

11.05: Writing and World Building for Role Playing Games

Michelle Lyons-McFarland, Monica Valentinelli, and Shanna Germain joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy for an episode which is a thinly-veiled indulgence for Howard to glean advice from three people who know far more about the craft of RPG design than he does.

Our discussion centers around how world building for role playing games, and especially the manner in which the world is presented, differs from world building for novels. We don’t talk about rule sets or physics simulations. We’re after the things that players want and need to read in order to immerse themselves in the setting, and get “in fiction.”

Pro-Tip: There are two major things, listeners, that you can get from this podcast: first, soak up the incredibly valuable writing-for-RPGs information provided by our guests. Second, listen to how Howard abases himself when he has the opportunity to sit down with experts who have information he desperately needs.

Liner Notes: Howard habitually mispronounces the word “ablative.” The accent should be on the first syllable: [ab-luh-tiv]

Addendum: As of this posting The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game is not yet available for purchase. Details about the project can be found here.


Write about a non-player, non-heroic character (say, the NPC who cleans the alley behind the tavern) in your setting. What do they want? What do they fear? What do they love? How might their story play out independently from the story told by the players?

Perdido Street Station, By China Mieville, narrated by John Lee

Writing Excuses 10.28: Polytheism in Fiction, with Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan took a break from her book tour and joined us for this discussion of Polytheism in fiction. (Note: Marie recorded several episodes with us, and we’re posting them out of order.)

We begin by looking at the pitfalls and common mistakes that people make, and then dive into how we can make a polytheistic setting work well in support of our stories.

Liner Notes: The Belief System Generator, by Kate Hamilton


Use the Belief System Generator, and then write a prayer that works in the belief system that it generates.

The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkowski, narrated by Justine Eyre

Writing Excuses 10.21: Q&A on World Building

We went to you for questions about world building, and you had some really good ones. The questions are listed below, and our answers are secreted within MP3 file.

  • Has there ever been a piece of world building that you didn’t include, and regretted not including?
  • How do you remain consistent?
  • How do you decide between writing a secondary world fantasy, and creating an historical fantasy?
  • Can you avoid cultural appropriation while still using elements inspired by other cultures?
    • (This one is getting a can of worms: there’s an entire episode on cultural appropriation coming up)
  • What’s the minimum amount of world building required?

Our next master class episodes are on description. Take a scene that includes some things that you’ve world-built, and rewrite that scene using completely different words.

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal