As someone who has long aspired to write science fiction and fantasy short-stories and novels but who has instead spent hours upon hours on end inventing imaginary landscapes, countries, histories, and languages instead, I am wholly sympathetic with any advice that warns about the pitfalls of world-building.
Author Charlie Jane Anders discusses the 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding.
Apropos of nothing, I don’t know why, but I was highly amused by Anders’ discussion of Belgians, Bzlgizns, and the Belge as a way to illustrate the smeerp issue.
Probably because in the bowdlerized U.S. version of
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Life, the Universe, and Everything, Douglas Adams replaced “fuck” with “Belgium”.
How American delicacy turned Belgium into a dirty word • 2012 Aug 4 • Esther Inglis-Arkell • io9
Also, anytime anyone brings “world-building” up, I can’t help but remember M. John Harrison’s admonition about world-building (via 2007 Apr 13 • mahiwaga)
Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.
Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.
Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.