10 Common Problems with Worldbuilding [Novel Boot Camp 7]

Today’s video is a little bit different. I’m going to go over the most common worldbuilding problems I see with my clients in a variety of categories (food, religion, history, technology, etc.) and how to avoid them.

Comment Question: Are there any other common mistakes you’ve noticed in published or unpublished manuscripts?

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4 thoughts on “10 Common Problems with Worldbuilding [Novel Boot Camp 7]

  1. joehefferon says:

    Common mistakes that I see are in both guns and police procedures.
    The movies have distorted views of weapon functionality and effects. For example, we’ve all seen the victim of a shotgun blast get blown out a window or across a room. Remember Newtonian laws; if the person getting hit with the shot is tossed in the air, the shooter would be blown backwards upon firing the weapon. Pet peeve: a Glock is a make of gun (a brand name), not a type. It’s not difficult to do basic research on weapons. Lastly, make sure the weapon your character is carrying matches his/her profession and period (cops didn’t carry semi-auto pistols in the 50s). I recommend a book by Benjamin Sobieck, “A Writer’s Guide to Weapons.”
    In terms of police procedures, one of the big problems is the CSI Effect, in which the general public has developed beliefs that the police can do much more with forensic science than that which they are actually capable, e.g. police can’t discover, after a few mouse clicks, from which store the perpetrator purchased a brown paper bag. I once watched a police drama in which a detective discerned where a city rat ran by the direction of stray hairs left behind by the wounded rodent and he miraculously tracked the exact rat to a crawl space in a building around the corner from an alley to retrieve something the rat had ingested. Absurd.
    The CSI Effect is such an issue that courts and police manuals now routinely reference it in discussions about a range of issues and policies.If you care to be accurate, there are many sources, such as, work by Sue Coletta in her blog, to help in writing accurate forensic capabilities. I recommend “Stiff” by Mary Roach if you want a fun and fascinating look into what happens to human bodies in the stages of death.

  2. Tayo says:

    I think using flashbacks is both common and a mistake in storytelling because most people don’t know how to make them compelling. Or they’ll flashback before I’ve had a chance to properly connect with the character.

    In terms of world building, people will invent languages with no consistency to them. They’ll use harsh words for soft things and soft word for harsh things and confuse me and themselves with weird sounding languages that just make me cringe.

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