Worldbuilding: In Praise of Shiny

Worlds need shiny.

…No, seriously, every world needs shiny. From the lightest animated fluff to the most grimdark cyberpunk postapocafic, a world has to have shiny. Something awesome. Something sparkly. Something that gets the reader’s attention, so they say, “Wouldn’t it be neat if-?”

Writing is condensed language. If you’re going to condense a whole lumpy illogical mass of a world into a book, you need some sparkles on it. Your characters need to breathe, to live, for the readers to get caught up in the story.

And, well – humans are like ravens. Shiny!

This doesn’t have to be something literally sparkly. Though I would never turn down bling in a setting. Heck, part of the appeal of Magi is the legitimate excuse for characters to wear shiny objects! Not just as Vessels, but as decoys….

Maybe the shiny is the possibility of psychic powers. Or the chance of stumbling on an enchanted cloak. Or computer programmers with the cool skill to knife through security systems and never leave a trace. Or just the concept of a setting where an oddball character can find a place to fit. (Behind the Scenes, great manga for that!)

Maybe it’s even just a turn of phrase. Aristotle apparently referred to silk as “woven wind”, and you can imagine what magical bunnies might do with that….

Give your characters some shiny. They, and your readers, will love it.



8 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: In Praise of Shiny

  1. Oooooooo! Fun stuff. Words are fun. One of my favorite things to do is just to write down as many descriptive phrases down, often reworded versions of each other, and play with them. It’s fun!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You must have used a different dictionary, because I didn’t find anything that interesting. I have not tried “peregrine,” yet.


  2. LOL, dictionaries hate me, but I really enjoy seeing unusual words used in stories – it’s kind of fun trying to guess what they mean before the writer tells me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Today I ran across the shiny world building bunny of ‘people from earth travel to a D&D world, set up a refinery to handle their gold and silver, and eventually get the refinery certified to produce Good Delivery bars’.

    Which lead to ‘That grimdark not-cyberpunk, not yet apocalypse setting? D&D will be a hundred and twenty years old when the story starts, and the US Army will have a field manual for playing it when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, bored out of your skull. Also, the guys with the football have a rotating open table type game that they play when they are off duty. For in the grim darkness of that far future, the US military has even more people spending even more time in the middle of nowhere bored out of their skulls.’

    Liked by 1 person

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