New Workshop/Workbook Introduces Writers to World Building

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Writers who are interested in the fantasy and science fiction genres but uncertain where to begin addressing the art of building worlds may find some help from a new workshop offered by Michigan author DM Kraft. A workbook to supplement the workshop is also available, and can be purchased by anyone, regardless of workshop attendance, through Kraft's WorldBuilding shop at Café Press.

The World Building for Writers workshop was developed as a means to allow DM Kraft to share experience gained over a twenty year period with other writers. Beginning in the early 1980s with the establishment of a world she named Anvaar, DM Kraft has created 3 worlds which provide the settings for 3 fantasy novels, a novella and numerous short stories. “Anvaar stayed with me long after college,” states a quote on her website at http://www.dmkraft.com, “and gained new layers and new levels of viability when I began regular Tuesday lunch sessions with an inspiring navigator and world-builder by the name of Lee.”

Lee Carroll, a retired navigator for the US Coast Guard who holds degrees from Harvard, Cambridge and Tufts, has been interested in science fiction since the 1940’s and building worlds since at least the 1960s when he created VOX, Victims of the X-Virus as a role-play game. Kraft met Lee Carroll while he was working as a technical writer for the automotive supplier she has been employed with since 1987. The two struck up a friendship after discovering a shared interest in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and have been meeting regularly ever since.

Kraft credits Mr. Carroll’s persistent curiosity with helping her to develop her own spin on world building. “He’s always asking questions,” says Kraft, “wanting to know every little detail about my worlds.” Questions like ‘what sort of coinage do they have?’ or ‘how deep is that sea?’ encouraged Kraft to give a closer look both to the worlds she was building and the stories she was writing. This helped her to identify where she could find links and where she could see differences between role-play gaming, which often requires excessive detail, and writing, which only requires a degree of detail sufficient to set the back-drop for a particular story or series of stories.

In her workshop, Kraft hopes to reach other genre writers who, like her, may be overwhelmed by the intensely scientific approaches to world building currently available through web sites and a variety of publications. “I prefer to focus on people and cultures,” states another quote on her website, “and I tend more toward philosophy than science or mathematics.” The resulting workshop and workbook together help to simplify the overall world building process. For some, these tools may provide the perfect introduction to ease a later immersion into full-blown, scientifically directed world building. For others, the workshop or even the workbook alone may be just enough to get them started on that next bestseller.

As to Kraft’s own writing, her concentration on world building and the demands of her non-writing career have kept her from actively seeking publication since an initial submission to del Rey several years ago. However, the release of her first poetry book last year and her subsequent efforts to develop this workshop have encouraged her to move toward that next step. Does that mean she can finally answer Lee’s questions about coinage and sea depth? Rather than answering directly, Kraft points to the World Building for Writers Workbook, which includes a supplemental section called “Kraft Worlds,” a manual providing full descriptions to the extent that she’s documented them for all three of her worlds.

The World Building for Writers Workbook may be purchased as part of workshop attendance or individually at http://www.cafepress.com/worldbuilding.21769278. Anyone interested in learning more about Kraft’s workshop and/or the accompanying workbook can contact her through her website.

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Debra Kraft

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