Fred Jones and the Art of Worldbuilding

Fred Jones and the Art of Worldbuilding

I’m a big Ben Folds fan.  Tonight, as I was rocking my son to sleep, I sang Fred Jones Pt II.  My son, 7 months, probably didn’t understand it. With that said, I, 32 years, probably don’t understand it either.  Fred Jones Pt II is about a man losing his job in his autumn years and reflecting on the rat race of his life, contemplating the meaning of it all.  The crux of the song “all of these b*****ds have taken his place, he’s forgotten but not yet gone, I’m sorry, Mr. Jones, it’s time.”

It’s always brought a tear to my eye and I still come back to it often as Winter settles in and sweet melancholy takes over for a few months.  Death Cab for Cutie is on the menu too.

But, what does this have to do with worldbuilding?  

Glad you asked.

The thing about good art is that it puts us somewhere else for a while, into someone else’s shoes.  For a minute I feel what Fred Jones feels, thinking about things that I never thought I could and don’t really have the schema for.  As Seth and I explore the concept of worldbuilding I keep coming back to the loving attention necessary to make worlds and it continually draws me back to one word: ‘meaning’.  The worlds that surround our characters must have purpose and meaning in order to be effective. They must couple with the narrative and draw our readers/players/fans into somewhere different.  Art is the way cultural barriers of experience are bridged and worldbuilding should be no different.

What parts of your world harken to the human experience that might cause your audience to reflect on their lives in a way they hadn’t before?

This needn’t be Earth shattering to be deep and effective, the desire for your fans to experience wonder can be a great piece of fairycake.

As an example I’ll return – as we often do on this podcast – to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The books were very silly but part of their silliness was that they took into account the size of the universe, the immense scope of it. This had a few effects, the first being that the reader laughed along with the jokes the second that they stopped to reflect on the wonder of it all. Douglas Adams made a story that makes us laugh, he made a world that leaves us in awe.


Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.

We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.

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