Your Audience Builds Your World

Your Audience Builds Your World

James here with a quick word about this blog and the next: The most recent podcast episode where we interviewed Dave Schmidt lead to some awesome off mic conversations about worldbuilding and audience. We thought it’d be fun to highlight a specific disagreement Dave and I had and post our best arguments on the blog. The next post due on Friday will have Dave’s rebuttal to this post. Enjoy!

It’s amazing to me how fan bases partner with creators to make something altogether new and often, very beautiful. Take this Harry Potter fan theory:

I’m, all but, entirely certain JK Rowling didn’t have this in mind. But that concept is plausible, in keeping with the character, and generally so warm and fuzzy that you desperately want it to be true. Maybe it is.

Or! How about this theory about Jar Jar Binks being a Sith Lord. I partially wonder if that might’ve born out had Jar Jar not been so reviled (perhaps not altogether fairly) by the community. Or the theory that the empire were preparing for the Youzhan Vong? All these ideas having varying degrees of cohesion with their given worlds. Most might not have been conceived of by the author. When we play TTRPGs players and GMs work together to make the world to fairy high degree, when we read books the world surrounding the story is guided by the author but created by the reader’s perception, in televisual media some of this gets more explicit, comics are… complex. My point is this: almost any given media requires partnership with the audience how far are we willing to strain this relationship? How much do audiences get a say in the worlds they’ve invested in?

I think they get quite a bit of license provided it jives well with the source material. But, ironically, the gate keepers of that jive is usually the fans. To be fair, credulity can definitely be strained on this. I’ve had a fair amount of pushback on the Yuzhan Vong theory and it’s rightly deserved (Can’t the empire just be evil?).

Can we just agree that Arthur Weasley was a nice man whose care and consideration, his quintessential ‘Arthur Weasleyness’, is only magnified by this theory? Dare we accept it as canon? What if JK Rowling later confirms it? At this point who is driving this bus, the fans or the author? Does that matter?


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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