I am a nerd, and I love world-building. I love coming up with all the little details and why the world is the way it is in my stories. But sometimes it can kill my writing.
I have been stuck on a scene in my latest WIP for a couple weeks now. The story is a sci-fi space adventure set 250 years in the future, and so there are a lot of details I have been considering as I am going along. I got to a point where I was trying to explain why something was a certain way, but I hadn’t figured it out yet. It didn’t fully make sense in the social structure I’d come up with so far.
I have run into trouble like this before, and I’ve found that getting stumped on world-building in the first draft is a little silly. On my own part. I am still figuring a lot of things out in this draft, like most first drafts I think.
I’ve decided to move forward and deal with those details later, once I’ve discovered more about the story and the novel-world through plot movement.
The thing is, we throw out a ton of stuff from the first draft anyway. Often the setting itself completely changes or evolves over time. Things tend to change significantly during subsequent drafts. Characters get dropped or combined, society gets made darker or less, or technology advances more, or a rural setting suddenly makes for sense than urban. Spend a lot of time aching over it, and it will probably get cut or changed.
Maybe not, you’re right.
My point is: don’t waste your time and headaches on the first attack. You don’t need to get it all right and figured out just yet. Keep the plot moving (and the writing moving). The quicker you get the story down, the quicker you can figure out what needs dropped and what needs expanded.
Don’t be afraid to leave a plot hole there to deal with in the second draft, so you can just move forward.
I spent waaaay too much time editing and re-editing and pounding out details as I was writing my first novel. I changed nearly all of it in later drafts. Sure, the experience helped me figure out some things that stayed, but a lot of it was a waste of time. Or at least, poorly executed time. I don’t really think any writing time is a waste entirely.
But there is nothing wrong with learning to be more efficient, right?
Don’t sweat it too much the first go round. Just get that story on paper. A complete story will give you a lot better perspective for dealing with the trouble spots.