Worldbuilding for Masochists

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September 30, 2020  

Episode 34: The Reluctant Worldbuilder (ft. MIKE CHEN)

Your WfM hosts are authors naturally-inclined to overcomplicate their writing lives -- but what if your instincts run the opposite direction? "Science fiction with feelings" author Mike Chen joins us to discuss reverse-engineering worldbuilding from plot, maintaining consistency, using POV to communicate your world, and the most complex pizza ordering of all time.


Transcript for Episode 34 (with thanks to the scribes!)

September 16, 2020  

Episode 33: Disability and Inclusion ft. ELSA SJUNNESON

Fantasy literature hasn't always done well by people with disabilities. So how can we do better? Guest Elsa Sjunneson helps us think about possible ways to design a fantasy world with disabilities in mind: avoiding problematic tropes like magic cures, creating thaumaturgically-responsive buildings, and training service wyverns! We also explore the issues of community, economics, and technology that can inform how a society relates to disability.

NB: Some of the original audio for this episode was lost and had to be recovered from our back-up. We apologize for a touch of degraded quality that resulted from that process!

Transcript for Episode 33 (Thanks to our scribes!)

September 2, 2020  

Episode 32: There’s No Place Like Home ft. ZORAIDA CÓRDOVA

When fantasy stories are so much about adventure, what is the function of home? The amazing Zoraida Córdova joins us to discuss domestic spaces and how to fit them into your worldbuilding! Is home a place? A people? A ritual? Is it somewhere you escape from, something you defend, or your last refuge?

Transcript for Episode 32 (thank you, scribes!)

August 19, 2020  

Episode 31: Living by the Sword ft. MICHAEL R UNDERWOOD

Guest Michael R. Underwood joins us to discuss military cultures in fantasy worlds! If your story has warfare, what does that mean for the structure of your society? Do you have a standing army, a militia on-call, feudal obligations? How do technology and economy play into your military configuration? And what does your all-important training montage look like?

Transcript for Episode 31 (thank you, scribes!)

August 5, 2020  

Episode 30: Fantasy Race and Avoiding Fantasy Racism ft. K. TEMPEST BRADFORD, K.S. VILLOSO, and SARAH GUAN!

K. Tempest Bradford, K. S. Villoso, and Sarah Guan join us for a panel discussing race and racism in fantasy worldbuilding. What sort of things does an author need to be mindful of when integrating real-world, real-world-inspired, or invented races into worldbuilding? How do tropes of fantasy species, like orcs and elves, or of magical races, like wizards and Valyrians, perpetuate harmful ideas? And how can we best examine our own biases and commit to digging out the bigotry that systematic racism has put in our heads?


For a deeper dive into this and related topics, please check out and their many excellent resources, classes, and on-demand webinars.


Transcript for Episode 30 (Thank you, scribes!)

July 22, 2020  

Episode 29: Cornerstones and Building Blocks

Whether your protagonist is a wholesome farm worker, a high-flying politico, or a bone-weary traveler, sooner or later, there's a good chance they'll end up in The City. But that city can be a character in its own right -- and that means putting some world-building work into figuring out why it exists, how it grew, what sort of people live there, and how they organize their lives! In this episode, we delve deep into the architecture and infrastructure of cities.


Transcript for Episode 29 (Thank you, scribes!)

July 8, 2020  

Episode 28: Framing the Concept

Physical art colors the world around us -- literally! But how do we translate that into the written word? This week, we explore the difference between art and craft, art for public consumption versus private enjoyment, political messages in portraits and sculpture and graffiti, and how those details can communicate the values and trends in the world you're writing.

Transcript for Episode 28 (Thank you, scribes!)

June 24, 2020  

Episode 27: Potpourri 2: 2 Pot, 2 Pourri (Welcome to Season 2!)

We begin Year 2 of the podcast by answering questions from listeners and introducing our new co-host, Cass Morris! We chat about architecture, city design, profanity, and other topics that may well spin out into full episodes as the year goes on. If you're new to the podcast, welcome! This is a great place to start. If you're a devoted follower of the podcast, welcome back! We're delighted to have you tuning in.

Transcript for Episode 27 (thank you, scribes!)

June 10, 2020  

Episode 26: Take Pride in your Worldbuilding featuring K.A. DOORE!

Guest K.A. Doore joins us to talk about queer worldbuilding! What are ways to think about approaching queernorm in crafting second world fantasy? What ripple effects does normalizing queerness add to your world?

Transcript for this episode (Thanks again, scribes!)

May 28, 2020  

Episode 25: Rebel Scum and the Evil Empire Featuring ANDREA STEWART!

Fabulous guest ANDREA STEWART joins us to talk empires and rebellions, including the worldbuilding for the empire in Bone Shard Daughter! Don't miss this episode--it's revolting. In the best way possible.

Transcript for this episode

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