Writing Exercise: Generic Worldbuilding

Image acquired from Qwertee.com

Earlier this month I ranted about Generic Worldbuilding. It’s easy to say “fix it,” but how? The how is “writer magic,” and like all “magic” we are talking skill – and skills take practice. Time for a writing exercise!

WRITING EXERCISE: Picture a generic scene (sci-fi, fantasy, or subgenre thereof) with two people/beings traveling from one location to another.

Once you have it in mind, go back and think how to make the world the next level.

For example: Do the vampires and werewolves get along – does the pack mentality work well in cities while the loner vampires get drawn to the rural communities? Does the FTL travel make whales randomly appear above planets with potted plants? Why do the longer-lived species tolerate the new human upstarts? How does the hero’s personality change how they approach their superpower, say a construction worker vs. a computer geek?

Write the scene. You may need to rewrite the scene to push it as far as you can. Adding, remove, change or replace words without changing the basic premise of two people traveling. 

Please post your results below. Remember, don’t read other people’s version until you do your own.

READING EXERCISE: Watch a TV show, attend a play or movie, or read a book. What are the “generic” aspects of the genre presented? How did the storyteller add a layer of worldbuilding?


My generic trip has a generic cranky dwarf with a generic snooty magic user and their usual hate of each other.

Rating: Mature (Language)

Title: Dwarf and the Wizard

Typical of traveling with wizards, the car stalled.

“Can’t you pull in that mystic aura of yours a little bit?” I snapped as I pulled my trusty Honda onto the shoulder while other cars sped by on the curving interstate.

He sneered. “We can’t all be dwarves and technologically gifted.”

“We can’t all be assholes, either.” I mutter under my breath, knowing his human ears couldn’t hear me talking into my beard. Why the Masters of the Mine needed this particular mage was below my dig level, but if this keeps up I will double my price next retrieval I get assigned. Very few dwarves tolerate going above ground; I’m one of the cursed few without agoraphobia, so I got sent out of the mines a lot.

Not all humans are bad, mind you. But this one wanted to epitomize everything dwarves hate in magic-users. I grumbled as I opened the door, then hopped down onto the asphalt. I preferred concrete; the stones in the dust solution could still be talked to. Asphalt was as slick and nasty as the wizard I was transporting.

I walked to the front of the hatchback, dragging a hand over the steel body trying to see deeper into the metal parts before opening the hood. I had rebuilt the engine myself on the 1978 Civic; my grumbled turned into a growl when I saw the damage the mage had done on my water-cooled engine after I propped the hood open. He hadn’t attempted to control any of his bleedoff. I’ve transported more than one magic-user and knew I was in for a spark plug change and electrical system review after the short three-hundred-mile trip, but this mess!

I don’t have a temper, not like the Redbeard clan or the Twisted Picks, but I stalked to the passenger side and pulled the skinny-ass twinkle finger out of my vehicle and tossed him onto the narrow grassy berm.

“How dare you!” we yelled in unison. His face flushed as his hand started to twist and words beyond words spewed from the faker’s mouth.

“Don’t.” I growled, pointing up. We had been going through a cutout in the mountains, one of those areas with the signs which say “Watch out for falling rocks.” Humans inflicted a scar on the rocks which begged me for healing. One simple flick of thought would release an avalanche.

The knob bobbed in his hairless throat as he swallowed, lowering his hands.

“That’s better.” I approached my charge. “Now, here is how it is going to work. You are going to sit right there and mediate. Pull all your shit in and tuck it in the little box inside your puny brain I know all your slaggers have. You got an hour because that is how long it’s going to take me to fix what your inconsiderate, STUPID actions have done to the car. Once the car is fixed, you will get in and not.say.another.word. to me. Ever.”

I stared him in the eyes like he was a lightless cave. “Nod if you understand.”

(512 words – first publication 7/25/2017)