I want your opinion on this:

For about half a year now I've researched my novel. Because of situating the story to the part of an original Earth's history, I made my research about history, demography, major figures, weather, technologies of that time, and security issues, as well as the migration of whole hearth.

Materials piled.

Now I have my own changed history course of the entire species, its own culture, problems, migration, new state course like theology and more, pathology results for research across the world and everything else.

From my original planned book I have about one chapter and that chapter itself is a bit small. Just a few pages.

Main character doesn't have the whole history of his life, but about a half.

Here is a problem:

I have so much information about my "remade world" that I can write its whole history like a book itself. And I like it so much. What would you do in my situation?

Would you write the history itself first, or just finish the life and story of the main character and some other characters needed for an original project and write it and after that will you write that history of your world itself?

Thanks for your advice.

  • English is not my language of choice nor my maternal language. But thanks for advice.
    – Ernedar
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 17:27
  • Well I saw this in the queue and did an edit but now I see your revision history and that you removed other people's edits for grammar and punctuation. If you want to rollback mine too, go ahead. I do recommend you keep the extra tags: planning and research though. And add a note to the comments that you prefer no edits. I didn't see one so I went ahead.
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 20:03
  • Thank you for understanding. I kept your suggested tags and rerolled the rest of the question.
    – Ernedar
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:39

5 Answers 5


In many (maybe most) cases over-research is a distraction our minds create to make us believe we are working on a project that we really don't want to write for some reason.

It could be that we are afraid to write it because we have this beautiful idea of what we want and we are unsure if we could ever write it that well.

The Best Advice

The best thing you can do is write the part of the story that excites you the most. If you are most interested in the characters, then start writing what the characters are doing. If it is story then write the action of the plot.

You must write what you are 100% interested in so you can keep up the writing work over the course of the novel. Otherwise you will be bored and your readers will be more bored.

Use Exposition, Not Narrative

This means, show don't tell. As you write the parts you really like, make sure you don't tell us, but you show us.


John woke up to the alarm clock and was feeling sad.


John woke up, looked at the clock and rubbed his eyes. It was already 12:17pm. He sat up and scratched the hair over his ear. No reason to get up. No one cares. He stumbled to the living room, turned on the TV and fell onto the couch.

Just Go Write It

Now, just go write it. It'll come out great because you have all that information behind you.

Good luck.

  • 1
    Great advice. All the research can also come in handy with other books or aspects of this story. Molding cool features of places you have found, weird character traits of historical figures, or things people have done can add realism and dimension to your story. Truth is stranger than fiction; I find history as a great place for ideas.
    – Praesagus
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 13:24

If you write a history, it will likely be of interest only to yourself (or as preparation for your book). That's not necessarily a reason not to write it. JRR Tolkien put years of effort into world-building for his books, which is a key reason for their continued popularity.

If you do go ahead and write your narrative now, don't make the mistake of trying to cram all your research into the plot. To paraphrase advice from the great SF author, Theodore Sturgeon (via Delany), your narrative will be richest when it is located in a fully imagined setting, but the only things that should make it onto the page are the thing that the characters actually notice and interact with.

  • Very good points. A lot of writing we do is preparation writing (research) for ourselves as authors and it should never be used in the actual story. If you are an author who doesn't need all that then it may be that you are a faster writer, because you can get to the story faster.
    – raddevus
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:45
  • 1
    I'm not saying don't do the prep. As a writer, I always want to skip all that boring prep work, but as a reader I can definitely tell which settings are fleshed out and which aren't, even if all the details don't make it to the page. Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 15:41

What are your goals?

Are you writing for entertainment, for yourself? If so, write what you want. Write the history, write a series of vignettes from the perspective of a prehistoric ghost of your world, write a new alphabet and language for each creature - write whatever makes you happy.

If your goal is publication, ask yourself what kind of publication you're looking for. You want to publish a novel through a Big 5 publisher? You need to work on that novel, find ways to shape the story around the backstory, and be prepared for a lot of your history to never be known by anyone but yourself.

But there are other ways to publish. Even with a big publisher, you could arrange to have your extra materials used as promotion, and put them up on a website or something. But if you're interested in going with a small, flexible publisher or self-publishing, you could publish your history, publish your ghost-vignettes, publish a bunch of short stories set in the same world, and, yes, eventually publish the novel or novels. A lot more flexibility, but also a lot more work, and less chance of your work being seen by a large audience.

You need to base your choice on your goals. What do you want from your writing?


I have the same problem and still do. Readers are normally drawn to characters of setting and unique history...at least at first. Its better to develop the character in the early part of the book and then start incorporating all the new cool world building. Brandon Sanderson calls this World Builders Disease, you have it bad.

As mention write a really cool scene you want to write first. My first scene of my book was 2/3 the way through. It was bad, I have since greatly revised it, but that chapter was 8k words. That will get you into the writing mood so to speak. Write the stuff you like writing and put place holders where you know you need to write something but not sure what.

Try and incorporate the main character doing something while simultaneously showing off your world.

Good Example would be Sanderson again and his Stormlight Archives book- The Way of Kings. One of the main characters early on is caught in a violent storm which is a unique part of his world, but the way Sanderson shows it we empathize with the character and experience this unique aspect of his world THROUGH the character. This allow him to connect to the reader and showcase a piece of his world simultaneously.

  • I my particular example u discribe part of a new world from the beginning. Main character is an example of that change since he is part of it.... This changed world is discribed by his own eyes whole time, from his perspective. I made a few scenes, lots of ideas about story and after that i realized i need to change history of my own made world to be more realistic.
    – Ernedar
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 7:44

I would not write the history. The history is background and setting; some of that will necessarily come out in the first ACT (about 25% of the story) and more can be revealed in the rest of the book as you go along.

You also don't need a complete history of your main character, or the other characters. You need enough so you feel like you know the MC and how they will behave or react in various situations. Their history shapes their personality, but readers don't care too much about the history, they care about the personality!

Beginning writers often like to tell the history to justify why a character is a certain way; but that is "telling", not "showing".It also isn't reliable; just because somebody grew up in a rough neighborhood doesn't automatically tell us his personality. Not every woman that has been abused or raped will show that in her personality. In fact she may not want to show that. Knowing their history is not how we get to know people in real life.

IRL we see them react to things, deal with problems and have confrontations, and by their behavior (and sometimes dialogue) we learn who they are. We know by their friends, and what they find funny or irritating. Later we might ask how they got that way, and hear their story, but that isn't always necessary, unless there is something very unusual about their personality; but IRL if somebody is always joking around, or is always serious, we don't need to know why they are that way, we just accept them as that way.

A detailed setting can be nice, lots of things for the reader to discover and be entertained by; but that is not what the story is about. The story is about people, usually just one or a handful, that encounter a big problem, so big they discover they cannot handle it like all the other problems in life, they have to put other things aside and dedicate themselves to this problem.

That is what you need to start writing. One or more MCs. In the first half of Act I (=10%-15% of the entire story), you introduce them and their normal world, what they are doing day-to-day, how they deal with minor life-problems, and to an extent by following them in their normal world, what the normal world consists of. At about the halfway point, there is an "inciting incident", something happens and they have to deal with it. Just like us dealing with a flat tire, they try to deal with it in the course of continuing to pursue their life in the normal world. But it doesn't work, the problem escalates. Until at the end of Act I, the MC(s) must leave their normal world, either literally or metaphorically, and devote themselves to actually dealing with this escalating problem.

A story is not about the setting, it is about people in the setting, following the rules and using the resources of the setting, to deal with some big problem.

In general, throughout a story, we always need the reader looking forward to "what happens next." In the next few pages, or at the end of this scene, or at the end of this chapter, or Act, or at the end of the book. Preferably all of those simultaneously!

The problem with reading an encyclopedia about a new setting is there is no tension of wondering what happens next. There is no action. The details may be interesting, but use them in your descriptions so the reader gets them along with the action, or in-between action scenes.

Start by imagining an MC (or a few), and imagining a life-changing problem they will have to face that is going to be outside their comfort zone and skill set; so it isn't going to be easy for them.

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