(Full Disclosure: I’m currently listening to Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding lecture from his creative writing course at BYU.)
About six years ago, I stumbled across a writing contest (that turned out to be really bad for being attached to a notable writing convention). The prompt inspired me to want to create a story for a Cyberpunk 2020 media I’d created (but never played) for a friend’s campaign a few years before that. I was so excited. I was finally going to try writing a gritty world. So I pulled out my trusty Percolator and started combing through it for my notes related to the character and her world.
And I got side-tracked. By a bunch of other, interesting notes. That completely changed my intended story. (This is one of the perks of creating a Swipe File.)
I started exploring a combination of notes, dialogue, and ideas, eventually pulling together a story about a reformed assassin. The story built around the Megacorps who effectively ran the city (a note I’d been sitting on for years), and a personal security device (that had been stuck in my head after watching a bad made-for-television sci-fi movie) that was part of the story’s big reveal. I named this cyberpunk-inspired city New Glory to reflect its awesomeness. And the resulting short story didn’t even get looked at, simply because the judges decided not to look at all the entries. (The organizer effectively told me to get over myself when I asked why.)
New Glory was forgotten shortly thereafter because I was dragged back into writing fan fiction. But then I wanted to explore a whole new set of ideas I’d linked together in the Percolator, and a NaNoWriMo project was born. Suddenly, New Glory wasn’t a cyberpunk city. It was a futuristic city…with a traditional monastery to its east. Which was then joined by other monasteries.
Yeah, it became confusing, and a lot more convoluted. I had to take another break from New Glory before I imploded it under the weight of its no-longer-appropriate name.
Now, I’m revisiting New Glory, and I’m realizing there were some good ideas present. And I’m rebuilding it with an eye toward the kinds of stories I know I want to tell in this city. It’s amazing how much cleaner the reconstruction is going, still informed by appropriate ideas from the Percolator.