Reading Challenge: WorldEmber 2021
As a follow-up to their WorldEmber 2021 worldbuilding event, the fine folks at World Anvil challenged writers like me to throw the spotlight on some of our favorite articles from the competition.
I love this idea, and while I’ll save my favorite Tradition articles for sometime later—since I judged the entries for that part of the event, and the winner won’t be announced until February 5—I do want to share 10 pieces from the rest of the competition that I really enjoyed, and which have inspired my plans for 2022 in some way.
01. A Language for Everyone
Known throughout regions under Melopian rule as "The Common Language".
Author T.J. Trewin created a common tongue for his world which has consonants pronounceable by all kinds of people, even those with beaks or anatomy which we might not think of as “standard.”
While I didn’t get around to creating a language for my duckfolk, or a word in their language for what they’d call themselves, that’s now on my list of things to do—all thanks to Trewin’s insightful piece.
02. A Divine Love Story
I first encountered the names Cior and Cal in another of Maybe Stewart’s articles for the The World of Outspoken, and I couldn’t wait to learn more about them, their love for each other, and how that love helped to create the world.
I’m a huge fan of Stewart’s work, in general, so it’s always inspiring me—but this one has got me thinking, in particular, about ways to write more about the deities in my setting over the coming year.
03. More Myths!
Aside from inspiring me to write about more deities in 2022, WorldEmber 2021 brought a slew of myths that are inspiring plans to delve deeper into that corner of my universe. One of my favorite myths from this year’s WE was this one by The Changeling.
I swear I’ve read about Samara before, but I may be mistaken. In any case, reading this myth had me dying to learn more about the goddess and the cultures who worship her. And it made me remember how much my boyhood love of Greek mythology informed my love of story, and how that might be a new entry point into my own imagined worlds.
04. More Art, More Maps, More Consideration
One of the things I love about articles by Oliver Hertel (Tillerz) is that they always feel so well-considered. The writing is good, there’s a mix of art and design to help keep interest, and I hear everything I read in Tillerz’ unique voice.
This is inspiring me to keep doing what I’m doing in terms of leaning into my own particular quirks when writing. Every time I feel like something I’m writing might be too much me, I’m going to try and remember that the pieces of mine that get the most love are pieces like this one above by Tillerz: pieces that feel like they couldn’t have been written by anyone else.
05. Short & Sweet Can Win Fans
I became friendly with Sarah Buhrman (AuthorGoddess) through World Anvil’s Twitch-streamer community (the Anvilite Streamer Corps) before every really being aware of her work. Then I read this piece on The Norns, and it was good, and I was reminded that sometimes all it takes is a short but sweet article in the author’s voice to hook you on their work.
I need to do more of that myself. Not that I don’t already, but I need to not feel bad about it when I do—because sometimes it works!
06. Share Your Work-in-Progress
Long before I finally had the chance to read this great article by the author OncomingShower, I was seeing them chat about its creation in the various places where we both hang out online. And here’s the thing that Shy Old Me learned: I didn’t mind hearing about this work-in-progress; I actually loved it!
This has taught me to be less precious about sharing my unfinished work, and to let people in on my process earlier and more often.
07. Write What You Love!
There was no article whose arrival in my World Anvil inbox made me smile as much this WorldEmber as this one from Emily Vair-Turnbull. I knew that Dr. Vair-Turnbull planned on focusing on mushrooms for the month, and I was elated to see this evidence that Mushember was happening for real.
It reminds me to write the stuff that I want to write, first and foremost, and to trust that readers will follow. Emy’s love for mushrooms won me over, even though mushrooms gross me out!
08. The Power of Well-Chosen Image
The food critique with the sharpest tongue in all of Cenorad.
One of the hardest things about following as many talented creators on World Anvil as I do is remembering the gist of the world I’m about to tumble into when I open a new article to read. That said, Sloqush’s world of Cenorad never fails to deliver on a tone-setting image to get me right back into the thick of things.
This one is inspiring me to do the same in my world. I’m an artist, for Pete’s sake! As hard as it is to post an image for every article I write, I can certainly try to do a little bit better—not to mention revising the general look & feel of my page to help readers get a feel for what they’re about to read.
09. It’s Okay to Be Naughty
Remnants are human-like and capable of storing and lightly using magic, but life for a Remnant can be quite different depending on the magical needs of the Owner who runs their community.
Sarah Templeton’s world of Luridity was a breath of fresh air when I first found it, because it reminded me that there are audiences out there for mature content—and that my real-life friends who sometimes call me, jokingly, “a little bit lecherous,” don’t represent every person on Earth.
While my main Clarkwoods Literary Universe will remain mostly PG-13, with an occasional R-rated story thrown in for fun, Luridity is inspiring me to embrace my naughtier side and branch out in 2022.
10. Go All Out!
Having just participated in the Game of Tomes during November’s National Novel-Writing Month, I was thrilled to see author Diane Morrison (Sable Aradia) spend WorldEmber fleshing out the lore behind the fun, friendly NaNoWriMo competition she helped found in 2020.
This article about the concept of Literomancy feels like 1,000% Sable, and it reminds me that the best stuff any of us make is the stuff we pour our hearts and minds into—and the stuff that gives us as much of a kick to write as it will the readers to read.
New Year’s Resolutions
Before I close this out, here are some resolutions for 2022—based both on my observations from above, and on the plans I was already planning:
- finish and publish the fifth and final book of my Stains of Time series
- write something naughty and publish it under a pen name
- keep worldbuilding stuff like Wolaríxkín, Potential, and The Armor of Apathy—stuff that feels 1,000% me
- keep reading widely on WorldAnvil and finding new, amazing people to be inspired by