Once I had a list of stories and characters complete with descriptions I set about defining the world I was going to write within. I needed to define the cosmology of the world, the societies dwelling within it, and acquire a rough geographic location for the stories to take place. None of this was central to telling a good story, being more necessary to my own confidence.
I defined the cosmology as a collection of earthly bodies, acting as lenses or filters for primordial forces, swimming in the cosmic soup of the void and the elemental powers. This dimensional strata was something I struggled to construct in a visual form until I found a neat mental mapping App for my iPad. Up until that point I worked with a list of metaphysical concepts that would influence the world and the folks living in it.
After doing that I had to write the details of the various societies dwelling within the Dreams & Echoes world. Each was influenced by a different primordial force, and allowed to persist in the world. I hate stories where a group of people seem to persist in a situation for no conceivable reason. I like to read things that make sense while catering to my intellect, allowing me more energy to suspend my belief.
Detailing how those societies or civilizations interact, the means by which they subsist, and their goals can often be summed up in three sentences or less. Anyone wanting to take this road need not make it overly complex. You're only going to change your mind about everything half way through the book anyway. Write to get closer to the primary goal of writing the book. As soon as it starts getting in the way, you're taking too long to prepare.
There is no page requirement for providing the basic landscape of a world you plan to use as the backdrop for your fictional works. I have almost a hundred pages of notes, drawings, and diagrams for Dreams & Echoes. However, I plan to write more than ten book in that world from various angles. That's less than ten pages of prep, per book, for my writing style.
Once I have a good feeling for the world and the content, I'll write some anecdotes or short stories to create a narrative that is distinctive ton the world. Having a distinctive narrative helps me identify whether I am in the mood or frame of mind to work seriously on a particular project. If I can't summon a particular voice, I'll write something else.
I promised I would not be that writer with a shelf full of unfinished projects sticking to one until it was complete. This is, of course, totally impossible if you vary your writing style or narrative. This gives me a sense of the projects that are more difficult to write for. For those particular books, I never pass up the chance to write when I'm in the right mindset. Useful futility I call it.
-- Sent from my Tech Envy Generator