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"What matters is the story" or "How to rescue a nerd with great clomping feet."

Ancillary Justice is a great book. I couldn’t put it down. It won the Hugo award 2014 and a lot of very interesting writers thought it was amazing. So did I. So why did I only give it 3 stars?

The answer I gave in my review is that the ending wasn’t internally consistant. I also say some garbage about how the protagonist wouldn’t do this or that, but that was pretentious of me—what would I know? I’m not an ancillary. The bottom line for me was that there wasn’t enough worldbuilding to sustain the story to the end. Almost as if it was a well crafted short story that was artificially extended.

This realisation made me think, just how much is enough worldbuilding? Lucy Hounsom did an excellent article about this in February, you can read it here.

I started the world-building of The Tales of the Nazarim seven years ago. What I have now is 80,000 words of backstories, timelines, histories, creation myths, anthropologies and journals. I have always erred on the side of too much is not enough. In January I was even contemplating doing a linguistics course to create the languages the characters used. It was articles like Lucy’s that made me wake up. My story doesn’t suffer for not having a fully actualised language system, after all, that can come later when there are tv shows made out of my books, right?

What matters is the story, all you need is enough worldbuilding to write it.

As a nerd with great clomping feet, I feel unchained, freed at last. It was if Lucy swept down on one of her dragons and rescued me from a tower. Sure, I have far too much facial hair to be a princess, and I suspect Lucy would be aghast to find herself in full plate armor rescuing me in any case, but it is appreciated none the less.

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