Worldbuild 2 Foundations


Writing, like gardening, can be a dirty and tedious business.  Hunched over a bed of lettuce or a laptop we labor for hours and weeks and months for a big payoff.  More often than not, our labors do not live up to our dreams and yet we persevere.

My first year of gardening I began with two beds, tomatoes in one peppers and onion in the other.  It went so well I expanded to four beds the next year, then seven the third.  By the fifth year the old beds began to fall apart and it was time to think about gardening design.

Like building a world for my fiction, building a garden required planning and years of trial and error on what grows where and alongside what.  Like a good fictional world, a nice sized garden should have separate environments.  I visualized what I wanted my garden to look like as much as I imagined what my world would look like.

I didn’t have to start from scratch with either world.  The novel was built from a number of other stories that came before, from characters that I knew for years, just as I used urbanite (broken concrete) to build new beds and pathways.


back 40 beforeThe Grotto after



This project took me several weeks to complete and I got a chance to dig deep and got to know every square inch of this section of the yard.   The urbanite was free.  All I had to buy was a dozen bags of sand to level the stones and pea gravel to fill in the gaps.  All the excavated soil was used in other beds.

Like writing a novel, this was a solitary project that went from a back-breaking task to a labor of love.  I put more than just blood sweat and tears in the project.  I signed the foundation.

Urbanite Star stones


Your fictional world needs a solid base for your characters to thrive in.  The occasional weed or plot hole may show up as an eyesore, but with a good foundation they can be seen easily and yanked out.


Writers and Gardeners use Everything

Writers and Gardeners Use Everything

Sometimes a story doesn’t work no matter how hard we try to make it, but it doesn’t mean it’s useless.  A certain scene or a character can be reused elsewhere.  Like in gardening, you don’t throw out last years’ dead plants or the leaves blown in the corner of the yard, you compost them.  Like our forefathers, hardcore gardeners use everything both organic and non-organic.

This spring I had to bite the bullet and redo the patio.  After years of patching the cracks it was time to replace the concrete.  Five quotes later and the cheapskate frugal homeowner that I am I decided to break up the old patio and reuse the concrete for more raised beds.

Using broken concrete, or urbanite as some call it, is nothing new and more folks are doing it.  Just do a Google search of urbanite images and you’ll see what I mean.  Well, after a jackhammer (never do that again) and a sledgehammer with a pry bar (highly recommended) I had my own urbanite.

After much backbreaking moving around this pile of blocks became…

A little backfill with tiny concrete at the bottom, a lot of compost from last year and a layer of peat moss and topsoil and it became…

My pepper bed.

I could have paid the construction company to haul the concrete away, but I would have lost out on some good building material and later on bought something that would have done the same job.

In writing we can cast a story or book aside as unpublishable.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be used elsewhere.  Look to your old, rejected, trunked or abandoned works and see what stands out.  It might be very valuable.