World Clinic Beta Tester Live Updates
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I want folks interested in the course to be able to get an objective idea of what Create A World Clinic will let them do, and how they’ll be able to use it for THEIR needs before they lay out money for it.

So beta tester comments as they’re working through this course will be public.

Beta Testers: Create a new reply when you complete each section test, and include:

  • One sentence about what you thought you’d get from the section
  • One sentence about what you actually got
  • And one sentence on how you’ll be able to use what you learned in your work
  • You can add more if you want, but three sentences will be enough if you’re pressed for time.
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World Clinic Beta Tester Live Updates — 136 Comments

  1. Chapter Four
    Expected: Didn’t really know what to expect. Pretty typical for me, I know it’s Holly so it’ll be useful but beyond that don’t really have an expectation of what exactly the chapter will cover.
    Got: More exhortation on not to over-worldbuild. Use of dots and lines from HTTS, specifically applied to worldbuilding.
    Will use it for: deeper insight into Dot & Line work in HTTS.

  2. Chapter 3: I expected more exercises. I got a section telling me how to use the course. (Basically, go through it once to become familiar with the tools, then go through it again with stuff you’re working on to become proficient with those tools.) Also, advice on organizing oneself. Holly assumes that you are going to be a professional writer as she is, and tells you what system she uses to prioritize work and get stuff done. Useful advice.

  3. Chapter 2: Didn’t know what to expect. Got the introduction I was expecting: an overview of the rest of the course. This is good teaching technique. You tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, you tell them, then you tell them what you told them. This chapter is “Tell them what you’re going to tell them.”

    I was warned “Succumb to the Dark Side you must not, padawan!” A cautionary tale about in-SANE worldbuilding.

  4. Chapter 1: I expected an introduction. I got a new Muse-trap. (“If you build a better Muse-trap, the world will beat a path to your door.”) I also got the beginning of a locked-room mystery.

  5. Chapter 1: World #1: The Dot World

    I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t what I got. :) What I got was an inside peek at Holly’s relationship with her Muse and an example of how they work together to create a world. That, to me, was invaluable. It gave me an example of how to use and treat my own subconscious/Muse. :)

    And this was the chapter that made me realize that I wanted this book — because I finally realized what she meant by “worldbuilding” and that every story I write would be helped by it.

  6. I’m always the contrary one. It was VERY hard for me to put this book down on my first readthrough. So I read through it all (after doing the first exercise).

    What I expected from the book: Honestly, when I was first made aware of the book, I thought it would be more applicable to people who were writing fantasy and sci-fi, where you created whole new worlds instead of using Earth as it is.

    What I got: Ways to figure out how to fix stalled stories I’ve had for years and ways to come up with new stories instead of resorting to having to have that moment of “inspiration.” Instead of waiting for the story to come to me, I can throw some ideas together and work out a story from that.

    THAT is how I’ll use what I’ve read. I am fascinated by the possibilities that I’ve got now.

    • Kari, for years, I thought world building was only for fantasy / science fiction writers. It’s taken long association with Holly and her courses before I finally realized, even if we’re working in the modern world, we have to worldbuild, but so many writers who do not write SFF hold this same view, it’s useful to get our experiences and realizations out there that even the “real” world requires world building. That’s one reason I asked to participate in this process. The how to six stalled stories? A HUGE bonus for the course.

      • Thanks for posting this. I write stories that are slightly paranormal but take place in the “real” world, which is a fictionalized version of where I currently live. I want this book/course because I’ve changed things around to fit my story, so the “world” I’ve built still has to have coherence and consistency. Your comments just reinforce that it is a good choice.

  7. DOT WORLD, Three Pedestals worksheet went a little more smoothly, but I had some questions. For section one, location, I found myself having trouble seeing through the slice. Eventually, after cutting out some distractions and trying to empty my mind, something came to me.

    Section two seemed to pop into my head a little faster. But I got confused by ‘then answer the
    questions that follow’. What questions? Were these supposed to be my own questions that popped into my head? None did, although some answers to what the prop was came to me.

    I had some trouble with section three. The sound sense came up empty, but I was able to something came to me from other senses (no taste!). I again had a question about ‘then answer the questions regarding what you discovered.’ What questions? My own questions?

    The last part of the exercise, writing 350 words (more like 370), was fun, invigorating, and came together faster and more coherently than I ever thought possible. A beginning to a fantasy story I’m looking forward to expanding.

    • Greg, this exercise went similarly for me. I think I’m going to need a few practice sessions working with the slice (especially, but also the entire process) before it begins to feel comfortable.

    • I had the same problem with that section too…some instructions weren’t entirely clear, but I know Holly will make sure to clear that up after she’s compiled our feedback! I definitely recognize that this is an area where I could use more practice letting my Muse out to play.

  8. For the Dot World Dissection worksheet, I had some issues going through it. For Part One, I ended up answering the 10 questions (when/where/what/how/etc.) instead of identifying and labeling the various elements. I came no where close to matching the What I Got/What You Got section: at least on paper. I did manage to get most if it in my head, and as I read there were no surprises.

    I kind of skipped Part Two, I kind of skipped the dissection. I still really didn’t understand the process. Another example of Warpaint being dissected like Part One would have been helpful.

    The answer to Part 3 was already given to us about the vampires holding down Cady’s ship being the Teaser Prop Dot, so that exercise was a bit of a wash.

    I did the reading for Part Four (Starship Troopers), but skipped the dissection. I did try and notice the bits that seemed to indicate details of the sci fi universe it takes place in.

    Part Five seemed easy enough at this point, especially as the first sentence was really only five or six words.

    An example of the bonus exercise, dissecting a broken story would have been nice. Most of my previous work all sits in my head, so hard to dissect.

    A definetly struggled with the dissection. I was uncomfortable, confused, and not really sure what I was doing. More examples would help.

  9. Building Geed Deep: chapters 14, 15, and 16
    I expected these chapters to go deeper in to the worldbuidling process. They gave me the more traditional, top down, approach while still giving advice on not overdoing, or locking myself in early in the process. Although these techniques are more for a series than a single novel, I do intend to use them in my WIP since the world in it is vital to the story.

  10. Chapter 13: Infinite Universe
    I expected to learn how to set limits on the infinite. I did learn how and, maybe more importably, why having a small set of rules to limit a universe is vital to the stories written there. I have written two (draft) novels set in same fantasy universe because I love my magic system. I used the exercise in this chapter to define the rules of that magic.

  11. Chapter 12: Known Universe
    I expected to learn another technique for worldbuilding. I got some very cool ideas for how to structure and link a series of stories. I never before had any intension of writing a series because I get annoyed by authors who write huge epic fantasy series and take years (or decades) to finish them (I still read and enjoy them, I just get annoyed). The technique here, however, showed a way to write an on-going series where every story could be wrapped up at the end, while still advancing development of the main charters (like most mystery series). I’m thinking I might try my hand at this.

  12. Well, if we’re doing sections…
    Section Two
    What I thought I’d get: Explanations of the three kinds of universe and directions as to how they’re created.
    What I got: That, but wow was it more than I expected.
    How I’ll use it: There are a number of techniques I’ll be using for universe creation from now on, some of which will come in handy for an Infinite Universe I’m currently constructing. Also, I didn’t have ‘If anything can happen, nothing matters’ tattooed, but I did write it on my arm while I was reading. :P

    • I’d actually meant to get comments on each exercise. Comments on each section won’t be very helpful for prospective worldbuilders, or for me as I do the second edit on the course.

      • Ok, so I was right the first time, sort of. I’m sorry this has all been so muddled! Tomorrow I’ll go back over what I covered today and write more in-depth comments on the exercises.

  13. There seems to be some confusion for us beta testers between what is a section, and what are chapters. We are asked to reply here per section. The book WB3 contains 3 sections, each one comprised of multiple chapters. This confusing of sections with chapters, and posting comments on multiple chapters in the same section, may be happening because the beta copy of WB3 does not yet have an index.

    • Some of this confusion may arise because of the following example. In Section One of WB3, titled Building Worlds, in Chapter 6, the chapter itself is then broken into segments also labeled _sections_ one, two, and three. So Section is being used to describe both a part larger than a chapter, and also smaller than a chapter. Perhaps renaming the chapter parts as subsections, or or some other designation different from the larger includes-multiple-chapters Section, might help clear this up?

      • Oh, crap. I didn’t think about that. I have been having a hard time navigating because of the lack of index, and I kind of forgot that the book was divided into Sections, since I left the first one so far back – I just thought ‘section’ meant ‘part of the book’ and the chapters seemed the most obvious division as I went along. :/

        • Adding sections was a very late organizational decision. I’d hoped to get comments including—genres you were working in and how you were using the exercises relative to your genre as you worked through them—from each tester as you worked through them.

          • OK, comments on exercises relative to genre – in my case, fantasy. In the information-rich Chapter 1, I’m finding the Dot World concept tremendously useful, and I enjoyed diving into an example right away. I am strongly visually oriented, so exercises that ask me to visualize feel comfortable for me.

            The explanation of left brain and right brain’s differing functions helped clarify why things that work well for left sidedness may shut down responses from the right side. To successfully write fantasy, I need my right brain actively involved, ongoingly. So ways of communicating with, listening to, and keeping my right brain participating are stimulating.

            One thing about the paint on the wall example keeps bugging me, that’s not been addressed. The paint takes care of the visual aspect of the blood. But both fresh, drying, and dried blood have different degrees of smell. And women are particularly sensitive to how blood smells. How will that be masked, and with what, perhaps varying, degrees of success? I know the example is a starter set, and not a complete story. However, not addressing the scent problem is the kind of issue that breaks my suspension of disbelief. It pulls me up sharply, saying, “Hey, wait a minute!” And because of that, it reduces the usefulness of the example for me.

            On the other hand, worldbuilding as being questions and answers to flesh out stories, rather than simply map building, is a mind expanding concept. I take that up enthusiastically!

            • It’s glossy black paint. So washable. Glossy BECAUSE it’s washable.
              Glossy white paint could still be expected to show staining over time. Glossy black paint won’t.
              So…no smell.

              • The paint may not smell. But the blood smells. A lot. Use the paint to cover the blood visually, and it still does not mask the blood smell of the murder victims. Mix the blood into the paint, and the paint gains an aroma.

                The room may look neutral, owing to the paint. But it will reek of blood to the nose.

              • The black paint wasn’t used to cover the blood.

                It was used to provide a cleanable surface.

                If blood could not be cleaned from paint, no one would ever be able to successfully clean a bathroom. Or a hospital room.

              • And I just realized you’re talking about the paintings in the room, not the paint on the walls.

                Paintings are sealed on the inside with gesso, and sealed on the outside with varnish. Both of these would prevent the paintings from smelling of blood.

    • I apologize for my lack of clarity on this. I forgot I’d added book sections, and had thought “each section” would be easy to correlate to each exercise.

        • I’m not sure what will give the folks reading this and trying to figure out if this is the course they’re hoping for the information they’re looking for. So rather than tell you what I think they’ll want to know, let me ask them.

  14. Chapter 4
    1) I thought I would learn the three building blocks for worldbuilding and how they will be used.

    2) What I actually got from this section was an introduction to Sane worldbuilding, why I should keep things simple, and information on what exactly the three parts of wordlbuilding are.

    3) I will be able to use what I learned to keep things simple and to only build enough of my world that I need right now.

  15. Chapter 3
    1) From the title chapter, I was expecting instructions on how to go through the book and use the worksheets to get the most out of the class.

    2) What I actually got form this chapter was the importance of the worksheet and prioritization as well as how this clinic connects with the other two worldbuilding clinics.

    3) I will be able to use this section as a guideline for how I will go through the clinic and use the worksheets to practice worldbuilding.

  16. Chapter 2
    1) This section appears to be the introduction to worldbuilding I expected in the first chapter, i.e. what it is, why I need, and what to do with it.

    2) This chapter turned out to be the an introduction of what exactly the course is going to deliver: SANE worldbuilding.

    3) There was a lot of preliminary info that I know I will be using in my writing.

  17. Chapter 1
    1) I wasn’t sure what the Dot World was all about, but I thought it might be an something that was in HTTS.

    2) The chapter turned into a very interesting exercise about listening to your Muse to generate ideas through questions.

    3) The technique in the exercise is something that would be used repeatedly anytime I need to come up with an idea for a story.

  18. Chapter 11: Container Universe
    I expected to learn how to create a container universe, and what one was. I got some insight on why such universes work, and how to create a series around them. I don’t plan to ever write a series, but my WIP lives in a container universe (which I was unaware of), and now I can make the thing work better.

  19. Chapter 9: a worldbuilding Rant
    I expected to be entertained, since writers rant very well, and maybe learn something. I did learn one thing I intend to never do in my stories, or in making dinner, because I don’t want to be a silly person.

  20. Chapter 8
    I expected to learn how to fit a universe into a tube of toothpaste. I learned not only how to limit worldbuilding, but how each aspect of a world must have limits, or there is no real story. I’m going to use this to set the clear boundaries of my own story worlds, and how much time I spend making them.

  21. Chapter 7
    I thought I would learn more on using the line world. What I got was some techniques to make description work for the story and, I hope, further immerse the reader into the story. I will use these practices to bring my worlds into focus in a way the moves the story along.

  22. Chapter 10
    What I expected: An explanation of what a fictional universe was, and I suspected there might be an exercise
    What I got: Just the explanation, and a quick explanation of what will be talked about in the next three chapters
    How I’ll use it: Hopefully I’ll remember to not think ‘literal universe’ when constructing a fictional universe

  23. Chapter Nine
    What I expected: A rant on things being different for the sake of being different
    What I got: That. It made sense.
    How I’ll use it: I already try to think ‘Why would things be done differently here?’ but I’ll definitely remember it now

  24. Chapter 6
    I expected to learn the next element of story telling beyond the dot world. I got exercises on creating connections between different parts of seemingly different worlds. I also got reminded how much fun my Muse has making stuff up and how energizing that is — I plan to make up more things which will lead to more ideas and writing.

  25. Chapter 8
    What I thought I’d get: further explanation of the Tube of Toothpaste world, being taught what worldbuilding details are essential
    What I got: That, a new way of looking at ‘ordinary’ while writing, and some thinking about what places the story took place
    How I’ll use it: I have a hard time choosing what to mention when going into a scene in a new setting; this should help me build settings more easily and get into them without pausing to point out every detail

  26. Chapter 7:
    What I thought I’d get – an explanation of the Line world, probably some exercises.
    What I got: …lots of stuff. Active worldbuilding while writing, Criticals Dots, putting them on either side of the line…
    How I’ll use it: Although it’s interesting, I struggled with putting the Criticals Dots and Line into practice. When I develop a Dot World my mind usually goes crazy from there, coming up with connections and conflict and ideas, so by the time I got to the Criticals and Line I had already thought of conflicts and so on. It might come more in use while developing a different story.

  27. Chapter 11

    1) What I thought I’d get: We’re gong to learn to build a container universe.
    2) What I got: Not only the steps to building it, but the extrapolation that brings it alive
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: Maybe at some point my mind will bring me people in these things. My mind likes to avoid people. This is not a helpful trait to have as a writer.

  28. Chapter 5
    I expected to start doing some worksheets and do some writing exercises (I learn best by doing). Not only did I get to do that, but I also learned the concept of active vs. passive worldbuilding. This concept is something my writer’s group discusses often without such a clarity as this book provides. I will use the worldbuilding techniques taught here to draw my readers in without boring them. Now I’m also wondering if I can get a bulk discount on the clinic and give it to the members of my writing group.

  29. Chapter 10

    1) What I thought I’d get: A definition of what comprises my fictional world.
    2) What I got: That, AND an transition to the next three chapters.
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: To be better prepared for the next three chapters, but also to remember to keep my universe constrained to what is possible for it.

  30. Chapter 9

    1) What I thought I’d get: An interesting story to illustrate Different to be Different.
    2) What I got: Exactly that.
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: As a reminder to make sure I know the reason behind things that are different in my stories.
    4) In our area, it’s Club Sandwiches. The Central Texas region loves to massacre Club Sandwiches. Just for the heck of it, apparently.

  31. Chapter 8

    1) What I thought I’d get: How to expand the world without dipping over the edge into overbuilding.
    2) What I got: Pretty much what I expected, and a great illustration of ordinary.
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: I hope a technique to use to having meaningful settings in my stories, not just whatever happens to show up.

  32. Chapter Six.
    What I thought I’d get: more direct instructions on how to create conflict.
    What I got: tons of interesting brainstorming and connecting things, and although it’s not much like what I’ve seen as conflict before it certainly wound up giving me interesting stuff. I had to take a while to write about a recurring theme in my Dot Worlds, connecting them, and now I have the beginnings of an interesting story on my hands.
    How I’ll use it – Hopefully I can apply these principles to the story idea I’m actually supposed to be working on soon – I think they’ll help me flesh out the world and make connections between places.

  33. Chapter 4:
    I expected to learn the elements to world building, which I did. I do have to admit that, as an engineer, if the first two elements were a dot and a line, I expected to third to be a cube not a tube (of toothpaste no less). However, despite my personal geometry-related issues, I am looking forward to learning to put these elements to use. The presented technique reminds me of one I heard the writer of historical fiction use (sorry, I don’t remember who). They said that they did not allow themselves to go to the research library unless they had had least three distinct questions they needed answered that were directly related to the story they were writing.

  34. Chapter 7

    What I thought I’d get: How to harness the line world to build useful conflict.
    What I got: Yes, I can see how it can be used to induce conflict into the the world, but my efforts (I think) failed to produce something usable after two tries. I could, however, be surprised by what I got, because I may not be recognizing the opportunity yet.
    How I’ll be able to use this: Clearly, seeing Holly’s example, I can see how powerful this technique will become once I grasp how to use it effectively.

  35. Chapter 6

    1) What I thought I’d get: How to build conflict.
    2) What I actually got: Something more subtle.
    3) This is going to take a little practice, but I have gotten these techniques to work in the wild — I like having a framework to help make the process more repeatable.

  36. Chapter 5 – What I thought I’d get: an explanation of why the Dot World is necessary, plus some exercise.
    What I got: a breakdown of why the Dot World saves you from infodump worldbuilding, dissection exercises (which were ridiculously hard for me, I don’t do dissection well) and another method of creating a Dot World, which was much more fun and resulted in the opening of a story I had quite a bit of fun writing.

  37. Chapter 3: I expected to learn how to use this book. The chapter did explain how to use the book, along with some additional, more general, writing advice. I plan to return to the chapter as I need in developing and creating my own story worlds.

  38. Chapter 2: The introduction
    I expected to be told that I would have to take the time and tediously create a detailed place for my story to live (something I was not looking forward to). Instead, I got introduced to a technique which will, I was told, let me worldbuild as I write my story. I hope to put this procedure into practice so I can get right into the story instead of adding a list of “things I need to do before I can officially start writing.”

  39. Chapter 1: I expected an introduction or maybe a brief overview of worldbuilding. Instead I got an exercise which not only created a small world, but also launched a few story ideas. I’ll be able to use to this technique any time I have a few minutes to think (meaning no one is talking at me) and I want to connect to my muse.

      • Actually, I think what I got will work. They are two different worlds (although, at first I thought they were the same), but it reminded me to looks for what the story is really about and not what I think it might be about.

        • One of your earlier comments indicated that you’re working on a world you already know a bit about, but so far it sounds like the course leans more toward developing things from scratch. Can the course’s methods be applied well to a world/story already in progress? Because I really need help developing (but not *overdeveloping*) the world of my series in progress, rather than the launch of an entirely different storyline. Thank you. =)

  40. Chapter 5

    1) What I thought I’d get: Why we would use the Dot approach.
    2) What I got: A detailed tutorial showing the difference between active and passive world-building and a walk-through of the preparation for Chapter 6.
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: I struggle with the visual techniques Holly uses. I think I’m going to need to spend some time listening to my Muse and practicing these techniques. I think I tend to try to force what I think I should be experiencing rather than letting it come to me. I attribute this to inexperience and lack of practice. I have done similar things at odd times, so I know it works, but to harness it “on command” is still an awkward experience.

  41. Chapter 4. I expected: explanations of the Dot, Line, and Toothpaste worlds.
    What I got: That, the SANE explanation (it’s not just in caps lock because it’s important!) and a visualization of everything in the world rolled into a ball.
    How I’ll use this: the explanations of the Dot and Line and so on will certainly be useful

  42. Chapter 3: I expected a how-to-use. I got: a how-to-use. I’ll use it: to actually make sure I print out the worksheets this time, because I tend to forget about them but this reminds me it’s essential.

  43. Chapter 2 – What I expected: A run-through of what to expect and what I’d learn. What I got: pretty much that, with some personal story thrown in, which I’m glad of. It’s always easier for me to read things when there are examples being given. How I’ll use it: for being prepared for what’s going to show up, I guess.

  44. Chapter One: I remembered this exercise faintly, although what I get from it I personally call a ‘story seed’ rather than a Dot World; I expected to get something simple and small out of it.
    What I got: The exercise actually created a much more interesting ‘dot’ than I’d expected.
    How I’ll use it – the Dot technique is useful for me to not to get overwhelmed by worldbuilding, and the particular Dot I created should lead to an interesting story.

    • :D This is the reason most writers don’t realize they worldbuild. (EVERY writer worldbuilds.)

      Writers come up with a process that includes worldbuilding in the start of their story, and never realize that they need to separate the worldbuilding from the writing in order to know what their world is and how to make it live for the reader.

  45. Chapter 4

    1) What I thought I’d get: Information about the Dot, Line, and Tube of Toothpaste worlds. (That last one has you intrigued, doesn’t it?)
    2) What I got: All that AND SANE (what a cool acronym).
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: Well, first I need to overcome “Everyone Shops at My Mall.”

  46. Chapter 3

    1) What I thought I’d get: How to use the book.
    2) What I got: How to use the book.
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: Well, I should be able to work through the course with a good understanding of how to do so. I’d already printed my worksheets and put them in a binder. (I guess that’s two cheats already…hmmm.) Grin.

  47. Chapter 2

    1) What I thought I’d get: An overview of what to expect from the course.
    2) What I got: An amusing anecdote of overboard world-building which illustrates why I’ve tended to avoid Fantasy and Science Fiction, not only as a writer, but somewhat as a reader. Oh, and the great overview of what to expect from the course, including what appears to be an expanded Dot and Line from HTTS (or not).
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: Well, hopefully to understand where the course is going and why I may want certain parts of it.

  48. Chapter 1

    1) What I thought I’d get: I remember Dot and Line from HTTS, but I could always use a refresher, because I haven’t mastered it yet.
    2) What I got: Wow. Not HTTS at all!
    3) How I’ll be able to use this: I cheated. I have a world I know I need to build, so it was easy to know what would be in the room, but the “unusual” question made me draw out some more information I didn’t have, and that, of course, is why I’m here.

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