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Let me open by saying, worlds are big

It is fair to say that many novels have more than double the content involved in worldbuilding as they do in story and plot. Publishers have a special allowance for Science Fiction titles specifically, granting them enormous 120K+ word counts for the purpose of building their worlds in the audience's head. Non-fiction title have a much tighter word limit by comparison. As I said, worlds are very big. But even when they take more pages than the plot, they are not the story.

There seems to be a never ending battle between the defenders of the TSB closure and the vibrant worldbuilders regarding the definition of "Story Based" questions. If nothing more comes of this post, it can serve as... refresher training? I don't know. But there needs to be an example in common parlance of what constitutes story, and what constitutes world. I see constant battles over this issue, it would be nice to prove once and for all that big worlds can be built on this site.

For the exercise, I considered a story that most of the world knows, J. M. Barrie's The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, or, Peter Pan.

Barrie conceived of the mischievous character Peter Pan, and had him fly children off to a magical world where boys never grew up. It was called Neverland. You got there by flying "second to the right, and straight on till morning." Neverland was different for every child. Peter Pan's world had pirates, and his Lost Boys fought them eternally.

Now, the question is very simply; could the imaginary world of Neverland possibly be constructed with Worldbuilding.SE as a tool? The way I think we could find out is to put Neverland as an answer, and see if any query could possibly generate that answer. Basically, I am going to give answers here that come from the Peter Pan play, and if this world could be created, a response includes a proper worldbuilding query that would have generated that response. Again, this is all within the scope of Neverland, for both the query and response. Assume you are the querent, user name J. M. Barrie, and you are building a world for a play. The world is called Neverland. Below are the answers, we provide the queries:

A: It could be a place that has no boundaries, and children can do whatever they want. It has magic, and pretty much whatever the child can imagine.

A: It could have pirates for one child, and maybe indians for another, depending of the things they are into. The place has magic, and kids never have to grow up.

A: They don't tell time at all. There is never a sunset or a night time. They don't age, and have no responsibilities. It is play time all the time. But, maybe once per hour, some creature with a clock comes by, and then they know the time. The creature is scary—an alligator maybe? So the kids know "time is bad."

A: You should not have just random pirates if the child likes pirates. There needs to be some "villain" in the world. If the Neverland is indians, then it is a chief. If the Neverland is pirates, make a big bad captain. The world with no bounds won't be able to have any crisis without a villain.

A: The way the kids learn to fly can be from fairies. Children associate fairies with magic, and so the fairies can have some sort of dust that makes the kids fly. It shouldn't come from themselves.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I understand what you intend to solve, but... I don't quite get the list with all the A(nswers). The first one is typically an answer fit as a comment; 2nd one seems like it's emitting an opinion more than necessary. I think 3 and 4 are the most fit for your intents, at a quick glance. Besides, you're asking to answe... Query 5 answers. Seems too much to fit in an answer here x_x... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena The point is that they are a world and not an opinion. It looks like your answer is, “No, we could not build Neverland” because the questions “must be opinions.” $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, I don't know. But the 1st definitely isn't an answer, but a comment $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 12:08

2 Answers 2

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Tautologically So, My Dear Emmerson!

Worldbuilding is why we're here. We're here because we do worldbuilding.

On to the point-by-point!

Definition of Story: Stories are composed of (typically) three basic elements: somewhere for it to happen in, something that happens, and someones to do what happens and have done to them what happens. Setting, Plot, Characters. Generally speaking, when we talk about "story" or "narrative" in the context of this forum, what we mean is elements of plot and character. We take ownership of setting. We leave plot and character as plot and character to the writing forum.

What this means is that, in so far as a character might be a merperson, we'll take ownership of the anatomy, physiology, psychology, spirituality, culture, history, language, general behaviour trends, etc of the character as a person belonging to a given species. But as far as specifics such as personality, behavioural quirks, motivations, desires, moods, emotions, intellectual capacities, etc. we don't touch those as those are specific to an individual character. As for plot, the story itself, these are matters of story telling and narrative craft rather than worldbuilding and thus we do not touch them either.

Setting, however, is the place where all of this happens in. The world itself. It's own particular universe, with its own governing laws, its own history, its own cosmology, its own stars and planets, its own geology, geography, climate, its own cultures, religions, histories. Those are our domain.

A story based query is simply one that asks specifically about what we don't deal with: about plot development, storycraft, actions and choices of individual characters. We understand that these things all touch upon and in some respect derive from the world itself, but these are fundamentally authorial considerations. They are questions that can be answered independently of the world in which the story happens and are thus not suitable here.

Neverland is the setting of the story, and thus falls under our auspices in Worldbuilding. The only correct answer to your query is thus YES. Pedantically, of course, the answer is NO because Neverland was conceived and devised more than 100 years ago, a few years before this forum and the present iteration of Webspace existed. There was, of course, an interweb that existed at the time in the form of intellectual magazines, epistolary, and telegraphy. WB.SE wasn't part of the magic though.

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Ok suppose Neverland would not exist yet

Q: "Now, the question is very simply; could the imaginary world of Neverland possibly be constructed with Worldbuilding.SE as a tool? The way I think we could find out is to put Neverland as an answer, and see if any query could possibly generate that answer"

I've devised some questions, see below.. but I think the whole topic of a magic Neverland amusement park for kids will be a problem for WB rules as they are applied now. Almost everything regarding amusement parks and kids will be designated as opinion based, because there are so many answers, finding a best answer will be difficult. Also, it will almost always be story based, because kids and the appreciation of Neverland by kids plays a role in all 5 answers. It is about the experience of your characters, not about the building of your Neverland amusement park.

Also, I'm afraid lots of aspects of "Neverland" will be incompatible with the current peer-mod population. 4-6 out of 12 questions are closed on WB. Peer mods seem to regard world-building projects as engineering projects, preferably worlds without any inhabitants.

Personally, I still don't grasp the need for all of these close rules, but let's use this for practice

As I see it now, 4 out of 5 could be non-story-based questions, but only one legal (#5)

In below solution, the (a) questions are story based, (b) are not, but 3/5 of my (b) questions have other issues. For one of your answers (#2) I cannot find a non-story based question.

A: It could be a place that has no boundaries, and children can do whatever they want. It has magic, and pretty much whatever the child can imagine.

1a) "Would my magic amusement park be suitable for kids ?" (story based, asking about the experience of people in the story, and opinion based, maybe I vtc along)

1b) "Would my magic amusement park need an age limit ?" (about rule of Neverland world, but opinion based and maybe non-WB)

A: It could have pirates for one child, and maybe indians for another, depending of the things they are into. The place has magic, and kids never have to grow up.

2a) "How to amuse kids in my Neverland amusement park?" (all close reasons, even I would vtc)

2b) -- (have to pass on this one, can't think of any question that is not story-based)

A: They don't tell time at all. There is never a sunset or a night time. They don't age, and have no responsibilities. It is play time all the time. But, maybe once per hour, some creature with a clock comes by, and then they know the time. The creature is scary—an alligator maybe? So the kids know "time is bad."

3a) "How can I learn kids to feel immortal?" (story based, I'd try put a better answer before it gets closed :p)

3b) "Why would scary alligators with clocks appear in my Neverland park?" (ok ? they would probably close it for OB or something)

A: You should not have just random pirates if the child likes pirates. There needs to be some "villain" in the world. If the Neverland is indians, then it is a chief. If the Neverland is pirates, make a big bad captain. The world with no bounds won't be able to have any crisis without a villain.

4a) "Would toy pirates that appear at random amuse the children in my Neverland park?" (story based)

4b) "Should my children's amusement park have the toy pirates appear at random?" (seems ok, but there's opinion based again.. near good, your answer is science based actually)

A: The way the kids learn to fly can be from fairies. Children associate fairies with magic, and so the fairies can have some sort of dust that makes the kids fly. It shouldn't come from themselves.

5a) "What would fairies do in my Neverland amusement park?" (story based, a prototype, I would vtc)

5b) "How would I get kids in my magic Neverland amusement park to fly ?" (seems ok to me)

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  • $\begingroup$ I see what you did. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas that's the strangest comment I ever got on WB. No idea how to interpret it.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ It's a thing! The question, as I read it, focuses on Neverland, the fictional world Barrie crafted to write some of his stories in. Peter Pan and so forth. Since, obviously, Neverland is a fictional world, a setting for a story, it falls under Worldbuilding. Thus I answered yes. --- You answered no and got around the issue entirely by focusing on Neverland the amusement park. Neverland was, for a time, Michael Jackson's private amusement park. Apart from "entertaining" the kiddies, it's basically a matter of engineering and site design which, as you rightly point out that (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) a query would be closed. I believe there is also a Neverland associated with Disney parks. To put it more succinctly, I appreciate the cunning and witty way you got around the question in order to answer the question. That's kudos! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I focused on these answers. Every answer VP provides is about kids being entertained, so I assumed it's some magic amusement park for kids, located anywhere. I wrote above questions as a compliance excercise. I tried to provide TWO solutions for each answer, to show questions can be changed, to modify semantics in order to change perspective away from the character and into a world, to avoid the "story-based" closure. There is one (#2) I could not solve, and 3 other (b)'s would be closed for other reasons. It is imho impossible to put a "yes", when the answers are like the above. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 7:23

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