Breaking down the challenge

Have you ever gone to take part in an exciting new challenge on World Anvil and got stumped by ideas? It’s that curse of an empty page (or article, in this case) that seems to stop the ideas from flowing, so in this blog post I’ll be sharing my method of breaking down the challenge and making my worldbuilding that much easier!

Here’s what I’m covering today:

  • deconstructing the brief
  • setting up an article structure
  • adding placeholders
  • filling out step by step

As always there is a TL;DR summary at the end of this post so you can come back for a quick refresher!

Deconstructing the brief

So the first part of the challenge is understanding the criteria and what you need to cover. At the time of writing, the current challenge is Death of a Legend.

Time to grab a cup of tea, read through and then figure out what’s important. You can see in one of the headers there’s an area for “What to cover” – this part is clearly the main focus, but there is also a line that says “bonus points for a timeline of the events leading to the death”. Lastly there are some technical points to consider, such as the article template, maximum wordcount and of course, the deadline!

I had an inkling of an idea for this challenge: I want to write about the legend of a Saint in my world. I have no idea about the details! That will come later, for now I’ll start to set up the article.

Setting up an article structure

My method of completing these worldbuilding challenges involves firstly not having a clue what to write, then setting up a framework that I can gradually fill in the sections and break it down into manageable parts (rather than trying to write the whole thing in one go).

To do this, I use BBCode and placeholder text via a Lorem Ipsum generator. This helps me to visualise how much I’ll need to write for each section in order to cover all of the points in the brief, as well as being mindful about the wordcount limit.

I can also use this to play around with the visual layout beforehand!

The copy & paste code for this is at the bottom of this blog post!

As you can see here, I’ve used the sections from the challenge page as headings for the four columns so that underneath I can write about each bit.

Pro tip: see that red arrow pointing to the dots in the bottom right corner of the text box? In World Anvil you can click and drag that to make the area bigger when you’re writing so you can see the whole thing.

Adding placeholders

As I mentioned in my previous post (4 quick tips for setting up a new world on World Anvil), I like to use placeholder images so that I can see the layout clearer and concentrate on the important writing first and create the relevant images later.

This is what the article looks like now, with placeholder text. The first paragraph will always be a TL;DR summary giving the most important information. This is then followed by a quote (no idea what it will be yet) to give further lore from the perspective of someone within the world.

Next you can see the overview with the headers from the brief, these may end up being longer than the placeholder text, but that’s ok.

I also have an empty spoiler, to remind myself to add in some extra content for my Patreon exclusive perks (only subscriber groups of a certain level can see this, the public can’t).

In the sidebar I’ve slapped in a placeholder image above (where maybe a portrait could go), and some article blocks to further reading / related articles underneath.

Filling out step by step

Once I’m happy with the layout, I then start working through each section. Here’s the order I do it in:

  1. a paragraph or two under each of the topic headings
  2. the quote
  3. the initial summary paragraph (so that I can refer to the main content)
  4. the other information for the article e.g. subheading, excerpt, tags and related articles
  5. the timeline that was mentioned as bonus points in the brief
  6. the images

Last of all I will go back to the challenge page and re-read the brief one last time to make sure I’ve covered all of the points before submitting my entry into the competition!

Here’s what the final article looks like: The Legend of St. Ansell

TL;DR Summary

In summary:

  • Read the challenge brief carefully and thoroughly. Understand each part and break it down into important sections.
  • Use these sections in your article layout so that it’s easier to answer small chunks rather than write the entire thing in one go.
  • Set up a framework using placeholder text and images to inspire you, rather than staring at a blank page.
  • Fill it out bit by bit, and take breaks in between.
  • Check your work for typos, make sure you’ve covered all of the points and then submit the article!

Here’s the placeholder text I used earlier on if you’d like to copy & paste it to try out for yourself!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque vel sem dolor. Integer at nunc sit amet nisi tempor tincidunt vitae non libero. Etiam posuere ornare lorem, sed ullamcorper lacus condimentum vitae. Proin a sem nisl.

[quote]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque vel sem dolor.|person[/quote]

Cras sit amet malesuada leo. Ut id nisi ultricies, pellentesque neque cursus, eleifend sem. Vivamus aliquam fermentum nisl id ornare. Aliquam fermentum suscipit dignissim. Morbi aliquam pretium justo sit amet aliquet. Aliquam erat volutpat. Proin rhoncus nulla ligula, id semper tortor volutpat ut. Proin pellentesque vel sapien aliquet dapibus. 
[h3]Death [/h3]
Praesent ullamcorper diam quis tincidunt congue. Integer euismod iaculis ante, non sollicitudin orci euismod sit amet. Proin convallis dignissim velit, interdum viverra dui convallis vel. Pellentesque in mauris risus. Donec non auctor sem. Vestibulum in viverra neque, rhoncus ornare libero. 
[h3]Legend [/h3]
Nam finibus posuere ornare. Duis efficitur felis eu nisi egestas varius. Morbi posuere sapien vel purus rutrum pellentesque. Nulla egestas nulla ut nisl mollis, a mollis arcu varius. Mauris varius nulla id justo maximus feugiat. Suspendisse sed semper elit. 
Donec in eros nec nisl hendrerit interdum quis nec nulla. Duis vitae varius lacus, eu luctus nibh. Donec eros ligula, condimentum id orci sed, bibendum porttitor nunc. Nullam faucibus posuere venenatis. Quisque id ultrices velit. Aliquam erat volutpat. 

2 thoughts on “Breaking down the challenge

  1. That’s an interesting article. Thanks for writing it! I like to see how different people have different ways of writing articles (I’m one of those “write the whole thing in one go, THEN think about making everything pretty).

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