Is your Spotlight coming up soon? This guide will help you prepare and present a great World Spotlight!

When someone asks a question, don’t just answer “yes” or “no”.

Use it as an opportunity to expand on your world.

Example Someone asks, “Are there dragons in your world?” Instead of simply responding with “Yes,” give some information on how dragons fit into your world. Are they their own distinct culture? Or are they steeds people ride? If so, who rides them? etc. And if there aren’t dragons in your world, you can still answer, “No, but I do have basilisks/wyverns/wingless drakes/etc.,” or “No, but they are used in art by [culture/group/faction]” (if applicable).

In short: Use every question as an opportunity to expand on your world and provide more information that will help your audience continue to ask good questions!

Don’t make walls of text.

Try to keep your answers within one to two paragraphs. It can be difficult to keep the rhythm of a spotlight going if people have to constantly stop to absorb a deluge of long and dense information.

Occasional walls of text aren’t bad. It’s true that they’re sometimes necessary. It also helps if you warn your audience if a long answer is coming. But do them sparingly—don’t throw wall after wall of text at your audience in rapid succession.

Pro-tip: Instead of splurging five paragraphs’ worth of information into one post, write two paragraphs with information designed to lead the audience to ask more questions, including ones that lead to the remaining three paragraphs of information you initially intended. Give your audience the opportunity to ask the questions to the answers you want to give them.

Not everything needs to be in the Spotlight Application.

Sounds counter-intuitive? Perhaps! Read on.

The spotlight application provides two sections for adding additional materials: “Project Art” and “Additional Content” (such as a wiki link, a google doc, a website, etc.) It is good to have something in these links, because they’re your audience’s first introduction to the world. However, if you have a lot of additional materials or pieces of art, you might not want to put all of them in the application.

Instead, you might want to keep them on hand during your spotlight to post/link as the subjects come up. Make a folder on your computer labeled “spotlight materials” and keep everything in there, so that it’s on hand when you’re ready to share it.

Example If you have a picture of a city in your world, you might wait to post it for when discussion of the city actually comes up in your spotlight session. If you have character art, you might want to wait to post it when discussion of the character comes up.

This is not a hard and fast rule. However, it is recommended to avoid making an imgur album with, say, twenty pictures for which the audience has no understanding or context. If you have great visuals, you might want to trickle-feed them to your audience throughout the spotlight, rather than shove them into your audience’s faces all at once. Compare it to offering people small bites of very rich cake, one bite at a time, instead of trying to shove the whole damn cake down their gullets.

During lulls, when questions seem to be slowing down, take breaks.

Inform your audience that you’re going to get lunch/dinner, run some important errand, etc. and that you’ll return at x time (be sure to give the timezone too—e.g. 8pm EST). Don’t burn yourself out, and if you sense your audience is getting burned out, give them a way to gracefully take a bit of a break too. Plus, no matter how interested people are in your world, real life calls: people have school, errands, meetings, sleep needs, gym, etc.

When you come back, start off strong. If you have an awesome visual you’ve been saving, open up by posting it and saying, “Welcome back! Now, I want to talk about this country/character/weapon/concept …”

Even if you don’t have a visual, start off by stating what area of your world you want to touch on that you haven’t gotten to yet and drop a carefully crafted one or two paragraphs’ worth of information about it (again, it should be crafted in a way as to provide people with enough information to get the ball rolling on questions).

How do I craft good paragraphs of information?

Be provocative.

We all curse news sites for “clickbait”, but there’s a reason clickbait is so effective: it’s provocative, and it includes words and phrases that deliberately grab people’s attention and strike their curiosity. If there are parts of your world that are extremely funny or silly (I’m looking at you, folks with punny worlds), or parts of the world with very strange practices, be sure to insert mention of the funny or strange parts in your paragraphs. People will latch onto them and want to know more.

Additionally, try avoid generic or ambiguous words in crafting your paragraph.

Example “It’s a medieval fantasy world” is very generic. “It’s a world with a rune-based magic system with a mixture of medieval and renaissance tech, but without firearms” is much more interesting and informative.

Talk about WHY you’ve put stuff in, not just WHAT the content is.

People are interested in your artistic choices. Why did you include this? Why did you design x a certain way in your world? In short, talk about why you’ve done things the way you have, not just that you have done them a certain way. Consider discussing how your work obtains artistic unity: a situation where all elements work together to ask a question or achieve a feeling.

If you can, also talk about themes in your world. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you’re trying to send a message with your work, what is it? What concepts are you exploring? What aesthetic are you going for? What effect were you trying to achieve when you made something a certain way in your world?

Be prepared to discuss the merits of your approach and some of the ideas brought up in your work. At times, these conversations may be controversial, but that’s the fun part. Just be sure to treat your audience with respect, and expect the same in return. If things get out of hand, you can try redirecting conversation, ask that the issue be brought up outside of Spotlight, or ping @Emergency if things get way out of hand and you need a moderator’s help.