World Building

World building for fiction is hard work, but mostly in the thought category. The writer must create a setting that the reader accepts as real no matter how bizarre. This often involves taking a part of accepted reality readers are familiar with and extending it into a past, present, future, or fantasy time. Present time? Yes, even a contemporary world must be structured. There is nothing that pulls a reader out of a story than encountering something they know is incorrect, such as police, law, administrative, business, or other cultural procedures or customs. Are your characters traveling? Do you know what the places they go are like? Historical periods can be daunting because of this. Research is imperative.

I start with my plot and start asking myself questions: What type of setting is required for this story? Does it have a similar time period to one of our historical eras (great for tying the reader to the story)? What is the societal structure, who holds power, who serves, who starves? What do the people wear? What is the religion(s)? Do they have any speech peculiarities? What are their cities, farms, houses, and work places like? What is the natural world like (plants and animals)? Does your world possess any weather anomalies? What technologies, travel, weapons, education, and products do the characters possess? What holidays do they celebrate? If the characters or world has paranormal abilities, what are they and how do they work? There are more questions, but that is the idea.

Once I start making decisions, it will be important to write the characteristics down so I don't lose or forget them. It is important to remain consistent throughout the story because my readers will notice when I slip up on details. I refer to these notes, or what I call my book's bible, throughout my writing.

In the Black Angel (Rogue's Rules, Loser's Game, and Devil's Due) stories, an interstellar universe needed to be created.  (If you read Home World ~Aginfeld, The Nanite Warrior, and Crewkin, some of the terminology and places sound familiar — no use in thinking up a whole new galaxy!) In this world I needed to establish a world where space travel existed. Yes, many authors have done this, but I needed my own take on it, dealing with time differences, and how to move through space/time. Many readers are familiar with other 'space' universes. Some use more science than others, but other factors have to be dealt with such as time anomalies. That is not the only factor that needs attention. For instance, how do individuals deal with space, confined spaces, limited acquaintances, etc.?

With Home World ~Aginfeld I had to research the possibility of bioforming a planet, and the setting became an integral part of the plot. I was able to write The Nanite Warrior very quickly because this world was already created, but it also let me fill in more detail. If settlers have a planet almost to the point of inhabitable, doesn't that create a very valuable commodity others would want to steal? What are the ways a settlement could be undermined?

In Crewkin I wanted to explore what long term space travel would be like, so this also took some research.

The Aegis Series (Magic Aegis, Change, Acceptance, and Legend's Cipher) world was very similar to our Renaissance Period, but with a cataclysm background history where a very advanced society failed. The society has restructured and redeveloped with some different attitudes toward marriage, and their religion has taken on a numerology aspect to help guide the characters. Do I believe in numerology? No, but studying the concept was interesting, and the information I learned shows up in many blog posts about numbers and symbols.

For this series I needed a map to keep track of geographic locations. (This map might extend into the next column, in that case ignore the over posts.)

 Every writer needs to deal with setting as well as character. In some ways they are integral as everyone's time, location and customs help create the type of individual they become.

1 comment:

Margaret Fieland said...

Interesting post. When I wrote Relocated, I started with the world-building, not the plot.