- Research – make the time to flesh out your world. Readers come to your book wanting to believe and if you don’t delve a little more deeply into what makes your world function, then you run the risk of the story not living up to its potential.
- Structure and consistency – by all means interweave reality with imagination but whatever you create in your world must have a set of rules or be based on logic or reason. Gerrold, in his book Worlds of Wonder, quite rightly states, “The reader will suspend belief - he won’t suspend common sense.”*** Little or no structure will result in the reader becoming confused; that leads to boredom or frustration. And without consistency the reader will disbelieve and mistrust what they’re reading. Don’t give them a reason to put your book down.
- Humanize elements of your world building – make them similar enough to something readers would be familiar with but then balance it with whatever is unique about it. Combine the old with the new.
- Layer the experience – use the senses. Create the scene in your head. What did you see? Hear? Smell? Touch? Taste? Feel emotionally? Provide this and you’ll bring your world alive, make it believable.
- Have fun – take time to daydream. It’s part of the creative process of world building. Collage your ideas, make maps, family trees, lists of your character likes/dislikes, create a play-list of songs that evoke the right mood conducive to the tone of your world.
Once you get started, you never know what sort of wonderful world you might end up with!
Quotes used in the article
* “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” article by Maree Anderson from her website (www.mareeanderson.com)
** Nalini Singh website – web-link called Behind the Scenes re: “skin privileges” (www.nalinisingh.com/psy.html)
*** Worlds of Wonder – How to write science fiction & fantasy – David Gerrold (Titan Books 2001)
A Way with Worlds by S.Savage (www.seventhsanctum.com/www/wwwfull.html)
Magical World Builder by S. Cottrell Bryant (www.web-writer.net/fantasy/)
Fantasy World Building Questions by P.C.Wrede 1996 (www.sfwa.org/writing/worldbuilding1.htm)
Checking on Culture by Lee Killough 1993 AG Press
The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference – Introduction by Terry Brooks (Writer’s Digest Books 1998)
Worlds of Wonder – How to write science fiction & fantasy – David Gerrold (Titan Books 2001)