Worldbuilding and How To Do It
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One of the most exciting things about spec fic is the chance to build worlds. I'm working on my first in this genre, so it's also my first attempt at creating a whole new environment. My book is earth-based, but set 500 years in the future. I get to imagine what might have changed and what might have stayed the same. I'm enjoying it tremendously, but what's struck me is how much of it comes out without planning. As I write, the world kind of builds itself. Not everything, mind you, but enough to make me wonder what happens with other writers. So... how do the rest of you build your worlds? Do you plan ahead? If so, how much? If not, how does your world create itself? Do you have special procedures for names? How does it all come together for you?
  • My friend Tessa (well, I stalk her anyway) had a great series on her blog on world building. Here is a link to Part 1. There are 5 parts all linked from the first one. Hope that helps.
  • Sindy, I think that's true of all books, not just SF/F. The dreaded "info-dump" does not belong in chapter one, for sure. What I find difficult in SF/F, though, is knowing when to drop the info-bomb, so to speak, as we go along. Especially when so much of this new world is different. I still don't know whether or not I've completely confused the reader in the first few pages! Also--thanks for the tip on the OS Card book. I had no idea he'd written one. I'd like to check it out.
  • I think you need to sketch out your world so you know what your characters will see and how they will react within it. The problem when you begin writing is not to "front load" your story with all of the details. In my local critique groupk we just read two attempts this past week: one had so much narrative to set up the characters that all the readers were begging for the story to actually start; the other had so many names that were weirdly spelled and similar that it was very confusing. Orson Scott Card uses Tolkien as an example in his book on writing SF/Fant. He points out that Tolkien gave us a little info but dumped us in The Shire and the action starts. We get the backstory (Sauron, ring, etc.) as the story unfolds even though Tolkien had his world planned to the extreme.
  • This is a topic near and dear to my heart for a novel I've got sitting on the back burner. I am hoping from pointers on this from the group. Thanks!