Writing New Worlds to Life
by C. Patrick Schulze
I write NOVELS set in times we've all read about and pull my PLOTS from real life stories. It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to find stories in this manner. However, those who write sci-fi or fantasy have always impressed me. It seems to me those writers must bring a great deal of creativity to their work when they write new worlds to life.
Not only must they write that all-elusive and saleable novel, they have to create entire and believable worlds out of thin air. Now, I can write a good story, but I've never tried to build an entire ecosystem as sci-fi and fantasy writers must. So, I did a bit of research on how to create such a world. The more I got into it, the more fun these genres offered.
You should have a believable place in which to plant your readers, and it seems there are eight primary aspects to worldbuilding. They are:
The supernatural, or God and spirits
The new world's laws of nature, the Physics
The weather and climate
The lay of the land or Geography
The skies or Astronomy
The beasts that roam your world or Zoology
The flora and fauna
The speaking creatures that populate your world or Anthropology
Let's take a quick look at each of these components of your new world to see what must be considered.
The supernatural component of your novel will have great influence over the morality of your world's inhabitants and thus power over what occurs there. Is there a God or does the world tend toward oracles or even magic? Are these superior beings vengeful or caring? How do they affect the lives of your inhabitants?
Everything in your world is impacted by the physics of the place. The tides may force people into underwater dwellings for half the day or the push of gravity might makes things fly. This then affects living habits, clothing, food production, the gods and all the rest.
The weather impacts your characters in ways we other than sci-fi and fantasy writers never imagined. It affects the type of buildings that exist, the crops that grow, your characters' clothing and so much more. Further, weather can even affect the outcome of your story. Ever heard of the Armada?
Geography can also be interesting. Imagine for example, your world is saturated with fluids. Might your creatures then walk on water? (Wait… Maybe your creatures walk on water so you need a water world of sorts. I'm confused…) In any case, you may have to reevaluate your weather as you build your landscape as the two, at least in our world, impact upon each other.
If your world is influenced by the astronomy, you may wish to create a star map. Here you imagine planetary rotations and orbits, star colors, constellations and such. Further, imagine the effect of your sky on the world's inhabitants and horticulture.
Now for the beasts that roam over your geography or swim under your seas. Here you have to consider the food chain, if it exists. If it does, that means higher level and subordinate animals with all those interactions and reactions. Are there classes or genesis of animals? Are they aquatic and/or terrestrial in nature? Do they communicate and how? Are they domesticated or not? I'd think this area of creation could be fun.
The plant life on your new world comes next. Do your creatures feast on the plants? How are they affected by geography, weather and everything else? Are your plants intelligent and do they carry the weight of a character in your novels? Can they be the characters?
Now for the Anthropology, those creatures that speak in your novel. Do they have emotions? Is their language formal, informal or written? Do you need to create a new language? (If there's ever a reason not to write sci-fi…) Are there genders and what are they? Do families exist? If so, in what form and what function to they serve? Are there classes of people and how might the "higher" classes affect the lower and vice-versa? This aspect to worldbuilding must be the most important to your novel for these creatures offer your dialogue.
I found it interesting to think about how these aspects of your new world might play against each other. On Earth, our climate affects the zoology, the physics of our world effects the geography, the Anthropology affects the supernatural and so on. How might these factors relate to each other on your world?
No telling what I've missed, but I do have to say, outside of a new language, creating new worlds could be the most fun part of writing - ever!
Has anyone developed a fictional world? What secrets to you have to share?
Best of luck in your new world and don't forget, I wish you only best-sellers.
C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel "Born to be Brothers"