Friday, June 28, 2013

World Building for Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Hi there, 
Previously Margaret Fieland's post WORLD BUILDING 101 focused on creating a Science Fiction world. Today I am offering a simple creative writing exercise to demonstrate how we can utilise the information she suggested for Fantasy as well.

Today's exercise is one where you can let your imagination run wild. The beauty of writing Science fiction or Fantasy is the removal of parameters. You make the rules. The concept of 'world building' enables the author to share their ideas with  readers while making the fantastic believable.

When an author picks up their pen to create a scene in any genre they must bring the readers into their world. Most contemporary genres can rely on 'assumed knowledge' or 'acquired knowledge'. The mention of a city or an event can conjure a complete atmosphere for the reader. 


In Fantasy and Science fiction the author needs to not only tell a gripping tale, but they must build the world where the action takes place. As Margaret explained the author must understand how the unique world's geography, culture, language, science, customs, creatures, flora and fauna influence the landscape and lifestyle. Climate, crops, clothing, architecture, religion, politics, weapons, transport and motivation are all part of this creative process.

Sounds overwhelming? Believe me, to a the Fantasy or Science Fiction author this is the fun part of writing. This simple creative writing exercise will hopefully show you how to let your imagination run wild and in doing so create a world and tell a story.


Remember for this exercise ANYTHING goes... 


WHAT sort of creature or character are you going to create? Imagine a character and give them a background. Gender, form, occupation.  They don’t have to be human characters. 

ONE: They have been whisked through a portal… to arrive in the world of your making. 

It can be contemporary, science fiction, or fantasy. 

For this exercise think outside your usual genre. Cast your character into an exotic location, whether across the globe today, or back in time, or across the universe and into a complete new world.

Record what your character is experiencing as they wake in the world you have created. Remember to address the five senses. 

What do they See,    Hear,  Smell,  Taste,   Touch,  don’t forget Sense

TWO: What is your character wearing?
Are they naked, clad only in fur, scales, or wearing clothes? 

THREE: Your character wakes…WHERE is he/she/it?
Cave, castle, forest, city, space station? Anything goes.

FOUR: Your character is hungry. WHAT are they going to eat? 
Meat, wheat, fruit, carbon based life forms? 

FIVE: As your character goes rummaging around for dinner he stubs his toe on an object. A useful object. DESCRIBE the object. Is it a weapon? A gem, a magical spell, a creature, a chest… 

SIX: Our character continues on to find his dinner… An unsettling event occurs. They feel the ground shake, or hear a noise, or smell an odour, or sense a disturbance in the force. DESCRIBE the experience and your character’s reaction.

Racing to the door, or the entrance to their cave, or castle, or the edge of the forest clearing they examine the landscape.

SEVEN: WHAT do they see? DESCRIBE the fauna, flora, geological features and/or weather.
As the disturbance settles your character beholds a threat.

EIGHT: DESCRIBE the threat. 
Is it a dragon? A tsunami? A neighbouring war lord? A door to door salesman? A magical nymph intent on stealing his will… 

NINE: Using your created character and information  from this exercise write an ending where you describe how your character reacts to the perceived threat by using the ‘useful object’ they found. 
Remember this is fantasy… and you are creating the world which can include magic. ;)

Characters can avoid conflict… or face it. 

While writing your story consider the world you created. Is there enough information for your reader to visualise the surroundings, character/creature, threat and resolution? 

Please feel free to share your results here in the comment section.
One way to check on aspects of world building is to consider the
Dewey Decimal Classification. It has often been described as how a caveman would view the world as he moves out of his cave. 

What motivates your character is vital to create believable personalities and conflicts/resolutions. In worldbuilding, the author must know the background and motivation of every character to write believable responses.

The hardest part of world building is once the world, its history and geography are clear in the author's mind, they need to avoid the dreaded 'infodumps'. Knowing the background behind every war, ritual, creature or geographic anomaly is important but must be introduced with extreme care. Glimpses can create atmosphere or explain reactions without long winded histories or descriptions that don't push the plot, create atmosphere, or add to a character's development. 

Hope you have enjoyed this journey into another world.
Thanks for participating.
Feel free to share your ideas in the comments. 

Rosalie Skinner.
Website
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6 comments:

Wendy said...

I love your exercise, Rosalie. Despite my having to race around with birthday preparations today, I just had to come and play. So, this is rushed, all tell and not even any dialogue, but I had fun thinking. Sorry that this has taken me so long to get it posted.

Today, three young female Placere are sipping the early morning dew from strange floral plants that mysteriously appeared on the riverbank at the edge of the forest on the planet Inter Sidera. The first Placere is named Bellus because of her alluring beauty, the second is Amaré because of her loving nature and the third is Ius for her sense of justice.

They are lovely to look at, gentle birdlike creatures with feathers but no wings. They use their wistful smiles to lessen their weight whenever they need to fly. They have webbed feet and gills in their necks, usually hidden by their long raven hair. By day they hover at a river but at night they dive to the safety of underwater caves to escape their only predators, the Invidii. This is a humanlike race who rules the forest kingdom.

When Bellus stubs her talon on a many sided rock that temporarily blinded her when sunlight struck it, Ius is incensed that any creature from the Domi Forest could be so careless as to drop such a dangerous object and place another creature at risk of injury. She declares she will find the culprit and seek retribution. The other two Placere beg her to forget the incident but she strides off into the forest carrying the glistening stone in her beak.

The other two females run after her. None of the three are able to raise a wistful smile that will enable them to fly among the trees. When they approach a crossroads they hear voices raised in anger and see a dozen Invidii surrounding one of their own.

Blessed with the gift of understanding all of the forest languages the young females blend into the dried leaves, which feel rough beneath their feet, and quietly listen.

The Placere are shocked to learn the angry Invidii are about to string up the accused to the nearest tree branch because he lost their precious wishing stone which allows them to be the dominant species. Amaré’s heart goes out to the handsome young Invidii standing defiantly at the centre of the circle, withstanding the angry jibes of his tribe. Ius is incensed at the disgraceful display and forms a plan.

In order for them to fly the Placere must have their beaks free but where can they hide the precious stone that belongs to the young man? In his own pocket, of course. Bellus is the logical candidate to draw attention away from the accused long enough for Amaré to run across and convince the youth to cooperate.

I’ll leave this synopsis here… you gave us plenty to work with Rosalie, thanks you.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Wow Wendy,
What a great world you have created. :) The Placere are terrific. I love the Invidii and the empathy you create. Bellus makes a unique and intriguing character.
I would love to read more...
I hope you enjoyed the exercise. Your imagination and writing are beautiful.

Rosalie Skinner said...

PS...is it your Happy Birthday? :) Have a wonderful day.

Wendy said...

Not mine. Other family members. I'll pass on your greeting. :)

Pamela Kelt said...

I wish I'd read this before my first YA attempts! Brilliant advice, ideal for letting the imagination rip, while keeping an eye on logistics. Loved the humour, too. Just right.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Thanks Pam. I am glad you found it helpful.