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.
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