Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Worlds -- The WHY of World Building

The WHY in world building tells how everything came about, the world’s history. Perhaps you are thinking: but all this information will never be used in my story! That's right, it won't. But we all know life is complicated, our world is complicated. To become a believable complete world, you must understand your world you are creating. Some information may become important as your story unfolds.
1. Why does the government, belief system, cultural mores work the way they do? Is there some important fact in it's history?

2. Why do the social customs, manners, rituals, holidays work the way they do?

3. Is there a reason behind the climate of this world? Has there been global warming, an ice age, nuclear winter or other apocalyptic occurrence?

4. Is there a historical reason for the way things are done? We do many odd things because of history, say for instance our celebration of Halloween (just one instance of many -- think about manners and customs!). This can be a factor in your story as well.

Another world view.
5. How and why is this world different from the Earth we know?

Keep jotting down your answers, thinking about what you have created so far, and asking more questions. It's up to you. The uniqueness of your world will emerge with your answers.

Final step.
When done, organize your information so you can easily find the information you need when you need it. I sort my information into the physical world and the cultural world. Soon you will have created a bible of information for your world. Yes, you will have information that may never play out in your story, but you have immersed yourself in your world, and now are very familiar with it. And who knows what may come up in sequels? Your world awaits you without having to fish for details through what you wrote in the first story.

This is one of my favorite aspects of writing. I love creating different worlds, similar in nature to our known world, but an inimitable imaginary playground for my characters.

That’s it. Just like journalism, you now have the basic information for your newly built world. You may have much more than will ever be put in the story, but this information gives you great power over how your characters will behave, what obstacles they might run into. Plots often develop in the spur of the moment as the Muses strike, but with your world bible, you will know what your characters might run into. This is a lot of work for one story, so think sequels.


Roseanne Dowell said...

Now I know why I don't build imaginary worlds. Too much work for me. LOL I'll stick to the world we live in. It's complicated enough. Thanks for sharing.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Again, thank you for this. Very critical information. Thanks.

Rhobin said...

You're welcome, Joylene, I'm glad you've found this information useful.

Roseanne, I expect even in your contemporary settings, you use some of the information given here to establish your setting. It's just scifi/fantasy need more. Thanks for posting.

Wendy said...

It is involved, isn't it? So this is how the experts do it. No wonder you have to keep track of your information and organize it. After putting such wonderful effort into creating your world you really do need to use it in sequels. So this world would have to be one where you absolutely love to reside. It must be a very satisfying challenge.

Sorry I'm late. I had a deadline on final edits. Oh what a feeling! :)