|Would you believe - ice skating in Florida? (I made those hats, by the way.)|
WORLD BUILDING, Part 3
To review Parts 1 & 2:
1. Create your physical world(s) - climate, landscape, architecture, clothing. Create noticeable contrasts, whether on just one world or on several different worlds.
2. Create a map, whether elaborately drawn with the intent of including it in your book or simply a hand-drawn sketch to keep locations straight in your mind while you write.
3. Create your main characters - name them, taking the time to find names that exemplify your characters. Don't settle for ordinary "Earth" names unless that's the "feel" you want for a particular character. (If you really like to plan ahead, you can draw up a complete Character List before you begin. For me, it's usually only the four or five characters in the initial scenes.)
~ * ~The next steps:
Special gifts. When creating the characters for your imaginary world or worlds, be sure you endow at least some of them with special gifts. Whether you're writing Paranormal, Fantasy, Futuristic, or SciFi, the strange and wonderful is expected. If readers of these genres wanted an Earth-like world, they'd be reading Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Historical, etc. The special gifts you invent are limited only by your imagination.
Grace note: Part way through Book 1, I scribbled down a list of likely Psyclid paranormal talents and then, of course, when it was time to endow a second princess with a "gift" in Book 2, I made it something I had never considered before. Demonstrating that, even with lists, creativity is possible.
Government. A great many books involving World Building deal with problems of government, frequently the classic rebels vs. an authoritarian government. Whether you're talking fairies, dragons, or evil empires, detailing governments is usually essential. Readers need to know the hero and heroine are fighting for the greater good (or against something more than a vague cloud on the horizon). For my Blue Moon series, I ended up with three governments: an emperor and High Council for the military world of Regula, a long-suffering royal couple (parents of my heroines) on the peaceful but "Regulon-occupied" world of Psyclid, and a dashing young hero on Blue Moon, who is plagued by a Hierarchy who tend to believe they, not he, are in charge.
The above brief summary should make it clear that problems of government not only provide an overall arc for the series but add depth to many scenes. In addition, there are also governmental problems on a lower scale, such as the many problems encountered by the military on Psyclid as they find their firm, pragmatic hands losing control of slippery Psyclid minds. So the concept of "government" works on many levels.
Religion & Tradition. Frequently, religion and tradition are closely allied with government. We have only to look at our own dissenting Pilgrim fathers rejecting the firm hold of England's church and state for an example. The choice is yours, of course. You can ignore religion and tradition if you choose. You create your world - you make it what you want. But throughout history - for better or for worse - religion and tradition have had a huge impact on civilization. Therefore, consider that we are not unique. Religion and tradition might be as important in the future as they are on Earth at this moment. And they too can add depth to your story - conflict, motivation, color, etc. In the Blue Moon series my two cultures worship different gods—the Regulon god, masculine; the Psyclid god, feminine. But I have not made it a bone of contention, simply a fact of life, accepted with tolerance. Again, this is my story - I can write it any way I want to. I don't have to assume they hate each other because of religious differences. Your choice.
A Thousand Details. And then come all those little details that make your story a depiction of another world, not just ordinary Earth creatures going about their daily lives on a planet far, far away. Again, people like me may make up most of these details as we go along - though never forget to record them for future reference! Others will want to create the whole kit and kaboodle up front, before writing Word One. Whichever way you go about it, you need to make your world a special place, something that will come alive in readers' minds, keeping them fascinated and turning pages. Something recognizably different from Planet Earth in 2014.
As an example, for the Blue Moon series I created typed lists of the following, mostly from scribbles written down as I wrote the original. Here are the categories I found necessary: after Special Gifts, Government, Religion & Tradition - War Craft; Armaments; Starships (exact names); Transportation; Planets, Cities & Palaces; Places & Other Peoples; Jumpgates; Food & Drink; Birds & Animals; Plants; Epithets, Profanity & Expressions. And, finally, a General Vocabulary.
Each author, of course, must devise what is necessary for his/her worlds. The above list is intended only to give you an idea of how extensive the differences need to be to separate your world from good old Earth and the way the people who live here think.
Mini-descriptions of the categories mentioned above:
War Craft. Not everyone is going to need war craft, but again, many Fantasy/SciFi tales are filled with them. For Rebel Princess, I needed them in Chapter 1, so vocabulary-building began immediately. I scribbled huntership, scoutship, shuttle, etc., on a yellow pad, adding new names as needed. Clearly, these are not "new" words, simply words I intended to use in the Blue Moon series.
Armaments. How do your war craft fight - rockets, lasers, fighter planes? Or something more exotic? My Regulons are pretty conventional; the Psyclids positively scary in their deviation from the norm. Whatever you create, don't forget to write down your ideas, so you don't have P-11 laser fire erupting from a Tac-9 handgun. Or a Tau-15 atmosphere fighter plane shooting at a target in space. Repeat: whatever you create, make a list. Don't trust to memory.
Starships. I called this category "Starships" but it ended up being any vehicle that could make its way through space, from a battlecruiser to a merchant ship. If I named it, it went in this list—no longer a generic term, but an exact ship. Example:
Orion, later the Astarte - Tal's huntership
Archer, later the Gemma - the Orion's scout ship
General Vocabulary. This is a list of invented words that simply grew and grew. Words needed to make the future (or your fantasy) sound different from our present, encompassing new tools, new techniques, new discoveries, even familiar words that subtly evolved through the centuries. For Rebel Princess these words developed into quite a long list, which increased even more with words created for Book 2, The Sorcerer's Bride. Unless you have a eidetic memory, this list is a "must." Otherwise, you're bound to mess up and forget those newly minted words. By the end of Book 2, my list ran to three typed pages, not including Profanty,, Transportation, War Craft, Place Names, Food, etc., all listed separately!
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The above seven categories of world-building were necessary before I got to the end of Chapter 1, Book 1. And my worlds just kept building from there—a Space Academy training ship, the military planet Regula, the infinite quiet of something called the Regulon Interplanetary Archives, the contrasting beauty of a terraformed Blue Moon, the raucous fun of Tatarus - a planet thoroughly enjoying its position in a neutral zone, the stark architecture of a space station, the dark underbelly of a rim planet known as Hell Nine, and finally to Psyclid, the planet full of people with skills of the mind (currently occupied by Regulon troops).
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Coming next: More details on the building blocks needed to create the worlds of Blue Moon Rising. And how those details can relate to the worlds you need to build.
Thanks for stopping by,
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