|Happy New Year from the grandgirls!|
WORLD BUILDING, Part 2
Creating a world (or worlds) from scratch
Regular readers of my blog know I may hammer over and over at the importance of editing what we write, but I try to avoid telling anyone how to write. There are many approaches to writing a book - each author has to use what works best for him/her. The same applies to World Building. All I can do in this series is describe how I did it for my Futuristic Paranormal series, Blue Moon Rising, and hope some of you may find it helpful.
I began the book I originally called Blue Moon strictly for the fun of it. I had always enjoyed Science Fiction but knew I didn't have the technical expertise to write it. And then I discovered the genre called "Futuristic" (Romantic SciFi) and thought, "Well, what the heck, why not?" It was only as I neared the end of the book that I realized I'd written myself into what needed to be at least a three-book series. And that's when reality struck. I'd made a list of names before I began to write, but otherwise I'd simply winged it—fortunately, scribbling down each "invented" word as I came to it (well, most of the time), just as I did each new character added to the original bare-bones Character List.
But it became apparent that if I were going to write more than one book, a concrete, well-organized list of all the things in my worlds was going to have to be created. Aargh! For years my only gesture toward "organization" was a notebook full of names: Regency nobility, common English, Spanish, French, & Arabic names, etc. And, yes, I used classic legal-sized storage envelopes to corral hardcopy research for each book. I also had a personal Regency reference and vocabulary I had created through the years, stored on my computer. But something that listed all the details of the new world I'd been creating . . .? Oops.
As soon as I finished Book 1 (now titled Rebel Princess), I went out and bought a 4" ring binder. Really, I did. (Those who know me will realize how ridiculous that sounds for an "out of the mist" writer like me.) And I started typing up all those scribbles - and, believe me, they seemed endless. But when Ellora's Cave Blush accepted my three-book series and I was faced with writing Book 2, that notebook made all the difference. Without it, I never could have kept my worlds straight.
Some authors, of course, would need to put that 4" ring binder together before they started Book 1, and that's okay. Just because I would have gone nuts (and been bored to death) trying to create all that from scratch before writing Word One doesn't mean that someone else isn't right to want it all laid out before he/she begins.
Moving back to the beginning - the planning stage . . .
If you are writing Fantasy, it's likely you will be sticking to one world, though probably a world with many different facets (Examples: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series; C. L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series; the book or HBO series, Game of Thrones). Most series of this nature benefit from a map; if not included in the book or the opening montage (as in Game of Thrones), a rough map drawn solely for the author's benefit always helps. If you don't get your new world straight in your head, no one else is going to!
In the case of Blue Moon, however, I was creating a world in the Star Trek/Star Wars mold - more than one planet, more than one culture (although most of mine were based on Old Earth). First came a Military culture from the planet Regula, a race of conquerors with starships named after ancient Greek and Roman gods. The primary counterculture - Psyclid, a peaceful planet where the inhabitants have gone the other way, developing their minds rather than their military might. I gave both planets earth-style climates but created vastly different styles of architecture and clothing. And for Psyclid, three moons, one of them misty blue.
For the citizens of Regula, I chose names for both males and females from countries known for their formal military attitudes on Old Earth; primarily German, Austrian, Russian, and East European. For the people from Psyclid, I got more creative, tweaking recognizably artistic names into something even more unusual. (Example: the heroines of Books 1 & 2, sister princesses, are L'ira and M'lani.) For last names I was even more obsessive, struggling through page after page in an old Orlando phonebook, writing down names by hand that seemed to fit my two worlds. And, yes, it was hard work and time-consuming, but I never, ever, would have thought of some of the actual names I found. (Example: the last name of my Book 2 hero, the sorcerer, Jagan Mondragon).
I also printed off lists of the ancient Greek & Roman gods, and that was all I had when I began. Everything else evolved as I needed it: government, paranormal skills, unique vocabulary, types of weapons, transportation, etc. (more on these later).
That's where I was when I sat down and wrote the opening scene, suddenly grabbing words out of the air, like "hologlobe" and "Tau-15" fighter. Was I picturing the bridge of the Enterprise? As I look back, it seems likely, but I wasn't actively conscious of it. The Orion was simply a starship on a training mission with a bunch of cadets from the Regulon Space Academy, one of whom is a Psyclid princess in disguise, determined to become something she was not raised to be. And the rest of the chapter seemed to write itself.
Summary. Before beginning to write, do what you have to do to familiarize yourself with the world(s) you've created. Have a concrete picture of your world - draw a map. Name your main characters. (You don't have to be as obsessive as I was and create pages of names!) Have a good idea how your characters live, how they talk, how they look at their world. In other words, have a fully grounded Setting before you drop your characters and your plot into it. If you have two contrasting worlds, as I did, make sure everything from their names to their architecture, clothing, and thoughts reflect how different they are.
Next blog: The many other things you have to invent for your world(s)
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True story: I entered Book 1 (now Rebel Princess, debuting sometime in 2014) in two RWA contests (allowable as this was a new genre for me). In the first contest, I won First in Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal. In the second contest, I received appalling marks, including a "1" in Mechanics (the basic Nuts & Bolts of grammar and spelling I am always preaching about!)
Why? All the "typos" in my manuscript.
Reality: Those "typos" were the vocabulary words I had so carefully made up for my future worlds. Sigh. Clearly, not everyone "gets" SciFi.
~ * ~Thanks for stopping by.
For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.
For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.