So there’s this new story I’m working on and am actually quite excited about. Whenever I want to avoid doing homework or readings or have some down time on the bus or between classes, I take to doing something that I have missed since before I started writing Project Stripes almost three years ago: world-building.
I’m sure every author no matter what genre you use as your mode dreams about dreaming up other worlds that they claim entirely as their own. They don’t even have to be whole worlds but a fictional country, city, or town on our planet so long as they create a place that did or does not exist in our frame of reality.
In my case, I am working on creating an entire planet that bubbled out of my noodle from a simple thought I had just after Christmas last year: a young woman is sent to live and learn from a hermit-like hunter after she commits some kind of disruptive, illegal act. The thought came from a conversation my dad and uncle were having about deer they have hit while driving (accidentally of course). What also didn’t hurt to develop my hunter/forest story was we were on our way to see the Lemurs at Duke University. From these small indicators, sprang a whole realm of possibilities for a new story I could write. At the onset, I thought it would just be a short story detailing the relationship between the young woman and the hunger, learning from each other and changing for the better from their differing personalities. However, as my imagination fermented the idea, the story became much, much more than a short story and into a prospective novel.
This evolution of the idea from short story into novel is just a small part of the beauty that is world-building. Now that I knew I had room to maneuver with plot and character, I developed a planet setting. I included and combined small ideas from other projects into this story and soon I was diving into the exhilarating process of creation. What kinds of people live here?; what kinds of animals and people migrate from this place to there and why? geography?; how did they evolve?; how can I relate this world to Earth and what people know?
If by just reading this small portion of the world-building process excites you, then welcome to the world of creating art. If not that’s fine. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea, more for us. However, I think we can all appreciate the attention to detail some of us take when forging a new path in the sphere of fiction literature.
I would advise any writer who wants to world-build to look at the questions above as a guide while they create . I will even supply some more questions that I pose to myself during my world-building. However, while world-building is great fun, I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay attention to what drives a story: character. I have been fortunate enough to say that my world-building started from the creation of the central characters. I may seen to spend more time drawing maps and flags when I actually know the nurturing of characters and relationships takes number one priority. They are who people relate and care about while reading, and they are who live in your world. So remember always when world-building your characters come first; the fun of map-making comes later.
More Questions to ask while world-building:
What makes logical sense for the placement of geologic features: mountains, forests (tropical and maritime), deserts, plains?
How will the placement of nations and other societies around character’s nation influence their shared past/conflicts?
Based on the placement of nations, how does their food availability and natural resources affect their development?
How big can I make this place when compared to Earth standards?
What kinds of new animals can I create within reason of Natural Law?