I write science fiction. Part of the reason why I write science fiction is because I can create my own worlds. NO need to worry about if this thing is right or if that thing is right. It’s my world and I can make it as I please. However, the reason why I write science fiction is a whole another post entirely.
The fact is that worlds and countries are very complicated things. I can just decide I’m going to write something random today and hope to have a fully functioning world by the end of today.
However, I don’t just try to remember each part of our day to day life individually. I have some help that I take from “writer’s inc”. (That is a book.) They have a list of free-writing topics and I just go down the list, building a word as I go more or less.
So, we things like
- houses–What are people’s houses like? Do they live communally or separately? Do they live separated by age? What do they look like? What do they have inside of them.
- family– How is the family structured? Is the father the head of the house or maybe the grandmother? Do people even know their family or do we want something like a “Brave New World” where people are just reared by the state and no one knows whose anyone’s siblings are? Maybe the youngest child has the most power.
- Transportation– HOw do people get around every day?
- Work–What do people do for work? How do they get paid? Do they have husbands and wives work together or can everyone get their own job? Maybe it is shameful for the wife to work at all outside of the home. Maybe the husband shouldn’t. What kind of work can they do? (I’ve built a whole farming community in one of my stories, where everyone needed a job relating back to farming, so we had the accountant, and the miller, and the mechanic, ect. No nuclear biologists in the whole bunch.)
- Relationships — How do people date? Do they date like we do? Or maybe they have a matchmaker arrange the date and then they go on one? HOw about we have personality quizzes decide who a person is to marry and then you’re stuck? Maybe flirting is something reserved only for privileged ladies.
- Community — Is there any community or do people communicate to everyone through feetbook? Maybe there is a monthly community dance where all the personality quiz matches go to meet their partner?
- technology — Do they have things like cell phones, laptops, ipods, and computers? Or maybe the walls are giant computers. Maybe everyone has tracker cell phones provided by the government, so they know who you are and they can watch you very closely. Maybe we just had an EMP and there is no electricity. How can we survive? HOw do we talk with each other?
Part of world building is thinking outside of the box and part of it is realizing how everything fits together. You can’t say there are no cellphones and then have the hero of the story in contact with his sidekick constantly through payphones, especially when he doesn’t have money. (Kinda like this video.)
Sometimes world building is finding what works for you. However, this is what I have found works for me. It’s not hard but it does take some brain power. When I do though, I feel like I’m painting a beautiful picture that will eventually be put into words, which is why I love doing it so much. It might also end up adding so much to the story in the end.