Where to start with world building.
One of my favorite elements, and I’ll admit, the hardest element as well, of writing science fiction is the chance that I have to create a world. It is just awesome to be able to put all the ideas I have of how society can develop into a little place all my own, without having to live in it. (There are some of my worlds that I don’t really want to live in.)
However, that’s all blah, blah, blah. The important thing is how to build it. Like I said, this is one of the hardest parts. I start to write a novel, stop half way through, or worse all the way through, realize that something pivotal doesn’t work, and so have to fix that up or figure out how it works. That’s just plain frustrating.
But perhaps I have figured out a solution.
See, I just wrote a story which has been running around here with a couple names; mostly you’ll know it by Ethical or mermaids. Now the title is Just Trust Me and should be appearing here shortly.
This story, although a short story, can be expanded so this is the prologue of a novel. It’s just set up for that. At first I thought that I will never write her story. However, the more I began rewriting it, and polishing it up, and making this world a decent world, the more I wanted to write it into a novel.
See, it’s a lot easier to write something tiny. I’m only playing around at the moment with 8500 words. That doesn’t take that much time to work through. However, by creating the world at the moment, and figuring out how it can function in a reasonable way, I happen to have myself set up for a very good novel world with not that much difficulty.
Not only that but I already know four of the main characters in the novel, enough that I think they’ll start to speak to me on the first draft.
Now, I don’t think this novel is going to show up in bookstores any time soon. I probably won’t even start writing it until July or August. But–I also think that it does work to write a short story about all of your main characters before you write the novel. Not only does it give you something smaller to work on, but it lets you know their world and their thoughts.
Have you ever tried to do this? How’d it turn out?
I am not sure it is easier to write a short story. Takes a lot less time, yeah, but easier? Not sure about that. But yeah, it is definitely a great way to explore characters and elements of the world.
When I think about how much work I put into thinking things over, and planning details, and all that and how much I put into a short story, and it is just shorter and easier. That’s kinda the way I view it at least.
I usually find I put a lot of effort into building a world and then have to try to figure out what story to tell there :).
I have actually been doing what you suggest in my Grand SF Universe and writing short stories over the last few years about various characters and I find it does help to clarify major problems with the world (e.g. you thought things would work one way but then when your characters try to do something you discover that can’t work) and also provides some backstory that helps flesh out the characters, even if you never refer to it or only mention it in passing.
Plus, heck, if the novel becomes a best-seller you can then release the short story collection :).