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World Building 101
by Lee Masterson
You are the ultimate creator of your fictional world. No matter where or when your story is set, regardless of what events unfold, and despite the characters you introduce to your readers, they are all products of your unique imagination.
"But I write romance set in the present time," I hear you cry.
It doesn't matter whether your story is set in 16th century Middle Europe, or the 28th century Altarian star-system, your story still belongs in a world created entirely by you. So, even though it can be great fun to invent strange sounding planets in distant galaxies, complete with lethal atmospheres and budding alien life-forms, there are still writers out there who would much prefer to deal with Earth as we already know it.
The good news is you still get your chance to put on your megalomaniac's hat and play God!
Regardless of where (or when) your story is set, YOU have decided your characters' destinies for them. As their creator, you selected what they eat, where and how they live, what the weather is like around them and who their families are.
But there's a whole lot more to world-building than simply creating a nice backdrop for your characters to parade against. Your world must accomplish many things, but the most important is that your readers must be able to immerse themselves so deeply in the situations and the characters you've created that they'll willingly return for more.
In short, the fictional world your characters live in must seem plausible to your readers.
Ask yourself these things about your characters and your story: -
- Are the seasons consistent?
- Is the weather a factor?
- Does the scenery change consistently with the seasons?
- Is the air they breathe polluted?
- How do your characters travel?
- What mode of transport is usual? What is unusual?
- Does everyone travel the same way?
- Is there a political/hierarchical system governing them?
- Is there a religious/superstitious belief system among your characters?
- What unit of currency is predominant?
- How do they purchase or obtain necessary items?
- Is fashion an issue?
- What other creatures inhabit your world? (Pets, livestock, insects, birds etc)
These details do not play much of a part in the unfolding events of your story, but they will flesh out the world you are creating. Your readers will gain more insight into the times and places your characters must deal with, and this in turn gives your story a more believable platform to spring from.
© Copyright 2000-2001 Lee Masterson. All rights reserved
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