World Building in Science Fiction and Fantasy - By Sean Michael Paquet
So today, I wanted to give you some of my insight into world-building. Now for some writers, it takes a great deal of time to realize the world in which they want their characters to adventure. For me, this world was part of my imagination form the age of five. For me, it became a fully realized and detailed world where I could escape from reality.
That's how I look at it.
However, when you decide to utilize that world as the stage for a story that other people will read, realization takes on a whole new meaning.
The three fundamental rules that I follow are:
For my first novel, A Game of Gods, I set the stage very quickly using concepts, imagery, and symbolism that people could readily identify with. In essence, I created a world that already had a lot of real backstories that anyone could research on their own.
This was important.
I believe that people should be able to identify with the world in my books, just as if they stepped into themselves. This is known as immersion. See, I didn't try to re-create the wheel with my world. What I did was present the reader with a version of reality as we now know it. In fiction, this is known as the use of an Alternate Reality.
This was critical.
A reader can read something in my book, and then if they wish to can research the concept on their own. In doing so, I made that world far more believable than if I had created an entirely fictional reality. I utilized many conspiracy theories that are common throughout urban folklore to expound on this sense of believability. I am not trying to make you believe my world. I am writing in such a way that you want to think it is real. Research into the images, symbols, and concepts in my work allows for a deeper level of that believability.
The world of Threa is a fantastic place. In creating it, I set up the backstory to where it began as a world in a state of perpetual primal existence. To use layman's terms, it was vacant but had all of the capabilities of sustaining life. Then I injected a terra-forming scenario into the backstory—a believable concept, and one that is being theorized already in the scientific community. Doing so allowed me to transplant, flora, fauna, and whatever else was required to fill out the world—a relatively easy concept to use.
Because I do not think world-building should be complex. I feel that if a world is too complicated, then you as the writer have too much work cut out for you to keep the story moving by continually adding material to flesh out the world. I also feel that too complex of a world takes away from the story and the message I am trying to deliver.
All you, as the writer, need to do is create a world that is believable, consistent, and immersive. Once you have set that stage, you can allow your characters to adventure within it as they choose to. Once the stage is set, all you need to do is write down what your characters are doing
Readers often ask me if I do an outline for my work. No. I set the stage. I have a beginning and a tentative ending; what the characters decide to do in order to achieve that ending is up to them. I am merely chronicling the adventure.
You see, writing a good story is not nearly as hard as what you might think. You merely need to follow some critical fundamentals before starting:
Create a believable, consistent, and immersive world.
Create strong immersive characters who live there.
Inject a scenario.
Then just let go and write. The characters will do all of the work for you. I mean, everyone has a story inside of them. Everyone has an adventure in their minds. The world and the backstory are the stages. Whether you choose to deliver that backstory from the streets of Victorian England or the surface of Mars is irrelevant. An adventure is an adventure. Everything in my stories is based on some experience I had in life. It just seemed fitting to use a science fiction and fantasy world as the backdrop.
I did this because, to be honest…
Truth is stranger than fiction. No one would probably buy my book or read my story if I tried to sell it as the truth.
Because people don't want to believe in the truth, they would rather escape reality instead of living in it. I feel I have provided that escape.
I provided a world where everything you wanted to believe is real.