Brainstorming Series: New Worlds

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Whether you’re writing Science Fiction or Fantasy, it’s incredibly likely that you’re not writing your story on Earth as we know it. In fact, you might be going lengths to create a habitable world on a new planet for your story. Or perhaps you’re less concerned with the technical aspects and just want to create a simple but believable new world. Whatever you’re aiming for, it can be fun to consider all the possibilities. Many of these details you’re going to iron out won’t eve make it into your narrative, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for you, the author, to know. That background knowledge will shine through and help you create a deep and vibrant world that feels real and alive to your characters and to your readers.

This post will focus on planetary physics, weather, climate, seasons, etc. There are other posts that talk more about culture and civilization.

Are you attempting to create an Earth-analogue? If so, you can assume many things we tend to take for granted will remain unchanged: atmosphere composition/appearance, plant color, water presence, etc. But if you’re not, and you’re willing to experiment, then please…

Create a map of the planet, even if it’s broad and only outlines major things. Give yourself a solid picture of what your world looks like and use it. You don’t have to include every detail in your story (in fact, please don’t!) but knowing the big picture is good for you.

And always remember: you don’t have to do all of this brainstorming before writing your story. Sometimes, you just want to get to the heart of the story and that’s fine! Do it! If you feel like you need to write a narrative, then don’t hold yourself back. But come back to this. Come back and iron out all of the details so that you can make sure the backdrop of your story is consistent and organic (not in a carbon-based way, but in a non-contrived way).

Novel planning doesn’t have to happen in its entirety before the novel. But it does need to happen before the final draft of the novel. A lack of depth to your world will show through if you neglect to create it.

If you aren’t interested in building a world from the ground up, then don’t! We have a perfectly good world right here under our feet and there are still millions of stories to be told in it (or in its parallel versions). But also, maybe, this post isn’t for you. 😉

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