I am a creator of worlds. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? To some extent, every fiction writer is a creator of worlds, but this part of drafting a story is extra important when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. The world has to work. All the details might not be in the story, but if the writer doesn’t know basic facts about the world, readers will feel something’s missing.
If the world isn’t believable, the entire story fails. If it’s real enough for readers’ imagination to take them there, the story and the characters have a solid foundation.
The first time someone asked me how I build my worlds I answered, “Uuh.” For me, the world isn’t a separate thing from the story. The world, the storyline, and the characters develop together, and each is dependent on the others. They take shape as I write and re-write.
The environment has to match the characters’ motivation. What they do or don’t do will be connected to the world they live in, it’s challenges, and benefits.
What do they eat, and why? Where do they get the food? Does someone grow it, build it in a lab, or catch it on a desolate planet? How is it transported? Who decides who works with what? How do people stay clean? How do they clean their clothes? Are there practical considerations to their buildings? There are a million or so questions, and the answers must be feasible.
When it comes to my new novella Shadow of a Man, it is number XII in a series of books written by different authors, but set in the same world. The stories are centered on a dilapidated space station – Borealis – and the time is distant future. This posed a new and exciting challenge, because the world was already created and well established.
Readers who enter Borealis through my story must feel at home with it, and readers who have gone through the entire series must recognize themselves and feel comfortable. I read the preceding stories several times, wanting to pick up details I could refer to, so the audience will know my Borealis is the same as Jay Morgan’s or Stephanie Burkhart’s.
My publisher also created a “Borealis bible.” It contains important details such as recurring characters, names of foods, curses, planets, weapons, stores, pets, you name it. This attention to detail makes it possible for a large number of writers to craft widely different stories – some are humorous, some thrilling, and some romantic – and still allow a sense of continuity. This is what world building is all about.
Borealis, number XI
Genre: Sci-fi romance (non erotic)
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Date of publication: October 11, 2013
Number of pages: 60
Word Count: 19,000
Formats available: E-book
There might be a place Theresa fears more than Borealis, but she can't think of one. The old and decrepit station houses all sorts of cruelty, and to make it better, this is where her husband Dominic was imprisoned, drugged, and tortured. He returned a mere shadow of his old self, scarred by abuse and Uudon withdrawal.
Borealis is the last place Theresa wants to go, and the only one she can't escape. Dominic's apparent madness does nothing to alleviate her fears. Her once sweet husband has turned into a womanizing monster, and will destroy anyone who gets in her way.
Geo, her faithful and all too handsome bodyguard, appears to be the only one on her side. He once helped rescue Dominic, and pays for the insurrection with a lifetime on the run. This might be a situation not even he can handle, and Theresa fears none of them will make it out alive.