Monday, October 12, 2009

Big, Big World Building

Tip of the Day: Seriously, someone please remind me next Sunday NOT to watch the Buffalo Bills game. It totally buzz kills the weekend.

Do you know what I'd like to write? Science fiction. A big futuristic fantasy with some technology thrown in. I'm thinking "colony on the moon." I really want to write a story that takes place in a moon colony.

I've shied away from this kind of story before because I haven't had good luck with stories with super cool settings and sketchy, vague characters. I have a ton of potential "awesome settings, no characters" ideas: 1900 Outerbanks, 1910 Steampunk Metro New York, the Great San Francisco Earthquake (possibly also steampunk), and also some kind of Gilligan's Island type thing--hey, I never thought of doing Gilligan's Island Steampunk until now! I'm calling that one! Don't you all jump on it first! (Or is Gilligan's Island already Bamboo Punk?)

My moon colony idea is different, though, because it has characters with motivation. I met a couple of restless teenagers on the moon. They're unhappy with their lives and want out of my colony. Of course, there's no air on the moon, so they can't just walk out. They're going to need my help.

If I'm going to explore this story further--and I think I should, because setting, plot, and character all together are hard to come by--I'm going to have to world build. What do they eat? How do they dress? How is the colony heated? Is there garbage? Where does it go? I can't even imagine all the questions I'm going to need to address. This isn't like a paranormal where I can build some magic rules and history and assume a kitchen is still a kitchen. This is going to require more planning before writing than I'm used to.

Does anybody have any tips on where to start? Websites, books, templates? Do you plan out your story world on paper or on computer? I'm at the very beginning of exploring this idea, so now is the perfect time for me to learn new ways of planning. I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Shannon Messenger said...

Wow. I can relate. I've had to create a world for my book and it is NOT easy. It took me a year of research to figure it all out and I'm still stumped on some of the names for the stuff.

I turn to wikipedia. I read it at random, following it from subject to subject. Sure the facts are unreliable, but this is fiction so it doesn't matter. I'm just looking for ideas. And you can find TONS of ideas on wikipedia. Random google searches are also very helpful. As is reading lots and lots of books. And always keeping your eyes open. And essentially driving yourself crazy.

I kept a running list I called "Unanswered Questions" (it was 25 pages long...*sigh*) and tackled them one at a time. It took a LOT of work, but it was also really fun and kinda cool. I mean, how many people can say they created their own world?

Lisa Schroeder said...

I hope you write it, Kate. It sounds SO cool. I don't have the patience for all that research, but I'm happy some writers do. Good luck!!

Christina Farley said...

This sounds awesome Kate! I haven't a clue about science fiction stuff but when I wrote my historical novel, I started with reading everything I could in that area and then wrote down all the stuff I found interesting. It gets your brain thinking and ideas start sprouting.

My desk would be overflowing with books and notes and printed pages. It was crazy. But crazy fun.

Emily Marshall said...

Love your ideas. I'm not good at world building either, but it sounds like you are off to a good start.

I have to add though that my husband and I are going as steampunk characters for halloween and we are having SO MUCH fun working on our characters and outfits.

Kate Fall said...

Emily, I really hope you post pictures of your costumes!

Thanks for the ideas and encouragements, everyone. I think I'm going to start with a lot of reading.

Cara Powers said...

I'm with you on this. I've got a fantasy novel with premise, characters (without names, I suck at naming things), the first half of a plot, and an ending. I even have a system of magic. I do not however have a map or any ideas for one or any specifics on my political situations which, of course, in fantasy is needed to drive the plot. Sucks, doesn't it?

DeenaML said...

I have not attempted to write something this ambitious. Good luck! I know you can do it! I'm reading LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld now and wow -- his creatures are unique and intense.