Welcome to my next group discussion- on building worlds for our characters.
We all have know, to some extent, what world building is. Vastly simplified, it’s when we create the worlds our characters live in.
But there’s so much more to it than that.
When we create a world, especially for a novel of any length, there are certain things we need to know- the rules if you will.
What time is this set in? The future? The past? Present? Or in a world other than our own?
What is the history of this world?
What people/sentient beings call it home?
What is their culture? Things like religion, myths, taboos, laws, entertainment or method of consuming food?
What other life might there be? Plants, animals, etc?
How does all of this fit together to make the world home for your character?
This can be as big or small in concept as you might like.
An example of the larger concept would be the world of Middle Earth- where Tolkien had examples of all the above mentioned things woven into his stories, thus creating a richly detailed place for his characters to live out their lives.
An example of these concepts on a smaller scale would be Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels. They take place in a much more familiar world, so the concepts of time, space, religion and food are all covered. Instead, Clancy plunges us into the world of his main character, Jack Ryan; a CIA analyst who, through the course of his job, is neck deep in the events of his world. The events are entirely plausible, and there’s a time or two where the stories he tells in his novels seems to parallel real world events in our world in a way that is frighteningly close (Sept 11th comes particularly to mind).
So the question to you, dear writer, is what do you do to develop the concept of the worlds you set your characters in? Do you plan it all out? Or do you go by the seat of your pants? What are some examples you can think of, when it comes to well built worlds in movies/literature?
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
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