3. World Building

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Some Approaches That Can Help
There are many ways to go about world building. Some methods work better for some writers, or some stories, while others work better for others. Try them, and see what works for you.

Method 1 — Planet Builders, Inc.

Build a world from the ground up, using astronomy, physics, and earth science. This is a good approach for those with a scientific bent, or who enjoy puzzles or designing models. Choose the size and shape of the planet, the gravity, the type of sun, the climate, and so on. Then figure out how the inhabitants and their story follow from the world you've created.


courtyardMethod 2 — People R Us

Begin by imagining the inhabitants of your world — human or otherwise. Imagine them in detail. If nonhuman, what sorts of creature are they? Think about their physical features and needs. (See also, the section on Aliens.) Supply as many details as you can.

Once you know what the individuals are like, try to imagine the social fabric of their world.

Then finally ask yourself: what kind of a world must they live in, or on?


Method 3 — Magical Realms

This has more in common with the first and second than you might think at first glance. You can make up rules of magic, either along the lines of old, familiar stories or something altogether new. But remember: consistency is everything! And the more you know about your rules of magic and the reasons for them, the more realistic they will seem to readers.


Method 4 — If This Goes On . . .

Think about today's world and extrapolate (extend through logical predictions) into the future. Speculate on new scientific findings, changes in technology, political and economic growth and/or upheaval, space colonization, encounter with extraterrestrial life, religious revolution — anything you like. Construct a background that you think could reasonably arise from the world as we know it today.


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