Creating worlds that exist only in a novel is not the easiest thing to do, and detail is paramount. You may not think that details are that important, but if for example you create a rule such as, men can’t have children with anyone but their pre-ordained mates. Then you have a guy in your universe have a child with someone he’s having casual sex with, and who is not his mate, well you see how this might upset and or confuse a reader. While you can explain such incidences with exceptions to the rules as you go along, readers don’t always take kindly to such things.
So, what are some good ways to create authentic worlds in your books?
1. Set up all the rules and their exceptions ahead of time. That way if you are consistent in your writing and reveal the rules as you go, you won’t have to worry about upset or confused readers down the road.
2. Study other cultures and their laws. Believe it or not you can get some really good “what ifs?” from studying cultures that exist now or in the past. In my science fiction romance Getting Out Alive, I got the idea for Darek’s culture by asking myself the question, “What would happen in a culture that aliens had come in and began creating hybrids and trying to integrate them into that culture? Would they accept them, or as is human nature which often fears differences, would they do a complete 180 degree turn and become afraid of any differences in others?”
3. Pick a common human trait such as I did in Getting Out Alive with the human trait of fearing that which is different, and imagine what the extreme reaction might be. In my case on Darek’s home world of Laren, in his past his people began exterminating anyone who didn’t have a particular hair or eye color. They had their own holocaust because of this fear. Be sure and come up with reasons for the human trait taking the people down the road it does.
4. Think about the sorts of motivations people have and why they have them. Be clear in your mind what your character’s motivations are when you are writing. Another example from Getting Out Alive is the heroine Angel Whitedove. She could have allowed her experiences of alien abduction to cause her to completely withdraw from society, but instead she chooses to help other abductees. Even though she does it in disguies, it is still a risk for her.
5. Above all, don’t be afraid to use your imagination! Turn whatever ideas you have inside out and upside down, let the “what ifs” rule, and then do it again. Ask, ask, ask yourself and others questions. Keep that brain working overtime. You will be happy you did!
These are only a few ways to come up with solid world building ideas for your fantasy, science fiction and even paranormal stories. I hope you find them use