The Zen of World Building part II

Part 2 of our world building adventure will center around attention to detail. In the previous post we covered a broad spectrum of characteristics, but now let’s focus on some nit picky things. This won’t be long, but will definitely give you something to think about.

 

Characters

Some author’s worlds are completely reliant on their characters. If you haven’t read “The Steam Dancer (1896)” by  Caitlin R. Kiernan, it’s a great example of this. It’s steampunk, but you wouldn’t know that without the characters. They drive the story into that subgenre. The dancer has a steam powered leg, and her husband is a mechanic. No, it isn’t as romantic as it sounds.

Anyway, characters can sometimes drive your world. Think of Dragon Ball Z. If the Z fighters don’t have super powers, it’s just another kung fu manga/anime. The characters drive it to another level.

Setting

Mountains or Urban? Desert or Utopia?

A lot of world building depends on the setting. And just like i said last time, you have to take into effect the scope of your work. Is there a single setting? Are there multiple settings? Are there multiple planets? Universes?

Whatever the scope or setting is, it can make or break your world. A foreign planet without weird creatures, climates, and plant life is not going to be foreign to anyone. It could easily be Earth in the far future well past humans…

GASP…another setting…

Technology

Much of science fiction involves advanced technology. Much of it does not.

This is vastly important for world building. In a post apocalyptic future, is there still tech, or is a 12 gauge the top of the line weapon? Do the bad guys have some super weapon that trumps your hero’s EMP device?

Are we in the Matrix?

All of these are important questions when building a world.

 

Practice

What I am about to tell you may reveal my nerdiness in ways you would never possibly imagine.

Oh well.

Go find a group of people to play a tabletop RPG with, and be the Game Manager.

This will allow you to create a world, build a story, and have fun during the process. You will have to integrate your party’s characters, baddies, weapons, and all sorts of cool stuff. There are plenty of games out there, and not all of them are fantasy. Fantasy is fun, but there are other options. Go play a game!

 

I hope these posts are helping with our world building. Let me know if there is anything you want more fleshed out!

 

The Zen of World Building

I talk about world building quite a bit… (reference here, here, and here for starters)

Now I want to spend an entire post on it. There are a few things that go into it that are absolutely necessary, so let’s dig in.

 

Genre

Of course Science Fiction is part of your genre – if not, you might want to check this blog’s tagline…but you can stick around – so I guess what I really mean is sub-genre. There are all sorts of things to choose from:

Space Opera

Cyberpunk

Steampunk

Hard Sci Fi

Adventure Sci Fi

Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic

Time Travel

And many more I’m sure if we got really nit picky. Knowing your genre is important because you need to know what kind of world to build. Space? Foreign Planet? Desolate Earth? 1860’s Britain? Las Vegas?

Anyway, this is of utmost importance. Know what genre you plan to write in.

 

Scope

Now that you know the setting, where is your story going to take place? A small town? A city? A spaceship? An outpost on an alien world? Several alien worlds that you travel to in a spaceship?

Some stories are confined to one area and others cover a lot of ground; or space… The main thing is to know how big your world is going to be. Maybe you have to do some Solar System or Universe building. Or perhaps even Multiverse building.

 

Detail

I like to use cyberpunk as an example for detail. Have you seen Blade Runner? Or how about Ghost in the Shell? Here’s one you may have seen…THE MATRIX?

I like to use cyberpunk because you have to create such a computer centric world. Everything has to revolve around computers, information, the internet. If you say you’re writing a cyberpunk story but never say anything about a computer, you are NOT writing a cyberpunk story.

Same thing with the other genres, there are specific things that make them those genres. No steam? No steampunk. No Apocalypse? No Apocalyptic science fiction.

Pay attention to the details, and your world will almost build itself.

 

Well those are a few tips on the Zen of World Building. I will continue this series over the next couple of weeks, and hopefully we’ll have some good worlds for our stories!

Keep writing everybody

The Beginner’s Guide to Futurism

Source (http://media.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/images/retro-futuristic-designs-tutorials/retro%20futuristic%20city%2010.jpg)

Futurism is a hot topic. Especially if you’re into being an entrepreneur. Predicting and/or setting future trends can be a make or break skill in the business world.

But what about the original futurists:

Science Fiction writers?

How does that work? Where would I start? What exactly is futurism?

Excellent questions.

What is Futurism?

Also known as future studies, futurism is the act of postulating different futures. So when Heinlein postulates space marines, he’s being a futurist. When Clarke postulates communications satellites, he’s being a futurist. When Rodenberry postulates personal communication devices, he’s being a futurist.

The single greatest joy of a science fiction writer should be futurism.

Basically you get to make up whatever you want. Make sure it’s a good idea.

The idea of futurism is not necessarily to predict the future, but rather to speculate on the future. Most writers who end up being prophets are speculating with known information, not dictating what will happen with that information. It’s a tough process sometimes, but one that’s worth going through.

Futurism and Science Fiction

Think about some of the most successful science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke writes stories about solar system colonies and wandering alien space ships in the near future. Robert Heinlein writes about space marines fighting for territory on foreign planets in the future. Isaac Asimov writes about a world full of helpful robots that permeate every level of society. Philip K. Dick writes about memories being implanted and removed from people’s brains. Suzanne Collins writes about a near future held together by children fighting to the death for honor.

All they did was dare to dream of the future and what could be.

This is the staple of being a futurist as a writer: you have to dream. If you predict, you will almost certainly be wrong. But if you dare to dream, you just might be right. And that is the success of some science fiction writers. They dared to dream of the future and they actually ended up predicting the future.  If you haven’t, you should watch the Science channel’s Prophets of Science Fiction series. It details this process and is very informative. The series consists of biographical documentaries following eight science fiction writers who changed the world with their writing. It’s extremely intriguing, and gives a wonderful picture of these futurists in their element.

What Does the Future Hold?

As you begin to envision your version of the future, there is one central question that has to be your starting point:

Am I an optimist or a pessimist?

This is the difference between Utopia and Dystopia, a nuclear war or treatied world peace. Mad Max and Star Trek if you will. Look at the world around you and ask yourself where you see it going. Is it to greatness, or oblivion? This will greatly shape the world you are writing, and may even lend something to the story (other than setting, of course.)

Determining whether or not the future is shiny can determine whether or not your story is worth writing.

Well there’s a starting point for becoming a futurist in your science fiction writing. Stay tuned for future  parts to the series!