Creating Realist Fictional Worlds

February 26, 2014 by No Comments

Creating Realist Fictional Worlds

Last week the website io9 asked six experts what their personal bugbears were when it came to people creating their own planets. We thought that the results would be of interest to our members so you’ll find them below along with a few other tips by creating wide and wonderful worlds.

First however, we need a quick clarification. While this post will mostly appeal to the science fiction and fantasy writers reading this website we feel that the advice below can help anyone creating a fictional world.

The Bugbears

The six experts were Professor Andrew Fraknoi, Professor Geoff Marcy, Professor Greg Laughlin, Professor Bruce A. Macintosh, Seth ShostakProfessor Abel Méndez and their bugbears were as follows:

  • Not Being Weird Enough
  • Assuming Exoplanets Must Have Ecosystems as Diverse as Our Own
  • Picking the Wrong Star
  • Not Having Enough Oceans
  • Shoving Planets Too Close Together
  • Alien Creatures That Don’t Make Sense

To find the reasons behind each of these bugbears head over to io9 to read the whole story.

The Next Step

With these six ideas ringing in our heads the next step is to start creating this fictional world of yours. The problem, especially if you follow the first step, is to make the world you are creating too weird. Mythic Scribes, in their article Writing Believable Fantasy – A Guide to Keeping It Real, suggest that the power of consistency is key as:

it makes it possible for [the reader’s] minds to accept new developments, so long as they do not drastically break from what has already transpired.

This is one of five steps they recommend you use to keep your fictional world real as well as a way to bend your own rules if you need to.

A Statement of World Rules

For any fictional world you are creating Lorrie Porter recommends you build yourself A Statement of World Rules in her article Creating A Believable Story World. She recommends you do this after you’ve completed your first draft so you can reference it during your editing. The whole article is worth reading on her website This Craft Called Writing.

What part of world building do you find most difficult?


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