Magic needs rules and constraints. A techie world must have gadgets that match the level of society, and aliens must speak a language that makes organic sense in their environment. A military guy in an advanced world wouldn’t use a prehistoric club to bash his enemy’s skull in. In a post-apocalyptic world where the lights have gone out, people can’t have access to iPhones or even flashlights.
It’s invaluable to create a “bible” of setting elements and characters that you can refer to so that your world details remain consistent.
Things to consider are:
- the type of government that’s in place
- cultural preferences
- the state of science and medicine
- fashion, food, and even etiquette
- Is the society repressive or liberal?
- What happens to those who break the law?
- Is there any law at all, or is there a wild anarchy?
You can have endless fun imagining various combinations of these elements and playing out the “what ifs” before committing to any one system.
My main character, Ruby, who has escaped a dangerous desert cult, is ashamed when she finds herself falling for Blane, a boy with a terrible past, who’s the resident bodyguard at the boarding school she lands in. She worries that she’s attracted to someone as edgy and violent as the people she left behind. Or is there more to Blane, she wonders?
Many of the sectors on this changed earth are still struggling, but one in particular—Vegas-by-the-Sea—is becoming a boomtown and regaining much of the technology, lost in the disastrous border wars. The colorful George Axiom, a sharp dresser and entrepreneur governs it. His giddy enthusiasm for rebuilding takes him into shady territory when he offers to hold a student contest for big money.
That perilous balance between healing, and falling back into destruction fascinates me, and what kinds of things might disrupt that shaky equilibrium. Thus, character creation also becomes a world-building exercise.
That’s what I love about speculative fiction. I can make up entire worlds, whether spun out of highly likely terrestrial scenarios, or with fantastic alien two-headed beings that will never exist in reality. Well … never say never!
I’ll leave you with my favorite illustration from Ruby’s Fire. It’s a Red, one of my own creations (and illustrated by me!). It took a bit of worldbuilding to create the Red as well.
Connect with Catherine:
Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Blog