Building a World for a Novel – Part 9
New to this project: Start with Part 1
Part 9: An Act of Creation
We have a star, now it’s time for our planet to be born.
As you’ll recall, knowing just when in the planet’s life your story occurs is very important. If you are tracing the beginning of life on this world (whether it be by divine touch, evolution, colonization or alien interference, the current state of the world is important.
Choosing the terrain features for your planet is predicated on two things: the needs of your story-line, and the basic rules of physics. For example, if your world is heavy with volcanic activity, it is unlikely to have a clear and friendly sky.
One common practice of new writers is to pattern their world to be exactly like our current home, the Earth. While this removes the need to work out the look, feel, structure of your new planet, it does force you into specific models.
Time to decide. Planet Checklist:
Will your planet have:
- If so, tall and sharp or,
- shorter and rounded?
- Will there be passes over them, or
- Will they be an impassable barrier for your early inhabitants?
- Forests? A common feature in Adventure and Journey stories, will your forest(s) be:
- Large or small?
- Friendly or dangerous?
- Inhabited by demons, hostile tribes, fierce beasts?
- A barrier to your characters?
- Oceansare useful as a nautical history lends itself to the eventual concept of space exploration
- Will your oceans cover more of the surface of your planet than land masses?
- Will you have “inland-seas”?
- Will you have participating characters that live in or under the water?
- Will your oceans provide water for drinking or agriculture?
- Will your oceans be a substantial provider of food?
- Deserts: Will your world have deserts?
- Will your deserts be small and many?
- Will your deserts be large and few?
- Will your world be all desert? (If so, where do your inhabitants get their water?)
- What kind of creatures live in your deserts, and how do they interact with your main characters?
- Sky: What color is your sky? (This is tricky)
- What color is your sky? Sky color is determined by type and thickness of atmosphere, color of the sun, and potentially the type and quality of the eye of the beholder.
- As with all components of your story, you are only restricted if your story is hard science fiction. But be prepared to defend your choice of sky color if you stray from blue, green, yellow, amber or near-black unless you’re writing fantasy or can otherwise explain your choice.
- Does your sky (atmosphere) support life? Are there birds or other creatures living in the atmosphere?
A common error with first-time world-makers (I did this myself the first time I tried) is to only dream up those parts of a world you want to write about. Even if you don’t use all the components you create in your story, knowing them helps make the world real for you.
Continued in Part 10