Building a World for a Novel – Part 10
New to this project: Start with Part 1
Part 10: The Environment
Environment. What is it like to eke out a life on your new world?
It’s morning on Planet X, and your hero awakes. Was his or her sleep sound or troubled? Was a fire needed to keep predators away?
Do the people on your world wake to ice and snow? Constant rain? Are they facing another day of desperately scrounging for food and water? Do they just stroll through a lush and natural garden pulling fruit from heavily laden trees?
One way to enliven your story is to make the world itself a character. This can be done in any number of ways, up to and including making the planet itself sentient.
Is your world hospitable or hostile? Is life there a constant struggle? Do harsh conditions exist everywhere? …or only in places? Can one escape to a friendly area for respite?
How big is your world? Can your band of adventurers walk around the planet? If so, how long would it take?
The circumference of the Earth—at the equator— is about 24,900 miles–not so far if you’ve spent any time flying, but because of the oceans (about 71% of the surface of our world), you could not circumnavigate the Earth on foot.
Will your world have a land mass that would allow one to walk around it in some direction?
The size of the world also has a direct effect on gravity. Will your characters be short-legged, thick and strong–a product of a heavy gravity, or tall, slender and light on their feet because of a lighter gravity? Are your people transplants? Have they come to this world from a place with stronger–or weaker–gravity? How do they adjust? If the world of their home had strong gravity, the first generations will likely be faster, able to jump higher, and perhaps have difficulty with precision movements.
If the world they come from has a weaker gravity, the first generations will likely be slower, clumsy, easily winded and tired.
How we react to a new environment is always a good story component.
Post a list of information about the environment of your new world, and refer to it often as you begin story-crafting.
Continued in Part 11