Building a World for a Novel – Part 26
New to this project: Start with Part 1
Part 26: Sex and Family
We have covered a lot of ground in just twenty-five days, and there is still more to come.
This time let’s talk about Sex and Family.
Your first decision is this: How many genders will your people have? We are used to two sexes among the people of our planet, but in our new world, we are not bound by this.
For example, it is possible to have a single sex among your people, with parthenogenetic reproduction. Of course removing sex as a motivator for your people may somewhat reduce the number and quality of stories you can tell about them—at least from a terrestrial point of view. In stories as well as movies and TV, sex sells.
How will reproduction happen on your world? Will your people put two and two together and equate sex with birth?
Now, while it is fun to think of all the ways you can rearrange this fundamental part of our own world, do consider—yet again—that you want your reader to be able to identify with your characters. Adding some foreign creature or process to reproduction may drive a wedge between your story and your audience.
What about the family structure?
Will your world have families? Will they be the traditional sort we have on Earth? Will your planet support mini-harems? One father and many mothers? Or the converse? Will children leave their mothers at a very early age, and go live in communes? Crafting a new family structure can be very interesting, opening many story arcs for your world.
As always, you get to choose as the private god of your world. Just be careful not to “paint yourself into a corner”, so to speak. Establishing rules, traditions and habits that are very strict, even if eminently logical to your world, can lock you in, and curtail your story line in the future.
Continued in Part 27