Building a World for a Novel – Part 38
Part 38: Too Much Work?
If you have faithfully read this far in World Building, you probably intend to roll up your sleeves and build a planet of your own one day in the future. If you have actually followed along and done the work as you read–I’m impressed!–by now you’re wondering if it was really worth it.
Surely you will have to decide that for yourself.
The task of building a world is every bit as huge as it looks. More, really, because while the description of the steps was brief, the execution can take a very long time indeed.
Are you willing to do what it takes to craft a living, breathing and vibrant world? A better question is, do you have to?
The answer to that, of course, is no. You can easily write a short story, even a novel, that takes place on another planet, and make that planet Earth in a costume. You can make a world of jungle, or of forest, or of mile-high buildings with sweeping elevated roads, and never really express or explain what the world is really like. A very great many SciFi and Fantasy novels go no further than painting a backdrop and acting in front of it. If your characters are strong, if your conflict is powerful, if your people touch your readers emotionally, you will likely sell your stories.
Here’s the thing, though: if you want your world to ring true, you have to do your homework. While you may not need to go through every step, you will have to take a very close look at your environment, your people, where they came from, what their motivations (wants, needs, fears) are, what kinds of foods they eat, what kind of predators chase them, and so very much more.
But the question is, when your reader puts down the book, will a part of him stay in the world you painted on a sheet, or will he just reach for another book by another writer? A well-made and exciting world brings both writer and reader back for more.
Building a fresh and innovative world is an investment in your success as a writer.
So yes it is hard. Yes it is complicated. Yes it takes time and a lot… no, really, a LOT of work. But, imagine your sense of completion, your sense of accomplishment, when you look at the map on your wall, when you look at a land model you’ve made, when you look at the stories that live on a world constructed by hand… by you.
Continued in Part 39