Quick Link: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: How to Build Fantastic Worlds

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: How to Build Fantastic Worlds

So, you’re ready to write a science fiction or fantasy novel. But where to start? Lots of writers begin by creating a map, or researching some distant heavenly body. Six novels into my speculative fiction career, I’ve discovered that I create my best work when I begin building my fantastic worlds by starting not with magic systems or geography, but with a single character. Here’s why this method has been so successful for me.

Asking the Right Questions

When you begin your worldbuilding process by creating a character first, then asking what type of world created that character, you focus on the parts of the world that matter most to the people in it. That means spending less time on research that you ultimately aren’t going to use. I look at my worldbuilding and character creation processes as interconnected. They don’t – in fact, can’t! – exist independently of one another. As I flesh out a character, the world, too, will come into sharper focus. If I create a skilled government assassin who’s tasked with bringing in deserters from a centuries-long war, I have to ask myself what the war is about. If it’s about a lack of resources, what does that world look like? Dry, dusty, low in metals? If a planet was low in metals, how would their technology progress? What would they use to power their vehicles? If they had crashed there on a big generation ship, what was the likelihood they would ever get back into the stars, and how would that change their religious philosophies?

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