What is it about the words ‘world building’ that on one hand conjures up images of fantastical lands with mythical beings and heroes / heroines willing to face any challenge, while on the other hand it sets off my anxiety?
It’s because the latter is me creating a brand new, imaginary world that is logical, consistent and possesses a history, geography, culture etc. Sound easy? It’s like playing God with my own little world and that part is thrilling (maybe too much sometimes muahaha) but, and this is the tricky part, ensuring this world is central to my characters’ life, their actions and society is no easy feat. And that’s when the freaking out kicks in.
In my urban fantasy novel, I have two worlds (joy for me!) and what I’m juggling now is showing how distinct each world is from the character’s perspective. After all, each character is also unique and has a back story.
I think of it this way – a creature raised on a frozen tundra is going to react quite differently in the same situation as a creature from a rainforest. So my main character needs to react and behave differently in each world, which in theory should achieve two things. 1. Shows the new world through their eyes, and avoids too much heavy info dumps or telling from me, 2. Potrays the characters’ personalities and traits – hence brings them alive. Or so I tell them.
I’ve made a long list of distinct contrasts in my two worlds. Some of them include:
– one city is bright and sunny— the other is rainy and misty
– one city is ancient and steeped in culture — the other relies on technology and science
– one city must follow rules or be punished — the other is so free that one can lose their identity
…and so on.
Now I thrown my characters into the pond of world building, and try teaching them to stay afloat.
How do you approach world building in your stories?