If you’re unfamiliar with the term “World Building” you might get a mental image of huge machines covering the surface of a dead planet carving rivers, planting forests, and pumping oxygen into the atmosphere. Truth is—that’s not far from reality. World building is the art of bringing to life an imagined world through descriptions, back-story, maps, drawings, and other creative means, and is one of the greatest tools a science fiction writer has for adding depth to a story.
First and foremost, let your world building be an enjoyable process-it should be fun. When sharing ideas with others, don't focus too much on proper grammar and punctuation, although a little will go a long way. As your idea progress through the forums with others offering suggestions, it will change, grow, and hopefully get better. Once you have a solid Idea, then you can polish the grammar and submit it for edit, and hopefully move it to the official cannon of the SHWBP.
Keep informed on scientific facts. One thing that ruins science fiction quicker than anything else is incorrect or inconsistent information about the world your story takes place in. For example, it’s probably not the best idea for your story to take place on a planet that orbits a pulsar; it would be difficult for life to exist in such a hazardous place. Your readers will pick up on mistakes like this, and your story will lose credibility.
Make sure your facts are consistent. If your planet orbits a yellow star at the beginning of your story, make sure that you don’t call it a brown dwarf later on. Inconsistency will cause your story to fall apart, and the reader won’t be able to paint a coherent picture of your world. Check out our Universe Laws to make sure your story conforms with the submissions of other authors.
Brainstorming often follows writing. Sometimes as I put my ideas to paper, or bits to my CPU, I’ll have an idea for some new aspect of the world I’m writing about. I’ll immediately jot that idea down along with all its associated facts to keep things consistent throughout the entire story. Later on when I write of that idea again, I can review my summary and keep things straight. It would be bad to have a species described with five legs in one place and four in another, or a character with no siblings at the start of a story, and an older brother half-way through.
Finally, be complete and think about things like culture, history, geography, languages, and why the world is the way it is. The more content you put into the brainstorming document, the easier it will be writing the stories that happen there. When creating your world-building document consider the butterfly effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings on earth, does it cause a hurricane on Mars? Things are deeply connected, and one tiny action may have large repercussions in other systems…so think it through completely.
We look forward to hearing your ideas. Will you help us bring Serpens Head to life?