Worldbuilding more

I’ve talked a bit about worldbuilding before. This has always been a weak area for me, especially during first drafts. I’ve always been able to get away with just forging ahead with the story because it’s set in some version of our own world where I know how things all work, even if some of the details of it are a little changed. The worldbuilding side of things didn’t interest me that much, getting all the nitpicky bits figured out. I wanted to tell the story, focus on the plot and characters, and the world was background noise. Sure, it was necessary, the narrative would be really quiet and flat without it, but it wasn’t the focus, it wasn’t vital to telling the story.

The WIP I’m currently focused on is a hard sci-fi, which is a bit of a departure for me. It’s set in a future post-space-colonization era, and opens on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. It couldn’t get a whole lot farther from my usual genre. It also couldn’t require much more worldbuilding, short of writing a high fantasy, which I also avoid because of all the worldbuilding involved.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t’ve even considered it… but lately I’ve been on a bit of a space kick, and it was the perfect setting for the character I wanted to write. This is often where my books start: I know the type of character I want as my protagonist, and I build the story – and the world – around her. Stars at Midnight ended up in a future post-plague world because it didn’t work to have an assassin’s guild in a modern city. This new one is in a future space setting because that’s how I think the new character will be most believable.

The downside is… I’ve spent just as much, and possibly more, time thinking about the world than I have actually writing anything. There is SO much to consider, and so much to research. On the one hand, it’s fascinating. I’ve learned a lot about the solar system, thought lots about the challenges facing a colony on a non-life-supporting planet, or how to power a ship through space. On the other hand… it’s a lot of work, and not where I want to be spending my time. I want to tell the story!

But I also try to minimize the amount of time I spend in revisions, because that’s not my favourite, either. So, knowing this is a weakness of mine, better to spend the time figuring it all out now than trying to go back and insert it or fix my errors later. Once the world’s in place, it can be full steam ahead.


2 responses to “Worldbuilding more

  1. You should read some Heinlein – his writing is full of little technical details you could get lost in if you tried to understand them (he obviously understood more than the average reader). There’s a colony on the moon some of those. Under a dome I think. Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation also features a whole planet living under a dome, after they make the surface inhospitable by changing the climate. But they’re not a self-sufficient planet and rely on imports so maybe that’s different. Also about life on difficult planets, Dune and Ursula K. le Guin’s The Dispossesed.

    • Yeah, I bet there’d be a lot of great worldbuilding to examine in some of the old classics from the Golden Age of Scifi. I’m always torn about reading similar stuff while I’m drafting, because I worry that stuff I read in those books will subconsicously sneak into mine, or I’ll see similarities between their work and mine and then will make a conscious decision not to use something in mine, and I’d rather not be thinking about any of that while drafting, I’d rather what I draft be totally and completely my own, untainted and uninfluenced. But… it’s hard to deny how helpful it would be to see how others have approached the same thing… It might be something I should do after I finish my first draft but before I start my first-pass revisions. I’ll save that list of recommendations. :)

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