Feature Article: Worldbuilding in Science Fiction

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Featured Article | 0 comments

Worldbuilding makes up any good fantasy novel – in fact, any novel. You could say that how you make your fantasy world can make or break your story. After all, it’s where your entire story takes place. Hence if you create your world well, your story becomes immersive.

Author Brandon Sanderson compares worldbuilding to an iceberg. He said the tip is what you detail to your readers, and the invisible part is what you know but choose not to show. You can approach worldbuilding in two ways: soft and hard worldbuilding. The main difference between the two is how much information about your world you reveal to your readers.

Soft Worldbuilding

Soft worldbuilding shows how your world works only in minor depth. In symbolism, most of your iceberg is submerged and left to the interpretations of your readers. You don’t exhaust an explanation about your world’s rules, governance, or origins.

One good example of a softly built fantasy world is the Japanese animation Spirited Away. In this story, there are a lot of different creatures, but the audience isn’t told about their origin or their significance. It leaves the audience creating theories or assumptions.

If you choose to write your fantasy world as such, you will pique your audience’s curiosity with the information you choose to undefine. You don’t also have to worry about carefully setting up rules and making sure they are constant throughout your book.

Hard Worldbuilding

In hard worldbuilding, your readers are aware of your world in detail. Throughout your book, you thoroughly describe your world as if it truly exists. It leaves your readers little to no room for personal interpretations as information is all laid out. Hard worldbuilding makes your fantasy world feel real because readers are given proof, history, language, etc.

An example of hard worldbuilding is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The story provides its readers an immersive experience as it presents ample backstory of its characters and even its language system. Writing your fantasy world as such makes your readers more immersed and invested in your story, as the world feels more real than it is.

Your story is affected by how you choose to approach your worldbuilding. However, you can’t easily choose soft worldbuilding, thinking it will save you the hassle of planning. As a writer, you must plan a lot about your world even though you don’t have any plans of showing all of them. Here’s how you can start laying out your fantasy plot:

Decide on a Starting Point

If you have a vague plot idea, it might be challenging to expand from there. So to make your life easier and less burdensome, choose which part of the idea you want to develop first.

Do you want to create a city for your characters? Then start sketching how you want it to look. Do you want to make complex characters that have inspiring character arcs? Then plan out a character map first. By deciding on a starting point, you’re building a stable and solid foundation for your world.

Ask Questions

To further expand and define your world, you can start asking questions. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes:

● What would they want to know and see about your world – its physical structure?

● What would they want to experience with your characters – the climax, conflict?

● Who would they relate to the most – what kind of characters should you create?

You can start with the fundamental questions about your world. You should make a separate list of questions and answers per factor: characters, physical structure, events, so it’s easy for you to connect these details moving forward.

Think of Your Inhabitants

Science fiction and fantasy are two of the most exciting genres to write about. For one, you get to think outside the box, write the weirdest, most impossible events, and it would still be acceptable. And two, you get to be creative with your characters.

For instance, in the book Cyberbrain: Guardian Angel, the author Benoit Blanchard added the existence of the “cyber.” While this cyber isn’t human or a living being, it still plays a significant role in the story. Brainstorming about this item and the organization behind it should have taken time. The author had to consider its strengths and weaknesses – just like any other character.

Will you be writing about aliens, perhaps humans with superpowers? Anything and anyone can exist with science fiction novels. Planning your characters well is fundamental in your story since they carry your plot. How feasible your plot is will depend on how you made your character. A weak-minded character won’t win battles – that’s not reasonable.

Establish a World history

While you’re writing about the progression of something, planning about its history is equally as important. Knowing about your fantasy world’s history can help you justify and give reasons behind your characters’ behaviors. By establishing a digestible world history, your characters’ actions will be believable and sensible to your readers.

Outline Events

While you don’t need to write every bit and detail of your plot, it’s important to have the main points laid out. In doing this, you are creating a more comprehensive story. Outlining events can also lessen the possibility of straying away from your main idea. Additionally, plotting events in your story can give you more opportunities to foreshadow and add plot twists.

Some writers are pantsers and receive excellent outcomes doing so. However, if you have already planned an ending to your story, you should outline your plot.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What Authors Say About ReadersMagnet


Google Review

Skip to content