Stories with an impact include a critical element. Characterization isn’t just about creating moody reactions. Where you place your characters shapes their development. Even a monotoned, unemotional hero projects a strong presence when situated in an otherworldly worlds. Readers are seekers.
1. The first step in crafting memorable worlds is in choosing the era in which your characters will play out their conflicts. The era establishes the elements within your story. You can play with technology by explaining why your particular characters have scientific advancements, but the overall view of how your characters can go about coping with their conflicts will still remain within a restrained view of the times.
2. Your character is limited to understanding his surroundings based on the information you share with his fictitious brain. A protagonist raised on a riverboat who is abducted in a spaceship by a robot will respond to the technology differently from a character who was born on a Martian DNA farm.
3. As you build your world, have your character’s relationship with the setting reveal how he feels about himself. One man steps aside with a greeting when getting coffee at a public counter while another blocks others from reaching for the sugar until he is done. A woman might reach for a gun in her purse when walking down a dark street while another lady could run while looking over her shoulder into the fog.
4. Determine the language for describing the unusual elements of your world. Will you look to ancient Picts for terminology or will you consider NASA’s database for naming your gadgets? You can combine Latin terms or invent sounds that express the components. If your foundation was inspired by a spiritual context, consider using Native American phrases or even Sanskrit traditions as your premise. Harsh syllables are associated with pain and suffering while soft consonants are soothing.
Whichever culture or phonic device you choose for defining the qualities of your setting, be consistent. Derive the terms used for gadgets on one planet from one core language. Look to a different source for the roots of words at a different locale in your story.
5. Spell them well. If the pronunciation is significant to you, ensure your readers will share the same interpretation of your world by making it clear what you meant. Confusion about whether a combination of vowels at the end of a sentence has a soft or hard emphasis will become an annoyance if an audiobook contradicts the general public’s view.
Readers desire to embrace the world you create. Decrease the amount of time they will spend deciphering whether they should give your vowels long or short sounds, or slur through a chain of continents.
6. Make your world practical for your storyline. While a gorgeous view of pink mountains can prove you are a wordsmith, it might be illogical for your hero to stare out at the skyline for three paragraphs. World-building should be integrated into the storytelling. It is meant to be a prop and not the means to an end. Incorporating the action with the setting allows your writing to flow. The reader will be less likely to look up definitions or check the likelihood your setting could exist in real life if your characters utilize the setting to achieve their goals.
7. Colors lay the stage. The color palette explains a lot without your having to lay info dumps on the reader. If a man decorates his home in purple, we understand he is introspective and intense compared to the guy with white walls and a navy comforter. The lady who takes time to redecorate her home with neutral-based Mediterranean tiles is different from the one who paints her walls hunter green and has black stained floors. Let colors spare your readers of flowery language and lengthy narratives.
8. Establish the rules of your world. By showing the reader what the reality is for your characters, you instill suspension of belief. As long as the reader understands what the limitations and abilities are in your world, he can go along with your presentation. He will join you and trust that you will get him back out of your alternate dimension safely.
9. By stating the rules, you foreshadow how your protagonist will meet his greatest obstacle. Whatever you state is never allowed to happen must take place. Your character must experience whatever it is you say is impossible, and he then must overcome that obstacle.
10. Think outside the box. Your predecessors established what readers can expect, unless you change them. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why all futures provide for the good, enlightened heroes to sleep on concrete slabs and wear dirty clothes with holes.
Nonetheless, if you place your protagonist in a sterile environment where everyone is serious, your readers will take a cue to expect a change in authority by the end. Consider what elements of a setting trigger a response in the reader to fill in the blanks.
11. Shake things up a bit. You can incorporate items within the room where you are sitting and tweak them. Dr. Seuss was known for combining household items and then drawing them in his settings. George Lucas reinvented his surroundings so that they appeared fresh. His Ewoks were inspired by teacup Pomeranians.
After all, a wheel is round by its definition. Geometry includes symmetrical shapes that remain true to their original conceptions. But science has a way of developing a box into a container, into floating devise. Basic shapes can be used for completely different functions. Where the original camera was stationary and documented history, now it serves as proof someone stole packages off your doorstep and can travel with you across the globe.
12. Control your concepts. If your characters live in the woods before electricity, it is better to have their settings conducive to surviving in through the harsh winters and humid summers. Will they take an hour to chop wood or will it be a full-day event? Will they eat extra starches before spending hours in the snow? Are they likely to worry about water quality?
Those limitations lay out the way your characters react to their surroundings. If a character sleeps on a concrete slab, he likely won’t rush home after a long day of work. Where a character rides a scooter, he probably won’t wear a kilt with flip flops.
Embarking on a journey into the unknown is how man has evolved over the eons. World-building is as significant as an eccentric character in an epic novel. Deliver a robust environment that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.