Science Fiction and Fantasy World Development (unconventional course)

Course Information edit

Note: This course under construction, so follow at your own risk. Please do not edit this page, if you have anything to contribute to this course then please mention it on the discussion page or start your own under the Unconventional Courses List on the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Group page. Thank you! Signed, Trinity507 04:37, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Instructor: Trinity507
  • Course Summary: This unconventional course, part of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Group, is intended to help you understand the fundamentals of science fiction and fantasy world building. You may join this course at any time; the materials will always be posted here for your use. Please sign your name at the bottom of the page under the "Completed" heading when you have finished, and feel free to post your comments on the course on the discussion page. Also feel free to post any questions you might have on the discussion page, and I will answer them as soon as I am able.
  • Materials: Your imagination, along with a some paper and a pencil. You might want to have a folder or a notebook to keep the paper in, to keep your hard work from getting lost or damaged.

This course has absolutely no weight at any educational institution, it is simply a way to pass on some writing tips and tricks. Hopefully you will also gain some valuable writing experience, and have fun with your writing hobby/profession! Signed, Trinity507

Lesson 1: Beginning Your Map edit

Welcome to Lesson 1 of the Science Fiction and Fantasy World Development course. In this lesson we will go over the basics of world creation and science and fantasy fiction, do some brainstorming, and begin filling in the map of your brand-new world. Make sure you keep paper and a pencil handy!

World Before Story: When writing science fiction and fantasy, the first thing you should consider is your world. Character-driven, plot-driven or shock stories can be just as good as world-driven ones, but unless you have at least some backdrop for your tale, readers will quickly get bored. After all, can you imagine a play or a movie without any sets, costumes or props at all?

Idea Before World: But before you can start creating your wondrous world, you must first have some spark of an idea for it. Take a moment with your pencil and paper to answer these questions:

  1. Is your world a planet, land or something else?
  2. What kinds of terrain and/or weather does your world have? (mountains (cold, snowy, high altitude), forests (can be cold and coniferous or tropical), oceans (wet and usually salty), deserts (dry, hot or cold), etc.
  3. What kinds of creatures live in your world? Is your world split into countries or regions because of these creatures? And how might the creatures in your world adapt because of the terrain and weather conditions of your world? (Don't go into too much detail on this one, we'll cover it again later, but keep it in mind.)
  4. Are there cities in your world? If so, how large are they, and what kind? (Rustic, modern, futuristic, etc.)
  5. Are there any relevant imports and exports to and from your land, ones that might be visible at a glance on a map? (Wood from forests, fish from the sea, grain from the plains, etc.)

Also answer any further questions that pop into your mind; this is part of the all-important brainstorming process. Try to spend at least ten minutes at this, and your world will begin taking shape in your mind. There are other kinds of worlds that would have separate questionnaires, as well, like if your story takes place on a spaceship. You can usually apply the same kind of questions in these situations, but the context will be different.

A Rough Draft of Your Map: After you have finished writing your notes, you should begin to have an idea of what a map of your world would look like. Try sketching some of the most basic and rough features of your world now. A good place to begin is showing basic landforms and terrain; like perhaps your mountains to the north, a desert to the south, forests to the west or plains in the east. Also try to locate some major cities or settlements that could be relevant to a story. Optional: depending on how comfortable you are with Microsoft Paint or another computer graphic software, you can also create your map on the computer if that is easier.

No Artistic Talent Required: At this point, don't worry about how polished your map looks. It can be hard to look at the beautiful maps printed on the endpapers in many science fiction and fantasy novels, with their fancy calligraphy and elegantly drawn landforms. Do remember, however, that many of these maps have been created by professional artists under the guidance of writers, and not the writers themselves. This rough map that you are drawing is merely a visual guide for your imagination as you create your story.

Congratulations! You have now completed lesson 1 of this course. Keep your map in a safe place until next time. Also, please see the suggested reading on the main page of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Group for a list of brilliant works of science fiction and fantasy that you might enjoy reading to get some ideas of good constructed world structure.

Extra Credit: Check out these related links on Wikibooks and Wikipedia: