World building

by

Today we visited a friend who is a naturalist. Well, he’s a professional computer geek, but outside of work, he raises poison dart frogs, homing pigeons, carnivorous plants, hawks, and dogs. He gave us a tour of his home, and when we were looking at the vivariums, he mentioned how much he enjoys world building.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about that.

So much of my writing time goes to world building, balancing research and history with physical details to make an invented world seem real. Whether the story’s set on another planet or in an alternate version of this one, we have to provide enough grounding for the reader to believe but not so much that the story gets lost in information.

John’s worlds have to support life, and each creature needs a unique habitat governed by specific rules of nutrition, temperature, cohabitants, and routine. These worlds are as alien as anything a fiction writer could create, for all that they’re part of our natural world (although perhaps not our immediate ones).

Here are some of the worlds John has created:

(for the poison dart froglets)
(for the homing pigeons)
(a vivarium for different poison dart frogs)
(for the peregrine falcon)
(a bog for carnivorous plants)

What elements do you have to balance when building a world?

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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