So, it’s the holiday season and as winter pulls the frost up over your window, you might feel inclined to snuggle up with your pen, pad, or laptop (and a snack and a mug of eggnog of course), and start writing! Fiction writers, especially sci-fi and fantasy writers, need a lot of internal motivation to build their amazing worlds and characters. So let’s do it together with Colby’s Christmas Countdown! As you countdown to Christmas Day, here are 25 holiday writing tips to help you along in your fiction journey! You might want to grab a special writing notebook to keep all your exercises in one place, too. By the end, you’ll have months worth of material to launch you into writing your novel series! 🙂

Tip #9: World Building, I

In order to navigate the terrain of your story, you’ve got to know the lay of the land. How do we do this? By building it ourselves, of course! 🙂 How? Well, sometimes, fictional worlds develop from a series of unmet needs or things that haven’t already been executed. Robotic prosthetics and flying cars are prime examples of this. However, the easiest way to start building a fictional world is to look at the world around you and envision a bunch of “what if” scenarios. And they don’t have to be that complicated either!

fictional mapA great example of an uncomplicated “what if” fictional world is the new television series “Revolution” that’s airing on NBC, wherein the entire world’s electricity has been cut off. Objectively, this isn’t exactly the most groundbreaking idea, in the sense that there WAS a point in time where there was no electricity (rather, there was, but we didn’t know how to harness it)! The genius in “Revolution” though, is that such a thing is UNTHINKABLE in today’s electricity-dependent society. The series merely asks the question “what if we had no electricity in TODAY’S world?”. As an author and creative, this is your job: to bring a fresh look to old ideas, to reinvent the world, or to create new innovations completely. So let’s get started!

For the discerning collector or DIY enthusiast, this Hit & Miss engine is a unique find. These antique internal combustion engines have a distinctive operational style, where the speed of the engine is regulated by the load. Own a piece of engineering history!

Activity of the (Holi)DAY: Let’s start building our fictional world. Brainstorm up three answers for each of the following questions:

1. What would you like to see done in the world that hasn’t already been executed?
2. What does the world need in terms of technology, innovation, or culture?
3. What kinds of things have made you stop and ask: “What if ______________ had happened?” or “What if (insert past event) happened today?”
4. Use all of your answers above and start connecting them together to start gemap2nerating ideas!

How I Did It: In The Books of Ezekiel, a lot of “what if” scenarios actually helped to build my world. I actually asked typical questions, such as:

What if the world “collapsed”? (Typical post-apocalyptic question)

From there, other questions spawned, such as:

If the world collapsed, how would people survive it? Live in it? Thrive in it? How would a rebuilt world look for people with resources versus people without resources? For the people with resources, how did they come by them? Do they share them with others? What if these resources were magical? What if having magical resources had certain consequences? If the world collapsed, what would a rebuild literally look like (geographically)?

ALL of these questions (in addition to doing some serious research) helped to give birth to The Alchemic Order and The Civic Order, as well as the magical-sciencey elements and geographies that exist in my post-apocalyptic world.

Keep brainstorming. As the exercises continue on, we’ll continue to do mini-activities to help us build the physical and cultural structure of our fictional world!

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby