By Sharon Caseburg
One of the greatest difficulties Speculative Fiction authors experience when writing stories in this genre is in their ability to provide a believable environment for their readers.
Any kind of speculative fiction, whether it be hard-core Science Fiction, Time Travel, Horror, or Fantasy requires readers to put aside the conventions they have become accustomed to in the “real world” for the world the author presents in the story. This of course holds true for speculative romance stories as well. For the most part, readers of these genres are more than willing to put aside the customs of the world they live in, for the environment the author has created. However, when the author does not provide a believable realm, readers can easily become disenchanted with both the author’s world and in turn, the story itself.
Basically, this translates to the more the author knows about the world he or she is creating, the more confidently the author can write about it. If it is obvious to readers that the author fully believes in this alternative world, then, more than likely, readers will follow.
So how can the author successfully prepare for the creation of an alternative environment?
The answer may sound easier than it really is: work out ALL the details of your story before submitting your final draft to a publisher.
Although this point may seem obvious, it is more difficult to perform than it sounds. No New World can successfully come into being without the author first performing proper research. Whatever you do, don’t entirely make up your New World as you write your story! Map out everything you can possibly think of before you write about your realm. This activity will help make the actual writing about the environment much easier and will prevent any glaring inconstancies, the bane of any speculative fiction reader, from occurring.
One easy way to get started on creating a believable environment for your story is to pick up a reference book on world building from your local library or check the Internet for good sources of information. Use a variety of search engines when doing your research on the Internet. This will give you the widest pool to draw from. Be thorough in your background exercise and consider questions about your realm that may never come to figure in your story. You would be surprised at how knowing details that do not figure prominently or at all in your story can enrich your story-telling technique and help you in creating a lush and vibrant landscape for your readers.
Here are a few things to consider about the world you are creating. Answering as many of the following questions as you can will help you shape a strong, believable world; a realm you will be confident in writing about; a world that your readers can believe in. As well, don’t limit yourself to this list. When you get down to it, there are thousands of other details you can consider; however the following list can help you get started:
Remember that you are the creator of your New World. And you are all-powerful. While you may choose not to answer every question on this list, or perhaps you will create new questions to consider, knowing as much as possible about your New World will result in a more believable environment for your readers. The more intimately you yourself know your new environment, the more deftly you can convey its intricacies, even the unseen ones, to your audience.
Sharon Caseburg’s work has appeared in Visions and Voices, The Writing Parent, Freefall, Backwater Review and forthcoming in Pottersfield Portfolio.