Creating a Believable Fictional World

by | Jun 24, 2019 | Articles | 0 comments

When it comes to writing fiction, many authors sweat the small stuff. “Do I have what it takes to write realistic dialogue?” they wonder. “Am I creating a believable fictional world?” Or, most dire of all, “Will anyone care about my books?”

These concerns are all understandable and valid. But if you’re well-read, you work hard, and you have a solid comprehension of the fundamentals, you shouldn’t have to worry about those things. I know I don’t.

Last month, I wrote about how I’ve always had a natural ear for dialogue. And a couple weeks ago, I posted about my love for character-driven novels. Over the next few weeks, I plan to post about some of the things I view more as challenges than strengths.

Before I do that, though, I’ve got one more post about “where I think I excel,” and this is it. It’s all about creating a credible fictional world.

 

Fact or fantasy?

So, it probably helps that I don’t typically write what you would call genre fiction. My first three novelsBrothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Filesall fit loosely into the Literary Fiction category. When you write litfic, you don’t really worry about world-building too much. Literary fiction typically takes place in the real world, and if you can’t approximate that, you’ve got no business writing fiction.

If, on the other hand, you write something that fits comfortably into a particular genre, that’s a different story. My new novel, Whizzers, fits into a couple of categories, such as Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction, and Time Travel Fiction.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to create a truly science fiction-type (read, weird) world for this novel. Much of it takes place within the realm of my own experiences, or experiences I imagined. And the rest came intuitively, in writing sessions that tapped into my subconscious mind. Sure, I had to research a few historical things, but it wasn’t back-breaking work.

 

How it works

For a writer who takes it upon herself to create a world that truly fits the science fiction or fantasy category, it’s a different situation. You can find many articles on this topic online. A quick Google search yields an article called 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding, for example. The author gives numerous good advice, from avoiding one-dimensional characters to making sure superpowers make sense.

Of course, you have to take things like setting, pacing, story structure, and character arc into consideration. But many of these things can happen organically if you surrender to your own creative process, then edit with a cold eye for where to improve. That’s my experience, anyway.

Next week, I’ll be featuring more on story, but I’d like to know what you think. And if you’re of a mind to check out Whizzers, there’s a special offer on the table: all readers who pre-order and send me a screen shot of the pre-launch receipt are eligible to receive some exclusive bonus material that’s only been available to the launch group thus far.

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