I actually found myself spending nearly three hours today world building, and, for the first time, making a list of things about my four characters. This is new for me, and came about in a funny way because of something I'd decided on over a year ago about Kate, my MC, and then tossed. As she (and yes SHE fills the things in. It's almost like listening to someone describe their life, and you're just typing it) filled in her life, it became painfully evident that the thrown away idea described her reality. So, I wrote it into the larger overall series arc.
None of these novels, which are capable of being stand alone's also, have been written with anything other then a series in mind. However, after watching the anime Aquarius, something kicked around in my head, and a reality involving Kate and her three other main characters came to being.
Now, the problem with something like that is, with on character, things are fairly simple for me to keep up with mentally. I can even do it with 2-3, but once the fourth hopped onto the scene, and this idea (which I'm not going to give away my thunder ) came into fruition as I slept last night, the need for some world building and outlining came into being, and I'll explain why.
Science Fiction worlds are, by nature, very large when they deal with outer space. The Milky Way's a massive place, and world's for character's can be equally large. However, here's where the rubber meets the road. Hang in with me here, ok?
Let's say you're taking something like "Aquarius" where the MC's are reincarnated for thousands of years ago. Ok, right there you've just given yourself TWO story lines, and worlds to be honest, to keep track of. That means, knowing HOW they tie on together, why they were together, what happened to break things. Then the next step would be WHY they came back into being in the present of your story. That's your second world you have to have built, or worked together to tie up loose ends. When dealing with issues that large, you have so many threads tied together it's easier to write down.
Now, let's move to world building 101 for people who are just starting out. In principle, a "world" is the same as what we live in. Whether it's 100,000 years in the future, or yesterday, there's always real life there. For a fictional character, that's what you call 'a world.'
When building a world, depending on the scope of your novel, it needs to be large enough, and real enough, to encompass your characters and give them a legitimate home. Now that can be something from 'The Hobbit' 'Lord of the Rings' to 'Blade Runner.' The choice is yours. However, it needs to fit your character.
Now in science fiction, depending on the type your writing, there are general basics you need for deep space opera:
Ships to get to and from places
Faster then Light (FTL) Note: NOT always necessary. There are items such as generational ships that can be used. They're crewed by people who literally live and die on the ship as it travels towards the destination, with each generation growing closer.
Ways of communication. Can by courier ship, or if you have FTL, then it can be FTL. Some things from land mobile radio communications can be used if you like. There are base stations, mobiles (radios on cars/trucks), handhelds and what's called repeaters (they take the signal, amplify it and then repeat it outwards for it to go further). They can be modified to be used for FTL coms if you like, the principles could work the same, but the tech be different.
One or more government are something I think, and it doesn't have to be that way fully, allow for more intrigue and greater possibility for tension and conflict. This is writer's discretion.
If one wants alien's, you have several different ways to go about it. There can be humanoid aliens, who are different DNA wise from us, perhaps seeded the earth (which could be used to explain items such a Atlantis and other items in both archaeological and religious history without stepping on toes (when done correctly) or one can go for the completely inhuman appearance and structure.
Those cover a few of the basics with science fiction. Note, science fiction gives a great avenue for throwing great curves or twists that can be easily explained through technology, aliens, history, planets, etc. Not that other forms of writing don't, it just seems there's more avenues for it in sci fi.
So, in closing, make sure your world is large enough for the MC to move about in easily and freely, and make sure it's not only 'real' for them, but real for the reader too.
Good luck in your endeavors, and as we say in the south. "Yawl come back ya hear."
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