So, you've narrowed down an idea and realized that you'll be venturing into a new futuristic universe, except... now what? Creating a world is a big undertaking. How do you get started when there are so many things to be figured out like technology, languages, terrain and culture?
Don't worry! Take it one step at a time.
First of all, what genre or niche are you writing in? Hard science fiction that focuses on space travel? High-tech cyberpunk? Post-apocalyptic paranormal romance? Each of these genres focus on and need different aspects of technology. For instance, you probably won't need to know rocket science in the cyberpunk or paranormal romance. *grins* But most importantly, make sure to know the norms of the genre, even if you don't strictly follow them. Readers will have expectations when they pick up your book.
Next, how much world building do you need to effectively establish the setting? It's a good idea to create enough to make your world feel real and consistent. Be careful though because too much world building and the story will crawl along at a snail's pace. You don't want to overwhelm the reader with your universe or slow down your plot. Give them just enough.
Make sure to do research. Yes, you're probably creating awesome new technologies, languages, and cultures, but it's always helpful to find out information about the ones that exist in our world and to see what influenced them. As my friend Darcy Drake says, “Technology without necessity isn't believable. Cool things are invented all the time, but the wide-spread 'everyone has this' tech has to work in everyday life.”
Finally, don't think you have to build everything before you begin tackling those blank pages. It's okay to build as you go once you've laid down some foundations. Sometimes aspects you might not have thought about will just come to you while you're working on your manuscript. That's part of the fun of writing!
Enjoy exploring your new universe with your characters!
Sarah Mäkelä lives in North Carolina with her husband and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, computer and console games, and traveling all over the world. Look out for her cyberpunk romance novella, TECHNO CRAZED, coming in June 2011 from Changeling Press. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapters.
Find Sarah on the web at:
Coming June 17, 2011 from Changeling Press
Genre: Cyberpunk Romance
Private Investigator Hannah Franklin's life is turned upside down after being contacted by a former employee of MAX Home Security, the leader in security. But they're not just protecting people anymore. In fact, Hannah's informant has proof that they've killed politicians who stood against the corporation. Before he can hand over the evidence, he's killed, and an attempt is made on her life, leaving her to contact a freelance hacker who turns out to be the one person she never expected to hear from again.
Ian Bradley has been through a lot. Losing his girlfriend and his job, as well as acquiring a very annoying gnome. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend, Hannah, is in danger, he immediately sets out to help. When he discovers that his corrupt former employer is the one trying to kill her, protectiveness fires up to defend Hannah using every resource available to him, which is almost endless as a technomage in a high-tech world.