Think about the types of things we need to see in a scene that help us orient ourselves as readers. I look at four main things:
- Social structure and behaviours. Everyone lives in a society. What does yours in your world look like? What’s the ruling hierarchy? What’s the political structure? Who has the power? Who doesn’t? What does this look like?
- Clothing. What types of clothing are worn? What’s the difference in clothing between those with power/money and those without? How do they get their clothes? What types of fabrics? Who makes them? What kinds of controls/social expectations are there on clothing? Do the same process with food and other common things (books/reading).
- Landscapes. What does the land look like? Is it flat, mountainous, rivers, valleys, deserts? What colours predominate? What does it smell like at different seasons? What causes the smells? How do the characters interact with the landscape? Are they farmers or miners, etc?
- Transport and other technologies. How do people in your world move from one place to the next? Are there differences in modes of transport between people with power/money and people without? Are there different modes of transport for different reasons or distances? What other technologies are used? How do people communicate with each other? How do they prepare food? Do they read? Are books on parchment, animal hide, paper, plastic, or some other substance? Is everything electronic? If so, what form does this take? I find Dr Who is great for ideas with this aspect of world building. There are so many different ideas in any one series, sometimes in just one show.
Next week, I'll talk about how to bring your world alive.