World Building and How It Affects My Writing

I think world-building is one of my favourite parts of creative writing, and for me, it gives me a chance to kind of talk openly about elements of my world that I have yet to explore through the eyes of characters.


Factions, Gangs, and Groups
One of my favourite elements of any and all fiction is the deep dive into the seedy underworld of... well, worlds.

I think the easiest way to discover a location is to draw a line in the center of the society you're creating and categorise things into, legal and illegal.

There are many aspects of world-building that form from just looking at the big picture of a place, through that lens. Automatically, you might say that drugs are illegal, in this weird sci-fi world, but maybe not all drugs.

Pharmaceuticals, and medicine?
Yeah, they exist, but they are only dished out once they have been tested, how are they tested? On criminals and anyone who breaks the law; interesting and slightly dystopian.

Automatically, you have set up a premise of a story, maybe not one that would need an entire novel to talk about, but there could be a person who was caught breaking the law in some way and they're sent to, let's call them Med-Tech, where they serve their sentence while being tested on. It could be a pungent story and tell a lot about the world, especially if the crime they committed wasn't even that severe.

They could get corralled through the corridors of a nice-looking sterile environment, the kind of place that is warm and inviting. Then they are taken down into an underground facility, which becomes more ugly and scary the further they go, a stark contrast to the public area up at the top of the building.

Now, those smiling faces of the employees are gone, replaced by expressionless people, who don't look at the main character as a person, instead, they view them as chattel or some kind of rodent.

After getting to their cell, they could hear the screams of other prisoners and the anguished sobs of people who are being subjected to true horror. You could even explore this further by having common rooms, where the less affected can mingle, while still being monitored, but, maybe the main character realises that there are inmates who are never allowed outside, due to unknown reasons; maybe the rumour is that they're so badly disfigured or mutated from all the chemicals that they can't be released - or that they've snapped mentally and can't be trusted around other prisoners.


Getting Out Early
The main character can hear about a chance to get out early, they can stay on the normal dosing, and spend the full length of their sentence, or they can go hardcore with the dosing, quicken the pace, and maybe even mix chemicals to be released early, or particularly dangerous experimental procedures or medicine.

This could start a chain reaction, where they start to either lose grip on reality or maybe their body starts to get disfigured from all of the abuse and stress it is being put through.

Or, maybe they could pose a jailbreak of some kind with the other prisoners.

Anyway, That Was A Weird Tangent
But, there, that's one example, witnessed in real time where asking questions created a potential short story that would be an interesting one to explore and one that I think I might come back to because there are a few more ideas buzzing around in my head now about it.

It could be a good concise short story, or maybe even a pretty good novella, especially if the storyline was added in about what he did, why he committed the crime, how he was caught, then being taken in, coming to grips with his new world, discovering more about the facility, and then potential jailbreak, or death by testing. Anyway, yeah, world-building comes from talking to yourself.

As Soon As You Draw Line, Ideas Come
After drawing a line between good and evil, right and wrong, legal and illegal, you automatically need to populate each category, and as you start to populate each one, the story ideas start to come.

Who fights crime? What's the punishment for breaking the law? Is there corruption in that department? are there vigilantes and how are they viewed in your world?

You physically can't answer those questions, without having at least one interesting story to really get in and explore on the ground level, which is what I like to do.

Seeing The World Through Someone's Eyes
As soon as I start talking about the world, and speaking about it in the omniscient voice I think of ideas that I would like to explore and showcase through the eyes of a character, from there, a story beat is added to one of the larger serialised stories or an entire short story is created just to explore one particular aspect of world building I liked, and sometimes in far greater detail than I previously thought of.

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