This is a sequel to part 1 and part 2. These two parts deal with the theoretical and behind-the-scenes parts of worldbuilding. In this last part, it will be about how it can come across into the final story.
How does one translate their meticulously created world into the actual text of the story?
You kind of weave it into your text. The best way to imagine it is just like as you percieve your world every day: You mainly keep your eyes on the characters, and pay attention to the plot, but in there is landscapes and life in the background, random stuff to notice and to find out through various interactions. Different features of your world will come across in different ways.
Some random examples:
The mannerisms of characters:
- Body language and expressions, pleeeease include them! They are just so key to making a character come alive and also giving them a background!
- They might be overly polite, formal and distant if they come from a very structured society. They maybe insist on calling everyone by their full name and title, express themselves in a very vague, diplomatic way, and go great lengths to avoid showing outbursts of emotion.
- Cultures have different rules about what is polite and what isn’t. One character may for instance always greet everyone with a firm handshake, while the other will avoid any “hostile grabbing motion”, and look down on what they percieve as a petty gesture to try and assert dominance.
- How do characters react to certain environments? Do they scramble to get out of rain? Do they leave a trampled path in the wilderness and feel more at home in an urban surrounding?
- Everyone is a product of their homeland, both in real life and in fiction. This is another thing that is crucial both to character building and worldbuilding.
- If a character’s background places emphasis on social class (noble/peasant/whatever) then they are the child of a highly stratified society.
- People love rebels, and thus the society could give birth to someone who doesn’t fit in at all, and could be destined to bring it down (see practically every dystopian ya book out there right now). The question is, WHY are they such a rebel (al opposed to the rest of the population)? Have they witnessed a lot of injustice while growing up, that others have not? Are they seeking revenge on a member of the government? Have they come across some forbidden political material?
- A highly militaristic society could demand that all children at a certain age are trained to fight. Such a society can thus yield characters who are skilled warriors, “despite” being young/female/other “can’t fight” stereotype. Of course the “despite” only comes from our point of view, for them it is perfectly normal, and they probably will not understand foreigners’ disapproval.
Names can say so much!! They are a sample of language first of all, but naming customs also say a lot about a society. Are the names give at birth, or earned sometime later? Are they constant throughout life? Perhaps not. Do family names exist, or perhaps a village name? Are names supposed to be unique, or identify the person as a member of a certain collective?
Ever so often, pause as a writer and have a look around your scene. What do you see around your charactes? Describe it to the readers. Forest? What kind of trees are in it? Any animals? City? How are the people acting? Is it noisy? Clean? What kind of architecture? Weather? These details provide the backdrop. If you leave this out, then the story will play out on an empty stage.
Appearance of characters:
Every character’s background influences their appearance, just like in real life. Characters (including minor background ones) from the same origin will look similar if it is a relatively homogeneous society, or can be completely motley if there is a history of mixed peoples in the area. (Compare Iceland to USA.) Appearance also includes clothing.
Societies always have a history, and since every single event, incident and decision is a cinsequence of previous actions, the history of a world will, even if only indirectly, influence the story taking place. The history can come across as told or remembered by characters, but also while introducing a new character, object or place.
Of course, this list is by no means extensive!
Ir was just the first few random things that came into my mind.
Do you peeps have some good worldbuilding techniques you would like to share? Please do so in the comments ^_^
I hope you enjoyed this mini-series by me. On the 20th of March there is going to be an awesome announcement regarding future posts, stay tuned 😀