So sometimes I’m in the habit of leaving out or just
plain forgetting to incorporate the “big picture” aspect of world-building when
I write a story. It’s no big
deal. It just means I need to brainstorm
and flesh it out, and then incorporate it into the story.
I mean by “big picture” when it comes to world-building is your world outside your
“small picture world.” There. That explained it perfectly, right?
I’ll give a couple examples to make it clearer.
One story I wrote recently takes place in an alien jungle (a kid and his
uncle get lost in the jungle and need to escape it). I spent so much time fleshing out the jungle
and the creatures in it (small picture world-building) that I totally
disregarded the big picture world, such as: What defines this new age of the
future? How did this age come to exist (i.e.,
how did humans on Earth evolve to the point where they could send spaceships to
other planets and what not)? In light of
this new age and the changes that had to happen in order to get to this point,
what are the fears and values of this society?
give another example. I also recently
wrote a story (an epic fantasy) that consisted of two neighboring nations that’d
been at war with each other for generations.
One is made up of people who can telepathically control animals, whereas
another is a group of technologically gifted people (an electric current runs
through each of them) that have formed a city full of metal structures and
complicated machinery (the people power the machines with the natural currents
in their bodies). I spent so much time
brainstorming and ironing out how these two different societies function that
I, again, forgot to consider the big-picture world (I did later, however), such
as: What is the rest of the world like?
Are there other societies of different types of people? If so, how do they affect these two
groups/nations? How did these two groups
develop such different abilities based on the world they live in? Etc., etc.
moral of story: It doesn’t matter when you do it, but make sure you set aside
time to brainstorm your “big-picture” world if you haven’t already. Then go and incorporate it into the story. That way, your world (and story) has more of
a complex, fully-fleshed feel. Go on,
try it. Think big, class. Think BIG.