World Building Lesson 4 – Breaking the Rules

Hello Writers!

Happy Sunday to you!

Today’s post is on making rules for your world. Now, when I say your world must have rules, I don’t mean ‘No pushing on the stairs.’ or ‘No picking your nose where others can see you.’ (Although a story in a world with those rules could get interesting!). I mean rules about how the world your characters will move around in operates.

Photo by: svklimkin

Photo by: svklimkin

A world needs rules and laws of nature to become three dimensional. For example, if you were writing a story that takes place on another planet than Earth, the reader would need to know what sort of world the story takes place in. Is there gravity? Oxygen? Can inhabitants grow a garden? Eat the wildlife? Is there a water source? Are there planet natives? If so, how do your characters interact with the natives?

In order to become immersed in the story, your readers need to know what they’re dealing with. The reader needs to understand this unknown environment. They need to know what can and can’t happen, what they can expect. The reader won’t know about the world you created until you open it up for them and tell them what they need to know.

You may wonder why you have to figure out all this information before you even begin to write your stories. The answer is consistency. You need to define the boundaries and make sure your characters stay within those boundaries or explain to the reader why the rules don’t apply to that particular character.

In addition to consistency, making your world rules clear and documented from the beginning will help ensure you don’t get confused later on and create conflicts in your stories. Your readers will call you out on it, I can guarantee it!

If you’re writing science fiction, you may want to establish rules around space travel, for example. This might include things such as what happens if you fly into a black hole, what are the effects on someone traveling at light speed, what kind of fuel do the space ships use, and how does cryo-travel work?

The purpose of rules is not to write them all out in your stories and bore your reader half to death. The purpose is so you, the writer, have the world and how it works clear in your head so your characters don’t violate any of the rules of the world on their adventures.

If you’re writing a book that includes time travel, you’ll want those rules laid out. Time travel can get pretty sticky!

Some other rules you might consider, depending on your story’s genre are Magic Rules. Remember that each rule should have consequences. There is always a price for using magic or traveling through space and time. What makes the cost of these activities worth the risk of the consequences? That is where your character’s goals come in. His desire to accomplish his goals make the risk acceptable to him.

What are your thoughts? What rules will you create for your world? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s an affiliate link that helps me keep this page going, thanks for your support:

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

~ Eileen


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