World-building: Common Mistakes in Speculative Fiction – Guest Post by, Diana Peach…

Just in case you didn’t get your fill of World-building, I’m over at The Story Reading Ape’s blog with another installment. Swing on by if you want to learn about what can go wrong! Happy November!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

World-building is a balancing act between alien complexity and Earth’s familiarity. If authors make characters and settings too alien, they risk confusing readers and interrupting the reading experience. But the other side of the coin – applying Earth qualities, standards, and cultural norms to non-Earth planets and societies – isn’t any better.

We’re so used to Earth and the way we live and behave, our customs, values, and social rules that they become invisible to us. They become the “givens” of human life, and often, we attribute them to other non-Earth worlds and cultures. Our ways of life are rooted in thousands of years of history. Other planets have different historical trajectories that produce alternate ways of life that feel normal to the characters.

Here are seven things to look out for when world-building:

Your society doesn’t “function”

Did you ever read a book where none of the characters work…

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40 thoughts on “World-building: Common Mistakes in Speculative Fiction – Guest Post by, Diana Peach…

  1. Diana, I could not agree with you more! A big pet peeve of mine is reading something that is suppose to take place on another world, and yet there are things from our planet there. Or when someone from an alien/fantasy culture uses a colloquialism that is from our world. One of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson. However, one of my biggest complaints about his Mistborn series is the abundance of Earth animals and the use of phrases and colloquialisms from our culture. The story takes place on another planet, in another universe. I once asked him why he chose to do this… I never got an answer. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so hard, Steven, because too much new stuff (renaming everything) is way to confusing for the reader. We’d have to limit ourselves to Earth or make our characters colonists. I read a book once where the author explained in the forward that he was going to use familiar terms like “carrot” even though the world didn’t truly have “carrots.” Ha ha. I got his concern, but it was kind of funny. I totally agree about the colloquialisms. It’s amazing how many phrases are related to cars, guns and baseball! Those we definitely have to keep an eye out for. I love taking about this stuff. It’s such fun. Thanks for the great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You really seem to know your stuff! I enjoy world-building, but I can’t write very well like you can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s so much to the craft that I never noticed as a reader and am still learning. Tolkien took 12 years to write LOTR. Sort of amazing in the world-building category. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Diana I love fiction about building world. it was a great read I had. It is true that it makes one concentrate on another world and compared to where we are living and it is like we see another society and we picture how things are as if we are there and living it. Great words, was an amazing read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A well-written post, Diana! A trove of information to keep in mind when creating a new world. I’ve got a fantasy in my oh-so-full WIP folder (a NaNo project from years ago), and when I get back to it, I’ll have to make sure I’ve thought about the points you brought up 🙂


  5. paulandruss says:

    This is such a great series Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dgkaye says:

    I am no fiction writer and this was absolute fascinating! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh good! Thank you, Debby! Sometimes I think it’s easier for me to see what to avoid than it is to list all the things that should be included. I continue to learn too – there’s always a piece I hadn’t thought about and sometimes the glitches can cause real headaches! Ha ha. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I discovered world-building through novels such as yours but now, I see it everywhere. I’m off to read your article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jacqui. It’s a lot of fun for speculative fiction writers and something that I think attracts us to the genre, but all fiction writers do it to a degree… transporting us to places, cultures, time periods where we’ve never been. You are doing it as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jennie says:

    So interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ms. Peach is a cornucopia of great writing ideas, thank you for sharing Diane. Have a lovely Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really enjoyed this post – so much helpful information for all kinds of writers. Just proves how much thinking is involved with writing a great story. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. More great tips, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So excited to see this! Been waiting for Part 3. (And it’s the third one I’m bookmarking. These have all been brilliant.) Thanks for sharing this info, Diana. ❤ Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. it’s really good to find out I’m developing my alien/fantasy worlds OK – very encouraging to read this post over at ape!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by to read. It isn’t really hard to do. Just takes time. And I believe that we speculative fiction writers enjoy all this anyway, so it just adds to the fun, right? Happy Writing!


  14. A.P. says:

    Wow – this is like, in an area of writing that I never even think about. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great, Diana, hopping right over…

    Liked by 1 person

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