There is a lot to talk about today, so I won’t go too deeply into any of below mentioned topics, for time’s sake.
There is no right or wrong way to go forming a setting as long as you have these crucial components: science, society/government, culture, and flora and fauna.
How would one define science? Dictionary.com says: a branch of knowledge dealing with a body of facts or truths. I would define it as knowing the inner workings of a certain topic/object/lifestyle. It’s a broad subject: you can define is as something different, whatever works for you.
Every world has its own definition of science, and each one will have a different type of science. If you are living in a magical world, your rules of science will change because of that magic.
How does one create a whole different science? It’s difficult. Just think of all the details there is in our science! It would be impossible to create that much.
You don’t need to. You just need to know what matters to your story. Reflect on that.
If you are writing a contemporary story, you’ll have a much easier time with setting because you don’t have to create as much. I have found, though, that because of this thinking, I don’t rely on setting as much. Remember: setting is extremely important, in every story.
If you are writing a historical, you’ll need to remember that not all science has been founded at that certain point. Research who knew what when and where.
2. Society and Government
As you will find with all four of these categories, each world has its own type. You will need to make quite a few of things for your setting (unless it is contemporary or historical).
Who “reigns”? Is it a monarchy? Is it a gynarchy? How does that person reign? Who helps him/her reign? Do the people like how it’s reigned (is it totalitarian?)?
As for society, what is considered the norm and the oddity? Do people help others or avoid them? Is it usual to do this, or will you get put in jail for doing this? There are plenty of questions to ask yourself when thinking up the society and government. I urge you to Google these or come up with them on your own.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about culture: language, clothes, food, habits, traditions, hobbies, entertainment, work, money/trade, school. . . . The list goes on.
Basically, unless it pertains to your story, you don’t need to create every little detail. I would, however, advise doing most of the details because you’ll find it inadvertently makes a more whole story.
4. Flora and Fauna
If you’re in a fantasy world, what do the creatures look like? What do they eat? Where do they live? What are their habits? What impact will they have in a story?
If you’re writing a dystopian sci-fi, perhaps the animals have mutated. What is a cat like now? A dog? A fish?
If you’re writing a contemporary or historical, remember to make sure each animal is constant with its nature.
As for flora, what are the plants like in your world? What uses do they have? Are they poisonous?
What does the landscape look like? A lot of deserts, water, or meadows?
Remember the importance of your flora, even in contemporary. The surroundings will have a huge impact on your character. Perhaps someone hates the heat but lives in the desert. Perhaps someone loves water, so lives close to water. Think of these things: How will the setting create conflict for my character?
There are many more things to think up on setting. I’m sure you can find them on the internet, or if you want more info, you could always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading, and happy writing! NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, so I hope your setting is coming along well!
~ J. Dominique