Sunday, May 1, 2011

Worldbuilding. I Haz It.

Confession time – I’ve made more than a few booboos as I’ve gone through the process of getting the cyberpunk novella, ZERO FACTOR, out of my brain and onto Samhain’s launching pad.  The first misstep was not really knowing what cyberpunk was, so I hopped on Wikipedia and let my fingers do the researching.

Lo and behold, I knew all about cyberpunk.  I had read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” when I was a kid (I believe I borrowed it from my brother… and can’t remember if I ever gave it back).   One of my all-time favorite movies is “Blade Runner”, and I’ve seen just about every episode of “Ghost In The Shell”.  So, yeah.  I knew cyberpunk.  The question was, could I do it?  To create a believable, complex cyberpunk story, you have to fashion the frame for it, flesh it out, and make its rules of operation.  In short, you have to do some serious worldbuilding.  Cyberpunk occurs in a future not yet written, after all.  It can be anything you want it to be; the only limit is your imagination.

Believe it or not, that was a big worry for me.  My imagination is, shall we say, moody.  When I need it to do one thing, it shoots off and does something else.  For instance, I had wanted ZERO FACTOR to have a dark, gritty “Escape From New York” feel.  Instead, it takes place in the sunny desert of Nevada (seriously, I STILL don’t know how or why it wound up there).  My female MC, Via Brede, was supposed to be a med tech, but when she rolled out of my brain she wound up being an Agridome bubble farmer.  Come to find out, putting Via in a bubble made all sorts of AWESOME sense, but… it wasn’t what I had planned.

You see why I thought I might not be up to this?

In order to create a futuristic world, I eventually put myself through a pretty weird mental exercise (I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, so either I’m a genius, or I’m the worst kind of time-wasting goofball).  I made myself go through an entire day taking ordinary events, and putting a futuristic spin on them.  Example: the brushing of teeth became fast and simple with a mere swish of Denti-Wash.  Cars with combustible engines became superlight Maglev vehicles that ran on cold fusion.  Who needs cameras or x-ray machines at security check points when you have a cyborg equipped with cyberoptics and a computer for a brain?

The one thing I couldn’t possibly change, though, was how two people with chemistry hot enough to melt Pluto can and will fall in love.  I am a romance writer, after all, and as much fun as I had building the future world of ZERO FACTOR, the one deliciously familiar touchstone for me was the crazy, wide-eyed hope that love brings to the lives of those who embrace it.  I don’t know what our world will look like a hundred years from now, but as long as there are people brave enough to take a chance on love, I’m thinking it’ll be pretty much like it is now. 

Except with jet packs. 


  1. I admire the HECK out of you, you know that... I totally don't have the imagination for this stuff, but I am sure you've done FABULOUS things with it (and i can't wait to see). I LOVE your spend the day spinning things... I think that is exactly what you have to do--get it all envisioned before the story is really going... Otherwise I think you end up inconsistent or over or under alter things...

  2. how did I know Hart would agree that 'getting it all envisioned before...'was the best way? whereas I adore that your MC ended up in a sunny dome when you planned otherwise... I also admire you and know you are in for great things. btw I just linked you on my blog - sorry should have done it earlier xxx keep on keeping on

  3. How weird, I didn't get notification that any comments were made. Sorry, ladies!

    Hart -- so much of the futuristic stuff I came up with had to be cut, but you're right. It was TOTALLY necessary to get into that world. What's really great is now that I've built that world, I'm now comfortable enough to go there whenever I want. Thanks to that mental exercise, I have a feeling I'll be visiting that futuristic world again and again. :)

    @Marian -- Marian, HELP! Could you please tell me how to put up links to other blogs? I want to share you and Tami and a few others I've "met" with the rest of the world, but I'm afraid I don't know what I'm doing. Any pointers? And THANK YOU so much for the linkage love, it's greatly appreciated! *tacklehugs*