It’s not real life. Its science fiction and fantasy, and it's easy to get lost in a galaxy far far away. Spaceships and dragons can carry a person's imagination to unknown worlds. Festivals with ancient forest elves and giant worms likely to devour you on some distant planet. Oh yeah, this is sci-fi and fantasy. The worlds are bizarre places, created by whimsical minds, where anything is possible.
It’s hard though, with so many different versions of each creature in both science fiction and fantasy, and so many different clichés to avoid or make use of. Everyone wants their story to stand out, and there’s a terrifying possibility of overloading your story with unnecessary lore.
No reader wants to get dragged down by in-depth descriptions of a space pirate that they never meet.
It’s fine though, lore in a story is wonderful in moderation. Little bits of information that might, or might not, become relevant to your plot later are all well and good.
I don’t want to scare anyone away from starting an epic fantasy novel or journey through space, so there are a few things I want to leave you with:
1. Read like crazy.
Read other peoples’ work. There are so many ideas that you can get from other authors. I’m not saying steal the worlds or the characters; I’m saying use it as research and take inspiration.
2. Question things.
I’m not saying question authority, but especially in science-fiction, you have to have some crazy ideas. One of my favourite conversations I’ve had with a fellow science-fiction lover was while we were watching one of the new Star Wars movies. We started questioning if they had bees on whatever planet they were on. The next question was “if they don’t, what pollinates the flowers?” We never came up with a solid answer, but it was an inspiring conversation, that taught me the delicacies of world-building. You don’t have to have an answer to these questions, but sometimes it’s fun to think of the little things.
3. Have fun.
Let’s be honest, if you aren’t having fun wondering whether or not your gremlins are cannibals, you might not be writing in the right genre. Give magic realism or cyberpunk a shot. Or just keep it classic with elves and dwarves. You can’t go wrong with a little rivalry like Legolas and Gimli from the Lord of the Rings.
As a kid, Alyssa liked to dream of dragons taking over the world. Now that she’s grown up, she just writes about them. As well as writing fantasy and science fiction, she’s a dedicated musician who also loves journals and colourful pens.