If I could choose my dream job, I would choose to be a professional vacationist. I thoroughly enjoy traveling—going new places, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. While I don’t mind flying, driving from point A to point B offers a greater chance of discovery. In fact, several of the more interesting sights I have seen were due to wrong turns.
One of the things I enjoy about reading is the numerous places books can take me. I have stalked the ancient halls of Moria while seeking long-lost dwarven treasure. I have bounced the breadth of Hundred-Acre Wood in pursuit of a red balloon with a mind of its own. The majority of my 8th-grade year was spent running through the Pictish Wilderness, robbing tombs in Stygia, and sitting on the Aquilonian throne. My trips to the Forgotten Realms are numerous; to Mossflower, memorable. I have stepped through the looking glass and even fallen down the rabbit hole. As you can see, I walk through a myriad of worlds and I can stay as long as I like.
I, however, am just a visitor to these places. At the end of the page, the chapter, the book, or the series, I go home. These places are only as real to me as they are to the characters, so the writer—or writers—have to make them believable. Deafen me with the sounds of a big city or the silence of deserted ruins. Tempt my nose with the scent of roasting mutton or make it snarl with the pungent aroma of an unclean barn. Catch my attention with the glint of sunlight on a sheriff’s badge. Make me feel the ocean’s spray on my face. Convince me that the world is as real as the grocery store every week.
In my writings, I have created worlds from the outside in and from the inside out. I have started with the world itself and worked my way down to the village in which the character lives or visits. I have also started with the village and explored outwards, discovering the world along with the character. Occasionally, I will use a template so I don’t forget something or to generate additional ideas. Most of my worldbuilding, however, comes from my imagination.
I was recently offered the opportunity to create a few (dozen) worlds for a science fiction video game. As part of the creative process, I am writing out a slightly altered version of the history of astronomy and space flight. By incorporating actual history, if done right, another level of believability can be added.
The hope is to create a world people will enjoy visiting; the dream is they will want to come back.
Just thought I would jot this down.