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  • In J.R.R.'s world,

  • Gandalf is one of five wizards sent by the Valar

  • to guide the inhabitants of Middle Earth

  • in their struggles against the dark force of Sauron.

  • Gandalf's body was mortal,

  • subject to the physical rules of Middle Earth,

  • but his spirit was immortal,

  • as seen when he died as Gandalf the Grey

  • and resurrected as Gandalf the White.

  • According to the Wachowski's script,

  • an awakened human only has to link up

  • and hack the neon binary code of the Matrix

  • to learn how to fly a helicopter

  • in a matter of seconds.

  • Or if you are the One,

  • or one of the Ones,

  • you don't even need a helicopter,

  • you just need a cool pair of shades.

  • Cheshire cats can juggle their own heads.

  • iPads are rudimentary.

  • No Quidditch match ends

  • until the Golden Snitch is caught.

  • And the answer to the ultimate question of life,

  • the universe,

  • and everything

  • is most certainly 42.

  • Just like real life,

  • fictional worlds operate consistently

  • within a spectrum of physical and societal rules.

  • That's what makes these intricate worlds

  • believable,

  • comprehensible,

  • and worth exploring.

  • In real life, the Law of Gravity

  • holds seven book sets of "Harry Potter"

  • to millions of bookshelves around the world.

  • We know this to be true,

  • but we also know

  • that ever since J.K. typed the words

  • wizard,

  • wand,

  • and "Wingardium Leviosa,"

  • that Law of Gravity has ceased to exist

  • on the trillions of pages

  • resting between those bookends.

  • Authors of science fiction and fantasy

  • literally build worlds.

  • They make rules,

  • maps,

  • lineages,

  • languages,

  • cultures,

  • universes,

  • alternate universes within universes,

  • and from those worlds sprout

  • story, after story, after story.

  • When it's done well,

  • readers can understand

  • fictional worlds and their rules

  • just as well as the characters

  • that live in them do

  • and sometimes,

  • just as well or even better

  • than the reader understands

  • the world outside of the book.

  • But how?

  • How can human-made squiggles on a page

  • reflect lights into our eyes

  • that send signals to our brains

  • that we logically and emotionally decode

  • as complex narratives

  • that move us to fight,

  • cry,

  • sing,

  • and think,

  • that are strong enough

  • not only to hold up a world

  • that is completely invented by the author,

  • but also to change the reader's perspective

  • on the real world that resumes

  • only when the final squiggle is reached?

  • I'm not sure anyone knows

  • the answer to that question,

  • yet fantastical, fictional worlds are created everyday

  • in our minds,

  • on computers,

  • even on napkins at the restaurant down the street.

  • The truth is your imagination

  • and a willingness to, figuratively,

  • live in your own world

  • are all you need to get started writing a novel.

  • I didn't dream up Hogwarts

  • or the Star Wars' Cantina,

  • but I have written some science thrillers

  • for kids and young adults.

  • Here are some questions and methods I've used

  • to help build the worlds

  • in which those books take place.

  • I start with a basic place and time.

  • Whether that's a fantasy world

  • or a futuristic setting in the real world,

  • it's important to know where you are

  • and whether you're working in the past,

  • present,

  • or future.

  • I like to create a timeline

  • showing how the world came to be.

  • What past events have shaped the way it is now?

  • Then I brainstorm answers to questions

  • that draw out the details of my fictional world.

  • What rules are in place here?

  • This covers everything from laws of gravity

  • (or not)

  • to the rules of society

  • and the punishments for individuals who break them.

  • What kind of government does this world have?

  • Who has power,

  • and who doesn't?

  • What do people believe in here?

  • And what does this society value most?

  • Then it's time to think about day-to-day life.

  • What's the weather like in this world?

  • Where do the inhabitants live

  • and work

  • and go to school?

  • What do they eat

  • and how do they play?

  • How do they treat their young

  • and their old?

  • What relationships do they have

  • with the animals and plants of the world?

  • And what do those animals and plants look like?

  • What kind of technology exists?

  • Transportation?

  • Communication?

  • Access to information?

  • There's so much to think about!

  • So, spend some time living in those tasks

  • and the answers to those questions,

  • and you're well on your way

  • to building your own fictional world.

  • Once you know your world

  • as well as you hope your reader will,

  • set your characters free in it

  • and see what happens.

  • And ask yourself,

  • "How does this world you created

  • shape the individuals who live in it?

  • And what kind of conflict is likely to emerge?"

  • Answer those questions,

  • and you have your story.

  • Good luck future world-builder!

In J.R.R.'s world,

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B1 TED-Ed fictional world reader gravity helicopter

【TED-Ed】How to build a fictional world - Kate Messner

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    Sofi posted on 2014/04/15
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