Worldbuilding

Why You Should Theme Your World

For a world to foster immersion, it must feel cohesive, more cohesive than the real world. Anything out of place in the real world can be proved with evidence; fictional worlds don’t have that luxury. To make everything feel like it fits, worldbuilders use themes. Read more »

Five Obstacles to a Realistic Interstellar Empire

From Star Wars’ aptly named Galactic Empire to Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets, interstellar civilizations are a pillar of science fiction. Somehow, humanity breaks the light-speed barrier and reaches the stars. Maybe we’ll meet some aliens along the way, maybe not. Either way, our … read more »

Six Unrealistic Worlds From Popular Stories

The matrix from the outside.

These stories could take place on a volcanic iceberg and still be popular. But having devoted fans doesn’t mean their worlds couldn’t be better. Even when the premise relies on an unrealistic setting, unbelievable aspects can be cured with forethought. Just look at these popular … read more »

Eight Easy Tips for Writing a Diverse Story

Diverse stories are important, and we don’t have nearly enough of them in speculative fiction. People outside the dominant group of straight, white cis-men deserve to see themselves represented in stories. If we can’t imagine diverse worlds in fiction, how will we create one in … read more »

Six Ways Guns Change a Fantasy Setting

We’re all looking for ways to make our fantasy setting stand out. One great way to do that is with an iron tube packed with explosives and a round ball of lead. I’m talking about guns, of course. Despite being a major force in human … read more »

Land Travel Before Engines

Many fantasy stories involve traveling from one city to another, often in worlds without engine technology. Before cars and trains, traveling over land was exhausting and dangerous. The logistics of a trip were completely different from today. Here’s what you should know. Read more »

Four Questions to Ask When a Character Is Clever

Everyone loves a character who solves their problems with brains instead of brawn. We want our characters to figure out the solution to an intractable problem at the most dramatic possible moment! But if you’re not careful, your solution might come off as cheap or unrealistic. Read more »

Five Uses of Real Science in The Expanse

If you’re not already familiar with it, The Expanse is a science fiction series by James S. A. Corey,* with an upcoming television adaptation on Syfy. It’s a sprawling, epic story of political intrigue in space, with five books already out and more on the … read more »