Last week I was in Florida, so I’ve had nearly two weeks of brainstorming since my last post. And while it has been pretty scattered brainstorming, a lot of it has focused on worldbuilding, and I’m really, really excited about where that is headed. So here are some vague notes on what I’ve figured out and where I still need to do work.
I’ve been contemplating how I want the setting of this novel to be similar to, but different from, our Earth. I considered a parallel Earth, or one far in the future, and those ideas felt fine but not exciting. Then I remembered that when I was brainstorming this idea six months or so ago, I intended for the setting to be a colonized planet where contact and supplies from Earth had unexpectedly stopped. I like that idea, but I decided to tweak it a bit so that contact and supplies stopped long enough ago that most folks have NO IDEA that humanity didn’t originate on the current planet or that there are potentially other humans out there.
This led to a TON of questions. A TON.
- Why was a colony necessary or needed? Is this the only one?
- Who was in charge of the colonization? A government? Many governments? A company?
- Who got to go to the new colony, and how were they chosen? For this, I definitely want to highlight a class divide (we need people to clean the ship and grow food on the new colony, and presumably we have enough space that not everyone is wealthy or a rocket scientist). I’m also curious if there are some folks who might have not wanted to go for religious reasons, or for whom being on a new planet might be especially strange or change their spiritual practices.
- What organization or government was put in place to keep the new colony functional? What control did Earth or those in charge of the colonization have?
- On that note, what communication was available to and from Earth? How often, originally, did information and supplies reach the new planet?
- When did info and supplies stop coming, and why? (The inhabitants of our planet likely won’t know that, but because of a plot point I’ve added toward the end of the novel, I’ll need to know this.)
- What tech did the colonists have originally, and how were they able to maintain it once supplies stopped coming? Did they invent or cobble together new tech after they stopped receiving supplies? This is an interesting question because I’m intending to write a society with some really cool tech (solar bikes!) but without access to things like cell phones and the internet. I’m struggling currently with the printing press. If my main character is a librarian we need books. Do they have a printing press? How advanced is it?
- How long ago was colonization? How has society changed since then?
Many of these questions are partly or totally unanswered in my brain right now, and this is the part of writing where I tend to really bog down and feel like I need to do a bunch of research and figure out ALL THE ANSWERS. I’m trying to avoid that. Here are a few things I do know!
- Colonists probably would have named their first settlement something like New Hope or New Washington. Joseph, my husband, suggested Plymouth or Roanoke. Roanoke is just begging for disaster, but I do like his ideas, and one or both may appear in the novel.
- There are a small group of folks who were genetically altered before colonization to live extremely long lives. They were in charge of the ship during travel and were set to watch over the colony after arrival. They likely sequester themselves so that no one notices they’re 500 years old, but I’ve got a vague sense that people come to them as arbiters or oracles or something when needed. They were almost certainly both very wealthy and very successful / well educated on Earth.
- Toward the end of the novel, a ship containing humans will appear. I’ve not decided yet if it will come from Earth or from another colony. I’ve also not decided whether it will come needing aid or just to reestablish communication. But a ship! Full of humans! That will be dramatic.
- I’m undecided on whether there will be any “alien” plants or animals on the planet, but I have decided that many Earth plants and animals will have been brought over and established over time (probably this colony took a very long time to prepare before the actual colonists arrived). So mostly we will see plants and animals that we recognize.
Are you working on worldbuilding yourself? Do you have interesting answers to any of my questions or snags? Is there a book I really need to read in the next few weeks? Feel free to comment. I’m excited to see what others may be able to contribute.