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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Thirty-Eight

World Creation in Science Fiction

Establishing the Rules for Hyperspace, Time Travel, and More

Orson Scott Card

World creation sounds like a marvelous free-for-all, in which you come up with all kinds of ideas; ask, “Why?” and “How?” and “What result?” a lot; and when there’s a really big pile of good stuff, you sit down and write.

I wish it were that easy. But that big pile of neat ideas is just that—a pile, shapeless, chaotic. Before you can tell a meaningful story, you have to hone and sharpen your understanding of the world, and that begins with the fundamental rules, the natural laws.

Remember: Because speculative fiction always differs from the knowable world, the reader is uncertain about what can and can’t happen ...

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