We are happy to have her join us! Kayelle will be talking to us today about creating and organizing a scifi universe.
I realize some of you may be thinking-- 'hey? Isn't this blog about Paranormal Romance?' And I'd answer yes. But what does her post have to do with Paranormal Romance?
You can read my article here or click on this link- http://paranormallovefeatures.blogspot.com/2015/03/paranormal-romance-it-wasnt-always.html
Now without further adieu-- Author, Kayelle Allen
Creating and Organizing a SciFi Universe
By Kayelle Allen, author of the Tarthian Empire Companion, an illustrated World-Building Bible and Guide to Writing a Science Fiction Series.
As an author of any genre, you build worlds. You create a setting for characters and make it realistic for them. Whether you write Regency, Medieval Fantasy, Futuristic, or pure Science Fiction, you build worlds. While I don't claim to be an authority on the subject, as a reader and as a writer I have strong opinions, and I'm willing to share them. I'll also share tips on how I created my worlds and make recommendations for you to create yours. I hope they'll prove helpful.
The number one suggestion I have for you is to be organized. If you don't take time to do this, you risk mistakes, repeating details, losing information, and contradicting your own story. If you give a character a scar over his left eye, and later it migrates to over the right eye, you might miss that. But will your readers? If an event occurred prior to the great war of (fill in the blank), but you mention later it happened twenty years after the war... will your readers notice? Too many of these things and readers give up on finishing the book. The best way to make sure you keep details straight is to record every detail of your story world and its characters.
I recommend creating a folder system. Put EVERYthing in those folders. Separate the information as you organize your material. I have sections for images, language, setting, weapons, animals, characters, worlds, and a handy one called Archived. When I no longer think I'll need info, I drag it to the Archived folder. Once a year or so, I go through it and see if it's still "useless" or out of date.
Most of the time I find a few gems I'd thought unusable that still apply. It's easier to drag them out of the archived folder than to resurrect a dead file deleted months prior. Don't be afraid to throw away a file for which you have no further use, but if you're not sure, archive it. At first, you might archive far too much. Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry. You'll learn which to keep and which to toss as you move forward. Learn to trust yourself.
Dealing with Characters
Keep a running list of all named characters. This provides proper spelling of names and will come in handy for your editors, proofreaders, and you. Your readers will appreciate it. Having a character list is also great for adding people to your story.
It will be easier if you keep them in a coherent list, either in a spreadsheet or a document.
Here's a suggested method of recording data.
Type of Being or Creature:
Use the full name of the character, and any nicknames. The gender shouldn't change unless there is a reason, but don't depend on your memory. If you have unusual names or gender neutral names (Chris, Robin), you might forget if you haven't used the character in a few books.
Type of Being or Creature means are they human or otherwise. This allows you to list whether they are androids, animals (important pets, for example), and so on. The difference between Role and Function is distinctive. Their role might be "Friend, Family, Background Character" or "Head of the Council" or "Musician for Rock Group". Function is mentor to so-and-so, best selling songwriter, person who steals coffee which sparks conflict between two other characters.
Function is "what they do" and Role is "what they are." The "Books" section is where you record the books where the character is found. This is a good item even if you do not write series books.
If you use a spreadsheet such as Excel, here's how you might set it up:
First name, Last name, Gender, Type of Being, Role, Function, Book(s)
Separating the first and last names will allow you to sort by family name, helpful if you need to see who is related to whom.
Finding Harry, Larry, and Lou
Here's a cool trick if you already have several books and want to find out which book mentions a character. Create a separate folder and into it copy each of your books.
Don't put your originals in there. Make copies. Take out any bit at the end of the book that mentions upcoming stories (such as sneak peeks) that might contain character names. You want only the actual story in these documents. Keep this folder. You'll be surprised how handy it is for searching details when you write a series.
Now that everything is together, look at your folder menu. You'll see "Tools" at the top. Click that, and open Folder Options. Click the Search tab. Under "What to search" there are two choices. Pick the one that says "Always search file names and contents."
It warns that this might take several minutes, but since you'll mainly use it for searching this folder, that's fine. I use it routinely on all folders, and it's a great way to find info I've lost or a document for which I can't remember the title.
I have a 2TB hard drive and to me, it's not that long -- maybe a few seconds. Click OK to save the option. Don't worry. If it does prove to be too long for everyday use for you, you can easily change it back. With this option, when you click in the search box and type a name, the program will show you which book has the character's name.
Think about the name before you assume the person is mentioned. For example, if you have a guy named Van Smith, both those words have other meanings. Does one character drive a van? Does the other have a Smith and Wesson? Does someone who is a smith live in Van Nuys?
Be sure you know how the word was used within the document if it has shades of meaning or uses. If you aren't sure, open the document, use CTRL+F (or CMD+F for Mac) and type the name. Then you'll know for sure. But rather than open each document for each character, it's super quick to type it once and search all the books at the same time.
Taken from the Tarthian Empire Companion, an illustrated World-Building Bible and Guide to Writing a Science Fiction Series.
The worldbuilding magic that makes Kayelle Allen's Tarthian Empire tick, the Companion shares 10k years of future history, peeks behind the curtain of scene and character creation, offers a quick tour of the empire, and dishes up a surfeit of secrets for fans, all in one illustrated volume.
Original art by Jamin Allen and Kayelle Allen.
Author website http://kayelleallen.mobi/companion/
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Coming soon in print
About the Author
Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Homeworld http://kayelleallen.com Mobile site http://kayelleallen.mobi
Unstoppable Heroes Blog http://kayelleallen.com/blog
Would you like the free Top Stops edition of the Companion?
Top Stops is 24 pages of images and info about Tarth and other places in the empire.