I’m a world building fiend. I love finding out details. It’s also why I write fantasy and scifi type stuff, rather than historicals. I have a plot bunny running around that involves time travel, and another that involves both the creation and destruction of the universe. Both stories are put on the back burner, because of the sheer amount of world building research they require to be done right. When I’m done building a world, I want to be able to stroll around the corners, smell it, feel it. There are certain writers who do this very well. There are others who, I swear, can’t build their worlds with legos and k’nex.
How do you build a world? Well, it varies. Everyone does it differently. For me, I usually get the basics of the world with the story idea. I know if it takes place in a fantasy world, in space, in our normal world, in a long ago world, because the story idea itself usually has that. The project I’m currently editing could only take place the way it does in a fantasy world. Transport her to a space station, and the story could not possibly happen. The character, granted, knowing her, would get into just as much mischief, but it wouldn’t be the same story at all. But once I figure out the gist, I need to figure out if geography influences anything, what normal weather is, what varies in places. What cultural norms do they share, if any, with our world. What assumptions would they have? A world that has a history of constant wars would be a different kind of world than one that never invented weapons.
Once I get inside that world, I can smell it, touch it, taste it. And I work to make it come through, but not too much, for the reader.