I’m a bit of a Sci-Fi junkie. Well, not a bit, I AM a sci-fi junkie. I just happily watched the 50th anniversary show ‘Day of the Doctor’ and wondered anew at the writing that has propelled Dr Who through space and time for 50 years.
That’s a long time to sustain interest in a TV show. What makes the program interesting for any writer is the effortless design of a world that is both fantastic and real. You can’t get a more ‘out there’ premise then a Gallifreyan Time Lord hurtling through time and space in a blue Police box that is small on the outside but huge on the inside. What makes the writing believable is the detailed and layered universe that the characters are set in.
To write fiction, you need memorable characters. You have to be a world creator. And the more believable the world you create, the more memorable the settings, the easier it is for your readers to want to immerse themselves in your story as well. The world building detail in the Dr Who universe makes it easy to believe in sonic screwdrivers, Cybermen, Time Lords and Daleks. This is true wether you are writing science fiction, fantasy or any other genre.
Pay attention to your worlds details and layers. If your story is set in the past, make sure you create a sense of place and time. Do some research on on your era. Imagine what it was like to live in that time. What were the sounds and smells and technologies? What was the social life like? What was crime and punishment like? What did people do for entertainment? All these small details make the world you are creating rich and believable. Remember the key thing about writing fiction is the the suspension of disbelief in your reader. No matter how fantastic your premise, the world you create has to believable with it’s own rules and layers.
And It’s not just science fiction like Dr Who. If your story is set in the here and now, you need to layer in meaningful detail. You need to transport your reader to the time and place you are writing about. You’re world must be believable. Your characters will thank you for it.
Great sci-fi and fantasy writing creates worlds as full of detail as our own. We enter that world through the story of course, but without the detailed world building the story would collapse on itself.
Dr Who ‘The Day of the Doctor’ is a masterclass in demonstrating how a rich and layered universe only enhances the characters and story telling.