How to Make it Real
Creating your own world is an amazing experience because you can make all the rules and rewrite society (for better or worse). But sometimes it can all get too much if your readers aren’t on the same page as you.
You just have to control the flow of information. Give them little bits at a time. Don’t have a whole paragraph of “this means this” and “here we do that”, it needs to be more natural. Also, if you give too much new information at once – especially if it’s not from the world we live in – the reader might get confused between your ideas and may struggle to follow you. The worst thing you can do in this respect is explain everything from the beginning, thinking that the reader can follow. We can’t - it’s hard to imagine a new world, even if it does have humans on it.
On the other hand, don’t withhold everything. If you do that you may suffer from your reader thinking your story is set in present day earth. Or if it’s obvious that your story’s in another world, the reader may have no idea what’s going on if they’re given nothing.
I would make use of hints when creating my own world for my readers. For example, if all of the characters show respect to one character and are never rude to them, they are probably in charge. If things are hinted at it makes it that much easier for the reader to digest it once it comes to the explanation.
A useful tool is having your protagonist new to the world. This way we can learn as they do and the information fed to the reader will be at a more natural pace. If you’ve never created your own world before I would suggest starting out with this method. I think this is the reason so many stories have ‘normal’ human protagonists in a ‘non-normal’ environment. It’s just convenient.
A good way I find of controlling the flow of information is to write down all the facts I know about my world in a list or in a spider diagram. I then highlight things off as my protagonist learns them (I tend to go for the ‘normal’ human protagonist option). This way I can keep track of what my protagonist knows, what they don’t know and even what they don’t need to know. Try and only highlight one thing off at a time. If you find yourself going to highlight half your points off, perhaps what you’ve just written will be too much for the readers to handle.
The only way you can check that your readers have understood you is to get someone to read your story and write down their questions about the world. Then you can judge whether you’ve explained it clearly enough or if, on second look, it isn’t as easy to understand as you thought.
In short: keep a close eye on the information flow, write and highlight off your points and get someone to read your work.
How about making a list of facts from the world you are creating or want to create and writing them into the comments below? Perhaps suggest to others how they can explain their point simply. It’s not impossible but it might take some thinking, and should be good fun!