As part one of the Tutorials, we shall begin with World Building
To being, let us define World Building. There are many definitions which are synonymous with each other to varying degrees but let us just understand it as 'the art of creating a setting'. Whether intentional or not, this is something done by every author/writer/creator to some extent.
A setting involves two things, a time and a place. The easiest and probably most common form of world building is to take the real world we live in and create a tweaked version of it. This could be as simple as the setting being in a unknown town, or a fictional city like Gotham or Metropolis .
In science fiction the setting is outer space, from a simple star ship, to a colony, a star empire or even the entire galaxy and beyond.
There is also the case of fantasy writing where a world, and its entire mythology like creation is created for the setting of the stories within. This type of world building is called Mythopeia (don't quote me on that spelling) by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The ultimate goal of World Building, in my opinion, is to take your story setting, and impart on it the illusion of a real universe onto itself.
When creating your own world, with its own people, said people should have their own culture. You could try and make them just like people in the real world, but if they have their own history, or in most science fiction, a future history, then their culture will be different from the real world to some degree.
In the case of alien races, while there can be some similarities with real life cultures and societies, they really shouldn't be just a carbon copy of present, cultures that had existed. Our culture is determined by our military history, but most importantly, our biology and instinctive behavior.
Rules and Laws Edit
Every world has to follow rules and logic, the thing is, they don't always have to be real world logic. Granted there are something you can't get away with but for the most part a universe can have it's own internal physics. For example Hyperspace in Star Wars, as opposed to the Warp Drive in Star Trek or Slipspace in Halo.
The one thing you need to remember is internal rules and logic. While breaking real world physics can be forgiven to certain degrees, breaking your own pre-established physics and logic, is a taboo no writer/creator should break.
For this reason there are two main types of Science Fiction: Hard Science Fiction and Soft Science Fiction.
Hard Science Fiction: It tries to be realistic and consistent with its science
Soft Science Fiction: Doesn't worry about realism too much and/or focuses on the social sciences instead of the physical ones.
I personally do a mixture of both with any technology not relevant to the plot, being relegated to background information.
History and Lore Edit
Your setting, your world wasn't made yesterday, okay maybe it was, but in universe, the start of your story is not the start of the world's history unless you're doing a creation story. A setting almost always has more stories going on, than the one you're telling, even if you don't acknowledge them. To create the illusion of a real universe, there should be legends, history and lore.
I find the illusion is stronger, when the story/legend has different versions and/or disagreements over it. It shows the process of fact becoming history, history becoming legend and legend becoming myth, which often happens in real life.
When it comes to cultures, cultures, worlds should have their own stories, legends. You don't have to acknowledge them, nor think about them, but adding them there does help