Alliteration Ink recently published a fantastic resource for writers: Eighth Day Genesis: A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives. Featuring essays from 21 working writers, including the likes of novelists Tim Waggoner and Maurice Broaddus, Eighth Day Genesis covers the gamut of issues in building a plausible world, from “ecosystems, creatures, and legal systems to the ways you can most effectively share your world with your audience.”
Or, to borrow from my essay, “Geography and the Evolution of Your World: Logical Flora et.al.”: “The goal of world building is ultimately to create a coherent, believable world with beings and cultures that are logical extensions. You’re inviting the reader as tourist to come along, and you want the world to be substantial, with plausible details (however bizarre or mundane) that make it come alive.”
The focus of my essay is flora. It’s not often one gets to write about the Puking Tree of Mozambique. So you can imagine how pleased I was to have the opportunity to discuss the very subject…in the larger context of building worlds with plants that are conceivable within their environment. Actually, the Puking Tree doesn’t fit the bill, but Treebeard and the plants of Pandora do.
While I touch on some of the sillier ones put forward in well-known stories (usually set in magical worlds) — Terry Pratchett’s sapient pearwood, J.K. Rowling’s Whomping Willow and gilly weed, Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors, etc. — I primarily wax on the types of plants one finds within given biomes and their evolutionary benefits. I use our planet as the launching point for this discussion. After all, Earth is the reference point for our readers; it should be for ourselves, too, however fantastic our creations.
I include examples from sci-fi and fantasy literature and movies, as well. For further inspiration, the final section covers strange and unusual plants that we fiction writers would be hard pressed to exceed: the carnivorous, moving, resurrecting, warm-blooded, super-sized, and long-living plants of planet Earth.
Flora is but one topic discussed in Eighth Day Genesis. Contents include:
Donald Bingle – Cause Ways
Maurice Broaddus – The Religious Order
Rachel Faulk – Developing a Layered, Credible, and Compelling Government
Paul Genesse – The World as a Character
Kerrie Hughes – Magic Systems
Addie King – Building Believable Legal Systems in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Rosemary Laurey – Putting Words in your Character’s Mouth
Ramsey Lundock – Creatures and Domesticated Animals
Sue Penkivech – Why Just Saying “Hitler Won” Isn’t Enough
Aaron Rosenberg – The Descartian Dilemma, or Hey, Where’d Everybody Go?
Matthew Wayne Selznick – History for History’s Sake, or No One Cares Who the Emperor
Was 500 Years Ago. Unless They Should
Janine Spendlove – Crafting Urban Landscapes
Graham Storrs – Forming a Government
Kelly Swails – Making a Consistent World
Patrick Tomlinson – Building Worlds in a Hostile Universe
Tim Waggoner – A Sense of Style
Kathy Watness – The Work of Our Hands
Bryan Young – The Art of Restraint
Emily (EA) Younker – Shaping Societies: Technology and Its Effects