World Building From a Pantser’s Perspective – Krystal Brookes

While I’m off roughing it on top of a mountain in the Sumter National Forest listening for the sound of Dueling Banjos, author Krystal Brookes kindly offered to guest post for me until I can work my way down the river where Deliverance was filmed and find my way safely back to civilization again.  So here is Krystal with an interesting perspective on her writing.


Hi, I’m Krystal Brookes and I’d like to thank JC for inviting me to her blog today.  At first I was unsure what I was going to write about and I asked my friend on Facebook what she thought.  She suggested I write about how I go about world building in my stories. I was slightly stricken.  You see, the friend is also my editor and she edited my short story, Bounty, which I will tell you about later.  Was now the time to confess that as a pantser I don’t do any world-building.  I pretty much make it up as I go along.

Bounty was my first attempt to be published and was accepted.  My acceptance email sits proudly on a frame next to my desk.  It states that the editor “loved the world building in this short story.”  So I confessed that I didn’t know a thing about it, and my editor told me that I am able to world-build even if I don’t think of it as a technical process.

I realized that I usually start with a utopian government.  I probably choose that because I first got into science fiction watching Star Trek.  And the Federation of Planets is pretty utopian, even if they do have to fight Klingons, Cardassians and the Dominion.  The different inhabited planets are usually linked through alliances or confederacies: a peaceful galaxy with a few baddies to spoil it.

For Bounty, I had to create some kind of criminal and legal system.  In space a police force would probably not be practical.  I had to think of something else. Paid bounty hunters seem to be a better way to capture criminals.   Because it is a utopian society, the criminal justice must be fair—but that’s not to say they never make mistakes.

Then I had to decide what kind of planet to make the prison planet Alcatraz.  Coming from freezing cold and wet Scotland, the idea of a desert area is a bit disturbing to me.  I’m sure people who come from Arizona don’t see it that way.  To me, that would be the height of discomfort and no one wants to see the baddies living in the lap of luxury.  So Alcatraz became a hot, sandy, desert planet.

So it seems that I did build a little world of my own, even if I didn’t realize that it was what I was doing.  It was great to think up new technology and consider what living in such conditions would do to criminals. Bounty is a short novella so I didn’t have time to explore it in great detail.  But I’m currently working on a new project and an entirely different type of planet.  I hope you like the excerpt of Bounty.


Bounty – Excerpt


“I see you’re awake,” a gruff male voice stated.

Gemma looked in the direction of the voice. Wherever she was, it was dark and damp smelling. Her mind was struggling to make sense of what had happened. She could tell there had been an accident but the immediate events before the accident were extremely fuzzy.


“It doesn’t matter. You’re safe–for now. How are you feeling?”

“Sore and groggy,” she replied quietly.

She couldn’t quite make out the man in the dim light. She didn’t recognise his voice or where she was. Her memory was still fuzzy but something in the back of her mind scared her. She seemed to be alone with this man and she certainly was not in a hospital.

“Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you crashland your shuttle into a planet Ms. Scott.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Your ID was in your pocket. And your phase gun was in your holster.”

“Where is my gun now?” Gemma asked, trying to stop the fear in her voice.

“It’s safe.” The man moved forward into the thin shaft of light coming from the dim overhead light on the ceiling of the hut they seemed to be in. The man was tall, muscular and tanned, with a shock of medium length brown hair. She recognized him, but couldn’t quite recall from where.

“I’d prefer it if you returned my gun. I need it.”

“I said it’s safe,” he returned.

She sat for a few moments trying to remember what had happened. She knew she had to get her gun back from this man but her head was too befuddled to form a coherent argument for now.

As the details of the accident came back to her, she squinted again at her rescuer, trying to recall how she knew him. She felt her blood drain as she remembered.

“I need to fix my shuttle,” said Gemma, hoping that he hadn’t realized who she was.

“It’s dark outside, you won’t be able to do anything just now.”

She tried to sit up but a shard of intense pain ripped through her shoulder and made her fall back on the pillow.

“You dislocated your shoulder, so I had to put it back in the socket. It’s going to be sore for a while.”

She rubbed her shoulder and grimaced.

“Thanks, I think.”

“If I’d left you in that shuttle, believe me, you would have been murdered or worse.”

“What’s worse than being murdered?”

“On this planet? Not being murdered and being kept alive long enough to be aware of what they’re doing to you.”

She shuddered.





When Gemma Scott’s shuttle crash lands on Alcatraz prison planet, she’s sure of one thing. If the impact doesn’t kill her, the inmates will. She wakes up in the hut of a convicted terrorist and wonders how long it will be until the handsome but dangerous man finds she was the one who arrested him two years earlier. As their attraction grows, they work together to help Gemma escape the dangerous planet. But they can’t deny the sparks that fly between them.

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