Intro To World Building Through Pop Culture - Cars and Transportation pt. 6
Writing tips and author advice on building a sci-fi or fantasy world with a focus on pop culture. This is the sixth post in a series.
World-Building Through Pop Culture - Cars and Transportation
If you haven’t been able to tell, I LOVE design - fashion, architecture, technology, automotive - doesn’t matter, I just really love the way we apply art to our everyday lives, so cars are an oft-spoken of the subject within my works.
Every planet that has undergone some sort of industrial revolution requires transportation. One of the greatest marvels of our society, in my opinion, is human travel.
I mean, we’ve figured out short-term/distance time travel, and I just think that’s absolutely amazing.
So, whether you’re working with trains, planes, automobiles, spacecraft, or horse-drawn buggies, you need to know how your people travel, and also how they would trade goods long distances.
Depending on whether you are a seasoned author with loads of titles under your belt or just starting out on your professional writing journey, this might have never even crossed your mind before reading this article!
But, never fret, it’s okay.
In all honesty, being an author will always be a work in progress. The more you write, the more your craft will change and grow. Things that you never considered when you started this journey may pop up later on that seem mind-blowingly crucial to the world you are building or the plot you’ve been working on.
I started designing fictional cars the instant I began world-building through pop culture. It’s in my blood. I’ve always been a car gal. I just love the sleek lines of sports cars, the history of car racing, and going fast as a status symbol.
But it wasn’t until I met Elise Thornback in 2019 that I began taking my world-building seriously and looking at my world with a microscope to figure out the inner workings of it all.
It takes time.
And you can’t just say the name of a fictional car like nothing has happened and call it a day (trust me, I’ve tried.)
You must know what the significance of each vehicle mentioned is. And it’s best to keep a list so you can remain consistent in your storylines and series’ across your planet. The more you mention your signature car, the more likely your readers are to instantly know what you are talking about.
Is the vehicle a status symbol? What status does it symbolize? What is the shape of the vehicle? What are the lines it has? How about the headlights? What shape are they? How bright?
What does the car’s logo look like? The paint job? Is it straight off the lot? Custom? Chipping with rust spots showing through? What color is the car? What purpose does it serve? Is it safe? Practical?… Dangerous?
How does it run?
Is the car “cherry”? Does it run like a top? Or is it constantly a point of stress for your main character? Do they have this awesome-looking car that barely runs and always needs work? Does your MC spend more time walking and taking public transit than they do in the vehicle they actually own?
What is the importance of the vehicle? Is it an homage to good times now gone, deteriorating in an overgrown field? Is it a stationary chill spot in your MC’s driveway? Does the car only come out on special occasions?
Art imitates life.
It also creates life.
That’s what we’re doing here - creating a new existence for your readers to get lost in.
Maybe your main character works on a factory line manufacturing cars too expensive for them to afford. Maybe your main character lives in their car because they are an aspiring comic with no desire to be tied down to traditional living. Or maybe your main character is involved in a car accident that changes their lives forever.
It’s all in your hands.
Another point of consideration is the size of said vehicle.
Are you writing about a beat-up SUV or a luxury two-door? Perhaps your MC is driving the single-person car of the future…
Or maybe your character prefers motorbikes.
And with other means of transportation, such as planes, trains, and buses, what level of luxury is your character sitting in? Are they cramped and feeling trapped on a charter bus full of odd and foul smells, with no leg room to speak of? Or do they have a private cabin on a luxury commercial jet? How much did their ticket cost?
How is it relevant to your story?
It makes little sense to add in these transport vessels if it’s just filler or part of a step-by-step checklist; something important that doesn’t Ives the story needs to happen as well.
Sounds obvious, but I wouldn’t even be saying something if I hadn’t heard the exact same thing from my editor.
Personally, I like to use travel for those self-reflective moments. Some inner dialogue, or perhaps important relational bonding.
Because every little detail needs to have meaning. It’s the same principle as not showing a gun in the first act of a play if you’re not going to use it in the third.
What are the main characters on your planet driving, and why?
It’s a question that only you can answer.
Guess you better get started.
World Building Through Pop Culture with EirianWrites is a monthly world-building segment, centered around building your fantasy world by using the modern world around you, and is written by author, artist, and content creator Eirian Naomi Omid (aka EirianWrites).
Eirian Naomi Omid is a New Adult Fiction Author who specializes in Speculative Literature and Urban Fantasy. She has self-published 6 books, including Note to Self, a book of affirmations written by Goddesses, for Goddesses - which was written by a group of women, each of whom gets paid for their contribution on every copy sold.
Outside of writing, EirianWrites produces a monthly podcast about Goddess Mindset, and a true-weekly YouTube show which breaks down the important mindsets presented in popular lyrics.
You can keep up with everything Eirian Naomi does by visiting her website eirianwrites.wixsite.com/goddess