From Sedes Draconis
Playing a Game of Imagination Using Reality's Rules
A few years ago, I saw on a web page somewhere, the line, "I'm playing a game of imagination using reality's rules", and I thought, "Yes! That's exactly what I'm doing!". Or maybe what I thought was, "No! That's what I'm doing".
As I study and experiment with the fields of knowledge that go into making a world what it is (to whit, all of them), I stretch patterns, to see where they might have gone, to determine as best I can what is necessary and what is mere happenstance, and incorporate it all into my World.
Some people have asked me, "If you confine yourself to what's realistic, doesn't that make your creation boring?" Quite, the contrary, I believe. If one leaves one's creation unconstrained by the realistic, you're likely to come up with something that is either completely incomprehensible; or, more likely, something which is what you think makes sense; or sometimes, both.
And what makes sense is much more boring than what is realistic. Many aspects of the real, attested world make little intuitive sense. The birds of New Zealand are a simple, surface example. The kakapo, a parrot that thinks it's a rabbit: a large, fluffy, flightless, nocturnal, leaf-eating parrot; or the kiwi, that thinks it's a hedgehog. Or the mudskipper, a fish that climbs trees (to move beyond New Zealand birds).
And a world which does not simulate the bizarrity you can find on Earth, is an impoverished creation realtive to one that does (all other things being equal).
Furthermore, there are second-order strangenesses. You can make a lizard-man, or a sentient octopus, but if you simply add "intelligence" to the traits of the animal, or simply make a human with funny physical traits, than you've missed the true, rich oppurtunities that come by working out the logical, realistic extensions of the idea: what strange interactions might occur, that even you didn't expect, between intelligence and their basal nature, making them different from either humans or the animal?
See also my account of the development of my world-building.
For a discussion of some of my shortcomings see the Sedes Draconis:Gimmick notice.