Whittle (transitive verb)
: to reduce, remove, or destroy gradually as if by cutting off bits with a knife
I tried to learn how to whittle when I was in the Boy Scouts. It was a great way to sit and relax on a nice summer day, but with no artistic ability, I usually ended up with stick people made of sticks. None of my works will be in the Field Museum. Trust me.
I chose the transitive verb definition of the word for our A to Z Challenge — Science to Science Fiction theme this year. Part of the scientific process is to start large and end small. By that, I mean scientists look at all the information, whittle it down to relevant or key parts, and then execute. The whittling is important because even while something may not make the final cut, it is knowledge to fall back on if you run into an obstacle.
The same goes for the writing process and I believe is especially important in writing science fiction. Maybe I am making it more difficult than it should be, but I find there is an underlying need for just story boarding new worlds and civilizations in bulk and then whittling them down to a concise time line and develop my story from there.
How do you approach building a new world or civilization? Do you go into it with clear, concise notions of how these new worlds will be? Or do you prefer to just let it flow and whittle it down from there?