Sunday, May 13, 2012

2nd Sunday Savors: World building

Arcadia Beach, OR
You all know I write fantasy. (In case the name of this blog didn't give it away.) I like fantasy. Always have. I prefer to delve into a world of make believe because to me it's like a mini-mental vacation- both when I read and write.

Urban fantasy is my favorite, because the fiction is set in present time but with all the creatures of the fantasy world using modern day technology and such. Wouldn't it be funny to go to the grocery store and run into an elf or have a drink with a vampire at the pub? I suppose it depends on what the vampire is drinking & whether you're into to that sort of thing...

What I'm getting at is fantasy is a different world than that which you live in. As a writer you get to create this world, set the rules, decide who gets to do what, and develop your own unique mythos. This is why I love to write fantasy. It's so much fun playing God. :)

However, as entertaining as it is, world building is HARD! Once it's created you have to stick with the rules you've set and that can be quite challenging at times. I cannot tell you how often I've set a certain rule for my vampires at the beginning of the story and half way through I run into a problem where that particular criterion doesn't quite work. It's like slamming into a wall. Being a panster, this becomes a huge problem since I now need to go back and find the issue and work my way forward. This might be the biggest reason I have yet to publish my vampire novel. There's just too much to fix and well, I'm just plain lazy.

I have learned alot about world building over the last couple of years and I'm going to share with you a couple of tricks that are helping me tremendously on my current WIP.

  1. Let the world percolate. I've been thinking about the world of my WIP for about six months. When I'm laying in bed about to go to sleep I imagine what it would be like to fall asleep in this world. What would the sky look like at night? What sounds would I hear coming through my window? When I get up in the morning I imagine what I see when I left my room and house. Who do I meet? Why would I meet them? Where do I go?  What do I wear? You get the jest.
  2. When I come up with something interesting, I write it down in my journal or in a file I've created on my smart phone. Now that I'm starting to write the actual story I refer to these notes.
  3. Before I start writing the book, however, I test these ideas with the main points of my story and the other way around. Do my main points of the story fit the world or do they complicate things in a way that would confuse the reader (not to mention the writer)? Does the world fit my story?
  4. And then I write and write and write. Because really, that's what it comes down to in the end. You can think about your story all you want, but the only sure way to test your brilliant world is to write it. How else are you going to know if it works or not?
  5. Leave squeaking room. Have options for your world so that when you run into the problem like I did where something doesn't work create a "plan B" so to speak. Example: My vampires are Strigoi, ugly looking creatures that crawl out of the grave. Who wants to read about a hero who looks like death? So I created a myth that if the strigoi blood-bonds with a gypsy witch from a certain blood line he can return to his former handsomeness, but he must depend on her blood for the rest of his existence.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

Here's a flower from my patio garden for all of you mothers out there. Happy Mother's Day.


  1. Hi Melania,

    Great post, enjoyed reading it. I think it's not just a fantasy world that a writer needs to build up in the story but also foreign places with different set of society rules. I ran into same problems when I was writing "Bonded by Crimson" and "Treasured Chest". And the latter being a historical romance, I also had to make sure my "voice' is not too modern.

    1. You are absolutely right! This applies to any world whether fantasy, historical, or contemporary.

  2. Such a beautiful rose. I love the picture. I have 3 rose bushes myself. I read your two FF 100 word stories and like them. The woman pilot must have been emotionally drained and ready to see land. Good story. The other one too about the climb (last week's FF). By the way, isn't a writers' conference a whole lot of fun and wonderful camaraderie with other writers and mentors? I took the apprentice writers' course with the Christian Writers' Guild and went to one of their conferences at the Broadmore in Colorado Springs, Co. ( my hometown and state) and made a very good friend there with my room mate. Great experience! loved it.

    1. Thanks for reading my stories and commenting. Yes, Conferences are wonderful. I'm looking forward to RWA this summer. :)

  3. Oh, also. Thanks for reading my FF story and comments.