Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A World Of My Own!

Last July I went to Universal Studios in California. After I'd been on The Simpson's Ride (alone I may add... my parents are wusses) we went on the Studio Tour.

Driving round in the tour bus we took in the sights of the studios -- the King Kong ride was awesome -- but it was the street sets that struck me most.

Driving up you see a series of buildings that look three dimensional, some can be, most aren't. While some sets are towns, most are facades to create the illusion of a city or town.

This got me thinking about writing, more specifically, about setting and world building.

As writers we spend time developing characters and have them interact with the environment around them. Sometimes locations only serve to perform the scene. Sometimes the setting IS the scene. Creating a world both we, and the reader, can believe is an important tool to make your story come to life.

In my new MS I had to tackle some serious backstory and world building and I have a lot of notes. Lots. Lots. Lots. Even if I don't use everything the notes aren't a waste. I need to know what happened in the past to understand where my MC came from and the life she lives now. I want a 360 degree view of the surroundings. I want to see the sun dappled clouds on the horizon, smell the embers of dying fires...sorry I got lost in the moment there. ;)

Anyway, my point is this. To create my story and character I need to believe in the world they live in. The idea is like the 2D set at Universal Studios -- one layer of a fully realised vision. So I need to invest some time building the different layers, even if my character is only passing through, to create the 3D effect I hope to achieve.

And scene. :)

Any tips for word building? Leave 'em after the beep...


  1. I'm not great at world building. I tend to pick a few details to show, but I don't write eloquent words to reveal them. Maybe if I wrote literary or fantasy I would, but with YA contemporary, a lot is also left to the reader's imagination. :D

  2. I'm not real in-depth with my world building either, although I'm getting better.

  3. SOMETIMES...I pretend like I'm Ellen Page in Inception (not just because Adam Lambert admitted to having a crush on her), but because I need to really imagine my characters in their world and know if something is off by how they would react to it. For example, you wouldn't put a coffee house in the middle of the Arizona desert would you? Okay maybe you would...this is why if I do a semi-real world setting I research the HECK out of that setting. I originally had my MC walk into a smoky pool hall only to realize that, that city doesn't allow smoking in public places...

    Good luck!

  4. Excellent point, thanks Lindsay!

    Sometimes just a few details are enough, sometimes more is needed. It all depends on the kind of world you are setting up.

  5. Funny timing because I'm making a diorama with my daughter right this minute. I've only written real-world settings, but I'd like to try fantasy and it's daunting. Great post.

  6. Great post! World building has always been tricky for me; I'm never sure if I'm doing it right lol.

  7. Drawing a map. It really helps to layout the foundation out and build from there.

  8. I am one that lets the world building happen naturally. I won't spend endless details on things, but I will throw a sentence or two when I introduce a new place and expand upon it as I see fit for my character. For example, seeing a chair that will later be used as a weapon or something like that. In my most recent example, the father of one of my MC's girlfriend has a garden with shapes of Alice in Wonderland Characters. Because he's a bit cooky. So I use the world building when it works for the characters. Other than that it's pretty bare. Maybe I should add more details...

  9. I can vouch for Lindsay actually being a master at this. Her world building sucks me in every time and I don't want to leave. Can't wait for her work to available for public consumption.

    As for mine? I'm still learning. I've got great teachers.


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