Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Worldbuilding Wednesday

Assimilating with the Environment

When you are building your world, you are doing much more than drawing a map. You need to take into consideration the people or beings that will inhabit your world. You will need to consider such elements as food sources and environment and the ways it interacts with your characters – is food plentiful? A society where the land is rich and fertile giving to unlimited agricultural possibilities would be a very different world than one that may be dying – the soil is barren, and disease has tainted the meat supply. Determining all these details of the environment such as weather conditions, geography, how well it lends itself to supporting life (fertile vs. barren land) can help you with plotting your novel as your characters move through the story. The environment may have major implications for back story and elements your characters are dealing with or be there merely to help the reader get a mental picture of your world.

Sometimes it is easy to overlook details like clothing and jewelry when growing your world, yet it often exists subtly in the story in a myriad of color and style. Is clothing something organic – perhaps made of wool where you would need to consider the sheep for sheering to obtain the wool for weaving – perhaps there is bickering over land rights between certain groups of the inhabitants of your world for land rights for the animals to graze.

Are there specific types and styles according to the season of the year? Are the styles of clothing in general apt to change quickly, and anyone of worth has to scramble to keep up or be considered no longer 'in?' What about jewelry? What sorts of items exist and how are they worn? What do they signify? Do weapons form part of the jewelry the people wear, and if so are the weapons symbolic, or is the person expected to know how to use them? Do some jewels signify a cultural status?

While these questions may seem trivial and may not, in the scheme of things, seem important to your story, asking these types of questions can help the author to build the world in their mind and as they work out all of the fine points of the world – the more real and whole and detailed it appears in their mind, the more real they will make it become to their readers.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good reminders, Nancy. I'm trying to add tactile descriptions to my book during the edits right now, and this helps.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Karen Walker said...

I am learning so much about the world of fiction writing from my new friends. Doesn't seem trivial to me at all.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Excellent topic and post. I enjoyed your input on it. I like a book that doesn't just "spell it out" for me, the world, but rather gives me the sounds, smells, and feel of the world through the writing - the dialog, thoughts, etc. Much more sensual and imaginative.

The Old Silly

Anonymous said...

Sounds like constructing a world is half the fun of writing a book. The environments of my book are reality, and I use real places such as bars, restaurants, and Starbucks.

I Google their Web sites, visit the establishments, have lunch and a beer, talk to the waitress and patrons, drink another beer, drive around the neighborhood (before the beers), describe the weather, and use Google Earth to describe them.

Stephen Tremp

Galen Kindley--Author said...

This is very nicely done, Nancy. I’d never really thought about the background details much…just sorta stuck them in as needed…and that works—mostly. But, it would sure be nice to have some of this figured out before hand, sort of a pool of, as Elizabeth nicely described it, “tactile" Information into which you could dip for these touches that add so much to the story.

Curious, do you do a lot of back story and character building beforehand? Or, not. Oh, gotta Tweet this baby.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

The Practical Preserver said...

The nice part about writing fantasy is you can create your own rules. In writing historical fiction, if you don't get everything right down to the last little detail, somebody is sure to let you know about it!

N A Sharpe said...

Hi everyone - thank you so much for stopping by!

Elizabeth - Personally, I think the readers get more out of a story that involves their senses - brings everything to life.

Karen - thanks! So many writers have different methodologies. I want to know each of my characters in depth and I treat each scene the same way - in the Destineers they visit many places and I want the readers to experience every detail with the same wonderment as the characters.

Marvin - I think if you give the reader the opportunity he will want to get emersed in the story and this is one methodology for that.

Steve - that's great! You do the same thing - explore the environments to get the full experience - makes it so much easier to pass the feelings and details of the scene on to the reader that way! Great research :D

Galen - everyone has their own methodology. The Destineers project is a joint effort with my son and we have TOTALLY different approaches. He is a stream of consciousness kind of writer then go back and add detail. I plan it out - I think, like Steve said, that is half the fun, exploring the characters and the world they live in before you get started...yet, somehow our writings blend. BTW, thanks for tweeting!

Karen - you are absolutely right! I have a mystery I am writing and I need to double check procedures to make sure I am being accurate.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing all your great thoughts!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions, Nancy. Daunting to think about all this - makes me glad that I'm writing about my own corner of the world rather than creating an environment from scratch. Even so, these are good reminders.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

These are some really helpful ideas. I tend to throw things in where I think they might be needed - but it makes so much more sense to know a few facts in advance. I've printed this off for future reference.

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Jane - thank you so much for stopping by! Everyone has their own style for writing - this is just something I have found useful in my work - glad you find it useful!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Donna M. McDine said...

Very good post. Gives one quite a bit to think about it. Well done.

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Donna! Thanks so much for stopping by. Really glad you enjoyed it :)

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

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