Monday, September 19, 2022

World Building: An Open Book Blog Hop Post


Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. This week, we're talking about world-building.  I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

When I think about worldbuilding, I drop straight into fantasy: made up peoples, places, governments, and systems. Something like Dune, where Frank Herbert literally built a world. Arrakis, home of sandworms, spice, and political intrigue. 

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But the truth is that worldbuilding is part of the work for any writer--even if your work is set in "the real world."  There are still things the reader needs to understand about the limits and constraints of the characters' lives. 

Details of character like age, socio-economic status, upbringing, geography, workplace, relationship status, race, gender, and so much more make all the difference in a story. A simple scene like a confrontation with the boss takes on entirely different hues, depending on all the subtext. Who is older? What's the power dynamic between these characters? What's the "culture" in the workplace? Saying "no" has completely different resonance fully in the setting. 

I've written stories set in worlds very different from my own--on other planets, in the far future, or in the distant past, but I'm always world-building, even when the story is set yesterday at 2:00 in the town I live in. 

The Menopausal Superhero novels are in a gray area--set in a world very much like the one I actually inhabit, but where superpowers are a reality. So, Flygirl still has to worry about her children's schooling, but also literally flies into action in her work with the Unusual Cases Unit. 

It's always tricky, balancing world building with the other needs of the story, moving forward the plot, characters, themes, etc. The best world building is integrated and natural, introducing information as it matters, rather than burying the reader in pages of backstory, or making them "study first" by slogging through an info-dump of a prologue.  The key is making it easy for the reader, and when it's done very well, those world-building details are a spark of interest and delight. 

What kinds of details of worldbuilding make or break a story for you? 

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  1. All my characters are set in the real world, and so I prefer to build upon the characters rather than on the world we already know.

  2. When I wrote my Free Wolves books, I had to figure out how to allow my shapeshifters to exist in the world we normal humans populate.

  3. So true, make it easy for the reader. Tweeted.

  4. For some reason, I cannot comment as Richard Dee, just as my old blogger persona. My worlds are based on what's familiar, just twisted or enhanced to become a vision of the future, or even of an alternative now.

  5. I love world-building but it is a balancing act. If there's too much information thrown at me, I lose interest. It needs to have a "here and now" feel with different scenario reveals either through beats, dialogue, action, sometimes straight up narrative. A balance, for sure!

    Also, there has to be a suspense of disbelief involved, right? Great post!