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.
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?