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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My Take on World Building--Or Something

I didn't get a lot accomplished this weekend. My notepad that I planned to use for world building remains blank. I do, however, have three notes jotted on a notepad at work. Two of them were made before the weekend, and one of them I wrote down this morning. I am hugely backlogged--again. :-(

World building can be interesting. (And I'm talking about paranormal/futuristic world building here.) On the one hand, I want to know everything I can about the world I'm creating because it's going to impact the characters and their actions throughout a story. On the other hand, I don't want to read too much about anyone's world no matter how fascinating I find their books. Since I hate a lot of description anyway, I tend to go light on the details when I write my own stories.

My own personal bias is also toward the society rather than the technology, although I suppose the type of gadgets and gizmos in widespread use would influence culture. I think I'm going to be running into this with this next world/idea since I "see" some advanced tech stuff. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

From past experience, the tech stuff that I use tends to come up from necessity as I write and isn't something I always know ahead of time.

My other problem with world building is the authors who feel the need to spend forever setting up their world while nothing really happens. I've judged some of these entries in the unpublished contests and they're misery to read. Get the story started!

If you read my latest book, In the Midnight Hour, I do a lot of world building in the first chapter. And no, I'm not contradicting myself. :-) As the heroine fights an evil wraith (hopefully an exciting suspenseful scene), the reader is also getting the vital information they need to make sense of the world.

Which leads me to another point--starting with action before the reader gets to know and care about the character. I've seen this a lot in unpublished contests as well. The trick is to give the reader a chance to like the characters before putting them in jeopardy. If I don't care about them, all the action/suspense/jeopardy in the world isn't going to make a difference. I can read with indifference because I have nothing invested yet.

Um, I think I had a topic when I started, but I've wandered off and can't seem to find it. Since I've only had about 4 hours of sleep, I'm not too surprised. I think I'm going to stop here before I ramble forever.