World Building 101

Using more than vision is a must!

I am taking a break from the world of the virus to talk about our world.  No, not the one with the virus, the one that we have in our minds.

I critique a fair amount of writing for peers, friends, and yes, even some family members.  A CP or critique partner is a two-way street and is invaluable to a writer.

One of the things I see most often is a flat world.  What do I mean by that?

I think examples go far beyond talking about them, much like showing instead of telling.  I am going to world build for you.  The first example is flat….

David followed the carnage throughout his realm. It was easy to tell where they had been by the sacked villages in their wake.  From the burned out buildings to toppled statues, whoever was doing this had complete disdain for the locals.

In this paragraph, we are introduced to David.  Who he is or his relevance to the story is anyone’s guess.  We can assume he is after the people doing this to the locals, but again we don’t know.  I do give you a clue to the hate by the toppled statues.  Burning their villages is one thing, but toppling statues shows us that there was more than purpose to the destruction.

Ok, let’s try again; this time, let’s show a little bit more.

Sir David left the castle in response to news from his realm.  Invaders had moved in from the West, showing total contempt for him, his kingdom, and his kind.

The scents of the pines were quickly replaced by the acrid stench of burnt wood, animals, and people alike.  The skies turned dark, the closer he came to the first village.  Once the pride of his kingdom, not one structure was left.  Even the sculpture, honoring his mother the Queen, lay in ruins with the head, smashed into a fine powder.  Charred remains of his people smoldered in piles of ashes of what used to be their homes.  Viewing the ruins through angry prisms of tears, he pressed on.

You will notice that both paragraphs relay the same information about the scene.  Except now in the second one, we learn who David is, who that statue was of, why it was so meaningful, and we learn more of the hate of David’s mother.  We still don’t know who the enemy is or why they hate his mother, but, we would turn the page to find out.

When world-building, you are a god.  This is your world.  You have the divine power to create as you see fit and destroy as you will.  If you want readers to be interested in your writings, remember to use as many of the senses as you can.

In painting, if you look carefully, you will see that white is not white.  If I am painting a lady in a white blouse or dress, you will find multiple colors in the fabric.  If it is a warm shadow, there will be warm colors, and conversely, a cold shadow will have more violets blues and so on.  Not only will there be many different colors but many different values.

When I write, I try to grab the reader by the …yes that.  I want to draw the reader in so they can smell the burnt flesh, or perhaps the aroma of the rose.

Much like the art, I paint my paintings and scenes with the same passion, and that means I use composition.  In a painting, I seek to draw the eye of the beholder in toward the center and have their eyes go more or less in circles as they see all that is.  How do we do that with our words?

We paint with our words.  All of the values and colors must be represented by our words.

Here is a trick that you might wish to use.  In your mind, when you are writing, you have an idea of what the scene looks like.  Many, even some of the great authors, do not do this justice.  Here is the trick.  By the way, if you want more of these hints, tips or tricks, hit that follow button.

The trick is to go out on Pixabay or just google a scene like you are trying to write and post it where you can see it.  Now, as you world build, paint that scene with words. Don’t forget the temperature, time of day, and for God’s sake, add smell or scent or odor in the painting.

One of the most powerful senses we have is the power of smell.  Unlike a painting, with my words, I can incorporate smell.  The sense of smell is one hell of a kick in the memory department.  If I mention the scent of toll house cookies in the oven, the odds are good you will dredge up some memory, hopefully, a happy one involving toll house cookies.  You might even remember eating the raw dough when your mother told you no.

If I mention biting into a lemon with the bittersweet taste, your saliva glands will more than likely respond, just by the mere mention of it.

When we write erotica or racy things, yes, in both men and women, things respond not only anatomically, but in your brain, chemicals are released.  That is what we are going for in our art, whether it be words or oils.

When you world-build or tell your stories, trigger those reactions that you want in your reader, so they become part of the story.  We wish to have them feel empathy toward your David.  Have them ride along with him experiencing all the disgust and scorn that he does.    Just maybe your David is riding on a dragon.  Maybe your David can shoot fire from his fingertips.  It is your world.  You are the God of your universe.

One last bit of advice I would leave you with during this blog entry is this.

Enjoy what you are doing.  Live in this world that you are creating.  Feel the cold air on your cheeks as you take flight on your magical beast.  See the forest below you, and notice the smoke in the distance.  Plan your strategy for taking on the vermin that dare to come into your realm.

Yes, I just made all this stuff up in about ten minutes or so.  I write about one novel every three months, give or take, and that includes holding down a full-time job.

Currently, I am 36K words into my newest novel, which is about a young lady who discovers through a vision that not only is she blessed with magical powers, but she is about to be forced into a confrontation with a government skunkworks program.  It would seem that the government is using genetically modified food to promote a unique genetic change in the minds of children to encourage telekinesis. They are unaware that what they are doing will turn an army of people lose on the world with powers the likes of which they have never imagined.  Bethany, my main character, is a witch that will soon be pressed in to service against a human-made evil.

The audience for this novel is the Harry Potter, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and the Spirited Away crowd, with a bit of Stranger Things added for spice.    I think the book will be about 80K words give or take, with options for more if the story takes off.

Follow me here for updates, as I work every day on this novel.  Unlike my other thirty-odd books on Amazon and Smashwords; I am going to attempt the Query process once again.  I will not make a job out of it, however.  Each letter takes no less than four hours, and that is at least a chapter in a new novel for me.  If, by chance, you are in this industry, and like the concept, save me the query process for a leg up on representing this novel.

Much love to you, my faithful followers.  BTW, I have taken the time to visit many of your blogs, I have commented on a few of them.  Hang in there world; things will get better.  –TW