Monday, September 29, 2014

Crafting Your Best Story - Writing Tip #24 - World Building

This is the last Writing Tip post I have - at least for now. I hope you've enjoyed reading the tips and have found them helpful.

Before I get to that I want to share a little excitement The Clockwise series had this week. I put the set on a steep sale for four days and this happened : =>

It only lasted for a couple days but it was pretty exciting to see that Best Seller Badge!

Okay, on with the last (to date) Tip:

World Building

From the quiet romance to epic fantasy all stories need a world. Think of fictional world building as a series of inter-locking settings. Most stories take place in more than one spot, but even if your story unfolds on a park bench, you must make your reader feel like they’re sitting there with you.
World building sounds like a large overwhelming task, but it doesn’t need to be. Just begin with your opening scene. Imagine a dart board. The opening scene is the bulls-eye. The second ring is the setting outside of the opening scene and the ring beyond it the setting that expands beyond that.
What you don’t want to do is spend the opening pages describing your world. You want to gradually build your world as the story is told.
The Harry Potter world starts at Number Four Privot Drive. We learn quite a bit about the Dursleys and how they feel about the Potters as the opening scene is established. We see the house the neighborhood, the room under the stairs. This is the bulls-eye. Once Harry is whisked away to wizard school, the world is gradually expanded. Platform 9 ¾ , the train ride, Hogwarts and so on. The world grows as the story grows.
In Perception the opening scene is a beach. While Zoe Vanderveen is secretly planning a surprise party for her brother we see the glass-boxy house on the ocean with the tiered patio and eternity pool. A cool, sparse but expensive home interior, her vast bedroom. Then the gadgets are introduced. The communication ring, the digi wall, inference to robotic domestic help. It’s unfolded little by little as the characters are introduced and the inciting incident is set up.
We find out about the walls and the gates that serves as a cocoon, protecting the clean, efficient, perfect city from whatever lies outside of the wall.
We find out that the citizens of Sol City are free to leave, but can’t reenter without scanning a chip that is embedded in their hand.
Eventually, the world expands to what’s outside the walls. A crowded, smelly city, with electric pod cars, sky trains and people who resent the utopian community in sight but out of reach.
When building your world keep in mind all the senses. What does your character see, smell, touch, what mood does his environment create?

A story might only require a simple world. A whole story could take place on a plane, for instance. Or you might need an extravagant world filled with mythical creatures and exotic locales as in The Lord of the Rings. The key is to build the world in the context of an unfolding story with changing characters moving through the three acts in a 45 degree angle up hill.

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