Friday, September 21, 2007

What in the World

My friend Jody has been asking (**koff** nagging**koff**) about the universe in which I’ve set my current WIP. When presented to her for sage advice and critique, one of her first questions was why had I set it in the world I did (it’s a non-Earth futuristic) when with a little effort (read: real world research) it could be a contemporary story? My initial answer, “Because I wanted it that way,” didn’t satisfy her. And rightly so. She brought up many valid points and made me explore aspects of the world that make my head hurt. But in a good way.

Even if the majority of the worldbuilding doesn’t hit the pages, it’s very important for a writer to understand the underpinnings of her universe. Why? For one, it adds depth. Bandying about futuristic or perceived futuristic terms and ideas isn’t enough. There has to be substance behind them. For another, because, as my mother says, G_d willing and the creek don’t rise, this story will get published at some point and someone, somewhere, will ask about a detail in the book. As the creator of that universe, I’d better have a more significant answer than “Um, I dunno” or “Because I wanted it that way.”

There are many blogs and sites about worldbuilding and such (just Google “worldbuilding” and you’ll get oodles of hits), so I won’t go into them here. Over at the Otherworld Diner blog, they’ve discussed this and are currently posting about characterization. Interesting insights and ideas, so go check it out.

Me? I’d better get back to work. With the help of Jody and my BFF Sharron, I’ve been exploring a strange, new world where no one has gone before. Not only is the setting richer (I hope), but the plot is deeper, twistier (I hope X 2). Now, I have to take notes from IM and phone conversations and incorporate them into the story. Not all of them, because I don’t want to write a travelogue of my world. I just want people to believe it exists long enough to then have to smack themselves on the head as a reminder that it doesn’t. And have to read the next book to get their “fix” : )



At 5:49 PM, Blogger Writer & Cat said...

See, I'm the opposite. I'd spend all my time imagining what the world was like and never get around to the story!


At 6:24 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Yeah, but your worlds are freakin' amazing, so I can understand why you'd spend time in them : )

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Meretta said...

Cathy, I look forward to reading this good book of yours!

I'm knee deep in an online course that is teaching me to really, Really, REALLY know my characters.

This fiction stuff isn't for the faint of heart! ;)

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

I'll be happy to share it with you when it's actually done, Meretta ; )

No, fiction can be a lot harder than folks think. Your online course sounds interesting, though!


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