Wednesday, July 2, 2008

World Building

Maven Darcy BurkeWhen I think of world building I usually think of fantasy or paranormal books. Harry Potter. The Golden Compass (which Mr. Burke is currently reading). Etcetera. Only recently did I start thinking world building in terms of the genre in which I write: historical romance. I began to see it in my own work when I didn’t want to leave my characters and their “space,” meaning the little world I created just for them. And, of course, that world is the only place they exist.

As I start my next book, I'm very mindful of world building. The story takes place entirely on the Gower Peninsula of Wales (where the city of Swansea is located), and in 1817 this is a very rural area. Populated with people who speak English in addition to their own language. (Since I don't speak Welsh, that will be tricky on its own - not that I plan to have long passages in Welsh!). I'm very excited to establish a place and set of characters that are unique and that will draw my reader into a world they won't want to leave.

In thinking about creating a world that is inviting, exciting, and satisfying I come up with the following components:

This might seem like the "duh" part in that isn't a world a place? Well, yes, but it's so much more. Place is the geographic location, the settings (you might also think of settings as a separate component that might encompass smell, taste, sound), the overall feel of the surroundings.

To me, this is more than just historical, contemporary, or futuristic. It's a time of life as well as a time of setting. The story you tell is affectd by your characters' time, if that makes sense.

This is huge. A world is only as interesting as the people who inhabit it. This includes the nameless redshirt as well as the hero or heroine. One might argue that characters can even be part of the setting. To me, it's all part of building a believable and entertaining world. A world where the reader wants to spend their free time.

I'm sure there are tons more (do share!), but these are just the things that come to mind as I write this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Your turn: What kinds of things do you think of in terms of building your world? Do you consciously think of this, or just  write your story and characters and believe the "world" will come out?

And a Big Thank You
I'm mailing Her Wicked Ways off to my agent this week. I want to thank all of the people who read either parts or the entire book and provided such valuable feedback. I could not have crafted this without your help and support. So thank you, thank you to Angie, Lenora, Tessa, Courtney, Barbara, and especially Janice who really put the screws to me (in the best possible way). And I would be completely lost without my plotting partners/CPs, Mavens Erica and Lacey who constantly challenge and inspire me to write smarter and better. I'm so fortunate to have met such generous and gifted writers and friends. Thank you!


Erica Ridley said...

Totally agree re: historicals = world building. And unlike paranormal worlds where the author "gets" to completely make up every aspect, historical authors must tread that line between not under-describing for those who've never read a Regency (or whatever time period) before, and not over-explaining for those who read nothing but.

You rock! HWW rocks! Go Darc! =)

Darcy Burke said...

Very good point, E. I assume people read historicals because they like history, which means they might like finding a new bit of information embedded in a great novel. I know I like that.

Lenora Bell said...

It's true that world building is important to any romantic sub genre. A reader wants to be transported to someplace new and exciting--even if it's the city where they live.

Congrats on sending HWW off to your agent! It's a fabulous book.

Evangeline Holland said...

It's the aspect of world-building that attracts me to both sf/f and historical romance. Even though historical romance is based on history (duh!), I feel even the gazillion authors both published and unpublished writing Regency historicals bring something different to the table every time because history is made of as many different facets as people! It's the prospect of a new "world" every time I begin a new MS that drives me to write.

And Woot! @ your ms.

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