Status: My friends have convinced me to watch Anime once more. And I started off with good ones.
Worldbuilding. It sounds daunting, to make a world that is fleshed out, and wholly your own. Creating civilizations, customs, people, powers, history… it is no simple thing. I face worldbuilding with a heavy heart and a light pen, because even when I create and create upon more details of my world, there are so many things I lack, it feels like I’ll never be able to finish it.
There are many authors I admire deeply for their ability to plan out fantastic and beautiful worlds. Erin Morgenstein. Robin Hobb. Diane Duane. There are so many more authors out there whose books I have read that have left me in a state of wonder, and though the world hasn’t changed, the feeling that I myself have changed will linger.
How do we write a beautiful world, and bring such beauty to a reader? There is no easy way to answer, and for me to compress many ideas, concepts, and tips into a simple post that can be delivered like a beautifully wrapped candy, but I shall try. Maybe my fellow bloggers will have their tips to share.
For me, as a writer, the thing I aim for the feel of my world. The subtle shift that inspires a feeling that ‘this is a world that is not of ours’. Because deep down, for many genres of writing and many books that we have written, there is always the similarity of normal, daily life that anchors us as we read. And yet, it is different, subtle, and ultimately something that leaves the strongest impression upon us. Writers embellish, and they change the world to suit the story, creating something that is of this world, yet wholly different from it.
There are many elements that can be drawn from real life and then twisted to give it your own writerly feel. Lost civilizations from a bygone age could allude to a civilization in our own world. A country within a novel may be based off one in real life, but twisted and given a set of new rules and new attributes. Adapting a world to suit your story is a timeless method for writing.
During NaNo, I was writing the skeleton for the blog novel that would appear after my current one, The Gardener, is finished and wrapped up. The novel in question originally took place within a quiet little town, next to a river, miles away from other homesteads and towns. However, as I continued to write, I felt that this was too small to work with, and I needed something larger to play around with. So I changed it, and I worked with something new.
Currently now, this blog novel’s locale will now be set in a major seaport in Asia. But it isn’t just a seaport, as I am taking it back about a couple hundred years, adding magic, and throwing in a seedy underground society that appears on the 25th hour each day. Each time I changed the city I had chosen to adapt, it acquired a feel that suited the style and substance of the story as it suited me. And because of that, more details within the story begin to appear to me without much effort on my part. Mages that patrol the streets and lamp-lighters that work from midnight onwards. The mysterious woman that runs an antique shop down by Artisan Bay and looks disturbingly familiar to my protagonist. Cats that wind their way through the streets, unafraid of dogs because of recent history of disease running rampant through the city because of rat infestations, and cats were proposed as a solution.
Embellishment after all, adds that charm to the story that makes things beautiful. And when these details become woven into your plot, and even brought into the conflict of your story for greater prominence, now then that is a world that breathes.
And a world that breathes is unique, is beautiful. And is something you can play around in.