Monday, February 9, 2009

World Building ... Is Coffee Still Coffee?

I'm working now to build a world (God Alert), and it's got me thinking. For those of you who write fantasy or paranormal, you know how much fun this is. It's when you get to sit down and say, "OK, so what spells are possible? Where does the power come from? How fast can they fly?" 

But I think to be really believable, there has to be just enough of the real world in there to 1) keep your readers interested and 2) give them something to relate to. So, you know, it's a tricky balance. You've got to leave enough to be recognizable, to hold their interest and to gain your readers' willing suspension of disbelief. But you've got to give them enough to make it fun.

Another question: if your character is from "our" world and introduced to this new world, how long do you give them to accept the rules of the world you've created? Personally, my thinking is the less time you spend farting around with this, the better. Especially with kids. Give them a page or so of doubt, and then get on with the story. Harry Potter would have been a totally different book if it took Harry three books to accept magic was real ... (a totally suckier book, btw).

My favorite way, of course, to do this is a demonstration of raw power. Let your character see the truth, accept it, and then spend the rest of the book learning the intricate rules you've set up. And have some fun with it, because if you're not having fun, no one is.


Zoe Winters said...

hehe I'm trying to imagine Harry Potter not accepting magic was real until book three. Holy Crap, Voldemort would have totally taken over.

And yes, worldbuilding is fun. I've gotten to invent some really fun stuff for my verse involving where Vampires come from.

Erica Orloff said...

Totally with you there. By Chapter 3 in Magickeepers, he is nonplussed. He has moments of doubt, even wonders at one point if it IS all trickery. But once he is attacked, there's no denying the evil around him, too.

LurkerMonkey said...


Yeah, it's fun alright. I'm working on a book of spells right now ... not a bad way to spend a morning.

LurkerMonkey said...


I can see that making sense in your book (his wondering if it's trickery) because the whole thing is about illusion ... I'm dealing with the dragon books again and my plan is to dispense with this pronto.

spyscribbler said...

I'm reading a book now that totally has me tripping. I think we're in an alternate world with a different name, different cities, etc., but someone was just wearing a robe like Buddhist monk. Now I'm confused. I haven't picked it up since, LOL.

I think there is a huge difference in the reader's experience when an author DELIGHTS in their own world. When they stop delighting, it's obvious.

LurkerMonkey said...


So true! The book I just sent out, I had more fun creating that alterna-world than I deserved to have. And I think it really shows through. I like to hope that the whole book is infused with the jolly spirit I had when I had thought of it, and many of those parts are literally first draft, which is very, very uncommon for me.

My son recently set down Dune because he couldn't get the vibe of Frank Herbert's world. Maybe he'll pick it up later.