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Monday, June 15, 2009

World Building and the Chaos it Creates

Hello again everyone!

Yes, I know, I know, I've blogged about world building before, but I am so fascinated by it. I've read about some very neat worlds. One created by Jayne Ann Krentz, of course, there was middle earth (J.R.R. Tolkien) and then there was the planet of Toril (R.A. Salvatore). One thing that I noticed with each of them is that, while they had unique and interesting things, they also had very similar things as well like schooners, trees and horses. I just find it very interesting that while creating a world with magic, fantasy creatures and such, that they would have such mundane things like trees and horses. In the case of Jayne Ann Krentz, her futuristic world had very neat cars. Even though they used different methods to start them (amber or jelly ice), they were ultimately car styles we have here on earth.

I wonder why that is? Do authors use mundane, everyday things because it's easier, or because it helps the reader feel more at home?

I suppose it would be able to just use the word trees because now I have to work on what rumble trees and humming trees do and what they look like and how their names came to be, which isn't necessarily an easy task, but one that excites me.

So tell me, how many nuances need to be covered in worlds you read about? Do you ever find yourself wondering about such mundane things as insect pests like mosquitoes, gnats, flies and ticks?

Has there ever been a time when reading about a different world, that you have been left wondering about something in that world that you wish the author went into detail on? If so, what was it? Was it a minute detail or was it something that came into play throughout the story?

How detailed do you want a world you read about to be? What small nuances would you like to see given some detail, even if it is in passing? How much detail is too much?


3 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

I wonder if it works the same in writing as in movies. The movies that create the most believable other worlds usually seem to hide half the things they're using, so you barely see them in passing. But in real life, we barely do see most things in passing... Now, how to do that in writing...

Sandy Lender said...

Hi, Carrie,
My publisher gives a great presentation on this concept of making things believable so you don't lose the reader. If you have some of the things that we all consider mundane or ordinary, you give the reader a sort of baseline. You give her stuff she can believe in. Then you throw in the stuff that might catch a reader off guard, the stuff that's extraordinary, the stuff that might have caught the reader off guard if you hadn't made her comfortable already. For instance, in my novel, I start out describing my main character as a charming young lady. Suitors in the recent past have called her beautiful, but she doesn't really think of herself that way. She has long, light auburn hair that curls and curves down to her waist. She's a 20-year-old with thoughts about friends and family. Readers can easily identify with all the elements so far and accept everything. And then I mention the amethyst embedded in her cheek, high up near the corner of her right eye. Then I mention that it matches the color of her violet tears falling from her violet eyes. I don't want to start with the extraordinary stuff and make the reader instantly doubt me.

It's the same for inanimate objects in the worlds we writers build. If the reader is comfortable with the ordinary, you can more easily wrap the extraordinary around it without jarring the reader out of the world you're creating for her.

Love your post today!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Carrie said...

Sheila - Thanks for being such a devout follower of our blog! Thank you for pointing out the fact that most of us miss so much on a day-to-day basis! That's such a true point that explains why it can be okay to "overlook" some of the smallest details.

Sandy - Thanks for your comment, it does help and makes sense. I too want the dragon to win, except if he is fighting against Drizzt Do'Urden (my favorite Drow Elf from R.A. Salvatore [Forgotten Realms and Dungeons and Dragons])!

I really am coming to appreciate this world of Centurion 54 that I have created and even though I hope it doesn't eat up all of the ideas I come up with, it has allowed certain storylines I wasn't sure could really work, come to fruition! Because of this, I need to figure out the nuances of my world so that I can get cracking on all of my other stories!