Thursday, November 12, 2015

World Building - On writing fiction

"World building" is term I've heard used mostly in the context of science fiction or fantasy writing. It refers to the way these writers create an imaginary place and all the elements within that place conform to a certain set of rules: the character's histories, the basic physics of the environment, what's at stake in the storyline.

In a way, all writers of fiction are world builders. The imaginary world that I constructed for my first novel, Monsoon Season, is the same world that exists in A Long Thaw and Finding Charlie. Characters overlap because they're inhabiting the same space.

The forest fire that was central to Riley and Ben in 2003 is remembered by Charlie in 2016. This same event had different meanings to the different cast of characters, as is true in real life. What was symbolic of the end of a relationship in one book is a reminder of maternal abandonment in the other.  In the parallel universe I created, these stories were going on simultaneously, unbeknownst to the characters involved.

Practically speaking, this can be a lot of work. I don't just need to maintain a timeline for each book; I need to be sure each one works in relation to all the
others. I've started keeping spreadsheets.

The stories in these books exist on their own and can be read in any order, independently from each other. I don't write sequels, but because all of my characters live in the same world, there's an opportunity to revisit the past. Readers of Monsoon Season will find a familiar face in Finding Charlie, a partial answer to the "where are they now?" question I've gotten since the first book came out.

No comments:

Post a Comment