Tuesday, December 29, 2009
World Building by Rae Morgan
***Rae has offered a free copy of book one in her series, Destiny's Magick to one lucky commenter. I will draw a name and the winner will be posted tomorrow.
The Terran Realm and World Building
Thanks, Madison, for letting me come and share the Terran Realm world and how I approach world building.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Rae Morgan and I am the creator of the Terran Realm for Liquid Silver Books. My new book, Earth Awakened, came out on December 28, 2009 and is the seventh book in the Realm (http://www.terranrealm.com). The other Terran Realm authors and I share a world protocol in order to create our books, or, in other words, I built a basic world order and the authors who came to play in my world used it as a base and added to it. This shared-world or shared-universe type of writing is very common in the science fiction and fantasy genres (Dungeons and Dragons, Dragonlance, and so on) and crossed over into the romance genres with the onslaught of paranormal books (Crimson City series and Liquid Silver’s new Strange Hollow series and, of course, the Terran Realm).
Most romance authors, however, don’t share their world orders with others; they create their own, unique worlds and write in a series (think JR Ward, Charlaine Harris, Laurel K Hamilton, Linnea Sinclair and many others in the print world and e-authors like Marisa Chenery, Kayelle Allen, Leigh Wyndfield, myself and many others).
All writers can build a world, be it a completely new one or a world existing within the context of the real world as we, the readers, know it. That’s what I did in the Terran Realm and in my Coven of the Wolf books, but it can be done in non-paranormal contexts also such as Violet Summers’ Worthington Group books.
If you think about it, most paranormal and science fiction authors build new worlds every day and don’t even realize it. My friend Linnea Sinclair says world building is like decorating a house - - “Things must mesh, must synch, must direct the eye. There must be contrasts but they must be studied, not haphazard.” (Quote from a July 2, 2002 e-mail to me after I queried her on world building.) As authors, we often do these things instinctively; we have the creative eye for decorating our worlds.
What does it take to build a world? I don’t know how other authors do it, but I start with the characters. Who are the characters asking me to tell their stories? Where are they from? What or who are the influences in their lives? What are their goals, motivations? What are the conflicts, both on a macro (world) and micro (personal) level, that could affect them? What happens to them from the beginning to the end of the book (the action or plot)?
Then I sit in the chair and begin to layer and add texture to the bare bones of an idea that is stewing in my brain. I make and create a world history, time lines, character sketches, maps and whatever else I need to create a multi-dimensional world. I need to see it in my head and having all this at my fingertips aids that process. I then add real life research which I use to make my world seem real. For Earth Awakened, I read copious reports and books on geology and climate, on the Gaia hypothesis, and on weaponry and helicopters. BTW, while I do all this thinking on paper, I do not write an outline. I use my notes, my histories, and so on to keep me and the characters honest within the context of their world and then let the characters tell me their stories.
In Earth Awakened, I didn’t throw out the world as the reader knows it, I just created a world within the real world. New York City is the NYC we all see and read about. The world’s conflicts are the same. Scientific principles are those we learn in school. The only difference is my Terrans are not Human, but are an evolutionary offshoot that developed side-by-side. Terrans live longer, are stronger and have the ability to control the elements around them. In ancient times, the Terrans would have been worshipped or feared as gods and goddesses, as great leaders, Kings and Queens, and as wizards, witches, magicians, and psychics.
By creating a world within the real world, I have kept it simple for me and any other author writing in the world. Current events are the same (the Korean threat mentioned early in the book). Terrans watch television, serve in the military, vote, go to public schools, teach, own businesses, grocery shop, drive cars and so on. But without the Terrans, the Earth would be a lot worse off than it is.
If an author creates a whole new world, she must take into consideration things such as politics, the economy, technology and scientific knowledge, language, belief systems, cultural impact, morality and the like in order to give the world depth and breathe life into the story. Creating a whole new world may seem like a daunting task, but authors do it every day. JK Rowling did it in the Harry Potter books and Linnea Sinclair did it in her Dock Five Universe.
When creating any world, be it a whole new one or one that piggy backs onto the real world, the author needs to maintain consistency. This is why I spend the time creating my world protocols in writing. I stick them in my WIP notebook along with my plot points, my character biographies, and my research. Such world histories and character sketches keep me honest. Nothing is worse than having a fan write you and tell you that you changed your world from Book One to Book Three and not in a natural evolutionary sort of way.
Lots of work? Sure, but not as hard as you think - - and well worth the effort when reviewers and fans tell you that your characters are believable and that they were pulled into the world you created and didn’t want to leave. Authors live for those kinds of comments.