To see a World in a Grain of Sand and Heaven in a Wild Flower
—– William Blake
The term came into use initially for Science Fiction, but it is crucial to Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Westerns, any fiction that requires the reader to travel to a setting other than their own.
Issue #1 – Rules
The writer, regardless of the type of world she creates, MUST follow the rules of that world. The rules must be logical and make sense to that world (not reality).
Look at the examples in Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and I have not yet read it, but according to the analysis by Larry Brooks on Storyfix.com, Hunger Games does an excellent job of this too.
I don’t attend Hogwarts, and I’m not a vampire. But, I have no problem suspending my disbelief while reading about Harry Potter or the Vampire Lestat because Rowling and Rice do an amazing job of creating worlds that operate logically – that is, their worlds follow rules.
Issue #2 – Sensory Details
This goes back (always!) to show rather than tell in your writing. You’ve created a world. There are rules in your world that the characters must follow. Now, make me feel the atmosphere, see the sights, smell the odors and aromas, taste the food. Put me in the world you’ve created, but use your craft to do it. Don’t just catalogue the information.
Issue #3 – Combine Unique and Ordinary
Make your world real by combining the unique and unusual with ordinary and common. Created something specific to your world? Show us how the characters use it in their everyday experiences. Have an object that isn’t around anymore (historical fiction)? Show it being used.
What have been some challenges you’ve experienced in your world building? As a reader, what have been issues you’ve had with suspended disbelief?
photo credit: Express Monorail via photo pin cc