A Whole New World

I’m a writer.  It’s as simple as that.  I love the craft.  I enjoy sitting at a computer and pecking feverishly at the keys as ideas flood my fingertips.  I lay awake at night and let my mind wander, untamed, to discover fresh material.  But most of all, I revel in the prospect of creating entire worlds from nothing but my own imagination.  (Or with the help of a friend’s, as you will come to see.)

Azryen.  It’s a word you probably don’t recognize and if I weren’t about to explain what it is, you’d write it off as nothing more than gibberish.  But it’s not.  In fact, it’s so much more.  Azryen is a world, very different than our own, that my friend and I have constructed from nothing.  We’ve spent close to a decade perfecting its lands, developing its magic system, fine tuning its races, building its cities, and bringing to life its inhabitants.  We currently have a few novels underway that take place in Azryen and there are countless more planned.

Whether the task is as grand as creating an entire world, or on a scale as small as the city of Nuark, the entire process is endearing to me.  Yes, there are challenges, but there are ways to overcome them.

1) Keep everything straight.  Try not to contradict yourself.  There’s nothing more off putting than discovering a piece that doesn’t fit into what should be an intricately crafted puzzle.  To do this I write everything down.  Keeping records is essential, otherwise you might forget something and eventually replace a name or idea with something new, altering everything that was once based off of it.

2) Make sure it’s interesting and fresh.  There’s nothing worse than day old McDonald’s french fries.  I take that back—there’s nothing worse than McDonald’s french fries.  Period.  But that’s beside the point.  Make sure your world isn’t as stale as a thrice fried machine cut potato.  Once a reader has explored Narnia, they’re not going to settle for some cheap knock off.  And that’s a fact.

3) There’s a difference between fresh and complete, utter nonsense.  Try not to go too far “out of this world.”  If your reader can’t draw any parallels or make any connections to the world he or she lives in, they’re not going to want to spend their free time in the one you seemed to randomly construe.

I might be alone in this (but for some reason, I doubt it), but this is by far one of the most engaging parts of writing a story.  Sure, you can write realistic fiction and set it in our world, where the connections your readers will be able to make are endless, or you can experiment with something new.  Tolkien created Middle Earth.  Goodkind crafted the Midlands.  Collins envisioned Panem.  No matter how grand the tale, all the kinks in the setting have to be worked out beforehand or your readers will be able to sense the disconnect.

That’s all for now.

A fellow writer.

The "Where" Of It All

The prospect of creating a richly intricate and realistic setting can seem daunting at first, but it’s well worth every second of our time.  It can be as simple as a child’s bedroom, with glow in the dark stars stuck to the ceiling and a toy box spilling over with stuffed animals, or an entire city brimming with vibrancy and life.  In either case, thought, it is the detail that matters most.  As with every part of writing, we constantly skirt a fine line between too much description and not enough.  I mean, if a story takes place in a forest is it really necessary to describe every tree that a character walks past?  On the other hand, if a story takes place in a city but the reader isn’t given a single inkling to suggest this, they’re not going to be able to visualize the characters interacting with their environment.

Perhaps We’re All Insane

Me and my writer in cahoots, (who I mentioned in an earlier post, but let’s just call him Gerald, for old time’s sake) began our largest endeavor over five years ago.  It spans five continents, countless nations, innumerable cities and towns, and I’m not even sure we’ve scratched the surface of what it has to offer.  On the other hand, it took me only a few sittings to develop Nuark, the fictional city I created for this blog’s project, but I’m still smoothing out the rougher edges.  What I’m trying to say is, whether the  plan is to create an entire world or just one city, our job as writers is never done.  There will be details we have to hone and places we have to create even after we think we’re done.

You see, between the two of us, Gerald is sort of like our scribe.  He jots down all our crazy ideas  and saves them for later reference.  I think this is the key to creating any setting.  As soon as an idea comes to you, write it down.  Otherwise, if you’re like me and him, you’re going to forget it.  There’s just so many other thoughts floating around up there, that a detail as small as a town or landmark’s name is going to become lost in the jumble.

Setting might not seem like such a priority in a mostly character driven market, but I feel it’s just as important.  Think of a story’s setting as its backbone; without it, the story cannot stand on its own.  Because of this, I pay it the same amount of attention I would any other part of my work.  My characters need a world to interact with and it has to be consistent and believable, otherwise my readers will be able to sense the disconnect.

That's all for now,

A Fellow Writer.