Thursday, December 23, 2010

You've made your world... now you have to live in it.

So I recently bought an anthology that had another story by Meljean Brook set in the same world as The Iron Duke. Here There Be Monsters. It was good. Really really good. My only complaint was that it was too short, which isn’t fair since it’s a short story.

In thinking about what I love about these stories, I told myself it was the characters and the chemistry and the story in general. I didn’t think the steampunk world mattered.

But of course it does. Brook built this world and for whatever reason I find all the elements in it really compelling. The Horde, the Frenzy, the technology, all of it. I completely buy into robot sharks and bug infected zombies.

Same with the Hunger Games book. Collins took me to this place, and while I’m not sure I want to live there, I can feel it and smell it and see it.

I’m reading another book now, a great new YA called Matched about a Utopian society. Same deal. The world the author has built is fascinating. All details accounted for. All the rules set without too much fuss. Now this place is definitely not a place I want to live, but the images and elements are all so vivid.

Worlds matter. And world building is an amazing talent. Heck, Harry Potter’s world became so real to us they built a theme park so people could go and actually visit it.

But with all this world building it occurs to me that these authors are really stuck there for a time. Thinking about what Eileen said in her post this Tuesday - it does help to write in different genres to keep things fresh. However, many authors can’t do that. Rabid fans are demanding the next book, the next chapter, the next hero and heroine.

I would think they have to spend a part of every day in that place in their heads. I also wonder how long they take building the world before they actually go to write it. And because we’re writers and all a little nuts (let’s face it) how hard does it get to be to keep separate the world you live in, in your head vs. the world you live in…

Huh… just some crazy thoughts for the holidays.


Maureen McGowan said...

I totally bought into the world Meljean Brook created, too. And really admire her skill.

You pose some interesting questions... And it got me thinking about the authors who show up at book signings or other appearances in costume. I always thought it was purely a marketing thing (and in some cases I'm sure it is) but it might also be a symptom of the author being so caught up in her world that it feels natural to dress as if she really lives in it...

Sinead M said...

Stephanie, so true. Betray the rules you created for your world and you lose the reader.
A daunting task when you're writing the first in a series and setting rules you might have to live under for a long time.

How is Matched? It hit my radar and I was on fence whether I should pick it up or not?

Stephanie Doyle said...

Sinead - Matched is awesome so far. The world building is very simple - so it moves really well. But it has all these layers because you can imagine what triggered the shift in society.

I'm about 6 chapters in and will probably finish tonight so I'll give you more detail next week.

Eileen said...

So . . . have any of you read any of the George RR Martin books? Whenever I think of world-building, I think of his books. That world is so ridiculously complete that it actually completely cowed me. I'd had an idea for a sci-fi fantasy kind of book and when I saw what real world-building entailed, I decided I wasn't writer enough (at least not yet).

I just finished the first Hunger Games book and loved it. I cannot wait to see what happens when she gets back to District 12. What I loved about her world building was you knew what you needed to know, but she didn't clutter it up with a lot of other stuff. I'm assuming as the series progresses, I'll learn more as I need to.

I'm not sure if you do have to live in those worlds every day. I think sometimes, stepping away from them lets you see them more clearly. Sort of a forest for the trees kind of thing . . .

Maureen McGowan said...

I've never read him, Eileen... But that new TV series coming out early next year is based on his books, right? Looking forward to that.

You should read the other two Hunger Games books... but I found she started to explain way too much in the subsequent books, especially #2. Kind of "catch up in case you didn't read book 1" stuff that seemed a bit lazy.

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