One of the biggest challenges for me in writing the novels of my Messenger series is world building, mainly because I don’t. Well, I thought I didn’t. I almost always pick a real place in my very own contemporary time period in which to set my novels, paranormal or not. If I have to make up a place, I tend to base it on a real one and change the names to protect the innocent and/or guilty. That way, I don’t have to create it. I can look at maps. I can read about it. I can visit and check it out. This has, of course, occasionally backfired a little. Like the time I was shooed out of the Pocket neighborhood in Sacramento by the police. I hadn’t thought what it would look like to have someone cruising slowly up and down the residential streets of a fairly affluent neighborhood, peeking into backyards and taking pictures of the houses. Anyway all’s well that ends well, right? I didn’t even have to call anyone to go my bail.
I am, surprisingly to some of those who know and I hope love me, a fairly methodical writer. I plot. I outline. But I tend to be a fairly broad brush outliner and plotter. I’m much more of an impressionist than a photo-realist. The details come to me when I’m doing the actual writing. When I’m in the flow, I often sit with my eyes closed trying to feel what my heroine is feeling, see what she’s seeing and smell what she’s smelling. Since I’m usually trying to be funny as well, little quips and asides about the details of her world spring up fairly spontaneously as I express her world view through how she experiences her environment. It’s part of what makes writing fun for me and a lot of what makes my writing fun for others to read.
Those little details, however, can then come back and bite me squarely on the behind, especially now that I’m writing a series. What was a little toss aside joke about gremlins or trolls or Melina’s mother might become a plot point in a later book. I’ve heard other authors talk about keeping notebooks with details of their world, but honestly, I wouldn’t probably think to write most of this stuff down because it seems so minor as I’m writing it. Does it really matter whether trolls have poor oral hygiene or not? For that matter, does it matter what floor of the assisted living facility her grandmother lives on?
The answer is that of course it matters. It all does. Whether it’s an historical novel, a contemporary or a paranormal, how our characters view their world and interact with it is precisely what makes a story come alive. I’ve been world building all along. I just didn’t do it consciously. That’s going to have to change otherwise I’m going to have a behind so full of bite marks that I won’t be able to sit in front of the computer and write. So, for the record, trolls have terrible oral hygiene and Melina’s Grandma Rosie lives on the second floor of the Sunshine Assisted Living Facility.
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