I was at my monthly meeting of the Mad City Romance Writers over this past weekend. Our topic of discussion was world building. My critique partner and I were a little hesitant about going. The idea of world building is sometimes thought of as a strictly sci fi tool. After all, those of us who write in the real world don't need to build a world, right?
Talk about a great meeting! My eyes were opened to the idea of building a world and making it my own, even if it's a world readers already think they know.
For example: Dream in Color. The world I built was simple...for the best part of the story, it's the inside of Ramona's car, driving down I 94 between Benton Harbor, MI and Detroit on a hot summer night. It's a stretch of road I'm very familiar with , since I drove it several times when I lived in Detroit and the rest of my family lived in Wisconsin.
For "Lies in Chance/A Chance to Walk" (My recent crash and burn in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest has made me step back and ponder my direction with this book.) my world is a bit more complex. Rock Harbor, a town just north of Green Bay, is a creation of my own. To my knowledge, there is no such town as Rock Harbor near Door County. But several family vacations to Door County during my high school years inspired the scenes I put to paper. There was something magical about the simplicity of the life in the rural stretches between Green Bay and that odd little wing of Wisconsin that shoots out into Lake Michigan. I drew from my own childhood and created a school and church community within the tiny town. So, I built a world.
Historical writers create worlds based on historical fact, but also based on their own imagination. "Gone with the Wind" is rooted in historical fact, but would it have been quite the magical book had Margaret Mitchell not given us Tara and Twelve Oaks? Would "Wuthering Heights" be the dark book it is without the shadowy halls of the manor house Emily Bronte saw in her head?
Sci fi writers get to create worlds that reach beyond our experience, and that's great. I like reading sci fi because that's truly escapist reading. But I also enjoy reading books that give me a sense of the familiar while stretching my world experience. I may never go to Italy, but I read everything Adriana Trigiani writes and I know exactly what she's talking about when I read her books.
So, as a writer, look at the world you're creating. You may not realize it, but your reader wants to get lost in that world, no matter how simple or normal or real it may be. Thank you, Mad City Romance Writers for opening my eyes!,