Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Current Struggle With World-Building

My imagination and I have met our match.

The battle is over world-building.

In my previous nonvels (Bryony, Visage, and Staked!) and, yes, even for most of Before the Blood (thus far), the worlds I built were established worlds.

Munsonville is celebrating its centennial when Melissa arrives in 1975 in Bryony. Detroit, where she and her family visit twice, is obviously real, as is Jenson, where Grandma Marchellis is in a nursing home. Grovers Park, Melissa's hometown, is an established suburb.

Ditto for those same locations in Visage, as well as the touristy Shelby. In fact, Jenson College of the Liberal Arts predates even Munsonville.

In Staked!, we finally spend time in Thornton, but even this city is well-developed by the time we get to it. Even Ed Calkins' underworld, totally invented, is already conjured, at least in his mind.

But in my third novelish part of Before the Blood, I'm literally building a community from the beginnuing. When two main-ish characters arrive, only a handful of people are living there and only for a year, at best.

By the time this part of the book will have ended, just nine chapters away, but a full-fledged, incomplete novel, the village will be established, bustling (for a village), well-populated, and very changed. As I'm writing it, I'm learning that world-building is something one does over time. A world is not just the physical place, but it's culture, it's people.

Pacing, I think, is,a nd will be, extremely important. I am currently working on chapter five, so I'm nearly halfway through it (with all the chapers begun in note form), but I'm often returning to previous chapters and reworking them.


How quickly do I add and eliminate characters?

How much detail do I throw at the reader and how quickly? How do I reinforce huge amounts of information without being repetitive? What can the reader absorb?

Where do I slow it down so the reader can catch his breath?

But also, where do I speed through chunks of time so the reader isn't bored?

The geography changes as the village grows and develops, so I'm constantly rethinking the view. Some characters quickly come and go, yet the reader needs to become attached to them.

Aaaand I have to invent all these people - and their children - and their backstories, where significant. Most of them should have some backstory, since most of them came from somewhere else and arrived in this place for a reason.

So, I'm challenged.

But it is such a delicious challenge and a delightful way to pass time.

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