World building #InkRipples

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

It’s been a long while since I wrote an #InkRipples post but the summer has been busy as I worked on a new novella to come out this fall.

But I couldn’t not write about world building as I’ve just finished reading the masterpiece that is Six of Crows.

My stories require little to no world building because they are mostly contemporary so they take place in a world we’re all familiar with. It doesn’t take much more than a place name or the mention of the season for the readers to find their bearing in the story setting. I would say my skills at world building are flimsy as a result. I’ve seen this most clearly when writing my current WIP which takes place at a royal court. I had to do a lot more research before I felt comfortable writing about royalty.

So I admire writers like Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas so much more because they create entire worlds in a way that makes them not just believable, but captivating and intriguing. Even though Ketterdam in Six of Crows is inspired by Amsterdam, the atmosphere Bardugo creates on the page is still unique and so authentic it simply sucks you in. It’s as though you walk those streets and smell the rot in the canals.

Of course, even contemporary stories require a setting so I could call that world building, too. But this is done on a much smaller scale, with descriptions of the surroundings, the details about buildings and weather. It’s important that all this is done through showing and not telling to attract the readers. It’s more about creating an atmosphere which supports the main story, rather than creating an actual world out of nothing. For that, I think magic is needed. Magic like the sort one sees in Six of Crows.

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But I suppose, no matter what sort of a world one is trying to set their story in – an imaginary world where epic things happen or a quiet neighborhood street – it’s all in the details. Even the grandest worlds are built from small pieces of information, descriptions and – most importantly – the characters’ reactions to them. The way the surroundings influence the characters shows best what sort of a world it is and consequently it also affects the readers most. Which is what we, as authors, wish: for the readers to respond to what we write.

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2 thoughts on “World building #InkRipples

  1. I found as I was (finally) writing my Ink Ripples post that setting and world building kept intersecting in my mind. I know the difference in theory, but I think there is always some world building required. Even in contemporary. Maybe it’s just setting, but it feels like more.

    Liked by 2 people

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