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Draw from your own experience
So far, we've discussed ways of constructing your own world utilizing elements of fantasy, and taken things beyond our imaginations, creating an alternate reality. In this installation of our world building series, we're going to delve into creating an immersive world based on your own personal experiences...a world that brings a life of its own to your novel.
The concept behind building your own world based on real-life experiences relies heavily on tapping into the familiarity your readers already have with the known world. The story is believable because they are able to relate to the sights, sounds, and feelings created by a world they're already used to.
But how do you put into words the description of something that your reader already knows? Simple. By effectively describing something in a way they can relate to. By placing your story in a world that's relatable, it's a given that your reader will automatically insert their own experiences into the setting. In doing so, you merely need to 'set the stage' and allow their imagination to do the rest.
Sometimes all the descriptions in the world can't make up for going and seeing it for yourself. Have you ever seen an incredible sunset, then desperately reached for your cell phone to grab a picture? Do you remember the excitement as you carefully framed the sunset, eagerly anticipating your friends' reaction only to realize your camera simply isn't capable of catching the wide range of color nature's spectacle offered? Sometimes you just have to see it first hand.
This is the idea behind packing your bags....in essence, if you want to properly describe something, you have to see it for yourself. If you're needing to describe a forest setting, take a trip to a nearby State Park and go off the trail a little ways. Think about what you're seeing and how you are interacting with the world, and subsequently, how the world is interacting with you. Likewise, take a trip to the beach and just take a seat. Look around and study you're surroundings while you take it all in. Write notes that describe how you're feeling, what you're feeling, and all the subtle things that make your surroundings unique. Only then can you sit in front of a computer and accurately describe what it means to sit with sand between your toes.
To truly create an immersive world based on things your reader already knows, you'll need to be able to effectively, and imaginatively, articulate what many now take for granted. For example, imagine a young girl that was born blind...but new technology has granted her the ability to see. Now imagine what it must be like for her to open her eyes for the first time. I remember seeing a YouTube video on this very subject, and it's impossible to watch such a thing without tearing up a little.
Sometimes you just have to do a little digging to give yourself credibility as a writer. Setting your story in Medieval Europe? Do your research and read books written by, or about, people that lived during that time. Your local library and Google as your biggest asset here, as the amount of information available is almost limitless these days.
Immersing yourself in non-fiction can often lead to amazing fictional accounts. Accurately depicting a place or time gives life to your world and allows the reader to absorb their surroundings in a way other fantasy writing cannot. So the next time you think research is 'boring', just think of it the 'squats and burpees' of creative writing...building the foundation of an amazing world that your characters call home, and their stories come to life.
So far we've established the ground rules for our world. We've imagined the impossible with a fantasy setting, asked the question 'what if' for our alternate reality, and drawn upon our own experiences for a real world backdrop...now it's time to build the world itself. Use these rules as the foundation from which to build your environment. Check out our next sections as we place the key geographic components and start to shape the land our story is set in.
Hello, my name is Scott...I'm a husband, father of 3, and work full-time in IT. If that's not enough on my plate, I'm also tackling the biggest 'creative' project of my lifetime, bringing Mists of Kel Doran to life. I hope you like what I'm trying to pull off and I truly appreciate all of those who have supported this dream of mine. Here's to following your heart and having the courage to put your ideas out there for the world to enjoy :)
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