Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Creating A World For 
Your Characters

Inspired Writing

People sometimes wonder where the 
stunning visions of cities and cultures 
shown in movies come from

Well, they come mostly from books

And from writers just like you... 

Creating a world is a very admirable endeavor. A lot of writers set their stories and characters in the same world we live in. 

There is nothing wrong with this. 

Most readers are comfortable with a world they can identify with. JK Rowling handles this well, taking the reader along with Harry Potter as he moves from England to the magical world of Hogwarts. 

But some authors, however, go a bit farther. And this is a good thing. 

George R.R. Martin published A Game of Thrones in 1996, a novel that takes the reader to the Seven Kingdoms...which is now a hit TV show of the same name. 

Martin invented a fascinating world for his characters to exist in, and we ate it up.

We like the strange and fascinating environments shown to us.

But those new worlds, alien to us, have to come from somewhere. Those ideas originate as tiny spurs embedded in a creative person's head. 

They come from a writer's mind.

I can tell you from personal experience that creating a world is very difficult, but it can also be very rewarding.

Heaven is nice, but the trains are rarely on time

I have a series of books that all follow the same theme...talented people that have died and found a specialty job in Heaven that suits their abilities. 

Sabine Mellde, a Swedish teen, died in 988 and has transformed into a very capable warrior over the last thousand years. She is, quite frankly, a badass angel.

Sabine Mellde

But angels like Sabine need an organization to belong to. So I thought up Heavy Air Recon, the air wing of God's protection detail. Heavy Air Recon is a part of the much larger Division One, which encompasses all of Heaven's armed services.

Wheels within wheels. That's what you get when start giving your world structure.

But for these characters to thrive, they must have an interesting world to move around in. 

And that meant I had to take Heaven, the realm that most of us believe exists, and give it infrastructure that readers can identify with.

For instance, the wine-making industry in Heaven is very strong. The views are spectacular, and the housing market hasn't seen a dip since the Middle Ages.

God doesn't care for automobiles and the problems that come with them. The result? Very clean air and nobody is running around trying to dig up oil.

Don't worry, though. Netflix is still available for those nights you decide to stay in.

The houses in Heaven have a certain rustic appeal 

The fishing industry is strong, too. But we aren't here to talk about that. 

We need to explore the most important organization in Heaven...the Joint Human Analysis Directorate, or JHAD for short. Heaven's premiere murder tracking station.

 Christine Taylor was a young CIA signals analyst that specialized in long-range imagery. 

After her death, she found employment tracking murderers for God at JHAD.

Christine Taylor

These are the kinds of things you come up with when giving your world shape and form. 

A lot of thought should be put into the details, mainly because the more you do, the more real your world will seem.

The JHAD tower is Heaven's most modern building

In my version of Heaven, God does not live in huge mansion. Instead, He has a tiny cottage set on a beautiful piece of property overlooking the sea. His house is overrun by children that were murdered on Earth. His favorite restaurant is Mahatma's...a buffet run by Gandhi. 

The details of your world should never overshadow your characters. But those details should be there for your readers to enjoy. 

Take a good hard look at the most successful authors like Martin and Rowling. 

Yes, the characters in their stories are fascinating and suck the reader in, yearning for more....and so do all of those tiny details that make their fictional world different from ours.

So, buckle down and give your readers something awesome. Good luck with your world building. 

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