Many of you know my books and many of you do not but I hope you will read them someday. I don’t quite fit in the romance genre because my worlds are so big but there’s too much romance in my books to say I’m a Fantasy Author either. In all of the books I write the fact remains that the World is a character in and of itself.
My series must be read in order for that reason. The progression of the world and your understanding of it grows with each book. Do readers need you to over detail EVERYTHING so that they can’t use their own imagination? Absolutely not. Epic world building is not about over detailing everything. It’s about creating a believable world that people can see themselves in even when it’s a place like the White (In Keltor) or Nikolai’s freezing castle on another plane (Immortal Bound) or the land of the Unseelie (Or Uglies as Isabel calls them in Immortal Dreams). You have to immerse your readers in places that they can taste, touch, feel without overloading them with too much detail. Is it easy? No. Is it required? For me, yes.
I am known for awesome side stories happening in my books that coincide with the main story and that typically are pushing the next book forward. I am also known for the worlds that I create. Many a reviewer have made the same comments. “Jennifer Sage has created a world I could feel, characters I could connect with, etc” and when you have people tell you that they laughed, cried and wanted to throw their kindle as they screamed at it…well, that’s the ultimate compliment. Because while it may take a reader a few days to read one of my books, it takes me six months to a year (sometimes longer) to perfect that world for them. I work very hard to create worlds that are detailed enough for you to be inside them, but not so detailed that you can’t use your own imagination. I do not write worlds that you have a preconceived idea of except for the real world and even that one I change up a bit. So that makes it a little easier for me. If I am giving you a new realm that you don’t already know then showing you the way the world looks is not as challenging. Here is an excerpt from my next release, “Ratha-The Magic Within” which is delayed a few weeks as I restructure things and make it perfect for my readers. The work that was given free through my newsletter is almost not recognizable anymore. And that’s okay. You are going to love it. This excerpt is not the final edited version but it will give you an idea of what I’m referring to with world building.
From “Ratha-The Magic Within”:
The moment she arrived she felt a bolt of energy infuse her. As she traveled through the light with her guides she smiled and looked down at the world around her. It could not have been described in words as she had tried to do with Logan and Ori. It was so, so much more. Water that sparkled like diamonds fell from rocks that climbed all the way up to the clouds where she was. Shimmering structures lined the ground in various sizes but not like any homes she had ever seen on earth. There were no sharp corners, everything about the structures flowed and shimmered as if they were alive. It almost looked like purple and white hued marble or shell. There were fields after fields of fauna and flora that glowed and enormous trees that swayed gently in the wind with long, flowing branches that were alight from within. As they traveled around a large cliff that had water falling she realized that even the water contained light. She reached out as they passed it and let it fall through her ethereal fingertips and though she didn’t feel the wetness, she could feel its energy. It was as if everything here was alive.
So you see, there is enough detail to share with the reader and allow them to draw their own images from what you have given them. I have about three paragraphs in this scene that describe setting and that was one of them. Not only are we with the character as she discovers things but we get a detailed, but not too detailed view of the world she is in. In one paragraph we can see and feel the way this whole world exists. It is infused with light, with energy. And that is really what I was trying to convey as we discovered it with Ratha.
No matter what genre you write I think that world building is extremely important. Whether you are in NY City or on Mars you have to take the reader there with you. It is not easy to know the line between too much and just enough but your readers will let you know if it’s right. Honest Beta readers are imperative. A great editor is also imperative. The world has to be as alive as your living, breathing characters or no matter how great your character depth is, the story will still fall flat.
There are some great online resources for writers that are free that help with world building, character development, etc. And please, please, please…if you are writing about a real place you MUST research it. This is so very important. “Dante-The Guardian Archives” takes place largely in Rome and though I have taken liberties with some of the names of things I will be using some very famous landmarks from Rome in this book. It does help that I have been there but I have still spent countless hours researching to make it perfect. Because the world is a character. And when I take you to Rome, you will be in Rome. You cannot take a reader to the Vatican City without researching what is there.
So, I leave you with this. Build epic worlds. Detail enough but not so much that your reader can’t use their own imagination. And research the hell out of your books. In the end, no matter what you’re writing your readers will see your diligence and will be able to connect with your worlds when you are so dedicated to helping them do that.
Much Love and Happy Reading!
PS. Tonight I will be with Pam Stack and Authors on the Air at 9pm est. I hope you can join me!
Link to the Interview: Pam Stack, The Librarian and Jennifer Sage