Today, over at Romancing the Blog Kristin Nelson does a nice talk about why some talented books get rejected. To sum it, up, she says that sometimes, even the best writers get rejections because the world of the story isn’t built up as good as it should be.

It got me thinking about my own methods of world building, and the importance of creating a viable environment for your characters to interact in.

Some might call me an “overthinker” when it comes to this aspect of writing, but I consider myself thorough.

In Unified Souls, it took me literally years to create the environment that Jasmine Storm, Devin Cartell, and Cameron Perry live in. I must admit, there was a great deal of it that “came to me” when I was working on the novel, but the shape, the structure of the environment, took a long time to build.

For example, I took the time to investigate the different hypotheses of Faster Than Light travel, and took specific theories, (like tachyon drives and how they function) and folded them together into something that I could work with. A specific scene comes to mind:

Cartell didn’t say anything as he sent the ship spinning again, swinging very close to a nearby Regime Hop. Three new Baby Hops joined in the chase.

“Do you want to get us killed?” Perry called out, grabbing onto the back of Storm’s chair to keep from falling over.

“Shut up and see if you can boost the shields,” Cartell called back as he banked hard away from the ship.

Two of the baby Hops that were following very close didn’t bank fast enough, and crashed into their own Hop.

“Vector coming up,” Storm said, punching up a new hyperspace vector. “Ready in seven minutes.”

The ship slowed a bit.

“Shields boosted,” Perry said.

“Correction, nine minutes.”

“Damn,” Cartell said. “Drop all shields but rear.”

“Six–point–five minutes.”

“That’s better,” Cartell said, hitting the accelerators.

Storm fired off more shots, taking out two more of the baby Hops. Another baby Hop came in off their starboard side and Storm took it out as well.

“Drop three proton bombs,” Cartell said.

“Can’t,” Storm said.

“Why not?” Cartell demanded.

“Not equipped for them,” Storm replied.

“Drygok!” Cartell snapped.

A blast from one of the Baby Hops rocked the ship forward. Lights flickered on the deck.

“Storm!” Cartell called out.

She fired more shots at the hops, taking out two more, but the third got off another shot.
A red light blinked on the console; the tachyon drive was ready.

“Engaging tachyon drive now,” Storm said. The ship lurched as the tachyon drive kicked over.

“Compensation fields established,” Storm called out. “Speed one-half mass.”

White light blasted into the cockpit. The trio all exhaled a breath as the shuttle sped away, leaving the last Baby Hop behind them.

This scene seems, on the surface, pretty standard scifi-action scene. The protags trying to get away from the bad guys. There’s things going on, the ship doesn’t quite cooperate like Devin wants, and it reads quickly. Also, there’s enough information there that explains the technology without a few narrative paragraphs detailing why the ship is slowing down and what that means for our protags.

What the reader doesn’t know is the months I took researching this particular aspect of this environment, how I read the different theories and such, to “develope” the technology that Storm, Cartell, and Perry live with everyday in their lives.

This is the essence of World Building. To create a world to drop your characters in, to know it well enough, that without having to explain every little detail, your reader’s going to “get” what’s going on.

This is necessary for EVERY BOOK YOU WRITE. Whether it be scifi, romance, historical, horror, western, or even mystery. You have to KNOW this world, smell the smells, hear the birds, see the trees, know how the machines function, (because we all know that only in a perfect world does technology always work — how many times has your printer jammed when printing a partial off for someone??)

I put just as much effort into my contemporary stuff as I do my science fiction. Of course, I don’t have to build cities unless I want to (I have GOT to get Sim City to help out with this, or figure out how to make City Life run on my computer), but I do know my character’s backgrounds, what part of “town” they live in, their family, their history to the point of the book, and all other aspects. One of these days, when I feel ambitious, I’ll post a copy of the flow chart I use for three of my books that are tied together. ( I mentioned this in another blog, but I’ll be darned if I can remember which one it was).

But now that I’ve rambled on, I’ll let you go, at least for the time being.

Remember to vote over at Romance Junkies for the entries in the writing contest. You never know who you’re voting for! 🙂

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