As you know I have been nose deep in world building work for my novel. I’ve been researching biomes, trees, plants, animals, animals that eat the other animals, rivers, the critters in the rivers – well you get the idea. World Building is a ton of fun and the more you get into it, the more you’re world comes alive. It becomes this living and breathing place that exists completely on its own and independent of the story. I saw my world coming together and the more I got into it, the more engrossed I was in my world.
Though I made excellent progress, I think I got carried away. I lost sight of my main character.
I read this excellent blog post on Anna Staniszewski’s Blog about world building through your character and it’s just confirmed what my writing partners hipped me too – you can do all the elaborate tree naming and fruit creating in the world but you can’t forget the person who has to navigate through it. I got so wrapped up in creating my world that I completely forgot about my main character Damaris. Even worse, I was overwhelming myself with so many details, not discerning first what was necessary to flesh out and what wasn’t.
So how do you keep from falling into this trap and make your world building more effective? It all starts with a really simple exercise of free writing.
Take your main character and take him/her through your main city/forest/town/village. While your character is “talking” to you via first POV keep the following questions in mind:
· What is the very first thing he notices?
· What does she smell? Does it remind her of anything familiar or stir up a memory she would rather not remember?
· What would he most likely want to buy in the market place?
· Would she be caught dead in the tavern?
· What does he think of the common people? Does he feel at home or are they beneath him?
· What are some things he has never seen before? Strange aliens? Exotic fruits? Or even centaurs? How does he react?
· What does she hate most about this forest? Too many trees? Too many bugs?
· What was the most memorable part of her trip?
I learned so much about my character when I wrote about her visiting the city of Ophira for the first time. I learned about her favorite places, what she has never seen before, and those places she would rather not go. Taking that information I was able to tailor my world building to my character’s experiences, using her as a guide to what’s important in my world.
How about you? How has your main character help your world building?
Photo courtesy of: gossamerstrands.com