Okay, so on Monday I talked about strengthening and using relationships in writing. It's something I'm learning and working on while I edit my second novel, Surrender.
The next phase that I've been considering and stretching and growing in is thus: world building.
See, I'm not what you'd call a super-deep person. When I read a book, I don't really care about the society or the world or how it came to be or anything like that. So as a writer, I don't really think to include those things.
I write the kind of books I like to read, and they're light on the world building. Heck, most of the time, they're light on the actual setting! I just find that I like a very fast, emotional read, and setting is neither fast nor emotional to me.
Apparently, I need to amp up the setting and world building in Surrender. This has been difficult for me on many levels, but I think I've managed to learn a thing or two along the way.
So today, I give you a few tips I've learned about adding more world to your novel.
Tip #1: One sentence is sometimes enough. This sounds simple, and it is! I seriously thought I'd need to drone on and on (and on!) in order to give the background of my society. But it turns out that a well-placed, well-crafted sentence is sometimes enough.
This pleases me greatly, because then I don't have to slow down my action in order to convey information.
Tip #2: Edit on paper first. I'm a huge fan of editing on paper, because for me, it's like note-taking. I'm not really writing new scenes or anything like that. I'm simply reading my MS, taking in all the notes my editor has written in the margin, and finding places for that one sentence explanation.
I mark these places on the hard copy of my book. I write all over my MS, and this allows me to really see what's going on in my book. I'm very visual/tactile in that way.
While I'm editing on paper, I also keep notes in a journal. I'll jot down on which pages items about the world are already mentioned, and on which pages I'm planning to add more explanation and what that explanation is about. This helps me keep the sequence of revealed information in the right order.
Tip #3: Spread the building out. When I first got my edit letter, I sort of had a tiny panic attack at all the additional explanations that were needed. I seriously thought they all needed to be addressed in the first chapter. But they don't.
As I read my novel and found the spots that would house further explanation well, I realized that not everything has to be explained in chapter one. Or two. Or even ten. (I feel rather silly about this now, but yeah. Edit letters are scary. Awesome, but scary.)
Tip #4: It is, in reality, okay to establish the setting. I'm sure you're going, "Duh, Elana!" but for me, setting is a huge weakness of mine. As I said, I just don't care what a house looks like. I can't imagine why anyone would care, and so setting is not something I consider too heavily. But as I've been editing, I can see the value in establishing the setting in my futuristic society. Some people probably want to see it better than I've written it.
But I'll tell you, this is one I'm repeating to myself all the time. "It's okay to establish setting. It's okay to establish setting."
So editing in more setting and world building is...going. Are these things you gravitate toward doing naturally? How do you weave in setting and world building without slowing the action?