Monday, November 5, 2012

Building A World, Part Two: Textiles, Building Materials, and Food

Okay, so we're back today discussing how to build a world from the blank page up. It's not an easy thing to do, that's for sure. Last week, we talked about government and rules. I think that's one of the major points of world-building, because it can lend itself to the plot/conflict so well.

But it's the details that make your readers salivate over your world. Today, we're going to talk a bit about some details that can make your world more round, more rich, more real.

Textiles: This is the fabrics of your world. It might seem insignificant, but I've found that what people wear, what they have in their homes on the ceilings/walls/floors/furniture, and what they're surrounded with is a detail you should not ignore.

Clothing can give a good idea of setting. It can provide plot points and conflict. So what is this world clothed in? Are colors important? If so, which ones are the most important? Why? What can you do with the textiles of the world to make it unique, powerful, meaningful?

That's what you're doing here by paying particular attention to the textiles.

Building Materials: This is what the buildings/structures of your world are made of. I've read many a book where the attention to detail is so seamlessly woven in, it makes the world that much more real and enjoyable.

I mean, Hogwarts, anyone?

In fantasy and science fiction, we want a setting that transports us from the ordinary. You can paint the picture of what the world is like, how it's different from ours, and what the main character has to deal with by giving us a good description of what the structures are constructed of. Not every palace is made of marble, just like not every castle is made of stone. So what is your world made of?

Foods: I think this is my favorite part, but mostly because I love food. Some of my favorite books have a vein of food interlaced in them. (Read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS -- this book made me realize that I liked fantasy worlds that have unique foods.)

What are your characters eating? How is this contributing to the world you've imagined? Because it should. I think sometimes we fall into the traps of "traditional" foods for fantasy and science fiction, but we don't have to. We can stretch our imaginations and come up with menus and foods that make our world unique, and rich, and full.

I'll freely admit that I don't think of these things during the first draft. I'm just trying to get the plot figured out and the character developed. But on the second, third, and fourth passes, I'm really paying attention to making my world more three-dimensional and alive. And I do it with textiles, buildings, and foods.

What do you do to breathe more life into your world? Do you have to pay particular attention to these things, or do they come naturally to you as you write? 


Julie Luek said...

These are definitely the kind of elements I need to be more mindful of when I go through the next phase of editing-- thanks for the reminder.

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

It IS great when we feel like we're using our senses while reading a book.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I probably don't pay much attention to clothes. (Sorry, just doesn't register in my male brain.) But I enjoyed describing food and buildings in my second book.

Julie Daines said...

I love your thoughts about textiles! I don't think I've been giving it enough consideration in my writing. Thanks for this great post.

Angela Brown said...

Though I'm not sure this older fantasy story of mine will ever see the light beyond my digital deep hole on a USB drive, I remember basing many of the building blocks off of research done for different areas so that the various groups showed their differences in what they wore as well as how they lived their daily lives.

ilima said...

I easily incorporate food in my stories, haha. I could do better with the other two, though. Great tips!

JeffO said...

I tend to have to think about these sorts of things a little more. Food plays a big role in my WiP. Rather, lack of it plays a big role in my WiP, so I have several passages where characters are either thinking about or talking about the sorts of things they wish they could have.

S.P. Bowers said...

This is something I struggle with. I see it all in my head but don't always remember to put it on paper. Thanks for the ideas and suggestions to work with.

Sherry Ellis said...

These are good things to think about!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great points Elana. I sometimes struggle with the balance of creating new things, like foods with weird names, and not creating too many things with weird names. Sometimes taking from a specific culture from a different country and using that as a jumping point can work.

Janet Johnson said...

So not natural for me. I have to really pound this stuff out and getting it out of my head is like pulling teeth. Painful process! But worth it. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

This is why reading George R.R. Martin always makes me hungry. Details rock!

The Giles Family said...

Naturally? Um, no. I have to work for every single detail. But I love them too. I even love writing them! Yay for details.

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