Thursday, September 6, 2007

Through the Looking Glass ~

Wow! So, when we agreed on one of our topics being world-building, I thought, this is great! Nalini Singh is at my site the same day I post here, and she is doing a workshop on, what else, World-Building! *Sigh* I didn't count on being one of the last in a two week timeframe to post on this subject. How can I expound on all the fascinating advice and information that everyone, including a best selling author, has already posted?

Well, I guess I'll start with some titles I think have nailed the world-building aspect. One, I just recently read. It's a series, actually. By, Michelle Pillow. If you like a very dark, almost villainous--almost, not quite--hero, you will want to read the Realm Immortal series. The world-building in this fantasy epic is just astounding. I can only wonder how Michelle keeps it all straight in her head. She has woven an intricate and complex society with deep political battles and heart wrenching romance. The third book, Stone Queen, brought me to tears. The hero's desperation is just...well, you really should run out and pick up the entire series. You won't be sorry.

Another fantastic example of excellent world-building has already been touched on by Brenda in her Thursday 13 of last week. She mentions Alagaesia. I can't tell you the little leap of excitement I had at reading that. I am a HUGE fan of the young and talented Christopher Paolini. His Inheritance trilogy is superbly written. When I read his work, I am there.

When building a complex world for your characters, you really do have to be cognizant, as Lori mentions in her post, of never breaking your own rules. Nothing, can drag a reader out of your carefully built world than contradicting yourself. Whether its a paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, or historical, people are willing to believe what you tell them as long as you stay true to your parameters.

Now, as for how you go about your writing, Kendra spoke of being "organic". I too, like this description. Nalini says the same about herself. I've never given much thought as to how I would describe my own writing, but perhaps organic fits me as well. For me, things just seem to click and that's how I write it. My werewolves, for instance, are not tied to the moon but rather to their emotions. Imagine all the fun you can have with this...ummm, it all goes back to my previous post on torturing your characters. *evil grin*

Well, I think that's about all I can share on world-building as everyone else has touched on all the basics. Whether you are a reader or a writer, one of the most important aspects of a well-written story is a well-built world.

What are some unusual "rules" you've seen done or written yourself? I for one, never did understand why a vampire wouldn't have a reflection. The "rule" about them not having a soul and therefore no reflection never really made sense to me. I mean, does a chair or a pencil have a soul? No, but we certainly would see their reflection. How about clothing? Come on, just because something might be soulless, does not change the fact that it has matter and therefore would reflect light and produce a reflection in a mirror. That's just my opinion.

For more info on world-building, stop by my site today for Nalini's mini workshop. She's answering questions and running a contest.

~Sandra Barkevich


  1. I haven't had the pleasure of reading Nalini's books, but I definitely plan to. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. Wow, thanks for the nods to other otherworld posts. And you're right about that no soul=no reflection idea. It doesn't work. I hadn't thought about the inanimate objects that are reflected in mirrors until you mentioned them. Hmm. Excellent thought.

  3. LOL That's a good analogy about the vampires. I took it at face value, that as evil and soulless they could not see what they truly were. I mean, would you want to see yourself if you looked like death warmed over everyday?

    My vampires are common, but then not. They are traditional, but honor is more intrinsic to their ability to stay good than anything else. That and respect for life and those around them. Makes them more than just one dimension (I think *wink*)

    I also like the organic term. I don't plot, not well anyway, and so long as my mind doesn't turn sieve on me and I lose facts, I'm cool. I do write down certain aspects or deliberate motivations, but if I get too deep, I lock up faster than the brakes on a runaway locomotive. :D

    I like world building actually. Most don't associate it, but we do it in every book to be honest. There is one certain aspect that any character lives in, and that is their environment. It could be nothing more than the house next door, but it still requires world building to make it believeable.

  4. Hey Sandra, great post. And I think what you said about "rules" is interesting - often, the breakout books are the ones that break the rules, or look at the tried and true through a different lens.

  5. Joley ~ Glad to have piqued your interest. :-)

    Brenda ~ I've been so busy with my own wip and requested revisions that have been sent off to a prospective publisher (keeping fingers crossed here!), that I really haven't had the time I'd like to devote to commenting in the great blogosphere. However, I have been trying to catch up on reading some of the fabulous posts. You've all had such wonderful information to share.

    Diana ~ Wow! I love your face value thoughts on the vampire reflection rule. That's something I never thought of. Very cool take.

    Nalini ~ Ahh, isn't that funny? Some "rules" are meant to be broken, but if you are the one who made them, they need to be steadfast. LOL. Can't go around breaking your own rules, just other people's! ;-)

    Sandy :-)
    Sandra Barkevich - Romance Author
    *September 6, 2007 at Sandra's Goings On - World Building Workshop with
    Nalini Singh

  6. I actually find it unusual that he CAN'T see his reflection. It was believed at one time, if you stare too long into a mirror you'll see the devil. It was probably made up to stop young girls from looking at themselves, thus, seeming vain.

    I love that a vampire (in some books) can't come into your home unless they're invited. It's a gentlemanly, very romantic idea, although I'm sure that wasn't the original reasoning behind it.


  7. I read Nalini's first book this week -- definitely falls under the arena of unique and memorable worldbuilding!

    Jody W.

  8. Great post Sandra-I can't wait till i read your post on networking at some point, you not only write well, but you are great with your people skills

  9. I love the point you made about a vampire's reflection. It never made sense to me either for the same reason. Mirrors reflect matter and substance not spirituality. Maybe the idea was that in the old days mirrors really were silvered so like the werewolf and silver bullet, silver wouldn't reflect a vampire. Interesting ideas.

  10. I guess that's what "organic" means for me too, really...things just click, and the world begins to build itself. I really love the "a-HA!" moments, where something new and interesting falls into your mind and clicks together with the rest of what you've been doing. It's what makes it fun for me:-) Great post!