Craft Discussion: World Building

CraftandWritingThis month, Jen hosted a discussion on world building and the process that goes along with creating our stories, whether they be short or longer projects.

What, in your opinion, encompasses a “world” in any given story? Is it strictly a base setting, or is there more to it than that?

Julie: I think world building can mean a lot of things, and it depends on the story. It also depends on what serves the story, and some of the world is built in the syntax of the lines. The rhythm of sentences can contribute to how a world is built or perceived by the reader. (Can you tell I’ve been reading about syntax?)

Anne: For me, the “world” is everything from setting to how it affects the characters and/or situations. Without world-building, there can be no dragons in Manhattan. No magic in New Orleans. It’s the base, for sure, but it seeps into every aspect.

Audrey: It definitely depends on the story, but in general, it’s the backdrop for every scene, what your characters live and breathe.

Jen: I agree, it’s everything. It should be full of sensory details, too. I want it to be almost tactile.

Julie: And of course, there are the things that make world building the foundation, the setting and norms and rules.

Anne: World-building is important even if you’re not writing fantasy.

Jen: Rules are a big thing, but especially in the genres we frequent. I think there are more rules in fantasy worlds because so many factors can be manipulated.

Julie: Yep. Every story I learn something new.
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Anne’s No Rules Friday 08

The companion piece, Back to You, is now live!

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

In Repair

An undiscovered back road stretches out in front of me. Dead leaves and melting piles of snow outline my twisting route leading me deeper into the woods. The Scout’s tires eat up the cracked and neglected asphalt. My helmet’s sitting on the back of the bike. I should be wearing it. I know I should, but I want to feel the wind’s fingers in my hair, want to smell the gasoline off the bike.

The first warm day in weeks woke me up to all the possibilities of spring. My leather jacket isn’t zipped up, and the wind whooshes in and around my body. In its holster, my gun tap tap taps against my ribcage, as I shift into second gear. The bike flies past the aspen and pine trees. I want more than a taste of spring. I need this weather to last all week.

The bike shudders when I shift into third. I ignore it, give it more gas, and curse under my breath as the bike coasts to a stop. The forest goes quiet around me, as if the creatures living in it hold a collective breath. I get off the bike, thinking twice before kicking it hard. The whole thing topples over into the dirt.

“Sure, Rosa, make it worse.”

For an hour, I vacillate between walking up and down the road trying to get a signal on my phone and tinkering with the bike’s metal parts. Rust and grime cover my hands, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got streaks of the stuff across my forehead. Elías will kill me for taking the bike out before we finished restoring it, but living through another of Papi’s benders wasn’t gonna happen.

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Anne’s Book Club 08

SAtrilogycoversSummerset Abbey by T. J. Brown (summary from Amazon.com):

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society in this stunning series starter that fans of Downton Abbey will love.

Rowena Buxton

Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton

Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever…

Prudence Tate

Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.

My Thoughts on SUMMERSET ABBEY and an interview with author Teri Brown:

First, and rather shallowly of me, the covers for these three novels are GORGEOUS! The Belle Époque has always been one of my favorite times in history (though I have many. But, come on, the costumes! Budding technology! Historical amazements!). I haven’t had the pleasure to watch Downton Abbey, but I’ve enjoyed several films and books that take place (and were written) during these years. I was really pleased to see how each of the three main characters navigated the time period growing into strong independent women against an incredible historical background.

Teri writes with such rich detail that I couldn’t help but be swept up and read them all over the span of a long weekend. It’s interesting that I’ve been reading more contemporary lately because as I’ve said before I love fantasy, but I recommend these to anyone who likes this time period, strong heroines, and engaging story-telling. These books are definitely ones that cross the boundary from adult to YA. The youngest protagonist begins in her teens and ends at, I believe, 19. They’re not graphically violent or sexual, and would appeal to readers of all ages. In fact, I think our own Audrey would love them.

Through the power of Twitter I discovered her books. Teri was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about her Summerset Abbey trilogy. Viva les médias sociaux!

The Summerset Abbey trilogy takes place during what the French call the Belle Époque (Americans call it the “Gilded Age” and the English call it the “Edwardian Age”, but I like the French version best). What drew you to this time period in particular to set your novels?

I’ve always loved this time period even before I knew it was a time period! I look back at the books I read as a child and so many of my favorites take place in the late 1800’s early or 1900’s like, Amanda Miranda by Richard Peck, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith or So Big by Edna Ferber. When I saw Downton Abbey I realized that it was actually the Edwardian Period and I knew I wanted to write a series about it.

The costumes, settings, autos, and jewelry are richly drawn. How much research did you do to write this trilogy?

I did a lot of Research, but I was on a very tight writing schedule as well. I took a class from a woman who was an expert in the period and then hired her to help me with research duties. Whenever I had a question, I would just shoot it off to her and she would get on it. That way I was able to finish the stories and go back in an layer more details. That’s pretty much the way I work with all my historicals… story, characters and plot first, then details.

Throughout each book, Rowena, Victoria, and Prudence take over narrating duties. Did you write the book linearly and change perspectives according to story demands, or … ?

I wrote each book from start to finish. They seemed to come very organically for me. Of course, I was fighting cancer during the writing of these books and with the back to back deadlines, there was no way for me to write any other way! Only a few times would I have to go back and rewrite a scene in someone else’s POV.

This was written as a trilogy, but each book could certainly be read as a stand-alone. However, how much of each main characters’ end journey did you know before you started?

Honestly, I knew very little about their individual journeys when I first started the trilogy. I think of each of the books as focusing on one particular character arc, though they all grow during each book. For instance, The first books was Prudence’s book. The second was Victoria’s and Rowena got the final book, though Kit and Victoria didn’t get their happy ending either until the third book, but I think Victoria did most of her growing in book two.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently researching and working on an adult novel called Saffron Skies which takes place in 1911 India. It’s about a sharp tongued young woman who was a part of the “Fishing Fleet”, which is what they called women who went husband hunting in India during the time of the British Raj. She falls in love with a half English half Indian clerk and all sorts of troubles ensue. The research has been wonderful fun.

Thank you so much, Teri, for talking to me about your process with this trilogy! I also discovered that Teri also writes YA books. Born of Illusion is currently sitting in my tbr pile. Check it, and her historical novels out, at your local bookstore or library.

TJBrown_authorphotoAbout the author: Teri Brown is proud of her two children but coming in a close second is the fact that she parachuted out of a plane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game.

She is a word scribbler, head banger, math hater, book reader, rule breaker, food fixer, novel writer, kitty keeper, and city slicker. Teri lives with her husband and way too many pets in Portland, Oregon.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy SUMMERSET ABBEY Today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

“Human” by Ethel Veva King Inspires Audrey

HumanEthelVevaKingThe Comet

Part 1

“Mama?” His small voice tip-toed out of the darkness.

“Yes, Jackson?” Her response was pillow-muffled and crackly.

“Mama, I saw something outside.” Georgia sat-up and looked toward the window, a cold fear roping around her spine.

“Come here, baby,” she said slow and hushed, reaching for Jackson and sliding off her bed. The young boy eagerly curled into his mama’s embrace and pressed a drippy nose into her neck. “What did you see?”

Jackson turned his head and held a chubby palm up to the window, “In the sky, Mama.”

Georgia creaked along the aged hardwoods in the attic room they rented from Mrs. Press. It was a large room, big enough for two beds, a dresser, and trunk. The walls were white-washed, but in the night only a thin crust of light came in through the only window. Georgia traced the light to keep from stumbling in the obsidian shadows.

She stretched out a thin, tanned finger to peek out the polyester lace. Georgia studied the stretching lawn below first, just until her heart quit hiccuping against her ribs. Two years had passed since she escaped her husband with Jackson, but that kinda haunting is hard to banish. Jackson swiped drool-coated fingers down her cheek to get her attention. Georgia peered into his heavily lashed eyes, all glassy and dark.

“What did you see, Jackson?”

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Jen’s Book Club

Okay, so I’m going to level with you all: it’s been awhile since I’ve finished a book. I’ve picked some up and had every intention of plowing through them only to get distracted and stop. I used to be so focused on reading and I lost that drive somewhere in the last couple years. I think reading makes me a better writer, and I’m trying hard to get back into it.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to a really rad Caribbean cruise with some of my favorite bands, and that trip required a plane ride that allowed me to start and finish Veronica Roth’s Divergent. I know I jumped on this bandwagon late, but now I can’t get off of it and I don’t want to.

From Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

The issue of choice is key in the makeup of this novel, and I think a lot of courage is born from choice. Tris is bold in her own right, and chooses to cross line after line after line until she becomes someone her previous life wouldn’t recognize. I enjoyed the growth of character in this novel and the joy that Tris found in becoming a part of her new faction.

But Divergent is not a one note read. It’s also a rough and gritty look at what happens when power struggles and how choice and superiority breed conflict. When the factions clash Tris is at the heart of the fight, and her choices become ones that effect every faction. It’s a book about overcoming fear, trusting oneself, learning people, and is one you won’t want to put down.

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Divergent is the first of a three part series, and will soon be in movie theaters everywhere.

 

“Human” by Ethel Viva King Inspires Julie

HumanEthelVevaKing

Sleeper

The world has gone blue and gray. Something’s hooked around my waist, tugging. His arm. He digs nails into my side and when I scream, bubbles burst from my lips.

The black waits behind my eyes. If I breathe in, it will fill them.

***

“Penny!”

Kiely smacks me across the face and I gasp, try to rise, but I’m tied down. She grabs my flailing arms and stills me. It’s just the seatbelt. Her jeep is parked at a curb. We’re in a cul-de-sac. Porch lights break the darkness.

“Jesus,” Kiely says, dropping my arms. She’s on the pavement outside the passenger door. Pretty face crossed with concern.

Good, I think. She helped get me into this mess.

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