For my series, I have spent a vast majority of the planning process building the world my characters live in.
I actually drew up several maps, created charts and took a shot at designing a layout of the estate which is the main setting for the first book.
Something that I found helpful when creating these different settings, was to go on Pinterest for inspiration. I found different styled buildings, landscapes, fashion and even collages that fit into the world I envisioned in my head.
If you don’t want to use Pinterest, you can even make your own collage by hand or a mood board. I think, especially now with quarantine, it could be a fun project to not only keep you occupied for a few hours, but also keep you inspired and motivated to work on your book!
My pin board for this series currently has 408 pins. These have been gathered over the years of course, but still…I’m shocked. My other projects don’t have that many pins…but this series is and has been my main focus for a long time now.
I think that when creating the world of your novel (or series), that it’s important to look into many different categories, such as the types of culture that are present in the story.
There are many different places in my story, and two very distinctly different groups that inhabit this world. When I created my map, initially I only did the one city, which is split into two parts, the East and the West, however I realized I needed a second map, which showed the world outside this city.
Depending on where character’s are from, they have different jobs, tastes in music, food, appearances and fashion.
For example in the city where the majority of book one takes place, the women dress like the image of Ida Catherine above. One of my main character’s is very into fashion and always wears bows in her hair. She oddly looks like a painting at my grandparent’s house, which wasn’t planned…but years after I drew a sketch of her, I saw the painting again and went, “Huh…well I’ll be.”
One of the two groups in my series speaks a different language…which I decided to do while I was taking a History and Linguistics course through my University. Creating a separate language for them really allowed for me to expand upon them even more. I wrote folk music for both groups, some parodies of actual songs that I grew up listening to.
Others are original music. I also gave them current music, holidays, rituals and other things that could help differentiate between them, but also make the world feel more alive.
Along with that I spent a lot of time reading and researching to try and pinpoint the time period better.
I’m honestly not sure why I decided to do this sort of…parallel…alter-verse… historical paranormal…world type thing with this series, but it sort of just happened. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what to label it, but it takes place in the past (late 1940s – early 1950s) and because of that I had to not only create and imagine all of these different things for this world, but also spend time researching the time period. This is something that I am still doing! I am always building and enhancing the knowledge of this world because I really want it to come to life.
Luckily for me, my grandparents gave me all of their own Books of Knowledge, which had editions from 1941 and onward. This was a huge help. There were interviews, current events, technology, jobs and all sorts of information that I found extremely useful.
Something else that I used aside from the books, were videos like this:
Which I found very fun to watch.
World building can be a lot of work, but I definitely think it’s worth it.
Yes, I had to create an entire dictionary for myself but I love how having this language in my series, adds to the characters who use it, as everyone reacts to it different. I also love having my characters interact with one another, and their thoughts on different settings in this world.
The city near by the main setting, is looked down upon and known for its high crime rates, however one of my main characters often argues for it, having lived there for a few years. It’s fun to see how different her opinion is compared to her friends who have never traveled before.
There is honestly so much that you can do with world building, and so many ways to go about it. I don’t think that there is one exact perfect formula…however, I do think that actually jotting down notes and compiling a list of information about your world is helpful, because you can refer back to it while you’re writing.
Whichever way you go about it, have fun. Don’t be afraid to start sketching things out or creating collages. Creating your setting is just as important as developing your plot and characters. They all have a direct effect on one another, no matter what your genre.