Thursday, February 25, 2010
Blog Chain - What World Am I In? And How Did I Get Here?
Thank God today is a blogchain day, because I can talk about things that are much brighter and fun than yesterday. Yeah, don't ask me where that morbid post came from. I almost didn't post it after I re-read it, but in the end my muse grabbed the mouse and did what he wanted to do.
Enough of yesterday though. Today, I'm here to talk about characters and their worlds. Specifically, the talented Cole poses the following question:
How do you get inside your character's world?
Since I'm usually typing by the seat of my pants, I learn about my character's worlds through their eyes. Let me explain with a few examples.
In one of my WiPs, the idea for the story sprung from driving by a bowling alley's darkened parking lot. The look of the shadows and the way the streetlights cast pools of pale amber just lit my muse on fire and suddenly I had an idea. But even though the world began from a real place near my home, that didn't mean it would stay that way. My MC began to take me on a tour through the world as he worked his way through the story. I learned about the world he lives in as I wrote, rather than planning or building it.
My NaNo WiP is set on Earth in the far future, and I am still discovering all of it's intricacies as I write. I didn't initially envision an underground base deep below the city, abandoned by humanity for eons. But my characters took me there and showed me how the world had changed over the centuries. Each step they take in the story helps flesh out their world for me, and I just try to keep up.
The only exception to this freeform world-building is the first novel I attempted to write. The MC is a homeless woman on the streets of Denver, and I chose this location purposely. I've grown up here in Denver and have lived here all my life. And although the story is mostly about the character, I didn't want to put it in a city that I would have trouble describing. I felt that if I had to tell this particular story from a location I wasn't really familiar with, the focus would drift off the character as I tried to describe her surroundings.
I guess my real answer is that I am pulled into the world of my characters by the characters themselves. They are my tour guides as they walk through the story. I also know that these days my writing is description-light, because I have been concentrating on writing a good story first. I hate research (although I enjoy learning about real places, so figure that one out), which is probably why I discover the worlds in this manner.
If you missed out on my predecessor BJ's post on the subject, you need to go check it out. Tomorrow, you can read what the awesome Shaun has to say as he rounds out this topic.