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What's World Building Got to Do with Writing Contemporary Fiction? Everything!

No matter where you live on this Earth, I imagine your world is somewhat different than it was a year ago, and I want you to think about that in terms of whatever story you are currently creating.

I’ve seen a number of posts where writers have commented on writing stories that take place in the present and whether or not they should work the virus in or leave it out. Yet, for many of us, when we hear the words “world building” in reference to writing, we immediately think that only applies to fantasy or science-fiction novels.

And that’s where you would be so woefully mistaken.

When writing fiction, the ultimate goal of the writer is to bring the reader inside the pages. Inside the world you’ve created whether it’s the year 1820 in Cheyenne, 2020 in San Francisco, or 2220 in what was once New York City, let alone a fantasy world filled with fairies and goblins, or on a planet somewhere in another universe altogether.

What does the world around your characters look like? How does it function day-to-day, and what are the people like?

I’ve never been to San Francisco myself, so if that’s where your story takes place, I’m counting on you to paint a picture for me. I’m relying on you to transport me right to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then there’s the world as it is to your main character(s). What does their average day look like? Do they sleep in and rise around noon, or are they up with the rooster? Do they live in the mountains or on the seashore? In the big city or a small town? What’s the general economy, weather, and political climate like? And oh, so much more.

Not only do the characters need to feel real, but so does the world around them. So, show us that world by letting us see its culture, geography, history, climate, and all the rest, as well as how your character relates to or interacts with this world.

Always keep in mind that writing is an art, and just as a painter such as Vincent van Gogh tells us a story with every brushstroke, you as the author must paint us a picture with every word.

For a lot more on this subject, check out my upcoming writing workshop on world building. You won’t be sorry unless you miss it!


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