Building a Better Book – Your World, Your Choices

This is the first post in a series entitled “Building a Better Book.” In this posting, I examine how to create an intriguing setting for your novel.


Greetings all! Welcome to the start of my new blog series “Building a Better Book”

In today’s episode, I’d like to talk a little about how to create a world that has elements of realism and fantasy (or science fiction, etc). For me, at least, building a world is all about three things.

1.) How is your world realistic? – Does it connect to our world? Obviously, for some stories this is not practical, but even space operas have their share of realistic environments – space battleships with bridges that would probably seem familiar to any current navy sailor, planets that are Earth-like (or perhaps more Moon-Mars-or-Jupiter like, etc. If your story takes place on Earth (future, present, or past) it’s even easier. For Copper Centurion, much of the story takes place in Nortland, otherwise known as present day Sweden and Norway. So what did I do? I popped onto Google Maps to get a top down view, found some more ancient maps to do a cross analysis, then went to work. I looked for roadways and rivers to help decide on the routes that different characters would take in my story. Thus, the world impacts my story. Which brings me to point two…

2.) How does your world match your characters? Your world must match your characters in terms of realism. Soft fluffy creatures won’t live on a harsh, rocky mountain. It just doesn’t make sense! Now, you could do a “farm girl in the big city” type situation, where the setting impacts the character’s development, and that’s fine, but if you’re creating a whole world, then you have to put more thought into the setting. Now finally…

3.) What else could impact the world? What I mean by this is simply how does the technology level of your characters impact the story. A story set in Victorian England will most likely need to have heavy periods of fog and smog impacting the characters as they run around. A story taking place in the Canadian Rockies will probably involve snow. A story taking place in the Middle East during the Crusades will not only have undercurrents of religious conflict, but also desertification and the need for water.
So you see, when creating a world, you really do have to do some research. It really does help lend power to your novel or story if readers can identify with the place that they are reading about. But if you go ‘hyper-local’ you have to get it right, at least in a standard fiction novel. Otherwise, readers may eat you for lunch!

Well, that’s all for today! See you next time!


Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

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